Interview of Gaby Gorsky, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans


8 October 2009

Interview of Gaby Gorsky, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans: “Measuring the vertical water column, from 0 to 2000 m, taking samples every 20 cm.

One month after Tara’s departure, the boat is in the port of Nice.
This is the opportunity to take on board a new machine for scientific measurements:  the CTD rosette… and to take stock of the situation with Gaby Gorsky, oceanographer at Villefranche laboratory and scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans.

What’s your assessment after one month?

G Gorsky-  “At the beginning I was quite pessimistic about our capacity of taking proper samples, I mean well calibrated and good quality ones, in a laboratory like the one which is installed on Tara’s deck.
Now I think we are not only going to demonstrate that it is possible, but also that expeditions on small boats like Tara, represent an essential part of the 21st century science with satellites, balloons, planes, oceanographic ships.

Which things should be revised, or modified?

“There are 200 scientists who want to go on board, but there’s space only for 5 every week. We realized that our protocols were heavy, but also that we can’t do the same range of measurements like if we were on a big oceanographic ship with 30 scientists and 30 sailors. On the other hand, we are the only ones who are leaving for 3 years all over the world.
In one month we have also found how to sample a big quantity of water in small spaces, in motion, combining biology and physics.

What is the rosette which has been installed today on Tara ?

Gaby Gorsky- “ It’s a platform for scientific measurements which is employed in the most advanced laboratories of the world. It has been tested only three times before Tara. It is a metallic structure with the shape of a cage which contains a panoply of sensors for physical (pressure), chemical (oxygen), geochemical ( fluorescence) and biological (nitrates…) parameters. It allows us to measure the properties of a vertical water column, from 0 to 2000 m, taking samples every 20 cm.
If we work properly, we could be able to collect data at a world wide level for several future generations. We are collecting references data which will be compared with future samples all over the oceans of the world.

When can we know the first results?

Gaby Gorsky- “ The first ones are already online! Salinity and temperature data, which are permanently measured on Tara, are published on LOCEAN laboratory website. Soon we will add 3D physical and biological results. In this way the whole world will be able to judge.

Interview by Sacha Bollet