17 August 2016
After Malpelo and its discrete whale sharks, Tara continues her journey in the Pacific Ocean. The schooner left the port of Buenaventura (Colombia) on Monday and headed for Easter Island (Chile) and its enigmatic statues. The stopover in Malpelo ended with a partial disappointment: no whale sharks were sighted by the dive team. But even their absence enables scientists to better understand the habits of these large sharks around the small Colombian island. Sandra Bessudo, director of the Malpelo Foundation, plans on returning there as soon as November to finally tag the animals that didn’t show up this week. Despite our disappointment, the few days spent in Malpelo made a strong impression on the team thanks to many superb dives amid hammerhead sharks.
The crew takes advantage of a few days in Buenaventura, Colombia to refill the fuel tanks before heading out to sea for 2 weeks. - © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Back in Buenaventura for 4 days, the crew was gradually downsized by the departure of the Colombian team and all the other divers. The stopover with a reduced team was an opportunity to welcome aboard some 240 schoolchildren from Buenaventura, as well as several distinguished guests, including the Colombian Minister of the Environment, Mr Luis Gilberto Murillo, and the Commander of the National Navy.
Tara welcomed aboard schoolchildren from Buenaventura, Colombia, before heading out to sea on August 15. – © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation
These few days were also used to refuel and provision Tara with fresh produce. The schooner welcomed aboard Guillaume Bourdin (deck/engineer officer); Fabien Lombard (university lecturer at Villefranche Oceanographic Laboratory, France) – who will sample plankton around coral reefs – and James Herlan (biologist at Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile). Even with these newcomers, we will be only 10 aboard, sailing to our next destination: Easter Island.
Captain Samuel Audrain navigates Tara through the Buenaventura channel, heading for the open sea and Easter Island. – © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation
From the Colombian port we left on Monday, it will take us 2 weeks to cross the equator and eventually reach the small Chilean island and its Moaïs – the famous statues erected along the coast. The presence on board of James Herlan – graduate student researcher at ESMOI, the Millenium Nucleus for Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands in Chile) who worked for many years on Easter Island and studied the surrounding seabed, means the entire crew will take advantage of the crossing to learn more about this new stage of our journey in the Pacific Ocean.
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