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We are a group of international students and scientists, concerned by environmental issues, who have decided to act through scientific studies and in raising public awareness.
Our studied area : the archipelago of Lérins (French Riviera, France)
Located in the Bay of Cannes, on the "Cote d'Azur", one kilometer southeast of the tip of the "Croisette", the archipelago consists of two large islands. Sainte-Marguerite is famous for its fort, which have housed the famous "Man in the Iron Mask", and Saint-Honorat, smaller, is known for its monastery and vineyard.
A less urbanized area, but subjected to increasing anthropogenic pressures.
The archipelago of Lérins, labeled Natura 2000 (listing the European "hotspots" of biodiversity) hosts a variety of natural ecosystems, typical of the north-western Mediterranean sea. But this natural spot is paradoxically especial in the middle of a highly urbanized coast (see map on the right, and below). Indeed, at just one kilometer off Cannes and its 3600 inhabitants per km2, the archipelago houses only a dozen people in Sainte-Marguerite (2km2) and a few tens monks on Saint-Honorat.
Local authorities and associations are involved in the protection of this ecosystem. For example, the City of Cannes has implemented a series of protective measures (called Agenda 21) including a new wastewater treatment plant. To monitor the evolution of the ecosystem, the physico-chemical parameters of the water are measured regularly by private or public consultants, but rare are the projects gathering all the needs required to study marine biodiversity.
Our objective: monitoring the marine biodiversity of the archipelago at long term
Students are able to collect data at sea and to analyzed them during the following months. The collection of so called "biotic" factors allows us to identify and map the species and biodiversity around the islands (see results). We also study the environmental conditions, otherwise called "abiotic" factors, such as turbidity (optical characteristic of water), substrate (type of bottom), hydrodynamics (agitation status) and depth. The coupling between these abiotic and biotic factors will define the different ecosystems of the archipelago when statistical analyses will compare them in time and space.
The scientific goal of this study is to annually publish our results in a specialist journal.
Raising public awareness in order to protect this rich ecosystem
In our mind, a scientific study remains useless if its results are not transmitted to the public. Ours are intended to raise awareness about the protection of the ecosystem of the archipelago.
Therefore we will need to find associative and institutional partners able to act as a vector to the public.
Even framed by scientists, this project basically relies on the students of the "Marine Biology" major of Skema Bachelors.
The idea is to help them taking responsibility by conducting an integrated project, from the data collection and analyses to the communication of the results to the scientific community, the local authorities and the population.