About the CPR Survey

Driven by almost a century of sustained plankton observations, scientific excellence and innovation, the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey is a globally recognised leader on the impacts of environmental change on the health of our oceans. 

As a large-scale global survey, it provides the scientific and policy communities with a basin-wide and long-term measure of the ecological health of marine plankton. Established in 1931, the CPR Survey is the longest running, most geographically extensive marine ecological survey in the world. Home to a considerable database of marine plankton and associated metadata that is used by researchers and policy makers to examine strategically important science pillars such as climate change, human health, fisheries, biodiversity, pathogens, invasive species, ocean acidification and natural capital.


 Why monitor plankton? 

Our focus on the ocean plankton is important. Plankton sustains life on this planet by producing almost half the oxygen we breathe; it is the planet’s second lung.

Plankton are very sensitive to changes in their environment (e.g. temperature and pH) and due to their rapid turnover, they are excellent indicators of change in the marine environment. By monitoring plankton communities across basin scales and over many decades, the CPR Survey provides us with the ability to recognise changes in our marine environment over and above natural variations and trends.

Anthropogenic and global climate pressures on the marine environment are set to increase over the coming decades. Tools such as the CPR Survey help progress our understanding of changes occurring in the marine environment, and are essential to inform appropriate and effective management decisions at local, national and international levels.