The bank for a changing world

#Southern Ocean Mission – the half-way mark

  • 25.10.2016

On the outskirts of the Kerguelen Islands, the Southern Ocean Mission is maintaining its course. The scientific team has now been sailing for two weeks aboard the Marion Dufresne and is working flat-out to achieve its goals. Violent winds, turbulent seas... the conditions can be a trying ordeal for the teams. An overview of the mission’s first two weeks...

News from the mission

After departing from the port of Saint Denis in Réunion on 6 October, the mission has been pursuing its aim of collecting data in order to better understand the way the Southern Ocean operates and its impact on climate change. To accomplish this, the on-board teams must deploy two types of instruments – Bio-Argo floats and instrumented moorings – which will enable them to take measurements over the next several months.

“ This morning, we have successfully completed the most difficult part of the campaign: deploying the instrumented moorings. All of the moorings will remain in the water until March. Half of the Bio-Argo floats have been deployed and samples taken at half of the stations. We’re now heading south to deploy the remainder, and we should reach the southernmost point of our voyage on Friday. ”

Stéphane Blain

Head of the SOCLIM oceanographic mission

Exploring an inaccessible region

While violent winds blew across the Kerguelen Plateau, the scientific team of the SOCLIM mission took shelter in Table Bay. It was a perfect opportunity to observe and sample the water in the bay, which consists of sea water and water from the immense Cook Glacier. As the salinity levels of these waters are very different, they do not mix with each other. The boundary between these two waters is therefore perfectly visible from the surface.

Overview of Table Bay

Encounters at the end of the world

In the Kerguelen Archipelago, the scientific teams dropped anchor to explore this wild and inaccessible environment. The crew took the opportunity to explore the main island and observe the elephant seals in the Anse du Pacha, one of their major rookeries.


The mission sometimes takes delightful turns and includes its share of unexpected encounters with the local wildlife!

Aboard the Marion 

While the rhythm of life on the Marion is punctuated by the various operations carried out by the scientific teams, the two journalists, Yseult Berger and Julien Boulanger, are documenting day-to-day life aboard the ship and the work of the researchers.

The photographs and interviews included in the logbook of two journalists aboard the ship take us behind the scenes of the mission: the deployment of the instruments, the measurements and analyses of the samples in the laboratory... all while facing the extreme conditions that prevail in this region.