Plankton Science for Our Future Oceans

Driven by almost a century of sustained plankton observations, scientific excellence and innovation, SAHFOS' vision is to become a globally recognised leader on the impacts of environmental change on the health of our oceans.

SAHFOS is an internationally funded independent research non-profit organisation responsible for the operation of the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey. As a large-scale global survey, it provides the scientific and policy communities with a basin-wide and long-term measure of the ecological health of marine plankton. Established in 1931, the CPR Survey is the longest running, most geographically extensive marine ecological survey in the world. It has a considerable database of marine plankton and associated metadata that is used by researchers and policy makers to examine strategically important science pillars such as climate change, human health, fisheries, biodiversity, pathogens, invasive species, ocean acidification and natural capital.

Our focus on the ocean plankton is important. Plankton sustains life on this planet by producing almost half the oxygen we breathe; it is the planet’s second lung. From a socio-economic context, it has been estimated that the annual gross marine product (GMP), akin to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately US$2.5 trillion which would rank the ocean as the world’s 7th largest economy. Much of that economy is driven by the plankton, without which the earth would be warmer, breathless, more acidic and devoid of charismatic megafauna; a global recession would be certain.

Never has the impact of SAHFOS’ science been so relevant.  There are significant challenges ahead for the planet if we are to achieve the goals set out in the recent, and historic, international agreement at COP21, namely to keep global warming below 2°C. SAHFOS monitors the pulse of the oceans through the plankton and contributes to the significant scientific effort that advises political decisions on a global scale.

SAHFOS has the operational capacity to help you deliver a research product to determine the future impacts of environmental change on the health of our oceans.

Professor Willie Wilson


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