Tara just completed a major stopover on her long journey across the Pacific: a week in Tahiti, focused on educational outreach and meetings. After a festive welcome with garlands of flowers and smiling faces, the action started: conferences, exhibitions, tours for the public and school classes, a change of crew, and arrival of new equipment.

Friday, October 7: Tara departed from the main dock in Papeete to pursue her journey for a month in the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia. Even more than elsewhere, our departure here gave rise to mixed feelings: sad to leave Tahiti and the hospitality of its inhabitants, but happy to return to a slower pace of life in a small community after this very intense port of call. Throughout the week, the schedule was posted in the main cabin, detailing hour by hour a busy program. Between public visits, welcoming local officials and journalists aboard, and introducing the expedition’s scientific partners to Tara, the deck was often crowded with people.


credits-iban-carricano-arrivee-papeete-1The Tara Pacific expedition arrives in the port of Papeete, Tahiti: a festive welcome begins this major stopover © Iban Carricano / Tara Expeditions Foundation


During this port of call, the schooner hosted more than 200 Polynesian children. To accomplish this feat in such a short time, each class followed an itinerary on the Place Vai’ete, opposite Tara, passing from one workshop to another, then going aboard to visit the schooner. Thanks to the exhibition “Tara Pacific: Biodiversity of Coral Reefs Facing Climate Change” installed in the middle of the square, and thanks also to workshops organized by local associations for environmental protection, the school children were already familiar with coral when they arrived on Tara’s deck. This port of call was especially important for educational outreach, but also for logistics.


credits-yann-chavance-expo-papeete-enfants-1A member of the Tahitian association “La pointe des pêcheurs” explains the life cycle of coral to children visiting the Tara Pacific exhibit. © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation.


Meanwhile, Tara’s crew had to deal with the arrival of a whole container filled with new equipment for scientific work and for running the boat. The front deck was overloaded with boxes to unpack. Arriving crew members and those disembarking worked together to get everything ready in time. The stopover in Papeete marked the end of the journey for many, and the beginning for others. Of the 16 crew members, only 4 will continue the journey on board. Besides a completely new scientific team, there were a few changes among the sailors: Maud Veith returned as cook, Nicolas de la Brosse as first mate, and Martin Hertau as Tara’s captain.


credits-yann-chavance-martin-hertau-1Leaving Tahiti behind, Martin Hertau is Tara’s captain for the coming months  © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


Besides receiving new equipment, welcoming visitors aboard, and changing crew members, this week in Papeete was equally important for the expedition’s scientific work. Public and private conferences took place to present the goals of the expedition and provide an update on the latest research about coral. Above all, Papeete hosted the first major meeting of the Tara Pacific scientific consortium since the beginning of the expedition. Major partners came from around the world to meet for several days and review the first months of sampling. An opportunity for everybody to get to know Tara – the heart of the expedition – before she set off for the Tuamotu Islands.

Yann Chavance

Many thanks to our partners of this port of call :
Air Tahiti Nui

Présidence de la Polynésie française
• Ministère de la Santé et de la Recherche
• Ministère du tourisme et des Transports aériens internationaux, de la modernisation de l’administration et de la fonction publique
Chambre de Commerce, d’Industrie, des Services et des Métiers
Pôle d’innovation en Polynésie française Tahiti Fa’ahotu
Port autonome de Papeete
• DHL Papeete

ADEME en Polynésie française
Association Te mana o te moana
Association Tamari’i Pointe des Pêcheurs
Association Pae Pae No Te Ora
Association Mata Tohora

Video: Follow the guide!

Video: Follow the guide!

Staying at quay often means open house for TARA. The presence of the schooner in Lorient during the Volvo Ocean Race was no exception, even embodied by a familiar figure aboard: Philippe Duflot. This highly active retiree has been volunteering for three years and has become one of Tara’s ambassadors. His talent? Introducing the vessel to dozens of visitors of all ages every day, and accompanying their first steps aboard the schooner. The opportunity was too good not to capture the fascinated gazes of the younger visitors and pay tribute to such a patient and tireless guide.

Beyond the adventure …

When Taranautes welcome visitors on the boat’s deck, they share her story, explain the science and respond to questions from the curious. The same issues often come up: life on board, the schooner’s design but also the crew recruitment process. The Tara adventure makes for dreaming, inspires vocations, and team members are envied. Actually, there is no normal recruitment process for extraordinary expeditions. Team members were hired for their profile, skills, or from encounters.

Children’s questions are often very different from those of their elders. They don’t ask about recruitment or CV.  Rather, they want to know about the crew’s daily life. The youngest are invited to visit the interior of the boat and can hardly wait to discover  the sailors’ cabins. Even if they rave about the photos of the boat locked in the Arctic ice, their questions are down to earth and logistical: How does one make food on board? What does one eat? The sailor in charge of the visit then turns to Marion Lauters or Dominique Limbour, Tara’s excellent cooks. And one or the other stops making lunch for a few minutes to answer the questions. Children will also avidly ask about the coexistence of 14 people for several months in such a small space. Since they themselves spend their days confined in a classroom, they tend to bring up this important point.

A catalyst for unusual characters, the boat welcomes scientists, explorers and artists — individuals who, for the most part, don’t know each other before they board Tara. They come from a variety of professional backgrounds, with very different lifestyles and temperaments. They come together for several weeks or months to work on a boat that is only 36 meters long. They share their cabins, meals and work together all day. Their paths perhaps would never have crossed without Tara.

Nevertheless, on board, some kind of magic happens: team members do their best to live and work together in a friendly atmosphere. This micro-society is organized according to the same principles as on land. Except that everyone is particularly careful to cohabit in harmony. Friendships develop rapidly as the days pass at sea, and during the privileged exchanges of night watches. People find common interests, discover they share the same values, admire the professionalism of their fellow crew members, or rave about their past exploits. Whether diver, cook, scientist, sailor or journalist, the team members become Taranautes and relish the time shared on board. Fleeting moments each person tries to savour every day, despite the fatigue from work or close quarters.

