A book and a website reveal the amazing world of plankton

© plancton

Christian Sardet is research director at the CNRS, and author of numerous scientific publications. He has made documentary and animated films, an award-winning DVD, and has received the European Prize for Communication in Life Sciences, awarded by the European Molecular Biology Organization.

As a co-founder and coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition, dedicated to the global study of plankton, Christian Sardet initiated the “Plankton Chronicles” project, combining art and science to share the beauty and diversity of plankton. He is also the author of “Plancton: aux origines du vivant” (in French).  The English version will be published by University of Chicago Press in 2015.

In this ode to the origins and diversity of life, the secret world of plankton is revealed in 550 beautiful photos. The book takes us deep into the heart of evolution, to the origins of life that has continued to diversify in the oceans for over 3 billion years.

The book “Plancton: aux origines du vivant” is published by Editions Ulmer (Paris, 2013) Click here for more information


“Plankton Chronicles” is an interactive website featuring videos, photographs and texts, combining art and science to reveal the beauty and diversity of marine organisms that drift with the currents.

The project was initiated by Christian Sardet in the context of the Tara Oceans expedition, in collaboration with the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV), CNRS Images (Meudon), and Parafilms (Montreal).

Special thanks to Claude Carré, the staff of the OOV, and the many coordinators and participants of the Tara Oceans Expedition.

Among the episodes to discover on the interactive site: Click here for more information

Protists — Cells in the Sea. 

Single cell organisms, protists are the ancestors of all plants and animals.

Salps — Life in chains. 2:19

Although primitive in appearance, salps are close ancestors of fish. When algae is abundant, salps proliferate in long chains of clones.

Siphonophores — The longest animals in the world. 3:56

Related to corals, siphonophores are colonies of specialized individuals.

Some catch and digest prey while others swim or reproduce.

Diatoms — Glass Houses. 5:06

Champions of photosynthesis, these unicellular organisms appeared at the time of dinosaurs and produce a quarter of the oxygen on earth.

Pelagia — Fearsome Jellyfish. 2:27

Mauve jellies move in droves, their nasty stings feared by swimmers.

Gelatinous Zooplankton. 2:31 Jellyfish and ctenophores are gelatinous macroplankton that appeared more than 500 million years ago. Will they soon dominate the oceans?

Iridescent Ctenophores. 2:01 Simmering waves of light, stalking their prey, ctenophores are on the move. 

The Plankton Chronicles were created by Christian Sardet (CNRS), Sharif Mirshak and Noé Sardet (Parafilms) in the context of the Tara Oceans expedition, and the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer (CNRS/UPMC). The project has received financial  support from the CNRS (INSB/INEE), UPMC, IBISA, and the city of Nice.