Tara on the Kuroshio current

© Sophie Bin / Tara Expeditions Foundation

29 May 2018

Tara is back at sea again and we can truly say our re-entry was athletic! Just outside of Tokyo Bay, the schooner entered a low-pressure system. High wind and big waves got the better of certain crew members during the first 48 hours, but the rough sea certainly didn’t stop the sailors. They braved the elements to hoist several sails — staysail, foresail and yankee — immediately stabilizing the schooner and calming our bodies.

In these difficult weather conditions, Tara got help from the Kuroshio, the world’s second strongest ocean current after the Gulf Stream. By following the Kuroshio, Tara’s speed increased by 2 knots compared to her average velocity – a true aquatic conveyer belt!

 
sophie bin nav japon hawaii mai 2018 © Sophie Bin / Tara Expeditions Foundation
 

Besides having nautical qualities, the Kuroshio current is of great interest to the scientists on board. Thanks to warm tropical waters and the Coriolis force, this current provides favorable conditions for coral reefs to develop in Japan, much further north than any other coral worldwide.

In biological terms, this zone is extremely active thanks to an upwelling of cold waters from the deep that carry nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, mixing with warm tropical waters. This enables plankton to thrive”, explains Fabien Lombard, scientific coordinator of this leg. In the first samples collected close to the main stream, the scientists have already found large numbers of diatoms, a kind of phytoplankton.
A promising start for Tara’s long crossing to Hawaii!

Caroline Britz

 

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