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Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

Oceanology covers all activities related to oceanography: prospecting, exploitation, resource management, etc.

Qualities required: be a specialist, but also have a good general knowledge of oceanography; be highly motivated; have a taste for research; be able to work in a team; English required.


Cristele Chevalier is a research oceanographer based in the south of France. She has travelled extensively to answer her team's questions about the ocean! Come and read about her inspiring career!

Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

Hi everyone! I am Cristele Chevalier, a research oceanographer at the Institut méditerranéen d'océanologie, the M.I.O. in Marseille, France.


My missions

My research center is the M.I.O., Marseille Institute of Oceanography. It's an interdisciplinary laboratory (physics, biology, chemistry) and we specialize in the study of oceans and the sea. Our main questions are the effects of climate change and deep-sea environments. As a researcher at the IRD, I also specialize in southern countries and the French overseas departments and territories. For my part, I specialize mainly in the study of lagoons (Mayotte, Tuléar and New Caledonia). I also study sargassum, its movement and development.

Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

I have many missions. My primary mission is to model marine currents. I set up in-situ measurement campaigns and analyze the data acquired to do this. For example, I have organized and carried out campaigns in the Ouano lagoon in New Caledonia, Mayotte, Tunisia and Martinique.


These data enabled me to model the lagoons of Mayotte, Ouano, etc. I also modeled marine currents in French Guiana and the lagoon of Tuléar. One of my aims is to understand how physics modifies ecosystems and contamination: does the barrier of the lagoons, which protects them from the outside swell, benefit biodiversity? How do these lagoons lost in an oligotrophic ocean manage to have such biodiversity? One answer may lie in the concept of the accumulator lagoon.

Is it linked to this concept of an accumulator lagoon that would accumulate microplastics from the ocean, or is it linked to the uses of the island's inhabitants?

Typically, I'm currently in Mayotte to raise awareness among secondary school children about microplastic pollution and to understand the causes of the presence of microplastics in the lagoon: is it linked to this concept of an accumulator lagoon that would accumulate microplastics from the ocean, or is it linked to the uses of the island's inhabitants? To this end, we developed an interdiscplinary project linking social sciences and hard sciences (physics, chemistry and biology). The project involved 2 classes from Mayotte, enabling us to discover an unknown world both in the sea and a French department.

Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

My background

Ever since I was young, I wanted to work on the sea.

After graduating with a "bac C", I attended a "classe préparatoire" in Paris, then an engineering school in oceanography. I went on to do a thesis on hydrodynamic modelling of currents in the Bay of Monaco, and was recruited by the IRD in Marseille.


Ever since I was young, I wanted to work on the sea. My first disappointment came when I learned that the naval academy, which had accepted a few women for several years, was again refusing women in my second year of preparatory school. This meant that I could no longer take the competitive entrance exam for the naval school. So I opted for an engineering school in oceanography.


My hobbies


I'm a member of my village council and secretary of my son's trampoline club. My job also allows me to discover magnificent places, such as Mauritius, Colombia and Mayotte. I walk and with some friends, we hike along the Compostelle route.


Until my children were grown up, I mainly did statistical modelling of the sea. Since they've grown up, I've allowed myself to go on a lot of missions. I go away about 1 week once a month

Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

Not just research...


Unfortunately, I see the damage done by humans every day and I try to raise awareness, hence the project we're running in Mayotte. For example, I've discovered that the biodiversity of the Voh-Koné lagoon (known for Yann Artus Bertrand's Heart of Voh) has collapsed since the construction of the Koniembo Nickel plant, I'm studying the impact of catastrophic factories and mines in many parts of the world, and the discharges from the Cassis or Carry le rouet sewage treatment plants make me no longer want to swim in these waters. And I discover young children in banga (shanty towns) who are mobilizing to ensure that their lagoon is preserved, and that's worth all the gold in the world.


I have one piece of advice, give it your all and follow your dreams!


Edited by Manon P. and Mazzarine D.


Cristele CHEVALIER: understanding how the oceans shape biodiversity

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