The Oceanographic Observatory of Banyuls-sur-Mer (OOB), also called Laboratoire ARAGO, was founded in 1882 by the Sorbonne zoologist Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers in a location with exceptional marine biodiversity and well situated for oceanographic studies. As recognition of this hot spot for marine biodiversity, the first Marine Reserve in France was established in Banyuls in 1974. The second National Marine Park in France and the first marine protected area on the French Mediterranean coast was created in 2012, with a large perimeter including the deep Lacaze–Duthiers canyon of Banyuls-sur-Mer.  OOB provides TA services for ASSEMBLE Plus, for which Sorbonne Université (SU) is the French partner.

Since its inception, the main tasks of the Observatory have been to train future generations of scientists, to conduct research, to insure the monitoring of the coastal environment and to allow the public to discover the marine and terrestrial biodiversity of the area. Research is conducted in several marine research areas such as marine biology, microbiology, biogeochemistry, marine ecology, integrative and evolutionary biology and biotechnology. There is a focus on the study of biodiversity and the effects of environmental disturbance on organisms and ecosystems. OOB has research links with the pharmaceutical and cosmetics company, Pierre Fabre Laboratories. Other companies at the interface of public health and the environment collaborate with the Observatory. Principal partners are EDF, Veolia Environnement, Microphyt and Microbia Environnement. Microbia Environnement is a start-up company which emerged at and is hosted by the OOB.


  • Mediterranean ecosystems


Ecosystem access

  • Coastal research vessels (On-site service)
    • Nereis (length 12 m) for coastal fishing, dredging, plankton net, hydrology, etc. It operates up to 30 miles offshore and around Banyuls This vessel is part of the "French Oceanographic Fleet ", a Very Large Infrastructure for Research (TGIR)
    • Basic sampling gear and instrumentation available on board, as well a wet laboratory for samples processing
    • A lighter boat (length 6 m). Versatile and transportable, providing access to the coastal waters
  • Diving facilities (On-site service)
    • Access to coastal biodiversity and ecosystems of Banyuls sur mer and around                         
    • Selective harvesting of marine faune and flora is possible
    • Underwater photo / video
    • Implementation of visual inspection methods, sampling protocols or experiments
    • Deployment of moored sensors and maintenance
    • Can operate autonomously (up to 2 divers) or in support to visiting scientific divers


Biological resources

  • Culture collections  (On-site and remote service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • The Banyuls Bacterial Culture Collection (BBCC)
      • Contains more than 2500 heterotrophic bacterial strains. Microorganisms were isolated from oceanographic cruises samples: from oligotrophic waters to the most eutrophic, at the water interface with air or sediments, or from the water column.
      • It also contains symbiotic bacteria associated with plants (Macrophytes, seaweeds) and animals (Sea urchin, jellyfish..). Each strain is identified with a  unique BBCC code and genetically characterized (16S rRNA). All the strains are available under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA).
  • Marine model organisms  (On-site and remote service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • Paracentrotus lividus (eggs), Aurelia aurita (polyps and ephyrules), Zebrafish (eggs and larvae), Amphiprion ocellaris (eggs and larvae), Pocillopora damicornis (frags and eggs), Dogfish (eggs)
  • Species collected upon request (On-site and remote service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • Collection and supply of local marine flora and fauna specimens by diving and at sea


Experimental facilities

  • Aquaria and tanks  (On-site service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • Open/closed circuit running seawater experimental infrastructures 
    • Aquaria/tanks from 15 to 1000L 
    • Regulation of temperature, lighting, pH, salinity, etc. possible
  • Dry labs (On-site service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • ​​​​​​​One laboratory equipped for observation and cellular biology 
  • Wet labs (On-site service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • ​​​​​​​Running seawater, fumehood, microscope, stereomicroscope, incubator, fridge and freezer, field equipment, consumables reagents


Technology platforms

  • Imaging (On-site and remote service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • Flow cytometry (analysis and sorting) 
    • Transmission electron microscope (chemical preparation and cryopreparation of microbial samples)​​​​​​ 
    • Fluorescence microscopes Wide Fields (cameras + contrast imaging)
    • Laser scanning microscope (spectral, temporal gating, HyD, PMT)


Expert advice

  • Other expert advice (On-site and remote service)​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • ​​​​​​​Imaging and Flow Cytometry skills, microbial food web structure and functioning expertise


Success stories at OOB

Shedding light on the reproductive strategies of Antipathella subpinnata 
Access provider: Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls sur mer, France (OOB)

Martina Coppari 
University of Genoa

"The main topic of my research is the ecology and biology of black coral species. A huge knowledge gap exists about the reproductive biology of these species and their larval ecology. With the aim to shedding light on these aspects, and considering the impossibility to perform such studies in my home institution, I applied to the ASSEMBLE Plus project in order to collaborate with larval ecology and corals experts.

I collected several colonies of the most emblematic black coral species of the Mediterranean Sea Antipathella subpinnata to highlight different aspects of its reproductive behavior. Thanks to the ASSEMBLE Plus project I had the possibility to use the aquarium facilities of the Oceanographic Observatory of Banyuls-sur-Mer (OOB), which set up an experimental tank to host the coral colonies and to perform experiments and observations. During my stay at OOB I could describe qualitatively and quantitatively an asexual reproductive strategy, the bail-out, already know to occur in black coral species but never described in Antipathella subpinnata.

My experience as an ASSEMBLE Plus user was extremely positive and crucial to perform these studies."

Avenue Pierre Fabre
66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer

Liaison officer: Julie Boeuf ( ), cc to: 

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