Monthly Archives: June 2012

Preparing the labs and hungry eel

Most scientists have arrived to the Stareso station, plans have been discussed and our first general meeting was held. Everybody is installing the equipment, so the labs have change a lot from yesterday to today; from a messy mass of boxes, bottles, tubes, cables and pumps to proper laboratories.

Dry and wet laboratories at Stareso MedSeA 2012

However not everything was that easy: yesterday one of the mesocosms lost water and so, all of them needed to be open and acidified again. The divers needed to repair again!.  Since the acidification is gradual, this caused a delay of two days in our original plans.  And today, the day started with a hungry eel having a taste of finger for breakfast. But work won´t stop, we will have test samplings at 8pm in the next two days and hopefully Andy’s finger will have some extra time to heel before starting the experiment.

Some leave, other arrive

People from the preparation step gradually leave. David and Jean-Yves, who were here to do videos of the preparation as well as sub-marine sequences, left Tuesday. They were happy of the movies they have done on our work and the biodiversity around Stareso. Jean-Michel and Bruno (our jukebox) left this afternoon!!

Shooting of the mesocosms positioning by Jean-Yves from the dinghy.

They left… the mesocosms also!! Yesterday morning we had the bad surprise to see a new repartition between the 3 sets of mesocosms. After 4 intensive days of wind one of the line maintaining a set of mesocosms broke!! Since Saturday evening it blows a lot, we had a maximum wind of 50knots!! It was a good test for the anchor’s resistance but after 4 days of the line didn’t resist. The divers went quickly to repare.

The 3 sets should be aligned and not like a triangle…

So, before other participants arrive, between Saturday and Sunday, we still have preparation to finish the installation. Today we tested the three platforms to receive people when sampling. They consist in an assemblage of cubis and linked with the mesocosms by ropes. We also did a test if someone fall in water to go back on the platform… it’s not an easy job when alone with jellyfish around!! But we’ll never be alone on a platform, 3 people will be together for sampling 3 mesocosms.

Beautiful colors on the installation. At the bottom of the dock, the grey floating system is one of the platform we’ll use to take the samples.

The show must go on

It’s been a week now that the LOV team invaded the Stareso station. It took us several days to build the mesocosms and to anchor them in a site located feww hundred meters from the harbor. The divers did a very good job, the 9 mesocosms are now deployed and should be closed by tomorrow. Then we will fix the roofs and the pH regulation can start. We’ll explain in a post how we will acidify the mesocosms.

Concerning the labs, everything has been cleaned and we already installed all our material. Now, we wait for our colleagues to arrive to finish the installation !

A very nice video that our friends Jean-Yves Collet and David Luquet shared with us, can be viewed below:

Sub-marine video: anchor and deployment

And six mesocosms in the water!!

The last three days have been intense and productive for both teams (ndlr: the divers and the mesocosms builder). Today we’ve placed a second set of 3 mesocosms at sea and positioned them on the site prepared by the divers. And we had a good dinner (like always) with view on the 6 mesocosms:

The longest and hardest part of the last days was to prepare the bags to be inserted in the drum (upper part prepared on Monday). This work has been slowed down by the sun and heat we had the days before!! Today is really windy and we can test the resistance of the anchors with the South wind that enter in the Gulf.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning we could drag in the ‘harbour’ the mesocosms and the divers prepared a set 3 before going to position them on site.Since Wednesday the film-maker follows every step of the construction you can see him in the red dinghy with Grigor, while Bruno is bringing the mesocosms outside the harbour with Amélie and Jean-Michel.

The film maker showed us and the teenagers who were there until yesterday, the first rushes of the work under water, it was really nice to see what happened under surface and how hard it can be to work in the water. Thursday evening we also followed the presentation of this group of teenager who were here for a diving training in the frame of the school work!! They had to choose a topic concerning the marine environment (ecology, physic processus…). It was a really nice sharing moment that we all appreciated.

Life in Stareso by Samir and Walter

Stareso emergency.

In Stareso, I (Samir) have also another job to do…extreme mountain driver!  I’m often called to drive injured or sick people from the station to the town. As I know the road by heart, I can bring people in 10 min. The road is very rocky and demanding but is like in the « bled » so I am used to. They call me « Samir Emergency ».

Life in Stareso.

It’s the first time for us to live at 100m high in a lighthouse. We’ve always dreamt to see the sea from bed. We have a very nice view of all the Calvi Gulf and the mesocosms underneath which are being built. This place is very nice and quiet and our jobs are not too hard with this beautiful landscape. The sun is very hot, but a fresh swim can be very useful to refreshment as well as the good food of our cookers…

Every night we fight all together against the bees and mosquitoes with pillows and whatever we have in hands (broom, iphone, computer etc…)!

