‘PieuvreDoree99’ wins the PlankThon Challenge, the ecological hackathon of Veolia and the Tara Ocean Foundation

The winning PlankThon Challenge project stood out for its energy frugality. In this first ecological hackathon organised by Veolia and the Tara Océan Foundation - with the support of the oceanography laboratory of Villefranche, Sorbonne University and Plankton Planet - students from all over the world, data science enthusiasts, imagined in 48 hours how to classify hundreds of thousands of photos of plankton taken during the Tara Ocean Foundation's current expedition. The objective was to find a low power solution to facilitate the work of scientists studying the consequences of climate change on marine life.

Launched on 8 June for World Oceans Day, the online challenge took place on 25-27 June and the results were announced on 5 July. In groups of two to four, the best teams at the end of the 48 hours of challenge pitched their solution and their data visualisation on 1 July in front of a panel of experts from Veolia, the Veolia and Tara Ocean foundations, and the Villefranche-sur-mer / Sorbonne University Oceanography Laboratory.

The three winning teams

Pierre Pereira (left) and Emeric Courtade (right)

First place: PieuvreDoree99

The project was developed by two French students both in double degree in data sciences at Polytechnique de Montréal (Canada): Pierre Pereira (age 23), at Ensimag, and Emeric Courtade (age 23), at Ecole des Mines d'Albi.

Their approach was particularly noteworthy for its energy frugality and had the greatest potential for application to PlanktoScope (developed by Plankton Planet and Stanford University). They won computer hardware, low tech equipment, and Raspberry Pi accessories for a value of €10,000. They will both be invited to meet Tara’s scientific team in Lorient when they return from their two-year expedition on marine microbiome in October 2022. Their solution will be used by the Planktoscope, which is used to study and analyse living plankton on the schooner Tara during its current Atlantic expedition.

Second place: HawaiianBobtailGreen7

This project was developed by four students from École 42 in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): Chetty Suresh, Tan Gates, Bunyodbek Shamsiddinov, and Hans Hazairi. They won computer hardware, low tech equipment, and Raspberry Pi accessories for a value of €6,000.

Third place: Turtle Black 9

This project was developed by four German students: Luca Eyring, Technical University of Munich, Camillo Haye, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and Marc Serafin and Jacob Lind, students at Nova SBE, Portugal. They won computer hardware, low tech equipment, and Raspberry Pi accessories for a value of €4,000.


The Tara Ocean Foundation

It is the first French non-profit foundation devoted to the Ocean. It develops high-level ocean science, in partnership with international laboratories of excellence, to explore, understand, and anticipate the upheavals linked to climate and environmental risks. It has two key missions: explore and share. The Tara Ocean Foundation raises awareness and educates the younger generations to protect the vital ocean ecosystem.

The Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche

The Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche is developing recognized expertise in biology, ecology, chemistry and biogeochemistry. This expertise includes oceanic planktonic genomics, dynamics and bioregionalization of planktonic communities (phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish larvae), invasive or harmful species (dinoflagellates, jellyfish, etc) viruses, microzooplankton, and microplastics.