A French research ship is bound for Vanuatu's Espiritu Santo island to join a large study of the area's biodiversity.
The oceanographic ship, the Alis, belongs to the French IRD institute and joins the so-called Santo 2006 project from New Caledonia.
The project will see about 170 scientists from 25 countries take turn in the project which was started last month and will be concluded by the end of the year.
One of the scientists, Claude Payri, has told the AFP news agency that about 400 types of algae have been collected so far.
Another researcher, Bertrand Richer de Forges, says samples taken from a 50-square kilometre area will have to be analysed in years to come.
The project Santo 2006 is being carried out by IRD, the French National History Museum and the NGO, Pro Natura.