When a public tour of the boat comes to an end, it is not uncommon that a visitor remarks to the guide, “How lucky you are to take part in such an adventure!” Aware of his privilege, the Taranaute nods in agreement, then replies with a big smile, “The Tara adventure is also, and especially, a human adventure.”

Noëlie Pansiot

Related articles:

– The best of science during the Tara Mediterranean expedition.

Tara Mediterranean: the best of life on board and ashore.

– Subscribe to our newsletter to follow all the news of Tara!

The Tara Mediterranean expedition: stopover in Marseille

From September 20-29, 2014 

 The schooner Tara is on expedition in the Mediterranean from May to November 2014. This mission includes both a scientific component at sea, on plastic pollution and an educational component ashore about the many environmental issues facing the Mediterranean Sea. 

From September 20-29 Tara will stopover at Marseilles, docking first on the Quai d’honneur at the Old Port and then on the J4 esplanade near the Villa Mediterranean.

Marseille Stopover 

On this occasion, the scheduled program includes: a press conference, an exhibition “Our Ocean Planet,”  an interactive environmental awareness exhibition “From the Mountains to the Sea” hosted by Surfrider, a conference, tours of the schooner for the public and school children,  and a workshop/meetings with local associations.

Tara will be from September 20-22 at the Quai d’honneur (in the Old Port in front of the City Hall) and from September 22-29 at the J4 esplanade near the Villa Mediterranean. This stopover is part of the program “September at Sea.”


-Tara arrives at the Quai d’honneur in the Old Port: Saturday, September 20 at noon.

-Public tours of the schooner with a crew member guide, and an animation on the dock for young adults conducted by the Surfrider Foundation: Saturday, September 20th from 14:30 to 18h; Sunday, Sept. 21 from 10am to noon and 14:30 to 18h; Wednesday, September 24 from 14:30 to 18h; Saturday 27th and Sunday, September 28 from 10am to noon and 14:30 to 18h (free, subject to availability, reservations:  first-come-first-serve).

-Exhibition: Our Ocean Planet: open to the public at the agnès b. boutique from September 9-29, Monday to Saturday from 10h to 19h (33 Cours Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves, 13001 Marseille).

The ocean is the cradle of life and covers three fourths of our blue planet. It is vital for the health of our ecosystems and for us, essential for the balance of climate and for the global economy. To ensure the transition towards a model of sustainable development, our societies must better understand and manage more effectively the treasures of marine biodiversity!  Exhibition panels will let you discover the marine world.

-Workshop meetings with local citizens on key environmental issues in the Mediterranean: Thursday, September 25.
-Conference for the general public ”Environmental Challenges in the Mediterranean”: Saturday, September 27 at 18h at the Villa Mediterranean. To participate, click here.

-Tara departs from the J4 esplanade: Monday, September 29 in the morning.

City of Marseille, September at Sea, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Villa Mediterranean



A Stopover in Tunisia

Tara’s visit mobilized Bizerte citizens on all fronts, from oceanography to recycling plastic. 

Tara arrived on Monday, September 1 at the Marina in Bizerte (Tunisia) in heavy seas and a steady wind of 35 knots. This didn’t stop Bizerte’s Nautical Sports Club from welcoming the crew with their dinghy and kayak.

The stopover’s program was rich and varied, conceived in close collaboration with local associations and institutions, including We Love Bizerte. Researchers, leaders of local and national institutions, environmental protection associations and plastic recyclers, and several prominent local citizens mobilized to welcome Tara opposite the beautiful old port.

From the first day of the stopover, the Bizertans hastened aboard Tara to discover or take another look at the schooner which had already visited here 5 years ago, at the beginning of the Tara Oceans expedition. Over 300 children and 600 adults came to see the boat and learn more about pollution on beaches and waste management, thanks to the Association for the Protection of the Coast which held an educational workshop on the dock.

At Bizerte, plastic pollution is a big issue, considering the almost total absence of sorting of garbage, and the impressive number of plastic bags visible along Tunisian roads. But the desire to change — to organize and reduce pollution in the Mediterranean — is definitely present. After all, the sea is the main resource of the country! The initiative to clean the beach of the Corniche, organized in collaboration with local associations was a success, with nearly 150 volunteers and more than a ton of waste collected! In the end, a demonstration of different materials and a lively debate on selective sorting culminated in a moving testimony of a waste collector, who stressed the importance of public awareness for sorting — almost non-existent in Tunisia.

The Tara team was welcomed on Thursday, September 4th by the dean and researchers from the Bizerte Faculty of Sciences for a full day of scientific conferences. Eric Karsenti, scientific director of Tara Oceans, gave a presentation of the results from that expedition for the oceanographers and researchers who were involved in the project 5 years ago. The Tara Mediterranean program was then presented by scientist Marie Barbieux, with details about the research being performed on microplastics and marine organisms. Tunisian experts then presented local work on issues important to the southern shore of the Mediterranean, such as the proliferation of jellyfish, and pollution of the lake and the Bay of Bizerte.

Tara also organized a workshop on local and regional environmental issues where major players on the local scene met for a lively debate about the pressures, obstacles, needs and ways of cooperating to reduce pollution and the impacts of human activities on the sea and coast.
The mayor of Bizerte, North Bizerte’s representative, and the cultural attaché from the French Embassy in Tunis came to visit the boat, in the presence of the media. Bertrand Delanoë (former Mayor of Paris) also came to visit the Tara team here in the town where he grew up.

Thank you for this exceptional week in Bizerte. We leave now for the island of La Galite, a Marine Protected Area since 1995, for a brief stopover before Algiers.

