Under The Pole - Innovative Underwater Exploration

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: biology, oceanography, marine ecosystem, marine biology, aquatic invertebrates, plankton

Principal Investigator: Bihan-Poudec, Anne-Claire (1)
Licence Number: 16148
Organization: Why Expeditions Association
Licensed Year(s): 2017
Issued: Jul 21, 2017
Project Team: Anne-Claire Bihan-Poudec (Scientific coordinator, WHY expedition association (http://www.underthepole.com/the_team/?lang=en) ), Ghislain Bardout (President Association + Scientific diver, WHY expedition association (http://www.underthepole.com/the_team/?lang=en)), Marcel Koken (Molecular biologist, Labocea, CNRS (http://www.labocea.fr/ , https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marcel_Koken) ), Frédérik Chevallier (Biologist, scientific mediator, Musée de Tatihou (Tatihou Museum: http://www.manche.fr/tatihou/activites-pedagogiques-contact.aspx))

Objective(s): To discover bioluminescent or biofluorescent species in the Arctic mesophotic zone.

Project Description: This survey aims at discovering bioluminescent and biofluorescent species in Polar Regions (namely the Arctic), assessing and understanding the potential functions of the phenomena. Marcel Koken and his team hope to discover bioluminescent or biofluorescent species in the Arctic mesophotic zone.

As the mission consists of an exploration of an under-studied part of the ocean, the scientific team does not yet know what they will find. They will proceed by observing mesophotic marine ecosystems and will collect specific species discovered or observed during the mission, namely plankton and fish thanks to skilled deepwater divers.

More specifically, a taxonomic survey of bioluminescence and biofluorescence across marine fishes will be conducted. The fluorescence patterns will be digitally imaged and the emission spectra recorded. This will provide a map and framework to map, explore and analyze the evolutionary distribution and diversity.

In the proposed expedition, the research team will work to explore the Canadian Arctic waters for both bioluminescence and biofluorescence of marine species (light marine creatures). This international project is of great scientific interest as both of these phenomena have only been examined extensively in tropical waters and not in polar waters. This will be the first. The Polar Regions are unique in that they receive almost twenty-four hours of sunlight for a portion of the year and nearly complete darkness in winter months. This poses many fascinating questions and we are willing to conduct this exploration expedition in the Canadian polar waters.

On the side, this project will provide opportunity to document and present the beauty and diversity of the Canadian polar marine life below. We intend to invite artists, photographers, scientific journalists and documentary film makers to share the journey of the research and disseminate the spectacles and results of this expedition. Moreover, this scientific project will be used to develop educational material for international school (program in English and French). It will play a key role in disseminating the scientific results through workshops with policy makers, managers, businesses, traditional owner groups, schools and associations. The international communication plan targets a diversity of stakeholder groups and encompasses tools from documentary films, through art exhibitions, to school classes, and will contribute to engaging both the professional and the civil world in the conservation of the unique and invaluable ecosystem services that Canadian polar waters provide.

People care for what they know – and the Arctic environment is one of Earth’s last unknown prolific habitat types, thus deemed to public disregard. Rallying support for the integration of this invaluable ecosystem in seascape-scale management planning is hindered by serious knowledge gaps that this project aims to fill. Scientific papers will be published in open source scientific journals (Plus One, etc.) in order to share the data and the results with everybody including Canadian, individuals and communities in the Northwest Territories (NWT).

The sailboat will stop in several small communities harbor during the NWT route. They will communicate and explain to those communities the objectives of the scientific NWT campaign.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017.