Topic 4d - Sir Alister Foundation for Ocean Sciences (SAHFOS)

The Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) is an international charity that operates the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey.

The CPR is a robust and reliable device designed to capture plankton samples whilst being towed around the oceans from ships of opportunity e.g. merchant ships, ferries and other vessels.

The sampling instrument is used to give a rapid metric for the abundance of zooplankton in the water column (tiny organisms like e.g. Dinoflagellates and Foraminifera), which is then used to inform longer more intensive analysis about the health of our oceans.

The original CPR platforms have been augmented with a range of modern day sensors like water sampling devices, as well as optical and acoustic sensors.

The in-situ environmental measurements gathered from these recorders can then complement other ocean observation networks and provide validation data for remotely sensed earth observation programmes.

Featured Educators:

  • Dr George Graham

Explore the data

EUMETSAT Oceans MOOC Data Viewer

Don’t forget you can download the video and transcript with the links on the right.

Optional Further Reading


Average Zooplankton Biomass

Map of zooplankton biomass (averaged over all seasons), found in the upper 200 meters of the ocean, represented as the amount of carbon (milligrams) in a cubic meter (m3) of seawater.

Coccolith bloom

A Coccolith bloom off the coast of Cornwall and Devon taken by Landsat in 1999.

Continuous Plankton Recorder

Shown here is the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR), a robust and reliable instrument designed to capture plankton samples over huge areas of ocean. The CPR is usually towed from the stern of volunteer merchant ships such as RoRo and Container Ships. However this versatile recorder has also been deployed from large sailing vessels, fishing boats and super tankers.


A variety of zooplankton