André Abreu and Nils Haëntjens

No Tobacco Day: 400 butts picked up on the beach by Taranautes

No Tobacco Day: 400 butts picked up on the beach by Taranautes

Saturday, May 31, the crew answered the call of the Surfrider Foundation Europe. Equipped with garbage bags and gloves, the Taranautes walked the beaches of Charmettes and Le Cros in Six-Fours (Var) collecting trash.  This “Ocean Initiative,” the second this month, allowed them to collect 200 liters (20 kg.) of rubbish. Plastic was clearly present in all its forms, but cigarette butts  especially caught the crew’s attention. Volunteers collected the cigarette butts one by one for two hours, participating in their own way in the World No Tobacco Day.

Responsible for education at Surfrider Mediterranean, Benjamin Van Hoorebeke said with a big smile,  “The tobacco industry had a good idea in making the filters yellow: they show up really well in the sand!” It’s true, the color draws attention. When you bend down to pick up a butt, you quickly realize it’s not alone. Sometimes 3 or 4 others are lying near the first. Brigitte Martin, a volunteer for Surfrider for almost 3 years, is particularly disturbed to find the butts lying right next to a trash bin on the beach. “Tossing a cigarette butt is an automatic gesture. You even see it done in the movies.”

Sunbathers lay down their towels between the crushed and abandoned butts left on the beach by careless smokers. These small pieces of cellulose acetate – plastic in fiber form – are excellent travellers. A cigarette butt thrown on the ground in the city will float in water washing the sidewalks, flow into the road, and finally end up on a beach, as they do here, arriving via a rain water spillway. “The butt will then break up into micro-plastics.” Benjamin Van Hoorebeke adds, “The main impact from butts is the toxic substances they contain: nicotine, cyanide, mercury. A single butt discarded in the environment can by itself pollute between 300 and 400 liters of water. On the ledge there, I walked 10 meters and I found 56 butts !” Organizer of this event, Benjamin Van Hoorebeke regrets that smokers who throw cigarettes on the ground often do not even realize they’re polluting.

Each year, 4,300 billion cigarette butts are discarded in the streets – 137,000 per second! – enough for a never-ending trash collection. Surfrider’s campaign to raise awareness is essential. According to Benjamin Van Hoorebeke, “Awareness is the first step toward accountability.” Partner of Tara Mediterranean, Surfrider will be present at the schooner’s stopover in Nice in 10 days. A great opportunity to become consciousness-raisers, and educate the public about the issues of pollution.

Noëlie Pansiot

Tara Mediterranean expedition

From April to November 2014

After more than four years sailing around the world and the Arctic, Tara will be on mission in the Mediterranean from May to November 2014, with two objectives: to accomplish a scientific study concerning plastic pollution and to promote awareness for environmental challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.

450 million people live along the Mediterranean coasts in 22 bordering countries. Due to its geography and climate, the Mediterranean Sea hosts close to 8% of global marine biodiversity, although representing only 0.8% of the ocean’s surface. Today’s cities are saturated and almost 30% of the world’s maritime traffic is concentrated in the Mediterranean. Problems related to pollution from land are increasing, putting pressure on the marine ecosystem essential for the people of the region, and for life in general. Among the pollutants is the growing presence of micro-plastics. These are most likely incorporated into the food chain, and thus into our diets. It is therefore urgent to find concrete solutions such as water treatment, waste management, biodegradable plastics, promotion of sustainable tourism, and the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – solutions proposed decades ago by the Barcelona Convention, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and also by the European Union.

This expedition, the schooner’s tenth since 2003, is an opportunity for Tara Expeditions to promote the efforts of local and regional associations* on many environmental issues concerning this almost-closed sea.

A scientific study on plastic will be conducted aboard Tara coordinated by the Laboratoire de Villefranchesur-mer (Université Pierre et Marie Curie and CNRS) and the University of Michigan (USA). The accumulation of plastic debris in nature is “one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet…” (Barnes et al, 2009), and one of the major environmental concerns of our time. Yet we know too little about what happens to these plastics and their role in ecosystem dynamics to predict their future impacts on the oceans of our planet and on humans.

To fill this gap, scientists board Tara will undertake an interdisciplinary mission to better understand the impacts of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem. They will quantify plastic fragments, and measure their size and weight. They will also identify the types of plastic (and adhering organic pollutants) found in the sea, and study the dynamics and function of microbial communities (bacteria, protozans, micro-algae, molluscs, crustaceans) living on the plastic. Included in the latter are questions about the probable entry of these molecules into the food chain – a subject virtually unexplored in the Mediterranean.

A traveling exhibition and films will be shared with the public. We will also welcome classes aboard at each stopover. Artists will be in residence on Tara for the duration of the expedition.

agnès b., Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Veolia Foundation, Serge Ferrari, IDEC, UNESCO-IOC, MedPAN, Surfrider Foundation, Lorient Agglomeration, Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development of Energy, IUCN, CNRS, AFP, RFI, France 24, MCD.

Oceanography Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, CNRS, University of Michigan, University of Maine, NASA, Free University of Berlin, Pierre and Marie Curie University, IFREMER, Oceanological Observatory of Banyuls, University Bretagne Sud, Toulon University South University Aix Marseille Université de Corse.

Expedition MED, Mohammed VI Foundation for the Environment, Acquario di Cala Gonone.


Discover the map of the expedition

Click here to see the highlights and planning of the stopovers

Environmental issues in the Mediterranean

Urban and industrial development raise many challenges today in the Mediterranean region, including management of waste and pollution, more than 90% of which originates on land. Besides the challenge of reducing pollution, essential elements in ongoing efforts for the ecological health of the Mediterranean are the sustainable management of maritime transport, oil exploration, industrial fishing and tourism.

We must also  support the creation and management of protected marine areas in order to restore the most affected ecosystems, maintain fish stocks, and preserve certain endangered ecosystems. Beyond just observing the situation and sounding the alarm, we are working to promote innovation and solutions for the future of plastics. We want to make concrete progress in the ongoing political processes – on a regional, national and international level.



