Tara in Paris February 29 to April 13, 2020: the Ocean comes to town

Information COVID-19: Ashore and at sea, for the marine and scientific crew as well as for the public we meet, safety for all is our watchword. Until further notice, the visits of the scientific schooner Tara are cancelled to help limit the spread of the epidemic. Those who have already booked will be reimbursed in the coming days.
We sincerely hope to welcome you soon on board, but for now, it is in the warmth of your home that we suggest you this virtual visit of Tara.

From the estuary to the quays, the research schooner Tara will sail up the Seine, passing through its locks before mooring at the Port des Invalides in Paris. This is an opportunity for the Tara Ocean Foundation to share our research with the general public and students of the Paris area. In association with Initiatives pour l’Avenir des Grands Fleuves (IAGF) — an activist group committed to the preservation and development of major rivers throughout the world — and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) — partner in the 2019 Microplastics Mission, the Tara Ocean Foundation will invite candidates in municipal elections to sign the Charter: “Mon territoire s’engage : rivière, fleuve sans plastique, océan protégé” to engage as future mayors in the fight against plastic pollution in rivers to protect the Ocean.

Sailing up rivers to change the course of events

According to the Tara Ocean Foundation and the CNRS, scientific observations are conclusive: to preserve the Ocean — major ecosystem sustaining our planet’s equilibrium — it is imperative to support more ambitious and sustainable management, from land to sea.

“As a river specialist, I strongly believe that the Ocean’s health greatly depends on that of rivers. In turn, the rivers’ health depends on the care provided by people who live nearby, in the heart of watersheds, and on what they discard into the environment. In other words, it all depends on the respect we show to rivers”, says Erik Orsenna, president of IAGF and sponsor of the Tara Ocean Foundation.

Pollution in the open sea originates in watersheds, from ski slopes to the coast. Management of water and waste has a direct impact on preservation of the Ocean and marine biodiversity. Rain running down roads and gutters into lakes, and water flowing in streams and rivers, are all vectors transporting to the Ocean the plastic litter produced by all of us and partially uncollected.

“Plastic and microplastic pollution of rivers must be taken into account in municipal water management programs to preserve rivers and the Ocean and their biodiversity. Is your future mayor aware of his/her responsibility to alert, educate and raise awareness among citizens about the challenges associated with this pollution?”, asks Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Ocean Foundation.

An event intended to awaken wonder and promote commitment 

TARA IN PARIS© Julien Girardot / Sea & Co

From February 29 to April 13, through visits of the research schooner, an exhibition and educational activities, the Tara Ocean Foundation will invite young people and adults to dream of adventure and discovery, and reflect on how to preserve our planet and its resources.

On weekdays, school children can come aboard Tara and visit the exhibition installed on the quay. “The schooner Tara and her scientific expeditions are great educational levers to raise awareness and engage young people in current environmental issues, so they become informed citizens. Time spent aboard the schooner, meeting with the people involved in these expeditions, is undoubtedly a rich and stimulating moment for students and their teachers”, says Pascaline Bourgain, in charge of the educational platform at the Tara Ocean Foundation.

Every weekend and Wednesday and Friday afternoon, starting on February 29, the general public will be able to access Tara’s upper deck and visit the exhibition “Tara, à la découverte d’un nouveau monde : l’Océan”. A unique and instructive experience for you and your family to discover how to care for the Ocean, on land and at sea.


 Until further notice, the visits of the scientific schooner Tara are cancelled to help limit the spread of the epidemic. 

Quai de Seine (left bank), Alexandre III bridge, 75007 Paris
Between Pont des Invalides and Pont Alexandre III
Metro: Lines 8, 13 and RER C at Invalides / Lines 1 and 13 at Champs-Elysée Clemenceau

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Tara in China, Spring, 2018: Participating in scientific and environmental challenges

Starting at the end of February, Tara will be making ports of call in China over a period of 2 months. This will be a particularly important part of the Tara Pacific expedition, involving scientific, educational and political issues. Interview with Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation:

Why did the Tara Expeditions Foundation accompany President Macron on his first official trip to China?

