Marine Observation Centre

The Marine Observation Centre (MOC) conducts long-term observations in the marine environment. These improve understanding of the dynamics and changes in marine biodiversity and coastal ecosystems. The observation systems that MOC uses for this purpose are partly developed and optimised in-house. They consist of a network of bio-sensors at sea and in the coastal zone, combined with multidisciplinary measurement campaigns carried out by our research vessel RV Simon Stevin on the Belgian part of the North Sea. 

Research within MOC focuses, among other things, on optimising DNA- and image-based observations, acoustic detection and biotelemetry in the pelagic ecosystem. The Marine Observation Centre (MOC) of the VLIZ builds on the activities initiated within the LifeWatch ESFRI project.

Person of Contact: Klaas Deneudt (

Iemand werkt aan een machine



  • Observations and high-quality long-term data sets, using innovative advanced automated techniques (biotelemetry, GPS localisation, image-based and acoustic recordings, genetic profiling, etc.) ; 
  • Monthly multi-disciplinary monitoring cruise in the Belgian part of the North Sea; 
  • Development and refinement of smart measurement methods, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, among others; 
  • Contribute to strengthening Europe's capacity in biological ocean observations and participate in local, European or global projects and networks, with a focus on marine observations and observation systems; 
  • Valorisation of high-quality long-term data sets, contributing to research in areas such as plankton ecology, echolocation and sound in the sea, biotelemetry and fish movements.

Recent and relevant publications

  • Aubert, A.; Beauchard, O.; de Blok, R.; Artigas, F.L.; Sabbe, K.; Vyverman, W.; Amadei Martínez, L.; Deneudt, K.; Louchart, A.; Mortelmans, J.; Rijkeboer, M.; Debusschere, E. (2022). From bacteria to zooplankton: An integrative approach revealing regional spatial patterns during the spring phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Bight of the North Sea. Front. Mar. Sci. 9: 863996.

  • Ollevier, A.; Mortelmans, J.; Vandegehuchte, M.; Develter, R.; De Troch, M.; Deneudt, K. (2022). A Video Plankton Recorder user guide: Lessons learned from in situ plankton imaging in shallow and turbid coastal waters in the Belgian part of the North Sea. J. Sea Res. 188: 102257.

  • Parcerisas, C.; Roca, I.T.; Botteldooren, D.; Devos, P.; Debusschere, E. (2023). Categorizing shallow marine soundscapes using explained clusters. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 11(3): 550.

  • van der Knaap, I.; Slabbekoorn, H.; Moens, T.; Van den Eynde, D.; Reubens, J. (2022). Effects of pile driving sound on local movement of free-ranging Atlantic cod in the Belgian North Sea. Environ. Pollut. 300: 118913.

  • Verhelst, P.; Reubens, J.; Coeck, J.; Moens, T.; Simon, J.; Van Wichelen, J.; Westerberg, H.; Wysujack, K.; Righton, D. (2022). Mapping silver eel migration routes in the North Sea. NPG Scientific Reports 12(1): 318.

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With this COST Action, we want to ensure a transition from a loosely-coordinated set of existing regional telemetry initiatives to an integrated pan-European biotelemetry network embedded in the international context of already existing initiatives.

Imaging data and services for aquatic science

This project will deploy, operate, validate, and promote a dedicated iMagine AI framework and platform, connected to EOSC and AI4EU, giving researchers in aquatic sciences open access to a diverse portfolio of AI based image analysis services and

Acoustic ecology of pelagic fish communities: a study into the effects of construction and exploitation of wind farms

This project concerns an interdisciplinary study with fundamental and applied aspects fitting the targets of the Dutch National Research Agenda (NWA). The project will collect data, using a set of echosounders, on density and diversity of pelagic

Joint European Research Infrastructure of Coastal Observatories: Science, Service, Sustainability - JERICO-S3

JERICO-S3 will provide a state-of-the-art, fit-for-purpose and visionary observational RI, expertise and highquality data on European coastal and shelf seas, supporting world-class research, high-impact innovation and a window of European excellence