Ostreopsis Ovata: a microalgae under close surveillance in the Mediterranean

territorial development

An encounter between a seaweed, The Ink Link and Surfrider

In recent years, the seaweed Ostreopsis ovata has appeared in the Mediterranean. It can be toxic and have harmful effects on both the environment and human health. The Ink Link and Lucile Gomez have been helping Surfrider Foundation Europe to inform people about its presence and impacts.

At the beginning of 2018, Thibault Chazeaud, one of our volunteers, contacted us offering to run the Paris half-marathon in aid of our association. Thrilled by this initiative, we suggested that he chose an NGO and sponsor our first project together.

He chose Surfrider Foundation Europe, whose values he shares: protecting and enhancing lakes, rivers, the ocean, waves and coastlines.

Showing the invisible

The Surfrider team needed communications support for a project in the Mediterranean basin: the proliferation of the algae Ostreopsis Ovata. For several years, their teams have been taking samples and observing this algae. Because of the irritations it causes, it has already led to overcrowding in local emergency departments. So it's time to get the word out about its presence.

The aim of their document for summer 2018 was to show the potential risks without creating panic or stress for swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. The relays are rescue centers, water sports venues and town halls. A poster and a complementary 14-page booklet appeared to be the most effective communication solution.

A booklet illustrated by Lucile Gomez

We turned to an artist who combines comics and illustration to adopt a subtle and funny tone, while presenting the characteristics of this seaweed. Lucile Gomez has published several comic strips with Editions du Lombard, Delcourt, Vraoum, Mama... Living by the ocean and a keen surfer, she loves depicting the marine world, so it all fitted together.

The final booklet contains information about the seaweed, its environment, its characteristics, its risks and what to do about it. Its distribution will enable the association to warn users and gather observations from them.

You can read it in full here

Surfrider Foundation has also created an online course for secondary school pupils on its Ocean Campus site.