This was the first time that the Foundation had the opportunity to be part of a presidential delegation. The French ambassador to China, with whom we’ve been working for a long time, judged that we had our place there, in view of Tara’s imminent visit.

Beyond this event, we’ve been working with China and have been connected with Chinese universities for some time now. This visit was therefore a logical continuation of our scientific cooperation.

The goal was also to strengthen the image of the Tara Foundation in China. Clearly our participation in this trip will influence the success of Tara’s presence in China.

The environment and the climate were also at the center of discussions, crucial topics for the Foundation. In particular, this trip was the opportunity to visit the Beijing Space Center and see the satellite CFOSAT (China-France Oceanography satellite) which will be responsible for studying the physical characteristics of the Ocean’s surface starting this year.

Romain Troublé (directeur général de la Fondation Tara Expeditions) lors de la conférence FACTO, Miami Romain Troublé, Directeur Général de la Fondation Tara Expéditions © Maeva Bardy – Tara Expeditions Foundation


How can China be an important partner for the Tara Foundation’s mission?

For the last 2 years, China has become the leader in climate issues, along with France. It’s very interesting and important to cooperate with China on a scientific level, to exchange know-how and information. Close ties should therefore be developed with this country which has become a key partner and is getting stronger on a scientific level.

China is aware of its responsibilities in terms of waste, pollution and even management of resources. We must not be naïve: China is showing all the signs of a country willing to meet challenges and assume its responsibilities.


What will be Tara’s main objectives during her 2-month stay in China?

Our presence in China will be organized into several stopovers, including Sanya, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xiamen, each lasting between one and 2 weeks. During these stopovers the focus will be on educating young people — a major issue in China. Many visits of school children are being planned, in addition to the special events organized to disseminate the Foundation’s work.

On the scientific side, several conferences will be given by researchers from the Tara Oceans consortium to present their excellent work. More generally, we are already collaborating with researchers from the universities of Xiamen, Hong Kong and Guangxi. Our ambition is to anchor these collaborations in the long term.

As for further sampling, the corals around Hainan Island are among the most northwesternly in the Pacific Ocean. Since Tara is studying corals in the greatest variety of environments, it’s important to make a stopover there.

Return to America’s Cup Country, by Romain Troublé

At the end of 2000, the schooner Seamaster (renamed Tara 3 years later) with Sir Peter Blake at the helm, left Auckland’s Viaduct Harbor for a long journey. Like the famous explorer Sir Edmund Hilary before him, navigator Peter Blake had proven to his fellow Kiwis that they were capable of making a mark on the rest of the world. A true leader of men, he broke records around the world and won almost all the major sailing races, including the America’s Cup in 1995 and 2000.


“Meeting Peter, participating in the America’s Cup, living here in Auckland – These experiences will undoubtedly accompany me throughout my life”


It’s very moving to come back here, as it was 17 years ago in 2000, and also in 2003. I had the chance to sail in the Hauraki Gulf aboard the French challenge for the America’s Cup. We didn’t win, but meeting Peter, participating in the Cup, living here in Auckland – will definitely accompany me throughout my entire life, like all the powerful experiences that one can live in a lifetime. It was during this period, in 2002, that Etienne Bourgois, founder of the Tara project, came here to build a boat and met Alistair Moore, who, a few years later, told him that Seamaster might be sold.


“The story of Tara has been crazy, since her construction: Yesterday and today, her existence comes from the realm of dreams”


unnamed1© Ivor Wilkins


To be back here aboard Tara is something very special and powerful for Etienne and for me.  Bringing Tara back to Viaduct Harbor after all these years and adventures in the 4 corners of planet Ocean is extremely moving – an intense emotion shared by the hundreds of Kiwis visiting Tara this week. We really feel the aura of Peter at every encounter. I often say that Tara is one of those rare boats endowed with a soul. Her history has been crazy since her construction. Yesterday and today, her existence comes from the realm of dreams, from the passion that motivated Jean-Louis Etienne, Sir Peter Blake, and the Tara team to turn dreams into reality.


Being here is great, and it seems that destiny has played one of its tricks. The New Zealand team engaged in the America’s Cup in Bermuda last month not only had the talent to win the trophy hands down – Bravo! – but had the good idea to bring the trophy back to Auckland yesterday, after losing it 14 years ago.


