20 February 2017
After several days of harsh weather conditions, the French research schooner Tara docked in the port of Fukuoka on Sunday, February 19, at 5 pm local time. After departing on February 15 from Ogasawara, their last research site, scientists and sailors confronted strong winds and a particularly turbulent sea. The city of Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu, is Tara’s first port of call where the public will be welcomed aboard.
Arrival in Fukuoka © Sarah Fretwell / Fondation Tara Expéditions
This arrival, highly symbolic for Tara, marks the end of the first campaign of the TARA PACIFIC expedition. For the past 8 months, traversing the ocean from east to west and voyaging 30,000 kilometers, scientists have been examining coral reefs and their ecosystems to understand their biodiversity (including genetic) and behavior as they confront global environmental disturbances.
“Welcoming Tara in Japan is very moving for me,” says Professor Hiroyuki Ogata of Kyoto University, the first Japanese biologist to board the schooner (in 2010) during TARA OCEANS, the expedition which expanded knowledge of the planktonic world and gave rise to 50 publications, including 8 in the prestigious journals Science and Nature. “Today, the universities of Kyoto, Tokyo, Tsukuba, Kochi and Ruykyu have joined us in this new scientific adventure: the TARA PACIFIC expedition will contribute to the research we are conducting in Japanese waters and Ryukyu”.
This is the very first time the schooner Tara has come to Japan and will meet the Japanese public.
For Etienne Bourgois, founder in 2003 of the Tara Expeditions project, “Among the 30 countries studied during Tara Pacific, Japan is the place where the schooner will stay for the longest time, 2 months, with 9 stopovers scheduled. It is extremely important for us to share what we are doing with the Japanese public, and especially with young people and children…”
Stopovers in Fukuoka, Onomichi, Kobe, Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo will allow the Japanese public to come aboard and visit the boat, meet the sailors, and also discover the 13 years of Tara expeditions through a traveling exhibition, film screenings and conferences. An opportunity to learn more about this still largely unknown realm which covers 70% of our planet: the Ocean.
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