Etienne Bourgois. Copyright : F.Latreille/Tara Expeditions
The adventure continues !
The adventure continues !
After an expedition lasting two and a half years, Tara is back in Lorient.
This latest voyage to study marine life has consolidated the ship’s reputation in the world of science and adventure. The schooner continues to sail in the wake of the great oceanographic vessels.
Etienne Bourgois, president of Tara Expeditions, and Romain Troublé have their sights fixed firmly on the future.
After a marathon expedition like this one, what does the future hold for the Tara?
The ship will remain in Europe this year. She will stay in Lorient for school visits and the Volvo Ocean Race before heading to Dublin and Brest in July and then Paris in the autumn. Then in 2013 we would really like to return to the Arctic Ocean, which we did not study during the Tara Oceans Expedition, and pass through the North-West and North-East passages. We know very little about the biology in that region of the world. It will be an opportunity for us to apply the know-how we have developed over the last two years to the North Pole, a region rarely out of the news.
We shall continue our programme to measure plastic pollution in seawater and devellop new usefull collaborations.
Returning to the pole...
Jean-Claude Gascard, who took part in the Tara Arctic project in collaboration with the European scientific programme DAMOCLES, is once again coordinating an ambitious European programme in the Arctic: ACCESS (2011-2015). Tara Expeditions looks forward to participating as well as collaborating with russian, canadian and quebec scientists experts in this particular field. Scientists think that major changes are taking place in the Arctic and that a fresh assessment of the biodiversity there will be very important for the future.
You are also thinking about doing further coral studies…
We are currently drafting the outline of the expedition which, in 2014, will lead on from the Arctic voyage. The idea is to study the coral reefs biodiversity gradient at the surface but also at greater depths accross the Pacific Ocean. This expedition will take place in the Pacific and South-East Asia, and finish up in Hong Kong.
After that we hope to prepare another Arctic drifting expedition which would start in mid 2015, starting out from the Bering Strait. The expedition would take at least two years…
Polar drifting has been very successful for the Tara…
Between the start of the first Arctic drift in 2006 and the end of the second, almost a decade will have passed. Back then, in 2006–2008, some of the biological programmes had to be abandoned. Since then the Tara has acquired a certain expertise in polar logistics which we are delighted to make available to the scientific community.
Are you looking for greater visibility?
The Tara Oceans was an exceptional expedition, and successful, but the wider public has not yet realized to what point it has surprised scientists. Everybody agrees that the expedition has shown us just how ignorant we are about the oceans. We are working on getting the message across to the public through cinema releases. Tara Oceans will keep going after the expedition.
You have also talked about studying estuaries...
It is not a planned project yet but it is one I hold dear. There are so many large cities next to the sea. Two billion people are involved and the issues are enormous: pollution, global warming, access to drinking water, and desertification. Populations will be under considerable pressure.
We estimate that, by the end of the century, nearly 150 million people will have been displaced because of climate change.
One thing is for sure, Tara Expeditions will be continuing to work for the good of the environment.
Interview by Dino Dimeo
THE FUTURE OF TARA OCEANS
by Eric Karsenti, scientific director of the Tara Oceans expedition
– 10 years to analyse the complex data and samples collected by the expedition. This work should produce the first complete overview of the world’s plankton ecosystem.
– Discoveries applied to research and development into a global ecology (within the framework of the Oceanomics programme).
– Considerable strengthening of the collaborative structure of the OCEANS consortium which comprises all the scientific coordinators of Tara Oceans.
– Greater political impact of our observations, in collaboration with national and international authorities such as the United Nations.
– Stronger ties between Tara Expeditions and science bodies to communicate scientific knowledge about the oceans to the wider public. These bodies include France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).