Your observation data

Little streams make great rivers. Each part of your data will swell the flood of knowledge and can contribute to the understanding of a process or event. That is why your role is essential.

Understanding observation data

What is observation data?

In the BioLit program, your observation data at minimum, must be equivalent to:

  • a photograph of an animal or a plant observed on the coastline. As far as possible this photograph will allow the species to be identified by other observers, and then have its identification validated.

  • the most precise possible localization of the observation site (a photograph of the coastline, looking out to sea, and then looking towards the land),

  • a date,

  • and your surname and first name as an observer.

So that your photographic observation can be meaningful, fit to join the database, and achieve its full potential during processing and interpretation, it needs to include a number of additional pieces of information. It is interesting, for example, to know that a particular species of crab has been observed, but it is not enough: we need to know “when” and “where” this species was observed (a photograph of the coastline landscape is needed to localize your observation site), “in what conditions” (after a storm? At high tide? ...), and “by whom” ( so that observers can contact you if needed, to ask for further details). Providing these descriptive elements, allows your photography to be put into context, and they then provide the administrators and scientists with keys to understanding and interpretation.

Why must there be so much observation data?

It is not possible for administrators or scientists to cover the whole coastline to observe biodiversity. Also, the more observation data is available the easier it will be to understand today’s biodiversity and to compare it with tomorrow’s. That is why your participation in all places and at all times is so valuable!
Observations that are well distributed geographically over the French coastline and available long-term will give a good overview. Do visit the observation site regularly over the year, and over the years ahead.

What it is possible to know scientifically based on the observation data?

Starting from the whole observation data, we can:

  • Get to understand a species’ distribution, and follow its evolution (stability, speed of decline, or spread)

  • Make useful discoveries of protected species, or potentially invasive species.

What observation data cannot explain

If observation data allow us to report a real situation objectively, they do not, however, allow us to carry out every type of interpretation or to deliver any type of conclusion.

So, based on your observations, it is not possible, for example, to:

  • systematically identify the species photographed. Photography, in effect, does not allow for the visualization of certain morphological criteria that are needed to determine a species. As far as other species are concerned, the use of a microscope or a genetic approach is needed for identification,

  • determine the direct causes of the decline or spread of a species’ distribution area: cross-references need to be made to other data, and additional analyses need to be made to arrive at those types of conclusions,

  • predict the evolution of coastline biodiversity, as this is a more complex and quite hazardous scientific exercise.


What will become of your observation data?

Lifecycle of a piece of observation data

What happens to your observation once you have sent it in? How will it be used?



  • YOUR DATA IS SHARED: You send in your observation data via your data can then be looked it by everyone (Menu: Onglet Observations). You can also share it on other social networks (Facebook, Google+...).

  • SPECIES IDENTIFICATION PHASE: The “Observations” page is to identify, that is name, each of the species that you have photographed and that other BioLitians have also reported. Several passionate naturalists, both amateur and professional, can contribute. Moreover, the Planète Mer team is inviting a parallel network of naturalists and scientists to participate on the site. This identification phase could last several months, to give enough time for discussions, questions...even debate!
    In this case: the photo remains labeled as “NOT-IDENTIFIED” (even if several proposals have been put forward).

  • YOUR DATA IS VALIDATED: As soon as an expert validates your observation scientifically your data will be validated administratively. This means that your photograph is no longer labeled as “not-identified.” The valid species name will appear directly. Your data is also then integrated into the final Planète Mer association database.

  • YOUR DATA WILL THEN BE SENT ON: (1) to BioLit’s scientific partners’ databases (2) and to databases and exchange platforms on biodiversity such as: the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle’s l’INPN (Inventaire National sur le Patrimoine Naturel), and SINP (Système d’Information sur la Nature et les Paysages) supported by the Ministère en charge de l’Environnement.

How will your observations be used?

They will be used:

  • by scientists,

  • by managers of protected spaces and natural resources to better anticipate certain biological phenomena, grasp some human pressures, and care for the territory, habitats and species for which they are responsible,

  • with the photographer’s agreement, some shots will be used by Planète Mer for the wider communication and promotion of the BioLit program.


Planète Mer and all project participants agree not to use data for commercial ends. Photographers’ rights in their photographs will be respected. Consult our downloadable Charte d’Utilisation du site et des données for more details.

Red starfish (Echinaster sepositus) in its environment – Sandrine RUITTONRed starfish (Echinaster sepositus) in its environment – Sandrine RUITTON
Colorful benthic life of the Mediterranean SeaColorful benthic life of the Mediterranean Sea
Zooplankton in surface seawaters – Sandrine RUITTONZooplankton in surface seawaters – Sandrine RUITTON
Floor of red algae called Womersleyella setacea – Sandrine RUITTONFloor of red algae called Womersleyella setacea – Sandrine RUITTON
The jellyfish Cotylorhiza tuberculata in the Mediterranean Sea - Sandrine RUITTONThe jellyfish Cotylorhiza tuberculata in the Mediterranean Sea - Sandrine RUITTON
The seasonal algae Rissoella verruculosa – Sandrine RUITTONThe seasonal algae Rissoella verruculosa – Sandrine RUITTON