Mission-over – Heading for Stockholm

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

17 August 2015

After 3 days of sailing between the Sofia Sund Fjord in Greenland and the East Coast of Iceland, Tara docked at Vopnafiordür for a few hours.

“It took us 18 hours of intense sailing to leave the ice field, long hours of slaloming,” explains the captain, Martin Hertau. A safe crossing through the ice has allowed the schooner to continue her course southwards, on to the next destination: Sweden. “When we looked at the maps today we could see that the channel has already closed up again. We sailed close to the wind for 3 days – quite a rough crossing for certain people.”

Let’s not mince words, it was stormy. For 3 days the Taranauts abandoned the messroom, holed up in their cabins, struggling with that insidious suffering: seasickness. Trapped in space and time, bodies curled up, minds wandering through a tunnel of endless sleep. There was only one thing to do: wait for the agony to dissipate. And rejoice upon arrival at the dock in Iceland.

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

For the members of the Arctic Ecology Research Group (GREA) this stopover marks the end of the Tara Ecopolaris 2015 mission. Brigitte Sabard et Olivier Gilg disembarked, relinquishing their places on board. Despite the exceptionally icy conditions for the season, Brigitte and Olivier’s work has progressed. Samples collected this year, combined with their study of bird colonies enabled them to complete an environmental assessment, 11 years after their first mission with Tara in Greenland. These samples have to be sent to the lab for analysis: pollutant levels will be carefully compared with those of 2004. Logistically, the schooner enabled GREA to store nearly a ton of equipment on-site so that their scientific work can continue for the next 3 years. Olivier and Brigitte will return to roam across these same latitudes, as they have been doing for the last 25 years.

After docking for only 5 hours, the schooner left the small town of Vopnafiordür, leaving behind with no regrets the overpowering smell of the fish processing plant.  The schooner is currently advancing at a good pace towards Stockholm where she is expected to arrive in about a week. Next stop on the way to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, this first encounter with the people of Stockholm will be an opportunity for the Tara Expeditions team to share their vision on the prospects for sustainable development of the oceans. Continuing her role as sentinel, the schooner will be sharing the latest discoveries and data from Tara Oceans, and will proudly fly the Ocean and Climate Platform flag, inviting each and everyone to support the Ocean’s Call for Climate, in preparation for the upcoming climate talks. Objective: to galvanize the largest number of supporters to ensure that the Ocean’s voice will be heard in Paris this December, and thus remind policy makers that a healthy ocean is tantamount to a protected climate.

Noëlie Pansiot


Related articles:

- Tara in Stockholm: shared perspectives on sustainable development of the oceans

- Sign the Ocean Call for Climate