Archive for July, 2014

TARA IS IN ALBANIA FOR THE FIRST TIME for a stopover in Vlore from July 15th to 19th

Tara will make a stopover in one of the country’s oldest port city, located on the Adriatic Sea, 100 kilometres south of Tirana. Although Tara has been crossing the seven seas for a long time now, the schooner had never made landfall in Albania before. 

This stopover, organized in close cooperation with the French embassy in Tirana, will give the opportunity to keep on raising awareness and informing the public about the environmental issues that have been feeding Tara’s commitment for 10 years, especially during the Tara Méditerranée expedition.

These four days will host many different activities with various conferences, an exhibition, boat visits and film screenings.

The exhibition “Our Planet Ocean” will be held from July 16th to July 18th in Vlore’s European information centre. It will give the public the possibility to understand that the Ocean is the cradle of life on Earth and covers three quarters of our blue Planet.

On July 16th, after visiting Sazan island, the Albanese local authorities will come aboard to sign the convention between the French Coastal Conservatoire and the newly created Albanese Coastal Zone Management Agency. This island is currently under the rule of the Albanese military forces and its access is strictly regulated. Signing a convention between France and Albania represents a crucial step that might lead to change the island’s status and turn it into a Marine Protected Area.

On July 17th, scientists from Tirana, the country’s capital, as well as from the University in Vlore will meet Tara Méditerranée’s scientific team. A seminar will take place in the University. Albanese and French scientists, Sajmir Beqiraj and François Galgani, will present the general situation about the Mediterranean’s health condition as well as the potential solutions for its protection. The students and scientists will then come aboard Tara for lunchtime and visit the schooner.

Last but not least, on July 18th, our program will be consecrated to this expedition’s educational perspective. The schooner will welcome aboard children from three orphanages in the region who will, after the boat visit, discover the exhibition “Our Planet Ocean.”

Sardinian stopover

Eight days after leaving Antibes, Tara anchored this Saturday, July 5th in view of the small town of Cala Gonone, Sardinia. A few days’ stopover during which plankton and Tara Oceans will be honored.  

Despite the many changes to adapt our program, and especially the sampling, to weather conditions, we arrived on schedule near this small Sardinian town — a hamlet with less than 2,000 inhabitants perched on a rugged coastline with turquoise waters and riddled with caves. Everyone on board was eager to get their feet on land or their head under water, but this stopover will not be a vacation for us.
Just after our arrival, some crew members went into town for a press conference, and returned  with a dozen journalists who visited the schooner. Just after they left, the coming-and-going of the dinghy started all over again, bringing newcomers with their luggage onto the deck, while other crew members at the end of their voyage were packing up. All this as usual in the middle of a busy work schedule.
Sunday’s program began with a conference in Italian about plankton and Tara’s expeditions, followed by a workshop on scientific research in the region, including discussions about the establishment of a biological station and a marine protected area. Afterwards a reception took place at the aquarium of Cala Gonone, a partner of this expedition in the Mediterranean.
In addition to this program, our stopover in Sardinia will be the occasion for an important Oceanomics seminar — the mammoth project aimed at exploiting the data and samples collected during the Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle expeditions. For 5 days, researchers involved in this worldwide project will meet in Cala Gonone to discuss their initial results.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Oceanomics scientists will conclude the seminar with 2 days of sampling off Sardinia’s coast. It will be an opportunity to train certain researchers in sampling protocols and better understand where the data comes from that they’ve been analyzing for over a year. So ends this sunny stopover at sea, before departure Wednesday for Albania, with a brief stop at the small island of Ustica.
Yann Chavance


Articles you might like:

-Discover Sardinia’s wonderful landscapes

-Don’t miss out on any of Tara’s events

-To learn more about our 10th expedition

Art under his skin

It’s often said that a tattoo tells a story, part of one’s life. Spencer Lowell, American artist in residence aboard Tara, is covered with tattoos. Though he claims that his tattoos don’t really mean anything,  they nonetheless reveal certain facets of this unusual artist.

