Tara Oceans is the very first attempt to make a global study of marine plankton, a form of sea life that includes organisms as small as viruses and bacterias, and as big as medusas. Our goal is to better understand planktonic ecosystems by exploring the countless species, learning about interactions among them and with their environment. Marine plankton is the only ecosystem that is almost continuous over the surface of the Earth. Studying plankton is like taking the pulse of our planet. Recently, scientists have discovered the great importance of plankton for the climate: populations of plankton are affected very rapidly by variations in climate. But in turn they can influence the climate by modifying the absorption of carbon. In a context of rapid physico-chemical changes, for example the acidification observed today in the world's oceans, it is urgent to understand and predict the evolution of these particular ecosystems. Finally, plankton is an astonishing way of going back in time – a prime source of fossils. Over the eons, plankton has created several hundred meters of sediment on the ocean floors. This allows us to go back in time, to the first oceans on Earth, and better understand the history of our biosphere.
More than 12 fields of research are involved in the project, which will bring together an international team of oceanographers, ecologists, biologists, geneticists, and physicists from prestigious laboratories headed by Eric Karsenti of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Click here for more information about Tara's return in Lorient after the Tara Oceans' mission
Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations speaks to Tara at Rio +20
Part of the speach :
"Earlier this year, I had the chance to board the Tara Expeditions when it docked in New York. The crew was really inspiring. They shared so much information with me about oceans and climate change. I am really grateful that they are raising awareness around the world … and I am very proud that the United Nations is supporting them. As I stood on the Tara that day in February, I stood on the deck and looked out at downtown Manhattan. We were surrounded by skyscrapers but we had a window on the deep blue sea. It was a reminder that our worlds are connected. I promised the crew that I would continue working with dedication for the planet’s oceans. Now, Rio has to put more wind in our sails, so we can navigate the waves to a better future. Let us advance for our oceans and our world."