> Reducing pollution at the source: education, recycling, promotion of a circular economy.

> Integrated watershed management: cleaning of canals and rivers.

> Green packaging: producer responsibility.

> Bioplastics: derived from renewable biomass sources, biodegradable, oxo-fragmentables. What real impact will they have, and which ones are a real solution ?

> Reduction of chemical pollution at the source: international regulations.

> Research and innovation: plastic and micro-organisms. Which organisms can break down what types of plastic?

> Prohibition of single-use plastic bags: France could become an example in this area. Europe has already adopted (in May 2014) a text setting goals for member countries to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags. Tara considers this text as a step forward, but it is insufficient.



> WASTE AND PLASTIC DEBRIS: Bottles, bottle caps, scraps. About 6 and a half million tons of waste are dumped annually in the oceans and seas of the world. 80% is plastic, or 206 pounds per second.

> MICROPLASTICS (< 5mm): granules, beads, microbeads, textile fibers – complex, invisible pollution difficult to treat. While macro-waste directly impacts fish and seabirds, microplastics have an impact on marine microorganisms and therefore the entire food chain.



> 450 million people live in coastal areas of the Mediterranean, in 22 countries.

> In just 30 years, from 1970 to 2000, the overall population of the Mediterranean countries grew from 285 to 427 million people, with two collateral phenomena – coastal development and urbanization.

> The Mediterranean Sea is home to nearly 8% of marine biodiversity, although it represents only 0.8% of the ocean’s surface.

>  We have now identified 925 invasive species in the Mediterranean. 56% of these are here to stay, according to a study by the Blue Plan (UNEP).

> The Mediterranean concentrates 30% of global maritime traffic, via the Suez Canal.

> There are about 60 offshore oil rigs for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean.

> An estimated 90% of pollution in the Mediterranean comes from land.

> The Mediterranean region is the world’s largest tourist region, attracting about 30% of international tourism.

Tara Expeditions and Surfrider Foundation united against plastic waste

Twenty volunteers rolled up their sleeves on Saturday, May 17th to clean up the beaches of Port Cros. For this “Ocean Initiative” event, volunteers combed the Fausse Monnaie  and Port Man beaches looking for undesirable waste. A small team of divers also joined in the fun in Port Man bay.

The Tara Expeditions team joined members of the European Surfrider Foundation to promote awareness about plastic pollution. Yesterday’s “Ocean Initiative” in Port-Cros was initiated by the Surfrider Foundation. This type of event provides a compelling educational tool: volunteers assess the pollution themselves. A large quantity of detritus drifts onto the beaches of Port-Cros, even though it is a protected site, regularly cleaned by National Park officials.

After the collection was finished, participants gathered in Port-Cros harbor to do an inventory by sorting. Plastic was unfortunately rated among the most abundant waste: one hour of collection was enough to fill a 100 liter-bag with plastic garbage of all kinds, including 200 sticks from cotton swabs.

Marion Lourenço, a member of the foundation accompanying the group explained, “In fact, people throw them in the toilet — a completely inappropriate gesture!” But the presence of these sticks is nothing exceptional, since “80 % of the waste we find on our beaches comes from land.” Waste travels downstream, carried along by rivers that end in the ocean. Taranautes have observed the same phenomenon of pollution on every expedition: In January 2011, an onboard study revealed the presence of plastics even in Antarctic waters.

During this year’s Tara Mediterranean, scientists aboard the schooner will try to understand the impacts of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem. And more precisely, the impact of micro-plastics — very fine particles in colossal amounts that travel by ocean currents. Researchers will try to collect, quantify and identify these micro-fragments.

Faced with this problem, Marion from the Surfrider Foundation reminds us that the best waste is one that is not produced. This is the 4R rule: refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle !



Noëlie Pansiot

Science during the Tara Mediterranean expedition

Tara Mediterranean expedition
From April to November 2014


A scientific study on plastic will be conducted aboard Tara coordinated by the Laboratoire de Villefranchesur-mer (Université Pierre et Marie Curie and CNRS) and the University of Michigan (USA). The accumulation of plastic debris in nature is “one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet…” (Barnes et al, 2009), and one of the major environmental concerns of our time. Yet we know too little about what happens to these plastics and their role in ecosystem dynamics to predict their future impacts on the oceans of our planet and on humans.

To fill this gap, scientists board Tara will undertake an interdisciplinary mission to better understand the impacts of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem. They will quantify plastic fragments, and measure their size and weight. They will also identify the types of plastic (and adhering organic pollutants) found in the sea, and study the dynamics and function of microbial communities (bacteria, protozans, micro-algae, molluscs, crustaceans) living on the plastic. Included in the latter are questions about the probable entry of these molecules into the food chain – a subject virtually unexplored in the Mediterranean.

More details coming soon


Discover the map of the expedition

Click here to see the highlights and planning of the stopovers

agnès b., Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Veolia Environnement Foundation, IDEC, Carbios, UNESCO-IOC, MedPAN, Surfrider Foundation, Lorient Agglomeration, Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development of Energy, IUCN, CNRS, AFP, RFI, France 24, MCD.

Oceanography Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, CNRS, University of Michigan, University of Maine, NASA, Free University of Berlin, Pierre and Marie Curie University, IFREMER, Oceanological Observatory of Banyuls, University Bretagne Sud, Toulon University South University Aix Marseille Université de Corse.

Expedition MED, Mohammed VI Foundation for the Environment, Acquario di Cala Gonone.

And in 10 years time?

And in 10 years time?

2013-2023 : In the next ten years important decisions are going to have to be made concerning climate change. For the team working on tara expeditions, the coming decade is full of promise and discoveries are to be expected. Let’s take a look at the challenges.

