Expedition – Leg #1 from Brest to Woods Hole

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Mission accomplished for the 1st leg of the expedition

The first stage of the expedition has just been completed.

The crew arrived at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Massachusetts, USA) on Monday, December 6 at 9:30 pm (CET time) after 3 weeks of navigation in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Iris is moored alongside the American oceanographic research vessel, the R/V Neil Armstrong.

The techical stop in Woods Hole will allow the loading of more than 80 Argo floats that will be deployed during the second leg of the expedition between the United States and the island of St. Helena (UK).

The missions of the 1st leg of the expedition

The deployment of 17 Argo floats between Brest and Woods Hole

Argo is an international ocean observation program made of autonomous robots.

For this expedition, Euro Argo commissioned Blue Observer to deploy 17 floats between Brest and Woods Hole at precise GPS points.

The Argo floats are true sentinels of the oceans. They drift with the streams and measure the temperature and salinity of the sea water. By descending to a depth of 2,000 meters or more, depending on the model, they collect essential data for weather and climate predictions.

Blue Observer deployed the 1st float in the canyon of Guilvinec the day after the departure of the expedition. This float had been previously signed by the institutions and elected officials who support our project: OceanOPS, Wolrd Meteorological Organization, IOC-Unesco, Campus Mondial de la Mer, Région Bretagne and the Conseil départemental.

The team took turns to deploy the floats during the expedition. The 17th and last float was signed by the crew of Blue Observer before being deployed at Lat 37°34,17 N / Long  045° 44,35W. 

A group photo captured the moment.

Tha sampling of marine aerosols

During the crossing, our onboard biologist had the mission to collect marine aerosols for a joint study between the Institute of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand in France and the University of Laval in Canada. The objective: a study on antibiotic resistance genes.

"This mission is part of the study of exchanges between the atmopshere and the ocean and vice versa. We are going to study antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria, their dispersion and distribution. We will look for the most remote places in the middle of the Atlantic to quantify these genes."

Pierre Amato
Researcher in aerobiology, Institute of Chemistry of Clermont-Ferrand

Samples were also taken for the creation of a marine aerosol “strain library”, a joint project between the Roscoff Biological Station and Blue Observer.

The planktonic compartement represents 95% of the marine biomass. Only 1% of microorganisms have been described. It is a huge reservoir of molecules with innovative biocheminal properties.  

Microalgae are real bio-factories allowing the production of commercial and sustainable bioproducts in many fields (cosmetics, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals). The collected aerosols will allow to expand the stock of strains in th “strain library” in order to screen them for molecules of interest.

Life on board

Beautiful landscapes, an unexpected meeting with some animals, a sometimes-capricious weather… Discover some pictures of the life on board during the transatlantic.

Relive the departure of the expedition

The crew of Blue Observer left the port of Brest on Sunday, November 14, 2021 for a 3 months oceanographic expedition in the North and South Atlantic.

Many visitors gathered on the Malbert quay for the departure to wish fair winds to the crew. Entertainment on the quay and at sea, provided by Marie-France Roche – President of the association Un Enfant, Un Avenir – immortalized the moment. An emotional moment both on land and on board the sailboat. Iris let go of the moorings and gradually traced her wake in the sea, surrounded by the SNSM (French national sea rescue company) boats that accompanied her to the exit of the roadstead. The three horns of the tugboat “Abeille Bourbon” rang the bell for this great departure.

The goal for our sailors embarked on the adventure: a transatlantic from Brest to Woods Hole (Massachusetts, USA).