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125 years of research at Villefranche-sur-Mer

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Key figures

  • 150 permanent staff
  • 40 à 50 individual students teachers
  • 3 research units


Director :

Gaby Gorsky

UPMC - Oceanology Observatory

of Villefranche-sur-mer

Quai de la Darse

06234 Villefranche sur Mer

Tel. : (33) 93 76 37 04

www.obs-vlfr.fr/Nouvelle fenêtre

125 years of research in Villefranche-sur-mer

Villefranche-sur-mer: a marine station steeped in history and at the forefront of marine research.

The Oceanological Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer celebrated its 125th anniversary last  October 14th to 16th. The program included a day of scientific conferences about marine biodiversity, its origins and its global consequences, followed by an open day with workshops and events for the general public on Saturday, October 16th.

The first observations at the Zoological Station in Villefranche-sur-mer were made in 1810 but it was not until 1885 that the laboratory officially settled. From the genesis of the project in 1882 to today, Jean-Claude Braconnot, former researcher and Paul Nival, teacher and researcher of the team "Dynamics of plankton, physical and chemical processes," tell how a small laboratory became the observatory it is today recognized by oceanographers worldwide for its research and scientific data.

In this historical context, the marine station has developed an extremely modern science, around endless search fields.Very soon, the multidisciplinary aspect emerges in Villefranche-sur-mer. The observatory, one of three marine stations of UPMC, is the French campus most comprehensive science of the sea. Strong geographical advantages, an exceptional variety of wildlife and the presence of plankton from the surface of deep ocean provide the ideal conditions to fulfill its mission of teaching, research and observation. Articulated around cell biology, biochemical and biological oceanography, physics and chemistry,  Marine Geosciences, the Ocean Observatory also respects a long tradition of teaching which is delivered in the areas of oceanography and marine environments, geology, hydrogeology, and geomaterials ...

Field teams are working around various issues, ranging from ocean acidification, sequestration of CO2 and climate change, marine biodiversity and research on cancer, and have advanced equipment such as gliders submarines to optimize the exploration of the ocean.

The underwater robotics to observe the great blue
Developing a new generation of underwater robots, the profiling floats to explore key ocean areas and better understand the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen, that is the objective of the project remOcean led by Hervé Claustre, a researcher at the Ocean Observatory of Villefranche-sur-mer. Combining the results obtained with the satellite observations of ocean color will also help to better understand the role of phytoplankton in regulating the carbon cycle. Launched for five years (2010-2015), the project received a grant from the European Research Council.