After a decade of intense activity, there is plenty of work left to be done for all the teams and scientists working at sea and on land within the framework of Tara Expeditions. « There is no question of us stopping now », insists agnès b., the Tara’s number one supporter. « And more sponsors need to get involved if we are to broaden the Tara’s scope! I say to our potential partners: Join us on this voyage ! »

An ambitious scientific challenge

The foremost challenge has to be scientific. In terms of research, the coming decade will provide us with an increasingly detailed analysis of the complex data gathered by the Tara Oceans expedition. « Our intention is to describe the world’s planktonic system, of which surprisingly little is known when you consider that it is the pulse of our planet. We shall also assess its biotechnological potential », says Éric Karsenti, scientific director of Tara Oceans.

The discoveries made by Team Tara will be as much in the realm of research as in scientific ecology, in particular within the framework of the Oceanomics programme which runs until 2020. Tara Oceans collected 28,000 samples of plankton ranging from viruses to animals. Thanks to Oceanomics, scientists succeeded in establishing a combination of sequencing and high-speed imaging protocols with which to extract the information contained within the samples. The result will be the first detailed view of plankton biodiversity.

2015-2018: En route for the Asia and the Arctic

Another polar expedition is probably in the works. « It could happen between 2016 and 2018 », confirms Romain Troublé, general secretary of Tara Expeditions. What will make it special? « Our first Arctic drift was Franco-European », continues Romain. « The next time we want it to be international, with perhaps 8 crew members, scientists and sailors from different countries ». Étienne Bourgois, president of Tara Expeditions, picks up the theme: « We’re already looking closely at doing another drift. But for now we are planning an expedition in 2015 to study coral reefs at the surface and at greater depths in collaboration with f ilm director Luc Jacquet and his association Wild Touch. The expedition will take the Tara to the Pacif ic and south-east Asia where she will make port calls in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, China and Japan. From there the ship will set off to start her drift through the Bering Strait. »
« The Asians are showing great interest in the Tara », says agnès b., « in Japan, Hong Kong and China. They are listening, truly interested. » Eloïse Fontaine, director of communications for Tara Expeditions confirms the foundation’s desire to broaden its outreach: « In the last ten years, thanks to the interest and support shown by the media, we have managed to reach out to a wide audience in France, Europe and other French-speaking countries. We must continue our efforts on the international stage. Our aim is to reach out to people elsewhere in the world. »

Capacity builiding and negociation power

Following on from previous collaborations with numerous private/public laboratories and organizations, Tara Expeditions intends to encourage scientific dialogue between « developing » and « developed » countries. « Only six or seven countries have the capacity to conduct maritime expeditions », says Romain Troublé. It is time for us to share our knowledge with less-privileged countries. We must do this if we are to arrive at a consensus about the Ocean which covers 71% of our planet. The agreement signed on 27 June 2013 between Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, and Étienne Bourgois stipulates that UNESCO and Tara Expeditions « shall undertake common projects to further scientific research, international cooperation, the sharing of data and raising public awareness. » So that’s the humanitarian side taken care of, but what about the science? « We can look at that too », says Romain Troublé. « Fundamental research in international waters has to be given special status, in the interest of all peoples. » André Abreu of the Tara Expeditions team is already active on several fronts: international waters, ecosystems and pollution, the Arctic and climate. « We structure our actions around the big issues. Since our success with the Tara at the Rio+20 conference we are now part of the discussion process which includes climate conferences, United Nations negotiations, the Barcelona Convention and so on. Our objective is, of course, to make progress in concert with others. We are doing it, step by step, and shall continue to do so ».

Focusing on education

Over the next ten years, Tara Expeditions intends to pursue its education initiatives aimed at children. In total 19,000 school classes followed the Tara Oceans expedition. « Sharing knowledge with the younger generations will be more of a priority », says Xavier Bougeard, responsible for education initiatives. It’s important work raising awareness among children and teenagers of the major climate issues, their future.

Promoting responsible citizenship

« It’s time to take stock », adds agnès b. « And we need to be objective. We need to trust our gut feelings. What have we done well? Where have we been successful? And less successful? What can we improve? » Romain Troublé agrees: « What’s more, with the Tara, there’s the question of citizenship. We felt it when we launched, in collaboration with Catherine Chabaud, the Appeal for the high seas which was supported by dozens of campaigners, enterprises, organizations and had the direct support of the United Nations and its secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. » « The Tara is a platform for science and education, and that’s good », says agnès b. «But there is also this issue of responsible citizenship and that is inevitably political. Climate change is a political issue! Politics has been so denigrated that we, the citizens, have to invent another way of engaging. We’re lucky that we do not have to rely on being elected or lobbying, and there’s no media pressure on us. The Tara’s strength is her independence! »

Michel Temman

News of the Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition

Pursuing scientific and educational objectives, Tara is currently undertaking a 7-month, 25,000 km voyage across the Arctic via the Northeast and Northwest passages, The boat and its crew entered the heart of the Arctic this week. Scientific sampling is now in full swing at the edge of the ice pack. Daylight is constant, temperatures are negative, and polar animals have made their appearance.

79° 29.0′ N / 66° 10.8′ E

Since departure from Lorient on May 19th, the first part of the expedition has been very successful, with all sampling systems working smoothly, including the devices added since the last Tara Oceans expedition.

After leaving Brittany, Tara zigzagged voluntarily in the Atlantic Ocean, making short stopovers in Tromsø (Norway) and Murmansk (Russia). These past 2 months the weather has been incredibly mild. The team even had 30°C in Murmansk! These conditions have enabled us to accomplish about 20 short and long sampling stations of high quality.

Since the last stopover in Murmansk at the end of June, Tara has sailed straight northeast. In 24 hours of navigation, the team of 14 sailors and scientists currently on board went from Atlantic waters to polar waters, and therefore from summer to winter!

