Don't dismantle Marine Stations without fully functional alternative(s).

for sale: the 116 year-old Station Marine d Endoume in Marseille

On 20 May 2005 a decision was taken to sell 3 out of 4 of the buildings of the "Station Marine d'Endoume" (SME). This laboratory in Marseille benefits from its geographical position, between the Rhone delta and the renowned "Calanques", an extensive rocky limestone coast, and has access to many emblematic Mediterranean biotopes, some of them recognized as reference and focal sites at a European level.

Current research at the SME is focused on priority topics as identified by French, European and International science and funding agencies: marine biodiversity and functional ecology, in relation to disturbance such as the terrigenous input of the Rhone River, biological invasions and consequences of climatic changes, primarily in coastal areas. The scientific approach is to balance the use of direct and long-term observations, taxonomy, population surveys, in situ and ex situ experimentations and molecular tools.

A marine station is the only place where most aspects of these research topics can be studied together, thanks to the availability of natural running sea-water and direct access to the studied ecosystems. The suggested alternative for the SME is a hypothetical new INLAND laboratory, located 14 km from Endoume, plus one small and shabby building of the SME, remaining on the coast to accommodate experimental gear and aquariums maintained by "few technicians" without any direct and continuous control from researchers. This is inadequate to maintain the function as biological and environmental observatory carried out by SME's researchers for more than one century. This would also impair the educational role of the SME, particularly concerning the biodiversity courses.

The problems of development and management of the coastal zone imply significant responsibility for oceanologists (biologists, physiologists, ecologists, oceanographers, physicists, geologists or modellers together with geneticists and molecular biologists) whose research is located in the coastal field. The future and the development of coastal oceanology depend on a certain number of measures which are important to take concerning research, social demand and education. In a context of ever increasing pressures on the coastal zone and of biodiversity loss, the density and importance of the network of European Marine Stations are an essential support for the management of the coastal environment (scientific expertise, logistic support for monitoring, long-term series, experimentation and identification, testing and calibration of indicators...).

It is certainly not the appropriate time to close the Station Marine d'Endoume, without any functional alternative project.


  • I am concerned by the disappearance of the Station Marine d'Endoume which I consider as an important member of the network of marine stations in France and in Europe.
  •  I therefore urge decision makers at all levels in France to reconsider their current plans and to make sure that their actions meet with future needs of Science and Society and are not irreversible.

The undersigned















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