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Scientific mission

AMICi Mission: Impact of metals and microplastics

New Caledonia, february 2019

An eight-day scientific expedition (running from 6 to 15 February 2019) at the start of the Race for Water Odyssey in New Caledonia have been dedicated to researchers from the IRD New Caledonia (Institute of Research for Sustainable Development) to bring their AMICi mission (Accumulation of Microplastics in Coral Islands) to a successful conclusion aboard the Race for Water platform in Prony Bay.

This AMICi mission is managed by Dr Claude Payri, Director of the Joint Research Unit UMR ENTROPIE (Tropical Marine Ecology of the Pacific and Indian Oceans) of the IRD New Caledonia.

AMICi Mission: metals and microplastics

The AMICi mission aims to analyse the impact of metals and microplastics on the health of coral islands.

To do this, there are 4 scientists aboard, Dr Ricardo RODOLFO METALPA, Dr Leila MEISTERTZHEIM (President of Plastic@Sea), Dr Fanny HOULBREQUE and Valentine MEUNIER will study two sites:
– The first at the heart of Prony Bay enriched in metals
– and a second one further south, near Bonne Anse, which will be the control site.

In this way, two main research activities will be carried out at these two sites:

  • The study into the incorporation of atmospheric nitrogen by the coral islands in a metal-enriched environment.For this initial research activity, a 4-day mission per site will be devoted to the collection of corals and the incubation of these corals aboard the Race for Water vessel. Water sampling will also be performed on these 2 sites during this expedition.
  • The study of in situ ingestion of microplastics via 2 species of corals.In conjunction with this first activity, 8 days of experimentation will be carried out via scuba diving with the in situ incubation of 4 benthic chambers on each of the 2 sites. In this way, three benthic chambers will be put in place and two different species of coral will be incubated in these chambers, in which suspended microplastics will be injected. These three chambers will be compared to a control chamber not containing a coral colony.

First impressions and testimonials from our 4 on-board scientists:

Dr Fanny Houlbreque: “Performing experiments on a such a unique boat, in such a beautiful setting and in such a pleasant atmosphere is a dream come true for me!! For the first time, we’re here studying the influence of microplastics on the corals of New Caledonia and I’m really keen to discover the initial results!”

Dr Ricardo Rodolfo Metalpa: “Plastic pollution, combined with other anthropic pollution, is threatening the survival of coral reefs. Thank you to Race for Water for its commitment to this fight!”

Dr Leila Meistertzheim (President of Plastic@Sea): “I’m delighted because, in the first few days, we’d already taken samples of the microplastics present at the water surface, as well as the corals, in order to estimate the quantity of microplastics in their tissue. These are the two points the company Plastic@Sea is targeting: an improved inventory and an idea about the transfer to organisms.”

Valentine Meunier: “I realise just how lucky I am to do part of my PhD on this incredible boat, at just 26 years of age. Race for Water’s passage here is a fine way to continue studying the reefs of New Caledonia and make us all the keener and ambitious to do our job.”

Dr. Claude PayriDirector of Research and the UMR ENTROPIE at the IRD New Caledonia : “The Race for Water vessel’s stopover in New Caledonia is the perfect opportunity for our ENTROPIE team to initiate a study in this region into the impact of microplastic on the physiology of reef-building corals. At a point where various initiatives are thriving in a bid to combat this scourge, the IRD’s researchers are delighted to be able to utilise this vessel to contribute to the research, whilst at the same time limiting the environmental impact and preserving the tranquillity of this fabulous Prony Bay.”

AMICi Mission : watch our video…


Thank you to the partners who made this mission possible:

¡Ayúdenos a combatir la contaminación por plásticos de los océanos!

Hace una donación y toma accion con nosotros.