Hamish Hooper _ ETNZ© Hammish Hooper / ETNZ


Lots of “thumbs up”, “good job, guys!”, “bravos!”, photos and selfies from the 10,000 Kiwi spectators


History and immense chance, a meeting of paths –  I was here in the driving rain with the Tara dream team, in the heart of the parade celebrating the return of the New Zealand Emirates Team, amidst hundreds of boats. Lots of  “thumbs up”, “good job, guys!, “bravos!”, photos and selfies from the 10,000 Kiwi spectators present. Without a doubt the most beautiful recognition for Agnès b., Etienne, the Tara team, our partners, and for me was given by the public here. The feeling that Tara is worthy of Peter’s legacy. It wasn’t a given, and now it’s up to all of us to continue.


“A very beautiful way to close the loop”


Returning here in these conditions at this precise moment is a very beautiful way of closing the loop. But beyond this, Etienne and I believe this is the beginning of a new cycle. The Sir Peter Blake Foundation and the City of Auckland have given a unique and moving welcome for Tara. The Blake Foundation teams are as passionate as we are in sharing, engaging the public and the young generation on the path of science and sustainable development. A wonderful partnership that will allow us to welcome young Blake Ambassadors on board for expeditions, get the participation of Kiwis, and why not sponsors  in the missions of the Tara Expeditions Foundation. Stand-by tack!


Romain Troublé,
Executive director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation

Sayonara Nippon! Bye Bye Japan!

On board we all agree, “This was a great departure!” After sailing along the coasts of Japan for 2 months, the schooner finally left Chatan to the sound of sanshins and applause. One month devoted to education and raising awareness, a second month focused mainly on scientific research, with 16 people on board sharing daily life and work. During Tara’s time in Japan, we welcomed aboard nearly 4,500 visitors.

The last morning on the island of Okinawa was typical of all Tara’s stopovers: dense and fast-paced.

At 7:30 am, a first group of crew members had an appointment at the Immigration Service to formalize their exit from the territory. Difficult to summarize such a rich experience with a quick rubber stamp. Meanwhile, other Taranauts their bags after a final tour inside the boat to look for miscellaneous objects swallowed up by the whale — a toothbrush forgotten in a bathroom, a tee shirt left on the clothesline in the rear hold.


Yuko_Kitano_credit_Francois_AuratYuko Kitano, taxonomist and Taranaut © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation


At 9 am, Yuko Kitano, a researcher at the University of Miyazaki, gave a last tour of the boat for a group of young children. Yuko had become the mascot of Tara over the last few weeks. In her thirties, petite, with big expressive eyes, the young woman expended a huge amount of energy throughout this mission. Returning from a dive, notebook in hand, Yuko carefully wrote down the French words she learned and repeated to perfection, including one or two swear words that symbolize for everyone the apprenticeship of a new language. And then her famous “C’est bon” that concluded every meal prepared by our wonderful cook, Marion Lauters.


Au_revoir_Sarah_Romac_Marion_Lauters_credit_Noelie_Pansiot-2200096Sarah Romac, engineer at the Roscoff Biological Station and Marion Lauters, sailor/cook, saying goodbye © Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Expeditions Foundation


At 11am, Sarah Romac, engineer, Natacha Roux, doctoral student, and Maggy Nugues, ecologist, opened the dance of goodbyes and embraces. For her fourth mission aboard Tara Pacific, Sarah departed with a row of black and blue marks on her legs – the result of doing sampling work aboard a boat where it’s easy to get bruised without even noticing it. She said she was “delighted” with this voyage which allowed her to learn about some subjects she doesn’t study at the Roscoff Biological Station. For Maggy Nugues (CRIOBE) this was her second embarkation: “From a scientific point of view, the voyage was extremely rich. I became aware of everything we had accomplished in a few weeks when I saw the underwater photographs of Nicolas Floc’h, artist-in-residence. During these 3 and a half weeks we were far away from everyday concerns. We were close to nature, in contact with the elements – a good time for meditation! So, we’re all a bit sad to leave…

At 2 pm, official departure time, during a farewell ceremony on the quay, Sylvain Agostini was presented with a Japanese flag signed by all the Taranauts. Scientific coordinator of this mission, Sylvain was a central element in the organization of this part of Tara’s voyage, and he contributed largely to its success, never counting his hours of work. Before leaving the schooner, the flag under his arm, Sylvain said a last word to the crew to sum up his experience aboard Tara: “scientifically interesting and humanely outstanding”.


