Tara Méditerranée: First Part of Expedition a Success | Tara, a schooner for the planet

Tara Méditerranée: First Part of Expedition a Success

© Y.Chavance/Tara Expéditions

From May to August

May to August 2014. Since departure on May 27, The TARA MÉDITERRANÉE expedition has been sailing off the coasts of France, Italy, Albania and Greece, before reaching Lebanon in early August.

These first 2 months at sea and on land were focused on the 2 main purposes of the expedition: a scientific component, to study plastic pollution at sea, involving the CNRS, UPMC and University of Michigan (among other institutions & associations), and an educational component to increase public awareness about the many environmental issues related to the Mediterranean. At sea, a changing group of scientists took turns follow the sampling protocols.

On land, various educational activities involved 3,500 people during our 10 ports-of-call in the 4 countries we visited. The focus on welcoming the public was successful: nearly 900 school children and adults visited the schooner. The frequency of visits will remain constant during the next stopovers. Between August and November, the boat will continue voyaging in the Mediterranean, and will visit 10 other ports.

DETAILS:

FIRST LEG:  FRANCE – GREECE

> 10 STOPOVERS IN 4 COUNTRIES :

FRANCE: PORT-CROS, TOULON, EMBIEZ, NICE, VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER, MONACO, ANTIBES

ITALY: CALA GONONE IN SARDINIA

ALBANIA: VLORA

GREECE: ZAKYNTHOS

> PUBLIC TOURS: 2,110 PERSONS

> SCHOOL VISITS: 887 SCHOOL CHILDREN

> CONFERENCES: 500 PARTICIPANTS

A TOTAL OF 3,497 PEOPLE CAME TO MEET TARA AND HER TEAM

Tara’s stopovers, besides providing occasions for sharing information with the public, also have a scientific aspect, including meetings with local partners, for example the conference in Villefranche-sur-Mer at the Observatoire Oceanologique (200 participants), and the Oceanomics seminar held in early July at Cala Gonone (Sardinia).

For 5 days, researchers from around the world involved in this project met to discuss the first analyses of samples collected during the Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle expeditions.

The itinerary of the Mediterranean expedition is determined by partnerships Tara Expeditions has created over the years with various organizations working for the preservation of seas and oceans. On the island of Port-Cros and Six-Fours in the Var, Tara joined forces with “Ocean Initiatives” of the Surfrider Foundation Europe to collect trash on beaches. 200 liters of rubbish were collected in a few hours at Six-Fours.

Another collaboration took the boat to the island of Port-Cros (France), and then to the island of Zakynthos (Greece), for a project involving a partnership with MedPAN, network managers of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean.

VIDEO - Meet the loggerhead turtles of Zakynthos

See a video about the management of the National Park of Port Cros (France)

 

Stopover in Vlora (Albania): the schooner was a highly symbolic site for the signing of an important agreement establishing a common policy between the Conservatoire du littoral français and its Albanian counterpart, the National Coastal Agency. 

Besides being a platform for scientific research and venue for policy discussions, Tara also became a “prince’s sailboat” for a few hours in the Greek Cyclades, when we welcomed aboard His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and his delegation. It was an occasion for the Prince to signal his Foundation’s support for Tara’s missions, and recall the particular interest of the Tara Mediterranean expedition: “This campaign – to study pollution by plastics – is also a way to alert our contemporaries and make them understand how serious the situation is. I think Tara is really an example. This is a great adventure – environmental, and of course maritime, but above all, human.”

Tara’s artists in residence

6 artists with diverse talents – photography, video, painting, illustration – will embark during this first leg between France and Lebanon for residencies of 2 or 3 weeks. An opportunity for artists to discover a new world and bring their vision to the Tara Mediterranean expedition. Artist Carly Steinbrunn, onboard between Cala Gonone (Sardinia) and Mykonos (Greece) remarks: “It’s really a good thing to mix artists and scientists. Contrary to what one might think, they are not so different from each other. Each person in his own way is trying to understand reality. It’s also an incredible opportunity for artists, who are neither scientists nor sailors, to voyage on a boat like Tara. There are so few artists’ residencies like this – it’s really an amazing opportunity.”  Five other artists will take turns in residence on the schooner during the coming months. 

Finally, on the way to Lebanon, Tara and her crew passed through the famous Corinth Canal separating the Peloponnese from the rest of Greece, thus avoiding a detour of 400 kilometers. This man-made passage – 6-miles long and 20-meters wide – was inaugurated in 1893.

Video from our correspondent aboard:

Follow Tara Expéditions daily with RFI through Agnès Rougier‘s chronicles and with France 24

 

Laura Oudin