We recently visited l'Eclosarium at the Ile de Houat off the coast of Carnac, France. l'Eclosarium is a museum and research centre of plankton, algae and Cyanobacteria. We were curious to know if microplastics have any impact on plankton growth*, which was the main reason we visited.
(*which could link plastic pollution in our oceans to climate change)
(Arriving at the Eclosarium with knitted octopus in hand - Zara knitted 50+ of these to fundraise for Ukrainians)
As you first enter you are greeted by the welcome desk and then head into the walk-through museum. The first part of the museum shows a model of the island, then some history of people and the ocean, including some drawings of a few very old diving concepts and even an old diving helmet.
We then headed onto the part about plankton, Algae and Cyanobacteria. The exhibit explains why plankton is so important for the ocean and planet, including the different types of plankton, algae (seaweed is classified as this), and Cyanobacterias (such as spiralina and chlorella) They even had some large tanks with different types of Sino-bacteria growing in them! They also had a microscope where you can see and classify the different organisms of plankton and Sino-bacteria.
The whole museum was in French with no English translations, and since our French wasn’t very good we missed out on some information that we might have otherwise found out if we knew more. Even with the difficulty of language, we still learned tons and it was a great way to practice our French!
We could not find any mention of plastic pollution in the museum. It seems that Eclosarium focuses on resaearch for cosmetics and food. But, we will keep looking for research to discover if microplastics (actually more likely the tiny nanoplastics) might be affecting Phytoplankton*, which is responsible for generating 50% of the oxygen we breath and absorbs 30% of CO2. Not a small job for such little plants!
(*not to be confused with zooplankton, which are the small organisms that eat plankton)