Visitors aboard Tara

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5 April 2012

Since the beginning of this week in Lorient, Tara has welcomed a constant stream of visitors. The whole week was devoted to this – 800 children and young people came aboard the boat – all ages, from pre-schoolers to students of naval architecture, everyone passionately interested in the scientific research schooner.

Certain groups have been preparing their visit for long time. Some have been working on Tara Oceans projects for 3 years and are totally familiar with details of the expedition. Coming aboard the boat is a high-point of their work – finally confronting what they imagined with the real thing. For others, it’s a totally new discovery. Everybody enjoys the visit, and lots of questions are fielded: How many people are aboard? Do you speak English? Are you a sailor or a scientist? What does your work entail?

The visit is organized in two parts. First the young people explore the boat: sampling platform, wheelhouse, main cabin, crew’s quarters, cargo holds, foredeck. Each stage of the visit is an occasion to talk about science, daily life on board, navigation on Tara, the purpose of sampling, and of course, the reasons for the expedition, questions about the environment, climate change, and protection of the oceans.

Afterwards, outside on the pier next to the boat, there’s a discussion with a member of the team– sailor or scientist. This open and informal exchange gives students a chance to ask any questions they wish, to hear an eye-witness account from a ‘Taranaute’, and get scientific information directly from the source.

The weather has been gorgeous since the beginning of the week, and meetings have been taking place in the sun, on the pier of the Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly. Sometimes people don’t want to leave! Last Tuesday, at the Forum organized by the Rectorat of Rennes, schoolchildren participated in other activities offered by the city of Lorient’s CCSTI (Centre de Culture Scientifique, Technique et Industrielle), the Observatoire du Plankton, and also the “Make the sea the most beautiful place on Earth” workshop set up by the Cité de la Voile in collaboration with Tara. Students presented their work to other students in the auditorium. All in all it was a wonderful time of sharing.

Xavier Bougeard, in charge of Tara Oceans educational programs