Spencer got ​​his first tattoo at age 18 in Los Angeles, his hometown – 5 stars on his chest. When asked why this particular design, the answer is succinct: “No reason. I wanted a tattoo and I love stars.”

The same year, he had a four-leaf clover tattooed on his head.  Again, no particular reason, and he doesn’t consider himself superstitious. “It’s just in case,” he adds. “Sometimes I have an idea in the morning, and I get it tattooed on myself in the afternoon. I don’t take it very seriously. It’s a way not to take myself too seriously either. When my ego takes over, my tattoos bring me down to earth.”

At the time, Spencer was rather cautious. He chose his head for the new tattoo so he could easily hide it if necessary. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was just beginning to take photos and I really loved that, but I wasn’t sure it would become my profession.” Then the artist changed his ideas about tattoos, and especially about the meaning of his life. “I used to think these tattoos would last forever, but then I realized nothing is eternal. Someday my body will no longer be here, and my tattoos will disappear with it.”

Spencer Lowell began to add more and more tattoos without hiding them. On his left arm, he has a line  from a John Lennon song: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”  A way for him to remember that the future is not always in his hands. “I’m just part of the journey, a passenger.” On his belly, two birds surround a flower, symbolizing harmony for him. A duality that can be found in many of his tattoos, such as the white band on his forearm, opposite a black band on the other forearm. “It’s the positive and the negative,”  he says. “In general, I’m always looking for a balance.”

Spencer then decided to extend the black band over his entire left arm, leaving a single empty space: an atom, surrounded by electrons. “I thought it would be interesting because it’s the symbol of matter, and it appears thanks to the absence of ink, that is, of matter.” An intellectual game using tattoos, which climaxed with a date inscribed on his right foot: Monday, June 5, 2006. What happened that day? Absolutely nothing. It’s simply the day that tattoo was done.

Over the years, Spencer’s different tattoos increasingly reflect his passions: art and science. On the knuckles of his left hand is inscribed Einstein’s famous formula: E=mC2.  “I love photographing science because I like to understand how things work. Ultimately it’s a desire to understand the nature of the Universe.”  On the knuckles of his right hand, like a response to science, he has tattooed the letters CMYK, for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. “These are the colors used in printing. We can make all the colors starting from these,” he explains. “For me, this represents art. It’s complementary to science. Art comes from the heart, science from the head, but both do the same thing: try to find answers.”

Difficult to pass in review Spencer Lowell’s dozens of weird tattoos – poetic, funny or metaphysical.  One last question for this very creative artist: if you decided to get a tattoo after your voyage aboard Tara, what would you choose? After a few seconds of reflection, the answer is surprising, as often with Spencer Lowell: the inflatable plastic crocodile captured a few days ago when we were at sea, floating in the middle of the sea. And when asked why this strange choice, the answer, said with a grin, was of course the same as for almost every one of his tattoos: “Why not?”


Yann Chavance

Escale à Cala Gonone jusqu’au 9 juillet

Tara est en escale à Cala Gonone en Sardaigne.

Du samedi 5 juillet au mercredi 9 juillet, des rencontres avec la presse, une exposition, de multiples conférences ainsi que des visites de la goélette sont prévues. Cette escale sera aussi l’occasion pour les chercheurs du projet OCEANOMICS de se réunir.


OCEANOMICS a pour but d’organiser ces échantillons et de les étudier en profondeur, c’est pourquoi régulièrement ses chercheurs se réunissent pour discuter des axes de recherches, de l’avancée des travaux. A cette occasion des jeunes chercheurs travaillant sur les données mais qui n’ont pas participé aux expéditions pourront s’initier à la collecte et mieux comprendre ce qu’ils étudient.

Ce projet de 7 ans intimement lié à l’expédition Tara Oceans (2009-2012) réunit les chercheurs qui l’ont imaginée et qui y ont  participé. Cette mission a permis de construire un trésor unique de dizaines de milliers d’échantillons biologiques et de millions de mesures chimiques et physiques systématiquement récoltés au gré de tous les océans.

