BIOSPHERE : The Commerson Programme
The Commerson programme, named after the naturalist of the Bougainville expedition, focuses on the study of the mesopelagic biosphere (200 to 1000 meters deep), also called « Twilight Zone », because of the limited light that can penetrate it.
The Earth has a seventh living continent: the mesopelagic continent. This continent is liquid, and only composed of living organisms in the water column. It is not attached to any land or ocean floor. It extends all around the planet down in the oceans, between 200 meters and 1 000 meters deep. It has about 1,000,000 unknown animal species (science has so far recorded about 980,000 animal species on the planet, including insects). The mass of these animal species is counted in trillions of tons. Every day, this huge mass of living organisms migrates vertically, breathes near the surface at night, and descends, dragging the CO2 down to 1,000 metres during the day. This makes it by far the most powerful CO2 pump on the planet. 50% of the oxygen comes from the ocean. Therefore we rely on the ocean with every breath we take. Moreover, the prospects offered by these immense resources for rational and sustainable agri-food and pharmaceutical research are immense: it is the blue growth.
And yet this ecosystem is completely unknown to science, as well as 72% of the oceans. This is the objective of the Commerson programme: to contribute to the discovery of this continent and the functioning of its ecosystem, which is absolutely vital for the planet. By identifying and classifying new species, by mapping this continent in all the seas of the globe, by knowing the masses and their movements.