Earlier this week, the first scientific station at the edge of the ice pack took place for more than 24 hours. The crew collected extremely abundant plankton in the midst of an ice field. On this occasion a polar bear and a seal made their appearance! The content of the marine ecosystem is very different from one scientific station to another, which makes the work particularly interesting.

But at the poles, nothing is ever predictable. The rest of the sampling will depend on the weather, and the melting of the ice.&nbsp; “’The real work has begun!” says Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions. The next major step in the expedition will happen when Tara passes Cheliuskin Cape (Russia). This is the place the farthest north on the Eurasian continent – most often blocked by ice in the Northeast Passage.

“In any case, the scientific sampling we are doing, and we will continue to do in this part of the world, is truly innovative and will contribute to the knowledge of this ocean at a crucial time! The Arctic is a direct indicator of climate change on our planet,” says Etienne Bourgois.

The position of the boat and ice from day to day can be followed on Google Earth. The main objective of Tara Oceans Polar Circle is to better understand the Arctic ecosystem, starting with little-known plankton species, and trying to decipher their interactions with the environment.

To follow the expedition, in addition to the website:

-For educational material

-Social networks


See Tara Arctic Live with France TV Nouvelles Ecritures: every day 4 videos of the expedition sent by Anna Deniaud, correspondant aboard: www.francetv.fr/tara


Endowment agnès b., Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, City of Lorient , CNRS, EMBL, CEA, Genoscope, ENS, KAUST,&nbsp; Takuvik (LAVAL & CNRS), Shirshov, NASA, OCEAN consortium of laboratories, etc.

All partners

Teenagers in Tromsø

Summer holidays have begun. In the city streets, high school students are enjoying their first few days of rest. Daniel and John, both seventeen years old, are on their way to the public library. They’ll have to occupy themselves until the end of August. A few steps away on the market square there’s Wictoria, but she’s not bored. She’s helping Ole sell souvenirs to tourists. Encounter with these teenagers from the Arctic Circle:

“I like to go fishing with my brothers. Either we fish from the dock, or borrow my grandfather’s small boat to go out to sea. We bring back salmon and trout.” Daniel was born and raised in Tromsø in a large family with six children. Like many kids in Norway, he loves fishing, but also mountain trekking and of course skiing. Outdoor activities are not lacking here. But for everything else, it’s a different story. “Life is boring here – it’s a small town and not much happens,” says John with a resigned voice common to adolescents. He dreams of going to the capital, Oslo, and becoming a lawyer. In the meantime, he’ll enjoy the summer, although according to these young people, the winter here is not so bad. “There are lots of lights in the city, and also the aurora borealis. It’s a different atmosphere, really nice.

Today it’s barely 13°C and raining. But two weeks ago the temperatures soared to 30°C, a record for the city, which made headlines in the local newspapers. “What do we think about global warming? Who cares? People here don’t care. The melting ice will most likely provide economic opportunities,” declared the two young men.

Wictoria is far from sharing this opinion. “It’s raining more than ever before, and the land is often flooded. I am really worried because I wonder what’s going to happen.” For the girl and her family, nature is paramount. They own a herd of reindeer. “How many reindeer? I don’t know. It’s like asking someone how much money he has in his wallet. It changes all the time, but we have more than a thousand.” Here in Norway reindeer meat is sold for consumption as a snack, Wictoria nibbles pieces of smoked meat. In addition, reindeer skins are used to make rugs, like the ones sold in the market. And Ole, the artisan with whom she works, carves the antlers as souvenirs for tourists. When she’s not at the market or at school learning to be a mechanic, Wictoria goes around with friends. “In the winter, I love to take long rides on the snowmobile, and I also do ice fishing.

Unlike John, Wictoria does not intend to someday leave her homeland. In fact, she’s never even been to Oslo.

Anna Deniaud Garcia 



From November 3, 2012 to February 3, 2013, the schooner Tara will be in Paris at the Port des Champs Elysées, on the right bank, Pont Alexandre III.
On the quay, an exhibit open to the public – TARA EXPEDITIONS, DISCOVERY OF A NEW WORLD: THE OCEAN will trace for the first time the different missions of Tara Expeditions. The exhibit will include the results of her Arctic expedition, put into perspective with current discoveries in this region. There will also be information on the recent Tara Oceans expedition devoted to the study of marine plankton and its role in the global climate machine.

Housed in shipping containers, the exhibit will give the public an opportunity to understand the evolution of the Ocean in the context of current and future climate change, and the Ocean’s essential role in life on our planet.

The public will be welcomed everyday aboard with tours conducted by the Tara team.

On saturdays, fun workshops for kids will happen between 2pm and 5pm.

Throughout these 3 months in Paris, nearly 130 schools and recreation centers in Paris and the region will be invited to discover the new exhibit, visit the schooner with crew members, and take part in scientific workshops. Participants will experience the highlights of a real scientific expedition and learn about current environmental issues.

The arrival of the schooner will also be an opportunity to bring together scientists, environmental organizations, and European policymakers & media through formal meetings, debates and films projections


At the same time:

–Presentation of the book Tara Oceans, Chronicles of a Scientific Expedition, published by Actes Sud (on October 17) 


How to get there:
Subway lines 1 and 13 to Champs Elysées-Clémenceau / RER line C to Invalides / Bus lines 72, 83 and 93


Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 11am to 18:30 
Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 18:30 
Closed on Tuesdays  

SPECIAL CLOSING January 18 until 2pm and 25 January until 2pm and 27 January until 2pm
Tickets: 6€ (2€ for 8-12 year olds; free for children under 8)

Continue your visit at the nearby Palais de la Découverte (Reduced entry price upon presentation of a Tara exhibit ticket. Reciprocal advantage upon presentation of a Palais de la Découverte ticket at the Tara exhibit)

Site: www.taraexpeditions.org
Junior Site: http://www.tarajunior.org/clubtarajunior/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tara.expeditions
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TaraExpeditions

Exhibition partners:

agnès b., City of Paris, Waterways of France, Région Ile de France, ADEME, EDF Foundation, Palais de la Découverte-Universciences, Metro Publications, Agence France Presse

Tara partners:

agnès b, CNRS, CEA, EMBL, Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Fondation Veolia Environnement, Fondation EDF, Lorient Agglomeration, United Nations Environment  Programme, IUCN, UNESCO-IOC

Media contact: Eloise Fontaine, eloise@taraexpeditions.org
Contact for school tours & educational activities: Xavier Bougeard, education@taraexpeditions.org

Tara’s program through May 2013

Between expeditions, Tara keeps very busy! We’re doing everything we can to fulfill one of our main objectives – to share with the general public what we’ve learned about the oceans and global warming.