- Le samedi 5 juillet :

  • Vers 12h00, arrivée de Tara à Cala Gonone
  • À 15h00, une rencontre avec la presse sera organisée suivie d’une visite à bord de la goélette réservée aux journalistes.

- Lieu de la rencontre presse : Cinema teatro.

- Lieu de la visite à bord de Tara : au mouillage en face de Cala Gonone.

- Le dimanche 6 juillet :

  • À 9h30, un colloque dédié à Tara et la Méditerranée s’ouvrira sur une conférence grand public en deux temps (gratuite, sans inscription), intitulée Le Plancton et Tara. – Lieu : Cinema teatro.

Le Docteur Johan Decelle, chercheur à la Station Biologique de Roscoff (France), interviendra en premier lieu sur Le plancton, pour ensuite céder la parole au docteur Daniele Ludicone, chercheur à la Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn de Naples (Italie), qui présentera l’expédition Tara Oceans.

  • De 11h00 à 13h00, nous poursuivrons avec une deuxième conférence ouverte à tous (gratuite, sans inscription), intitulée La Méditerranée – une mer en danger. À cette occasion, trois spécialistes se succèderont pour analyser les menaces écologiques en mer Méditerranée – Lieu : Cinema teatro.

Docteur Giuseppe Bianco présentera les activités de l’Agence régionale pour la protection de l’environnement de la Sardaigne (ARPAS) dans la surveillance et l’étude du climat de la Sardaigne.

Docteur Daniele Ludicone, s’intéressera aux Écosystèmes de la Méditerranée dans un contexte de changement climatique. Docteur Andrea Rotta (Université de Sassari), évoquera le cas des cétacés au nord de la Sardaigne à travers une étude de leurs dynamiques et de leur état de santé.

  • À 18h00, les travaux du photographe sous-marin Egidio Trainito, désignés sous le nom de Collier de la biodiversité (Collana della biodiversità), seront présentés.

- Lieu : Cinema teatro.

  • À 19h00, l’inauguration de l’exposition Le plancton et les « métamorphoses » (Il plancton e le « metamorfosi ») d’Antonio Secci se tiendra à l’Aquarium, suivie d’une visite guidée.

- Lieu : Acquario di Cala Gonone, Via La Favorita, 08022 Cala Gonone.

- Le lundi 7 juillet :

  • À partir de 18h30, une visite à bord de Tara accueillera les autorités et des invités.

- Lieu : Port de Cala Gonone, 1 Piazza del Porto, 08022 Dorgali Nuoro.

- Le mardi 8 juillet :

  • À 21h00, le documentaire “Le Monde secret” de Michael Pitiot sera projeté en langue française, suivi de la présentation du plancton récolté dans la baie de Cala Gonone.

- Lieu : Cinema Teatro.

- Le mercredi 9 juillet :

  • À 9h00, Tara lève l’ancre en direction de sa prochaine escale à Vllora (Albanie).


Docteur Johan Decelle, docteur Colomban de Vargas, docteur Ernest E. Di lorio, docteur Flavio Gagliardi.


Lorraine Féline, Spencer Lowell, Carly Steinbrunn.


agnès b., Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, Fondation Veolia, IDEC, Serge Ferrari, UNESCO/COI, MedPAN, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Lorient Agglomération, Ministère de l’écologie du développement durable et de l’énergie, CNRS, AFP, Le Monde, RFI, France 24, MCD.


Observatoire d’océanographie de Villefranche-sur-mer, CNRS, Université du Michigan, Université du Maine, Ecole Normale Supérieure, NASA, Université Libre de Berlin, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, IFREMER, Observatoire Océanologique de Banuyls, Université Bretagne Sud, Université Toulon Sud, Université Aix Marseille, Université de Corse.


Expedition MED, Fondation Mohammed VI pour l’Environnement, Acquario di Cala Gonone, Réseau-Euro-Méditerranéen, Institut Océanographique Paul Ricard, Fondation Annah Lindt, EcoOcéan Institut.

SOUS LE HAUT PATRONAGE DE JANEZ POTOČNIK, Commissaire européen en charge de l’environnement.