Image credit: Karim Iliya / Kogia

About BIOcean5D

A European, multidisciplinary project exploring marine life and how it changes with space, time and human impact







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The ocean plays an integral role in supporting life on our planet.

Directly and indirectly, marine biodiversity contributes ecosystem services, known as natural capital, that are critical for planetary and human health.

But the richness and function of marine life is mostly unknown and the biodiversity we do know is changing at an exceptional rate – much faster than terrestrial life. This is due to global, local and human-induced stressors. Just 13% of the ocean remains unaffected by human activity. 

The vastness, extreme conditions and breadth of life held by the oceans has long made it challenging to study marine ecosystems. But thanks to recent technological advances, we’re now able to overcome some of the challenges associated with studying life beneath the waves. 

BIOcean5D represents a unique opportunity to harness these developments, to comprehensively understand the extraordinary richness of marine life.

Credit: Joanna Zukowska / EMBL
Credit: Leslie Moquin / Fondation Tara Océan

Our approach

BIOcean5D is a powerful aggregator, bridging molecular to organismal biology, theoretical ecology and econometrics, and marine complex systems to social sciences. Our approach enables us to consistently measure and interpret marine biodiversity and its interactions and functions, from viruses to whales, molecules to species.

We’re building an unprecedented set of samples, integrating existing samples and data with new sets collected from across the European coastline and data archives. And we’re using cutting-edge technologies, including eDNA/RNA sequencing, automated imaging, acoustics and remote sensing, massive computing power, artificial intelligence, and complex-system modelling.

Combined, this will give us a detailed picture of both taxonomic and functional marine biodiversity, and how they change across the 5 dimensions of space, time, and human impact.


Protecting marine life

A deep understanding of the structure, abundance, function and evolution of marine life is key to the sustainable preservation of our oceans. 

With a unique suite of data and samples collected from across Europe’s coastlines, we are developing solid theories and predictive models of the relationships between marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions. 

In turn, this will lead to the improved valuation of marine biodiversity, to support stakeholders to make informed decisions about strategies to protect and restore our marine ecosystems, for the benefit of society and the planet.


BIOcean5D teacher workshop. Credit: Stuart Ingham/EMBL

Our commitment to protecting our ocean

We have signed the EU Mission Charter to Restore our Oceans and Waters.

Dive deeper

Learn more about BIOcean5D.