The time flies and day after day we start to feel the tiredness, but we can check and set up instruments for the experiments soon.

Divers’s works

Since the beginning, simultaneously to the mesocosms building work, the four divers prepare the field in front of the station to host the mesocosms. The nine mesocosms will be divided in 3 groups of 3, fixed to the seabed by anchors and spotted on surface with buoys.The picture below shows the placement of the mesocosms relative to the station and a scheme of how they will be organised.

After work, Jean-Michel, Bruno and Grigor explained us how they proceed under water. It’s not an easy task and they need a tool named “tarière” in French. It’s like a mechanical screwdriver and they need to be four around the engine to screw an anchor. One of them, Bruno sustain vertical the anchor; Grigor maintain the part of the anchor which is in the screwdriver; Didier maintain the whole system with a crutch and Jean-Michel (the chief of operations) manage the power.  At the surface Samir look after the engine (which switch off when no more essence: that’s what happened today!!).

They still have to install anchors, the subsurface buoys and surface. If the weather maintain like those last days they should finish in few days, but if the wind is strong it’s hard to maintain boat above them and it slow down their work.

Mesocosms’ assemblage started

Today has been more productive than expected: the nine upper parts of the mesocosms have been assembled (it was initially planned to unload the big truck this morning but we did it yesterday)! We spent the day “playing” Lego and fixed the different pieces together with Colson rings. We did it under the sun and a strong wind outside on the deck.

Some explanations about the mesocosms:
The structure we’ll use for the experiment is called a mesocosm and is divided in many parts: the roof to protect from rain, seawater spray, birds, …, the upper part which support the bag and buoys to maintain the structure at the surface, the bag itself and the sediment traps. All the structure has been invented by people from LOV, inspired from another project and adapted for our acidification experiment.
The roof is made out of a plastic tissue that leaves the light passes through. The material of the tissue is important because it doesn’t have to change the spectrum and intensity of the light. Every day we’ll perform light profiles in the mesocosms and outside to see if any difference is caused by the structure.
The upper part, what we did today, is a rigid PVC structure that has to support the bag and will be surrounded by buoys. It’s made with pipes connected together with plastic junctions and attached with Colson rings.


The polyethylene bag has a diameter of 2.3 m, a height of 14 m and a volume of around 50 m3. The material has been selected in order not to “contaminate” the water by passive release from the plastic and the whole upper part plus bags are designed to allow some turbulence generated by swell and currents inside the mesocosm.
The mesocosms end with a sediment trap and a diver will collect the material collected every day.

So, we still have lot of work to do before the mesocosms can be deployed! While we were building the upper parts, the divers (Jean-Michel, Bruno, Grigor and Didier) prepared the installation of the anchors.

Stareso invasion

After a calm crossing of the Ligurian Sea with dolphins, moon fishes and whales (six hours from Nice to Calvi) and many turns on a rocky unpaved road, we arrived in a beautiful research station called « Stareso» yesterday at 3 pm. The marine station is located at the end of North-West coast of Corsica in the Golfe de la “Revellata” , below the lighthouse (our lodging occupied for the moment by bees!!).

Just a break for a beer (or soda!) and we’ve started to unload all the material for our experiment: everyone is occupied to put the packs and boxes on the little “dock” of the station, invading all the spaces, before a fresh swim (unexpected for Amélie and Laure!).

All material transport wouldn’t have been possible without Ali (the man in white in the picture) our super driver of the 50 mtruck. He managed to reach the station despite of all the obstacles!! Under the light of a big white moon we climbed to the lighthouse for a quiet and welcome night, ready to start to assemble everything!!!By Walter and Laure

Truck loading: Done!!!

This morning we’ve charged the two trucks with the material. Everything was ready to charge two vehicules: one 50m3 from an external transporter and one 23m3 we rent.
Since nearly one month we store boxes from the other laboratories in the garden and our boxes are, since yesterday, at the entrance of the station.


For 9am all the boxes were in front of the station, ready to be loaded in the 50m3 truck:

But, the truck wasn’t here at 9am, neither at 10am…we had to wait until 11am to see the truck:

And directly charge it. Luckily we have a good pair of arms to load but arrived at the half of the loading we started to be tired…


After 3 intensive hours of handling, carrying, “Tetrising” (there is a lot of material!!)…the mission “loading” was done!!

People from the LOV are leaving Sunday 2nd with the ferry from Nice to Calvi and Monday morning the biggest truck arrive and… we have to do the same in the other way.