15-Samuel_Audrain_et_Sylvain_Agostini_credit_Noelie_Pansiot-2200167Tara’s scientific coordinator in Japan, Sylvain Agostini offers the Japanese flag to Capitain Samuel Audrain © Noëlie Pansiot / Fondation Tara Expéditions


The entire Tara Expeditions Foundation team, on land and at sea, wishes to warmly thank the various agnès b. crews, university teams, NHK, our shipping agent Yusuke Yoneyama, and many others for their tremendous work, support, and hospitality that allowed Tara to spend 2 exceptional months in Japan, meeting the public, scientists, media. A new adventure in itself, and for each one of us, that we will renew in May 2018. See you next year!


Noëlie Pansiot

Takeshi Kitano, Ambassador of Tara

A new chapter of Tara’s story is beginning in Japan. The Tara project radiates far beyond French borders and is now officially recognized as a public interest group. None of this would have been possible without the support of Tara’s friends and partners: agnès b., Véolia Foundation, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and many others.

In the Japanese archipelago, the schooner is sponsored by a well-known personality — actor/film director Takeshi Kitano. As a young boy, he discovered Cousteau and developed a passionate interest in the ocean. For more than 2 years, Takeshi Kitano has been Tara’s Ambassador in Japan. Now he is finally able to discover the schooner on the occasion of Tara’s first visit to the archipelago.


First stopover for Tara in Japan

Since departing last October from Papeete, French Polynesia, the schooner has already traveled nearly 8,500 miles. In her wake, Tara has left Tuamotu, Wallis and Guam and sails towards Japan.

For more than 3 months, the Taranauts will participate in a major awareness campaign in the land of the rising sun. The public will be welcomed on board during 8 stopovers; hundreds of children will discover the secrets of coral reefs and the scientists will meet at a symposium in Tokyo.

This great Japanese stopover is a first for Tara. On reaching Fukuoka, the Taranauts were eager and excited to begin this new chapter of the expedition.



© Noëlie Pansiot / Fondation Tara Expéditions


Press release

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. 


Arrivee a Fukuoka Sarah Fretwell Fondation Tara ExpeditionsArrival 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.

Video: Shipping, a race against time

With the completion of Tara’s mission in the Tuamotu Archipelago and the schooner’s return to the port of Papeete, a new adventure has just begun in the form of a race against time. In the vessel’s holds, hundreds of samples are awaiting shipment to partner laboratories for thorough analysis.
Colombia, Easter Island, Ducie and Gambier Islands: scientists only have a few hours on Tahiti’s dock to package the results of months of work in the Pacific Ocean.

© Pierre de Parscau / Tara Expeditions Foundation


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

Tahiti welcomes Tara

After a short introduction to Polynesian hospitality last week in the Gambier Islands, Tara’s crew enjoyed a magnificent arrival in Tahiti with dance, music and necklaces of flowers. A perfect welcome to begin a busy week on this island — a major stopover of the Tara Pacific expedition.

The schooner is continuing her route through the Polynesian Windward Islands (“Iles du Vent”), the archipelago that includes Tahiti. Before arriving in the capital, Papeete, Tara spent 2 days just a few kilometers away on the island of Moorea, Tahiti’s little sister. The boat anchored in the Opunohu Bay, a fabulous setting with a lagoon surrounded by rocky peaks covered by lush vegetation. Located in this unique environment is the CRIOBE laboratory (Center for Island Research and Environmental Observatory), one of Tara Pacific’s leading partners. Serge Planes (CNRS / EPHE / UPVD), the scientific director of the expedition, members of CRIOBE and their partners came aboard to visit the schooner and learn about our mission.