On a more political level, we continue to promote the ‘blue agenda’ as we did at Rio+20 last June. To do this, we are participating in the organization this winter of a conference about the ocean at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and this summer we set up the Alliance for the Seas and Oceans in conjunction with Nausicaa, Green Cross, Sea Orbiter, and World Ocean Network. We want to make the world’s economic, social, environmental and cultural dynamic move towards a new consideration of the importance of the sea in our society.

September 2012 to January 2013

Tara will head for Roscoff (Finistère), home of one of the partner laboratories of the Tara Ocean expedition: the Station Biologique de Roscoff (CNRS/UPMC). On the program in Roscoff for September 13 –14: visits of classes that followed Tara’s mission around the world.

Then Tara will cross the Channel to England, and be in <strong>London at Saint Katharine’s dock from September 17 to 27. Projections of films about Tara Oceans are scheduled at the Maritime Museum, and certain scientists from the expedition will participate in a talk about climate change at the Science Museum. Schools will be able to visit Tara, and the boat will be open to the public September 22-23.

After a stopover in Le Havre October 1 – 14, Tara will be in Paris November 3 to January 15 docked at the Champs Elysées port (right bank) near the Alexander III bridge. On the quay, an exhibit for the general public will explain Tara’s various expeditions, including initial results from her Arctic mission, and information about her recent voyage across all the oceans of the world. This exhibit will give the public an opportunity to understand how the ocean is evolving in the context of current and future climate change, and the major role played by the oceans in life on planet Earth.

Throughout these 3 months in Paris, 128 schools or recreational centers of the region will be invited to discover the new exhibit, visit the schooner with members of the crew, and participate in science workshops.

In October the book Tara Oceans, Chroniques d’une expédition scientifique (published by Actes Sud) will be available in bookstores.

In November during the Toussaint holidays, the film Planète Océan will be aired on France 2. This documentary exposes the dangers threatening our oceans and our planet. It was conceived to change the way people look at the oceans and encourage them to consider environmental protection as a shared responsibility on a worldwide scale. The film, directed by Yann Arthus Bertrand and Michael Pitiot, was produced by Hope with the support of Omega, in association with Tara Expeditions. Tara made available to the filmmakers a network of scientific experts and contacts accumulated during the course of her expeditions.

From an educational standpoint, the year 2012 – 2013, so rich in encounters, will also be the occasion for students to discover what happens in laboratories to the samples collected during the Tara Oceans Expedition. The project “Du bateau au labo”, organized with the Rectorat de Rennes and the Institut Français de l’Education, will link up classes from middle and high schools with scientists from the expedition, for a direct and fascinating discovery of the world of scientific research.

January to May 2013 Marseille, Monaco, Villefranche-sur-mer, Bordeaux and Nantes – Each of these ports will be on Tara’s route before departing from Lorient for the next Arctic expedition in May 2013.

With scientific and educational objectives, Tara will make a 6-month voyage around the Arctic via the northeast and northwest passages, exploring the Great North region currently undergoing&nbsp; extremely rapid evolution. The goal of this mission is to study marine microbiology in the Arctic as we did during the Tara Oceans Expedition, and to carry out new research programs specific to this region – oceanographic study of the Arctic, analyses of plastic particles, or traces of pollution.

Back to the starting block

After an amazing arrival in Lorient, then a full week devoted to the visits of school kids aboard Tara, the last few days have been used to make room on the boat.

First the scientists dismantled, stored or took back their equipment, including everything from microscopes in the dry lab to the rosette, pumps, nets and filters of all kinds. Then everyone departed. What an odd feeling to be alone, having spent all those months at sea as a group of 15 people.

We sailors then turned things topsy-turvy inside the ship, completely emptying the front and rear holds with the help of cranes, forklifts and trucks. Almost everything was removed: anchor, generator, diving compressor, deck equipment, etc. The idea was to make room to work comfortably in this next phase. Another strange impression – seeing these wide open spaces inside Tara, when just a short time ago the sailboat was filled to the brim!

As Loïc the captain says, “We’re now in construction mode”, and although there’s a lot of work to do, it’s not necessarily unpleasant to be working together on land, not moving, with a different lifestyle – much more comfortable, able to phone our families easily, eating according to our desires, etc.

Today there was a new step in this always-fascinating spectacle: Tara was lifted out of the water and put into dry dock on the “Keroman” wharf, exactly the same place where the schooner was sitting three years ago when I discovered her for the first time.

For Baptiste, François and myself – involved since the early preparations for the Tara Oceans expedition – there’s a feeling of déjà-vu, a kind of strange “return to the starting block”, especially since we recognize and greet some of the employees of the Timolor Company who had helped us way back then. But in between, three years have gone by, full of wonderful experiences and encounters – three years that went by so fast we hardly saw them go!

Daniel Cron, sailor

Visitors aboard Tara

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

Jean-Louis Etienne visits Tara

The French explorer had an emotional rendez-vous with his former sailboat “Antarctica”, now called Tara. This was the occasion to share with the crew many memories linked to the boat since its construction in 1989. Tara has come a long way since then!

