11 to 23 October 2019
PALAU 2019 MISSION – PACIFIC
Resilience to climate change
The mission took place in Palau, in Micronesia, in collaboration with the Monaco Scientific Center (CSM), the Nice Cancer and Ageing Research Institute (IRCAN) and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC). This expedition explored the resistance of corals (Acropora sp.) to ocean acidification and the impact of environmental stress on cellular ageing.
Find out all about the 2019 mission here
An open-air laboratory
In Palau, some reefs, located in closed lagoons, are naturally exposed to more acid waters than the ocean’s average. Others, on the contrary, have normal conditions. What better than this natural variety to study the acidification phenomenon and the mechanisms of environmental stress?
First experiments in 2018
Six colonies had been transplanted by the CSM scientists in an acid zone in March 2018 during the Tara Pacific mission. The mission team found those colonies as a first step, before collecting samples from them.
On-site operations, 2019
The operations planned on the spot in 2019 consisted in recovering fragments of the coral colonies transplanted from a normal site to an acidified site, and therefore placed under stress conditions, in order to perform in-depth analyses on the impact of acidification and cellular ageing in the coming months in France and Monaco.
The Palau islands
The Palau islands, located in Micronesia at one end of the Coral Triangle are at the junction of several ocean currents. It is one the richest places in the world in marine biodiversity, with in particular the profusion of beautiful coral reefs. It is also an ideal place to study ocean acidification.
At a time when the impact of global warming on our oceans and our lives is at the centre of concern, island States such as Palau in the South West Pacific are at the forefront. Indeed, the surface area of Palau consists of only 1% of land surface for 99% of ocean. In response to the state of alert, the political and societal action led by His Excellency Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, is exemplary in promoting preservation and sustainable management of the marine environment. His initiatives have been actively supported by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco since their meeting in 2012.
— Dr. Didier Zoccola
Didier is a researcher in the coral physiology team of the Monaco
Scientific Center (CSM) and led by Dr. Sylvie Tambutté. Organiser and coordinator of the 2019 mission, he already took part in the Tara Pacific expedition in 2018. His knowledge of the sampling sites in Palau was invaluable to this new mission.
— Alice Rouan
Young doctoral researcher, Alice is part of Pr. Gilson’s team at the Nice Cancer and Ageing Research Institute (IRCAN). She participates in the research into the key mechanisms that determine the cellular ageing phenomenon. She studies a marker common to corals and humans: the length of the telomeres, a DNA region located at the end of the chromosomes.
— Magali Boussion
Sent by the CSM to Monaco Explorations as communications officer, Magali contributed her skills on-site as a laboratory technician and as a diver. She also coordinates the communication actions related to the mission.
A typical day
Discover hour by hour what science really is in the field, a typical day and scientists’ activities on site. Rigour and organisation are on the programme, which does not exclude good humour!
The mission day after day
Alice, Magali and Didier share their feelings, thoughts, impressions and anecdotes from daily life. A dense week, sometimes stressful, a briskly conducted mission.
First answers in a few months
The mission is now over and the laboratory research begins… Rendez-vous in a few months for the first analyses and scientific results.
Grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos © M. Boussion. Monaco Explorations
Fish planktonic larva © M.Boussion. Monaco Explorations
Jellyfish, Mastigias papua etpisoni, Jellyfish Lake © M.Boussion. Monaco Explorations
Pink skunk clownfish in its anemone, Amphiprion perideraion. Palau © M.Boussion. Monaco Explorations
Green turtle, Chelonia mydas. Palau © M.Boussion. Monaco Explorations
In the foreground, threespot damsels, Dascyllus trimaculatus. Palau © M.Boussion. Monaco Explorations
Marine life Palau, ©R.Brooks
Transplanted colonies of Acropra sp. © R.Brooks. Monaco Explorations.
Coral reef © R. Brooks. Monaco Explorations
Underwater vision Palau © M. Boussion. Monaco Explorations.
Colony of Acropora sp. Close-up on the loculi of closed polyps. © M. Boussion. Monaco Explorations.
Resources related to the mission
Find out all about the PICRC
Download the press
Find out all
about corals with Tara
What is ocean acidification?