Tara docking at Moorea to host school visits and meet with local politicians. © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation


On Tuesday the crew left with regret the fabulous landscapes of Moorea for the bigger island of  Tahiti. Tara had just docked at Papeete opposite the famous Vai’ete Square when the sounds of traditional drums greeted us. On the quay, musicians and dancers offered us a perfect welcome and a lovely example of Polynesian culture. After installing the gangway, the crew finally set foot on ground, greeted by a guard of honor, loads of smiles, garlands of flowers and fresh coconuts.


credits-yann-chavance-arrivee-papeete-1-3On the main dock in Papeete, the crew is greeted with traditional dances and songs. © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


The festivities continued with a series of speeches in the kiosk on Vai’ete Square. Serge Planes and Romain Troublé presented the objectives of Tara Pacific and thanked local partners. They were followed by local representatives, including Patrick Howell, Polynesian Minister of Health and Research. He saluted the work of Tara and evoked the great explorers who also came to Tahiti — Bougainville, Cook and La Pérouse. “You’re the worthy descendants!”, he concluded in his welcoming speech. And indeed, for Tara’s crew discovering Polynesian hospitality, the feelings were certainly very close to those of the great explorers several centuries earlier. In his “Journey around the World” published in 1771, Bougainville wrote about Tahiti: “I felt transported into the garden of Eden [...] Everywhere we see hospitality, restfulness, sweet joy & all signs of happiness.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Yann Chavance

First port of call in French Polynesia

At the beginning of this week, Tara left the Gambier Islands, the most easterly archipelago of Polynesia. In addition to completing the sampling protocols, the few days spent around the small mountainous islands enabled the crew to get a first glimpse of French Polynesia’s beauty and experience the kindness of its inhabitants.

As on every Pacific island along the schooner’s route, 3 sites were studied in the Gambier Archipelago, with dives to collect samples of coral, fish and plankton. To be as close as possible to the collection sites, the vessel had to sail the full length and breadth of the large lagoon surrounding the archipelago. After an initial mooring in a small cove in Taravai, the second largest island of the archipelago, Tara anchored near Akamaru’s shore, an island harboring a single village composed of 10 families living around a church. Finally, the schooner completed this stopover docked in the village of Rikitea, the largest of the Gambier Islands.


credits-yann-chavance-panorama-gambier-1-1From Mount Duff, overlooking the village of Rikitea, stunning views of coral reefs and pearl farms along the coast © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


This winding route between the different islands, motivated by scientific imperatives, was an opportunity for the crew to enjoy an overview of the Gambier archipelago. Far from others French Polynesian islands (Tahiti is 1,700 km away) and served by a single weekly flight, the archipelago’s stunning beauty remains inaccessible to most tourists. Few people can admire the incredible contrasts of these small islands, where white sand beaches and coconut trees give way to coniferous forests on the mountainside. To complete the picture, several small churches (and even a cathedral!) dot the amazing landscape.


The coral team gets ready to dive to collect samples © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation


After collecting samples, Tara’s crew spent 2 days in Rikitea to meet the locals. About 120 children visited the schooner, listening carefully to scientists on the rear deck and sailors in the mess room. In the evening, at a conference in the town hall, the crew presented the research conducted aboard the vessel in the Pacific Ocean, as well as previous missions, including Tara Oceans. Tara had previously anchored in 2011 in the waters of the Gambier Islands to study coral reefs. It was therefore natural that the scientific team present the findings of this first visit: the discovery of 2 new species of coral, previously unknown. One has been named Echinophyllia tarae with reference to the schooner.


credits-yann-chavance-visites-gambier-1-1Dozens of visitors and school children visited the schooner while Tara was docked in Rikitea © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


Besides the conference, exchanges between the crew and the Gambier Islands’ inhabitants continued in a more informal way through chance encounters. Just walking down the streets, we enjoyed the hospitality and simplicity of discussions with the Polynesians. Coming across someone often means stopping for a few minutes to chat, talk about life aboard Tara or the islanders’ concerns. Friendly exchanges sometimes led to an invitation to visit a pearl farm or a gift of some fresh fruit. The 5 scientists who caught their return flight here, and the 11 Taranauts remaining on board to reach Tahiti in a few days, could not have dreamed of a better welcome in French Polynesia.

