Marine biologist Tierney Thys has fallen head over heels for a big, goofy fish: the Mola mola, or giant ocean sunfish. In studying the mola -- where they go, what they eat, what eats them -- she's also hunting for clues to the behavior of all life in the open ocean. With their enormous, odd bodies, peaceful habits and lust for jellyfish, these giants can be key to understanding life in the open ocean. Thys and her team are tagging and tracking molas worldwide to learn about how they live, and how climate change may be affecting all ocean life.
Thys is a National Geographic Explorer with a passion for marine education. She was also past director of research at the Sea Studios Foundation, a team of scientists and filmmakers that makes media to raise awareness of environmental issues -- including the PBS series Strange Days on Planet Earth and targeted videos that influence policymakers and businesspeople. Sea Studios was also instrumental in helping eBay stop the trading of invasive species.
The Plankton Chronicles Project combines art and science, revealing the beauty and diversity of planktonic organisms. Plankton samples are collected and filmed at the Villefranche-sur-Mer Marine Station and on board the schooner Tara using dark field optics and macro lenses or microscopes equipped with HD SLR cameras. Christian Sardet from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Noé Sardet and Sharif Mirshak from Parafilms (Montreal) initiated the project in the context of the Tara Oceans expedition.
Plankton Chronicles are sponsored by the CNRS, the Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris (UPMC) and the Groupement d'Interet Scientifique IBISA.