Tara meets the Lebanese CNRS


9 August 2014

During the Mediterranean expedition, each stopover is an opportunity for Tara’s scientific team to have exchanges with their local colleagues. Here in Beirut, for example, we met with the Lebanese CNRS, to share ideas about mutual efforts to protect and preserve the Mediterranean Sea – Mare Nostrum.

After participating in a roundtable on marine pollution with local NGOs, Lebanese scientists and political personalities, our meetings in Beirut continued on the premises of the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS), a Lebanese research institute that recently celebrated 50 years of existence. The scientific team of Tara along with Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions, met with a dozen researchers from the National Center for Marine Sciences, one of the 4 branches of the Lebanese CNRS.

“We wanted to have a constructive exchange between our scientists and theTara team, to present our respective work and develop  ideas for future collaborations,” explained Gaby Khalaf, director of the Center.

The meeting began with a presentation of research conducted by the Lebanese Center, including the work of the doctoral students present. Subjects were extremely varied, including the monitoring of marine mammals, and the study of acidification in the Mediterranean. But they all had one point in common: research was conducted partly in France, either at the University of Perpignan or at the Observatoire océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer. “This is a Franco-Lebanese collaboration,” said Gaby Khalaf. Doctoral students work mainly in Lebanon but make regular visits to France, where they are also officially registered as students. For the past 10 years, 20 of our doctoral students were able to work in France.”

Following the Lebanese doctoral students,Tara’s scientific team made a brief presentation of the schooner, the various research missions, and protocols for sampling microplastic in the Mediterranean. Finally, the Lebanese researchers discovered with interest the first analyses of samples collected in Lebanese waters in 2009, at the beginning of the Tara Oceans expedition. “Back then, we had just acquired our own research vessel, so it was very important for us to visit Tara, to see the facilities and talk with scientists,” recalls the director of the National Center for Marine Sciences. “It is very interesting to finally see today what Tara collected in 2009 off the coast of Lebanon.”

After the presentations of their respective work, the scientists engaged in less formal discussions on subjects ranging from plankton collecting techniques to invasive marine species in Lebanon. This was also the occasion for everyone to explore new ideas for collaboration between the 2 teams. The Lebanese CNRS, very interested in microplastic pollution, will soon receive the plans of our Manta net. As for Tara, on Monday we will embark   3 floating buoys that will be launched shortly after our departure from Beirut. A small service to render in exchange for the extremely warm hospitality we have received since we arrived in the Lebanese capital.


Yann Chavance     

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