Yann Chavance

Tara in the atolls of French Polynesia

[Press release]

The research schooner Tara departed from Lorient on May 28 and has already sailed more than 22,000 of the 100,000 kilometers planned as part of the Tara Pacific expedition. Tara will arrive in French Polynesia late September.  For one and a half months the schooner will explore the biodiversity of coral reefs in the Tuamotu atolls and the Gambier Islands.

Leaving behind the Panama Canal, Colombia and Easter Island, Tara will reach the first islands of French Polynesia at Mangareva (Gambier Islands). On board, an international team of coral biologists, oceanographers and plankton experts are collecting samples of coral, reef fish, algae and water. One of their main objectives is to establish the first global analysis of coral reefs and reveal a largely unknown biodiversity.



Coral reef biodiversity facing climate change

French Polynesia is composed of 118 Islands covering nearly 5.5 million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean. The exceptional biodiversity of coral in this area determined the schooner’s route. Scientific teams from the CNRS – particularly those working at the CRIOBE (CNRS/EPHE/UPVD/PSL) – the Genoscope, the Scientific Center of Monaco and other laboratories will focus essentially on the Tuamotu atolls and Gambier Islands. Their goal: compare the biodiversity of atolls, depending on whether their lagoon is open or closed to the ocean, and gain a better understanding of coral biology.

This major step in the study of coral will enable scientists to monitor the health of reefs and compare their biodiversity according to their level of exposure to human activities. Some islands are subject to direct disturbances, but the majority are located far away from any source of anthropogenic contamination (pollution, urbanization, sedimentation due to erosion, etc.). Researchers seek to collect the data necessary for comparing effects of local disturbances (pollution, sedimentation, etc.) with disturbances related to global changes (global warming, ocean acidification, etc.).

El Niño 2015, a marginal impact in Polynesia

In the context of climate change and ocean warming, the oscillation of temperatures associated with El Niño are all the more traumatic for reefs, leading to high mortality of corals (bleaching). “In Polynesia, a bleaching episode occurred this year, but reefs weren’t subjected to rising temperatures for too long, unlike the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Overall, the El Niño 2015 phenomenon has been relatively marginal in Polynesia and impacts are mainly located at the northern latitudes of Polynesia, in the Marquesas Islands” explains Serge Planes, CNRS research director at the CRIOBE (EPHE/CNRS/UPVD) and scientific director of the expedition.



Raise awareness among populations

Ultimately, our research aims at reinforcing evolutionary models of these ecosystems so crucial to the life of coastal populations. The Tara Pacific expedition also involves an important human factor: sailors and scientists make use of the schooner’s ports of call to raise awareness among the widest audience possible on ecological issues. They also record local experiences, thus giving voice to the inhabitants of small Pacific islands.


See the schedule of Tara’s port of call in Papeete, Tahiti


Tara is back in Rapa Nui

The schooner and her crew finally arrived on Wednesday in Easter Island – here called Rapa Nui. The few hours gained over the last days thanks to favorable winds will be put to good use during the upcoming week to complete the busy schedule awaiting us.

Tara has actually been in the vicinity of Easter Island for a while. Since Tuesday evening, the small island has been displayed on the radar screen, but the wait was extended by a succession of sampling stations at various distances from shore. For the scientific team, the objective was to study the island influence on plankton composition: a protocol dedicated to this “island effect” that will be reproduced each time Tara approaches new land during her expedition in the Pacific Ocean. At the last sampling station at dawn on Wednesday, scientists had the pleasure between 2 net immersions in the water, to discover the first rays of sunlight gradually illuminating Rapa Nui.


Credits Yann Chavance - Rapa Nui-1
On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, Tara arrived within view of Easter Island in the South Pacific © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


It wasn’t until the afternoon, after completing the scientific protocols, that Tara anchored in front of Hanga Roa, the only town on the Chilean island. After the day’s end solely dedicated to administrative and customs formalities, the crew finally set foot on land the next morning and discovered their first Moais, the island iconic statues sculpted in gigantic granite monoliths. A few hours of respite to discover the beauty of this remote island – one of the most isolated inhabited lands in the world – and its archaeological treasures. Some leisure time that will become rarer in the next few days: the planned agenda for the week is extremely busy.


