The BioLit observatory

Tell me about BioLit!

Aim: to take the pulse of the coastline - The place where the land and sea meet—the coastline—is a zone rich in terms of biodiversity, but also fragile, due to the many pressures that weigh on this environment (pollution, development and artificialization of the coastline, climate change, rising sea levels…). The coastline is very popular and is attracting more and more people. Today there is a pressing need to rally everyone to monitor its state of health and to help public agencies to act accordingly. However, the starting point for taking care of the coastline is getting to know it well and making it well known. Descriptive information on the state of biodiversity is lacking for 3800 km of our French coasts! One of BioLit’s main aims is to take the pulse of the coastline through mobilization of the general public.

Both “Citizen science” and “Participatory observatory of the coastline” - BioLit is a collaborative citizen science program focused on Coastline Biodiversity. Created and supported by the Planète Mer association, the Marine Station of Dinard (Museum national d’Histoire naturelle) is responsible for its development, with the support of a scientific council in partnership with environmental and sustainable development education structures, and with local authorities, government departments, and managers of protected spaces and natural resources. Strong citizen involvement is key as BioLit gets involved with monitoring the coastline’s health, and also becomes a national participative coastline-monitoring project that contributes to the identification and development of indicators for monitoring the quality of coastal environments.

Choice of actions within BioLit

BioLit (BioLit = BIOdiversité du LITtoral [Coastline Biodiversity]) was conceived of as a response to scientific and environmental concerns about the evolution of coastline habitats and spaces. Climate change and human pressures such as different forms of pollution, CO2 emissions that result in the oceans becoming more acidic, or even the increase in the introduction of non-native species…are among the many factors that change the life of the coastline, which call out to us and make it necessary to put different types of long-term coastline monitoring in place across a wide geographic area.
BioLit was also created to allow all of you to participate, through involving you in a network of eco-citizen monitoring and alerts. Scientists and agencies involved in the protection of coastline heritage, and in raising public awareness need you!

Choose your action

In order to respond to some of the issues that can arise when dealing with coastline biodiversity, the program is organized around different “actions”. Each action corresponds to a theme that is part of the long-term monitoring of terrestrial and marine coastline biodiversity, or to the pressures bearing on it. So, each action has a well-defined related question or issue!

Actions to promote coastline biodiversity in color

  • “Start your observations!” aims to draw a picture of coastline biodiversity as a whole. Each of your observations is a touch of color that will make up the composition. All taxonomic groups are included: algae, mammals, birds, fish, crustaceans…Some of your observations could alert the authorities and relevant agencies (for example stranded dolphins for the Réseau National d’Echouage …).

Actions to create a network of coastline alerts and monitoring

  • “Seasons of the Sea” looks at what the sea deposits on the shore, in the wake of sea tides and storms, on what is called the “foreshore”…following seasonal rhythms over the long term. The egg clutches of certain cephalopods, the arrival of Posidonia fruits or even velella [Purple Sail] jellyfish will also be scrutinized and anticipated, which will allow eventual change in natural cycles to be measured, year upon year,

  • New arrivals” contributes to an alert and monitoring network for introduced sea and coastal species, some of which can be invasive—that is to say they proliferate at the expense of local species. The particular aim of this monitoring is to contribute to tools for the protection of the marine environment, shared by EU member states (EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive ...),

  • “Coastline vegetation” allows for the monitoring of species of interest, identified by the Conservatoire Botanique de Porquerolles. Some of these are protected species, others, which are more common, are indicators of the quality of the environment or of a reduction in its quality.

  • “Look out, is this a threat?” targets anything that is not alive! Plastic waste, cigarette stubs, some activities (quads, motor scooters etc.), or some elements of artificialization (the concreting over of certain places, moorings etc.) can come to disrupt or degrade the life of the coastline. We are interested in your opinions. Through your observations, you let us know what might impact on coastline biodiversity.

Actions that respond to scientific research

  • “Brown algae and winkles” was started because brown algae were reported to have disappeared from rocky foreshores. Joint observation of algae and gastropods (shellfish) will allow for a better understanding of the causes of this disappearance, and its effects on the foreshore ecosystem. This theme’s three access levels allow everyone to take part. Thanks to the draft agreement proposed by Vigie-Nature-Ecole, this includes schoolchildren.


Taken together these different actions contribute to monitoring the coastline’s state of health at different levels. If you are particularly concerned about certain issues to do with the coastline and sea, do not hesitate to contact Planète Mer to develop other new “actions” with us.

Everyone can take part

BioLit, it’s free

BioLit is free and open to all. Planète Mer is an association acting in the public interest, and it has not commercialized BioLit tools in any way. 
All available tools can be used freely by environmental education structures or managers of protected spaces and natural resources.

Alone or accompanied

BioLit allows for several types of field observation. 
The level 1 guide allows anyone who wishes to, to set off alone or with their family, without needing to be accompanied. 
The level 2 guide requires the accompaniment of a local BioLit relay [team]. 
The level 3 guide is reserved for universities, researchers undertaking practical work with biology students, and managers of protected spaces.

From beginner to specialist: guidance for everyone

Three levels of difficulty are available when following the “brown algae and winkles” strand: level 1 can be found on thissite. Level 2 can be found on Vigie Nature Ecole. Level 3, reserved for scientists, is accessible on request. 
All level 1s for other monitoring strands can be found on this site .

Cove of Sugiton of the National Park of Calanques – Lilita VongCove of Sugiton of the National Park of Calanques – Lilita Vong
A BioLit field trip organized by IODDE association – Association IODDEA BioLit field trip organized by IODDE association – Association IODDE
BioLit Junior for children – Laurent WenkBioLit Junior for children – Laurent Wenk
A diver making an observation – Sandrine RUITTONA diver making an observation – Sandrine RUITTON