TARA heads for Oceania and Southeast Asia, starting the second year of the expedition

© Noëlie Pansiot / Fondation Tara Expéditions

Already a year has gone by since Tara left Lorient, her home port in Brittany, to crisscross the Pacific Ocean from east to west, searching for valuable clues about biodiversity and the health of coral reefs. After visiting 15 countries, covering 26,000 nautical miles (nearly 50,000 km) and collecting more than 10,000 coral samples, the Tara Pacific team completed the first part of the expedition with an intense period of stopovers in Japan and Taiwan, devoted to raising public awareness and educational outreach.

The Tara Pacific expedition is only halfway over. The schooner is currently on the longest leg of the mission — navigating non-stop for 31 days between Taiwan and the Fiji Islands before beginning the second half of this great oceanographic adventure.

 

TARAPACIFIQUE-CARTE-V22

 

South Asian arc to China to complete its study of the coral ecosystem and try to understand — in collaboration with researchers from the CNRS, PSL, Monaco Scientific Center and other participating laboratories— coral’s mechanisms and adaptive capacities in the face of global change. The goal of this research is to eventually help contribute to the resilience and protection of this ecosystem in line with objectives of the Paris Agreement negotiated at the COP21.

To begin this second year, Tara will stop in New Zealand, home of Sir Peter Blake, prominent sailor, twice winner of the prestigious America’s Cup and owner of Seamaster, now named Tara.  The New Zealand stopover will have a special meaning for the schooner and for the founders of Tara Expeditions who are connected to this history and that of the America’s Cup.

 

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Sir Peter Blake’s work continues on the boat he loved, now re-named Tara. Credit photo Ivor Wilkins

 

After spending a few days in Australia, docked near the Sydney Opera House, Tara will head for the Great Barrier Reef, then to the French islands of Chesterfield and New Caledonia, the world’s second largest coral reef. The schooner will then head to the Solomon Islands and to Papua New Guinea— a real hotspot of biodiversity—before heading back to the Coral Triangle of Indonesia and the Philippines. This particular region is home to more than 30% of the world’s coral reefs, most of which are threatened with extinction due to urbanization, overfishing, pollution and of course the effects of global warming.

In February and March 2018, Tara will cross the South China Sea in a complex regional geopolitical context, making several stopovers in Hong Kong, Xiamen, Taipei and Shanghai, as well as doing some research work in cooperation with our Chinese partners, before returning to Japan.

 

Artiste à bord de Tara, Maki Ohkohjima, de Tokyo, hisse le drapeau japonais pour notre entrée au Japon
Artist aboard Tara, Maki Ohkojima from Tokoyo raises the Japanese flag for the entry into Japan, in February 2017. Photo Credit Sarah Fretwell / Tara Expeditions Foundation

 

The voyage back home will pass by the northern Pacific and Hawaii as well as the sadly famous « continent of plastic ». Between stopovers in the United States, some final dives in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, the Tara team is scheduled to return to Lorient (in Brittany) at the end of October 2018.

Noëlie Pansiot

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