© François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation


This port of call is an opportunity to welcome new members on board: no fewer than 7 newcomers are expected this week, including the dive team. The divers will need to recover quickly from their 30 hours of flight as they have to start working underwater this week-end to study Rapa Nui’s corals. In parallel to the scientific dives, the stopover will also be an opportunity to welcome children on board: Thanks to Rapa Nui Ocean, a local NGO, a group of students working on conservation of ocean and island resources will visit the schooner if the weather conditions allow them to board.

With the same goal of sharing knowledge with the populations encountered during the Tara Pacific expedition, a public lecture will be held on shore next Tuesday. The objective is of course to present the scientific purposes of our visit to Rapa Nui, but also to present the first results of the Tara Oceans expedition: in 2011, Tara had already anchored in these waters during her 21/2-year round-the-world tour studying plankton. On the occasion of this “Past & Present” conference, the crew will be joined by biologist Eric Karsenti (EMBL-CNRS) – Tara Oceans’ scientific “father” – and André Abreu, in charge of Climate & Environment Policy, who came especially for the occasion. Once this busy program is completed, Tara will resume her course next Wednesday evening, heading due west.

Yann Chavance

Video: First coral sampling in Panama

During a brief stopover in Panama City, coral reef scientists arrive on board: the first Tara Pacific expedition sampling can begin. Between dives, photographs, coral and surrounding water sampling and processing, discover the first moments of the expedition in the Pacific Ocean.


© Maéva Bardy – Tara Expeditions Foundation

Video: The Panama Canal aboard Tara

Tara passed through the famous Panama Canal to reach the Pacific Ocean where scientists will begin collecting the expedition’s first coral samples. Captain Samuel Audrain followed the instructions of a pilot who came aboard the schooner to supervise the maneuvers. On deck the crew assisted in passing through a series of locks to reach the highest point of the Canal, about 20 meters above sea level. During the hours of our passage, we met huge cargo ships slowly moving through the locks, pulled by locomotives.

The construction of the Canal, completed a little over a century ago, was a real feat for the time. It opened a new route to maritime trade which continues to gain momentum today. The recent enlargement of the Canal enables even bigger cargo ships to cross the Isthmus of Panama.


© Maéva Bardy / Tara Expeditions Foundation

Panama Canal: from the Atlantic to the Pacific

In a few days, Tara will cross the Panama Canal, a legendary passage for global navigation. Recent widening works ensure the supremacy of this construction by tripling its transit capacity between Asia and the eastern United States.

For the 4th time in its existence, the schooner will cross the Panama Canal. This will be her 2nd passage under the name Tara, the first one having occurred during the Tara Oceans expedition. This canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and facilitates maritime transit to thousands of ships, ranging from private crafts to large commercial vessels, called “Panamax” (term referring to vessels having the largest eligible size in the canal).


Tara transiting the Panama Canal, 2011 © C. Blanchard / Tara Expeditions Foundation


“Panama, a major rendez-vous”

Tara’s passage has been in preparation for some time. Port formalities are numerous. “Size of the boat, crew on board, engine power, etc. Everything is declared to enable the best possible transit” says Clémentine Moulin, logistics coordinator on land, who prepared Tara’s passage with the Captain. “Going from one ocean to another through one of the busiest canals in the world is a major undertaking! Everything has to be organized with a port agent, an indispensable intermediary.”

The passage is expected to take 24-36 hours at an average speed of 8 knots between each lock and Tara will embark an accompanying pilot. Tara’s maneuvers will be quite easy compared to those of large cargo ships and won’t require towing by electric locomotives. At wharf, the docking pilots, in charge of mooring operations, will oversee Tara and her crew during the passage through each lock.

The cost of the passage depends on the volume of the ship (its tonnage) – a few thousand dollars for Tara and hundreds of thousands of dollars for large cargo ships. A substantial sum to sail up to Lake Gatun and then back down to the Pacific Ocean but it’s ultimately little compared to the detour via Cape Horn.

