14 December 2017
An unusual circumstance: the schooner must change route. On board, the Captain downloads new nautical charts thanks to the satellite connection. On land, the logistics team is modifying the dates and the port of entry for the next team of scientists to come aboard. The reason for this last minute change? The Indonesian government has refused us permission to do sampling in its territorial waters. Explanation:
For months, the Tara Expeditions Foundation and its team have spent a huge amount of time and energy organizing this major chapter of contemporary exploration across the Pacific Ocean: Tracing a coherent itinerary for sampling different species of corals. Inquiring about the safety of the crew on a route sometimes subject to piracy. Setting up adequate logistics to accommodate a rotation of 70 scientists and 6 crew members constantly. Contacting representatives of 30 countries to present the project. Requesting permission to collect samples. There’s no end to this list.
© Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Sometimes, despite all their efforts to organize & anticipate, the land-sea team must revise their plans. This is the case today, following the Indonesian government’s refusal to allow sampling. Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation, reacted to the decision: “It’s really unfortunate, especially since the challenges facing the coral reefs of Indonesia are major. It’s highly regrettable that Indonesia’s ambition, as host of the “Our Ocean 2018″ Conference, is not followed up with specific actions, such as participating in an unprecedented pan-Pacific research program like Tara Pacific”. After 14 years of expeditions, only 2% of solicited countries refused the schooner entry into their maritime territory.
So, Tara will not go to the Maluku archipelago as planned. The ability to adapt is undeniably one of the major strengths of the project. The schooner will still make a very brief stop in Indonesia to welcome its new scientific team — in Sorong, a port city in eastern Indonesia. Then Tara will leave the country immediately, headed for Palau where she is expected. 6 archipelagos comprised of 300 islets and 26 islands, the Republic of Palau in Micronesia, will be a vast area of exploration for the Taranauts. A stopover will be hosted by the President of Palau, one of the first heads-of-state to join Tara in giving a voice to the Ocean at the COP21 by signing the “Because the Ocean” declaration.
This change of itinerary will first take the crew to some tiny, remote islands, very rarely studied: Hatohobei, Sonosol, Pulo Anna.
Sampling around Koror, the most populated island of Palau, will take place from January 4 – 9, 2018. Another specific mission conducted by the team from Monaco will happen later, from January 11- 20. After exploring and sampling in the famous Coral Triangle, in the heart of these “small islands” (Micronesia), the schooner will make a final stop in the port of Koror, from January 20 – 22, 2018, before heading for the Philippines.
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