Stopover in Port-Cros

© Laurent Ballesta / Andromède Océanologie

5 May 2014

Port Cros – one of 4 islands off the coast of Hyères – was the first Marine Protected Area to be established in France (in 1963). Tara will dock there from May 5 to 19 to collaborate on a study of the island’s coralline with biologist/diver Laurent Ballesta and his Andromède team.

A very particular environment exists here at a depth between 50 and 90 meters, where there’s not much light. Calcareous algae form the base. When the algae dies, they leave behind calcarous skeletons. Over the years, limestone accumulates, serving as a support or hiding place for coral, fish, sea urchins, etc. More than 1,700 different species have been observed here. This very rich environment is vital for biodiversity in the Mediterranean, but has been studied very little because access is so difficult.

Specific diving equipment is necessary to go down to these depths. The Andromeda team is experienced in diving with air recyclers, and perfectly familiar with techniques of underwater inventorying. The team has been commissioned to conduct a study that will help the Park Manager better protect the environment.

Tara will serve as a logistics platform, moored very close to the study sites. This stopover will also prepare us for the next Tara coral expedition, scheduled for 2015.

 

Noëlie Pansiot, correspondent aboard.

 

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