Today, Tara continues its outreach program by hosting over 50 students from the San Diego French American School. The crew welcomes the children, and in small groups they visit the boat from deck to berths, passing through the Wet Lab and the machine room.

The pupils are studious and very curious about everything. It’s no wonder — for months in class they’ve followed Tara’s voyage, and are thrilled to be actually on board. Among the groups, a familiar face appears: Jean-Louis Etienne, who lives in San Diego, has come to visit the crew before they embark on the open seas.

He conceived this boat with the help of engineer Michel Franco and architects Luc Bouvet and Olivier Petit, and named her “Antarctica”. Constructed to withstand Arctic ice, the boat sailed across the world’s oceans with Jean-Louis on board. Purchased and rebaptised “Seamaster” in 1996 by the famous New Zealand navigator Sir Peter Blake, then acquired by Etienne Bourgois in 2003 especially for the Tara Arctic expedition, the boat has undergone numerous transformations.

But for Jean-Louis Etienne, it’s still the same boat, which took him across the world. “I have the feeling that I never left. A part of me is still here,” reminisces the explorer, deeply moved by his memories. “I could walk the length of the boat without even opening my eyes.” Moving around, as if on familiar ground, he notices here and there a cabin transformed into a lab, a wooden panel removed, a new control instrument. Surrounded by the whole crew, the French explorer recalls his adventures on this same deck, the boat’s past technical problems, the good times and the bad.

Memories are evoked wherever he looks, and the audience is enthralled to be in the company of a living witness. Even if there’s a whiff of nostalgia, we feel this man is happy to see his former boat in such good hands. “When I put her up for sale, some people wanted to use her for cruises,” he sighs. “Here, she’s found her place. I’m proud of what she’s doing as Tara”.

Loïc, the captain, takes the opportunity to ask for information about Clipperton, our next stop. Looking at a large map of the island, Jean-Louis Etienne, who led a 4-month expedition there in 2005, explains where to approach, where to anchor. Vital information for the crew: Clipperton is Tara’s next destination, half-way between San Diego and Panama. Our departure for Jean-Louis Etienne’s esteemed island is scheduled for Thursday!

Yann Chavance

Visits from South African students

At each stopover, after departing from the Lorient, Tara’s crew has conscientiously maintained their commitment to organize visits onboard by local schools; thus responding to the expedition’s educational objective, one of the fundamental reasons for this project.

At Cape Town, the crew welcomed 120 adolescents from 2 city “townships”(disadvantaged neighborhoods). This visit was co-organized with Cape Town’s aquarium, which also hosted an exhibition on TARA Oceans for the students. They then came onboard to discover the schooner, its functioning, scientific equipment and everything else. All of the crew and scientists onboard relished that moment, and the mutual pleasure was evident in the smiling young public who were very attentive. The surprise was all the greater, for the life onboard the schooner seems so distant from theirs. In fact, it is not a question, during these visits, of going into detailed and often complex science, but to try to transmit the message of everyone’s commitment for a better world.

Three days after leaving Cape Town, and after having passed again the mythical Cape of Good Hope in exceptionally good sailing conditions, the re-fitting has just begun for Tara in the small port of Simon’s Town, a few kilometers from Cape Town. Here also, via the Consulate and local organizations, visits from nearby schools will soon be organized and meetings with the South African population will be opportunities for numerous exchanges and discoveries. Here is also an important part of the Tara Oceans expedition, the scope of scientific research extending to discover cultural and humane pluralities.

Amélie Bétus

Tara generation

Tara has a mission: Sensitizing youngsters to the environmental concerns of our century, and explaining to them what exactly it is that Tara’s scientific team is doing and striving to achieve in the marine environment. Throughout the expedition, all in all, 150 classes will have paid a visit to Tara.

“Excuse me madam, how many days of food can you stock in the boat?” “Do you drink unsalted sea water?”, “What will you do if pirates attack you?”… On Tara’s deck, between winches and inflatable life boats, 12 year old students from the sophomore class of the French international high school Georges Pompidou in Dubai are staring at us with wide open eyes.
Here and there, small digital cameras are busy capturing everything they can, “to feed our website”, explains Jean Paul Berger, their natural science teacher. This is the second visit we’ve had this morning, after a group of students from the Massignon High School in Abu Dhabi.
This time though, the visit is a bit different: Instead of Tara coming to the students, it was their teacher who came to Tara, whose journey he’d been following over the internet, and thus anticipated her arrival. ” I printed out every possible document, just to make sure I’d have every paper the administrations could require, and that was well before the ship even left, no one even knew about it yet”, he proudly explains. Children, trying to see all they can despite the lack of space, are sneaking into every little nook and cranny : on the lower deck and its wet lab, in the wheelhouse where the captain is steering the ship, in the hold in the middle of the deck, storeroom, cabins… “It’s very cluttered, there’s not enough space” says 12 year old Raya, surprised.
Showing true pedagogical skills, Defne Arslan, a doctoral biology student newly embarked onboard Tara, explains that “plankton are the second lung of our planet”. Daniel Cron, second mechanic, tells another group what purpose serve the pennons, flags and pennants decorating the stays of the ship. The rosette and our techniques to fill Niskin bottles with water sampled at various depths arouse curiosity and many questions: “What if this little technological marvel were to fall in the water and sink?”, inquires another student? Mathilde Ménard explains that all necessary precautions are taken, but that it would be a disaster for our current research, which essentially revolves around this 300,000 euros device.

Raya’s eyes light up when Defne explains that Tara’s investigations have already led to the discovery of plankton species which had remained unsuspected until then: “Discovering new species is fascinating, I thought we were already familiar with all living beings”. That’s not even the case on land, let alone underwater. This is the field Tara chose to try and make science leap forward; so that future generations, the generation of students climbing on board with us today, will maintain and carry on the conservation work which needs to be done.

Jérôme Bastion