18 July 2016
After traversing the Panama Canal, Tara made a 48-hour stopover in Panama City. A short stop to resolve some technical problems and welcome aboard new team members, including scientists who will study the first coral reefs of the expedition.
Tara set sail in the night to head for the Las Perlas archipelago, or more exactly the outskirts of Saboga, a Panamanian island a few hours from Panama City. This archipelago will be the expedition’s first site for coral sampling. The short stopover in Panama City officially marks the start of the Tara Pacific expedition and required good coordination to prepare this first leg.
Sarah Roman (sampling coordinator) prepares the material for the first sampling off Saboga Island, Panama © Maéva Bardy / Tara Expeditions Foundation
A taxi boat called “lancha” runs between the dock and boats anchored offshore, bringing the new team to Tara. Among them are the scientists in charge of collecting the first coral reef samples of the Tara Pacific expedition. After a few minutes devoted to presenting the crew and life aboard the boat, they set up their equipment and prepare for the first underwater sampling, scheduled for the next morning.
David Hannan, underwater cameraman, and David Monmarche, in charge of hyperbaric operations are two of the new arrivals. David Monmarche wastes no time since the first dives begin the next day. He is busy preparing the diving equipment on Tara’s aft deck. He turns on the compressor, checks the light and sound of the safety equipment, and prepares scuba tanks. As for François Aurat, he replaces Julie Lhérault as deck officer.
David Monmarche (head hyperbaric operator) prepares safety kits for the dive © Maéva Bardy / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Meanwhile other crew members are repairing equipment damaged by lightning. The “lancha” arrives with another delivery for Tara. It’s liquid nitrogen for sample preservation and fresh produce to feed the 17 team members before Tara’s return to Panama City in 10 days.
Stéphane Pesant (scientist in charge of data management) is responsible for liquid nitrogen supply © Maéva Bardy / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Provisions were pre-ordered to be delivered before departure. The liquid nitrogen supply was coordinated by the Smithsonian Research Institute located in Panama. This organization worked with Tara scientists to facilitate access to resources and manage sampling permits in Panamanian waters. The fresh produce was also pre-ordered, by sailor-cook Marion Lauters, before Tara’s arrival in Panama City.
The whole team is ready. Tara Pacific can begin!
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