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Marine Systems


University of Toulon
70 Avenue Roger Devoucoux


May 09 - 16 2020
This event has passed.


8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Environmental Issues in the Mediterranean Marine Systems | Field Course

Presented by Trent University and Université de Toulon

MAY 9-16, 2020 | This course has passed.

Course Description:

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most complex marine ecosystems, characterized by a rich and diverse biota. However, human-driven pressures such as global climate change and bio-invasions currently affect its integrity. In addition, the coastal areas are experiencing the environmental impacts of industry, tourism, agriculture and climate change. All these factors result in water shortage, habitat loss, and chemical pollution.

This field course will introduce students to the environmental challenges in the southeastern area of France (Northwestern Mediterranean Sea). The course will be highly oceanography-focused, as it is based out of the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) and the University of Toulon and in partnership with IFREMER (French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Oceans).

*This course is not available for credit for IIES member students but is a learning opportunity for those interested in oceanography and the environmental impacts on marine systems particularly in the Mediterranean.


  • Must be a current student enrolled at an IIES member institution in a related field (undergraduate or graduate level).
  • As there will be swimming involved in the course, students must have proof of their ability to swim.
  • Students must provide evidence of travel insurance, including health and accident insurance.

DECEMBER 20, 2019


The IIES will cover participation fees for IIES member students, including residence, transportation costs around Toulon-Marseille and field course components (e.g., oceanographic boats, sampling and analysis).

Students will be responsible for organizing and paying for their own flights to/from Marseille, their own meals during the trip and some transportation ie. to and from the airport.

Course Format: 

The course consists of a field trip to Toulon with 50 hours of intensive contact time with the instructor but as well with co-instructors from the MIO and University of Toulon. Students will interact with Ph.D. candidates from the University of Toulon (“Sea and Sciences” Ph.D. program) to create international research teams.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students should be able to acquire knowledge and understand:

  • The environmental issues affecting the coastal area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Challenges to enacting sustainable solutions to these environmental issues.
  • Efforts and policy at national and European scales to mitigate these critical environmental issues.

FIELD TRIP | May 9 – 16, 2020

May 9 | students arrive at the airport of Marseille, transportation to the local residence (https://www.gavaresse.fr).


Water management:

  • Water sources: Faron Mountain and the Dardenne Dam, water supply to the Eygoutier watershed.
  • Risk of saline intrusion: observation of the Mediterranean rivers, evaluation of fluvial water flow, visit of the Gapeau anti-salt dam.


  • Visit of the saline wetland of Almanare and its remarkable biodiversity: 200 bird species and 300 plant species.
  • Visit of the protected Port Cros Island, the heart of the national park, snorkelling survey, fish observation (optional).

Water pollution:

  • Visit of the Toulon harbour, identification of major anthropogenic activities that may affect the water quality (French Marine Naval bases, Corsica Ferries, aquaculture farms).
  • Field sampling for microplastics in Toulon Bay and analysis at the University of Toulon.
  • Visit of the wastewater treatment Amphitrea and transport to the Calanque de Cortiou where treated wastewater is directly discharged into the Marine Preservation Zone. Students will conduct in situ measurements using oceanographic probes deployed from boats to evaluate the impacts of treated water discharges.

Institutional and political structure:

  • Visit of Ifremer: oceanographic vessels, sea gliders, Remotely Operated Vehicles. Sampling operation with VORTEX, a submarine robot. (https://www.flotteoceanographique.fr/Services/Moyens-d-essais-de-la-Flotte/VORTEX)
  • Presentation of the Métropole Toulon Provence Méditerranée, an intercommunal structure (population of 431,738) responsible for the management in terms of economics, regional and urban policy, transport, environment, education.



Course policy on behaviour and conduct during the field trip:

Students will be expected to adhere to the rules and regulations for residents posted. Students who do not uphold their responsibilities will be asked to leave and make alternative arrangements for accommodation and/or flight at their own cost. Every student is responsible for contributing to making the course safe, inclusive and respectful. Students must refrain from conduct that threatens or endangers the health, safety, wellbeing or dignity of any other person. Each student who chooses to consume alcohol is obliged to do so responsibly and to ensure their personal safety and wellbeing and that of others. Possessing, using or trafficking drugs that are illegal in France and/or Canada is prohibited.

Risk Management:

  • Students must understand that there are risks associated with participating in the field course and these risks and the procedures for mitigating them will be clearly communicated to the students by the course instructor before the course begins.
  • All students who want to participate in exercises in France that involve swimming and/or snorkelling must provide proof of a swimmer evaluation test at their own expense.
  • Students must have proof of travel insurance (health and accident)
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