© Thomas Römer/OpenStreetMap data CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


A seaway crucial to global trade

This construction has impacted considerably maritime commerce. Since its opening in 1914, ships no longer have had to navigate down to Cape Horn or the Strait of Magellan, located on the southern tip of Chile – a region well known for its rough seas and high winds. Thus, each year, more than 14,000 vessels transit through this route, representing 5% of world trade.

Titanic works were required to develop this 77 km-long strip of land separating the 2 oceans. A series of locks, whose dimensions determine the “Panamax”, enable passage to an artificial lake located 26 m above sea level. This lake is essential for the transit of vessels and also serves as a water reservoir for the proper functioning of the locks during the dry season.

Recently, with the development of maritime commerce, the privileged position of the Panama Canal was challenged by the Suez Canal and a new canal construction project in Nicaragua by 2020. The size of its locks was becoming limiting. In 2011, 37% of the container ships were estimated too large (post-panamax) to take this route and nearly 50% of the vessels transiting the canal were already at the maximum width of the locks.

Expansion works were completed this year on June 26. They now enable the passage of longer and larger ships that can carry up to 12,000 containers – more than double the charge authorized for the original canal. More than 100 years after its opening, the Panama Canal has retained its supremacy on the seaway connecting Asia to the east coast of the United States.


Miraflores Lock - 10 Nov 1912
Construction of the Miraflores lock, 1912


The Panama Canal in numbers

Extension of the canal:
- 9 years of work (from Sept. 2007 to June 2016)
- 5.2 billion dollars: final cost of enlargement
- 24,000 workers on the construction site
- 49 ships transit daily through the canal
- 510 to 600 million tons of freight per year by 2025
- Dimensions of vessels: 49 m large, 366 m long
- Giant lock basins: 55 m large, 420 m long and more than 18 m deep

First canal:
- 32 years of work (from 1882 to 1914)
- 20,000 workers allegedly died during the construction from malaria and yellow fever
- 39 ships transited daily through the canal
- 203 million tons of transported freight per year
- Panamax dimensions: 32.3 m large, 294.1 m long
- Giant lock basins: 33.53 m large, 304.8 m long and more than 12.55 m deep

Maéva Bardy

Video: Tara Pacific stopover in Miami

After departure from Lorient on May 28th, Miami was Tara’s first port-of-call at the end of the 30-day transatlantic crossing – logistically indispensable for restocking food and fuel before heading for the Pacific.

The 8-day stopover gave the Tara team the occasion to inform the public who came aboard to visit the schooner, to have exchanges with scientists and the media, and also to support the message of one of Tara’s partners about the importance of sustainable development.


© Maeva Bardy – Tara Expeditions Foundation

Tara Pacific’s first moments

Tara left Lorient on Saturday night to the cheers of a crowd gathered for departure. Among the supporters, some families and friends travelled long distances for a final goodbye. After the farewell, sailors and scientists aboard the schooner savor the first moments of the adventure. While the sailors ensure proper functioning of the boat heading for Miami, the first seawater sampling is already in progress. The expedition is under way!


28 Mai 2016, départ du Tara du port de Lorient.
May 28, departure of Tara from the port of Lorient © Fanch Galivel

After the deacon’s blessing and a last farewell to the cortege of boats accompanying Tara past Groix Island, only the 12 crew members remained on board: 6 sailors, 4 scientists, a member of the team from Tara Base in Paris, and an on board correspondent. Suddenly the atmosphere on the boat changed. All crew members experienced these first magical moments and realized that the expedition had actually started. Mild weather offered a magnificent sunset that chased away the impatience and excitement of the past weeks’ intense preparations. Smiles were on everyone’s lips.

Michel Flores and Yajuan Lin sitting above the igloo, enjoying the first sunset after the departure from Lorient.
Michel Flores and Yajuan Lin sitting above the igloo, enjoying the first sunset after the departure from Lorient © Maeva Bardy

Everybody quickly took up their duties. Marion Lauters, sailor-cook aboard Tara, was already preparing the evening meal. Captain Samuel Audrain organized the quarter watch teams for the first night: sailors take turns in the wheel house every 4 hours. As for the scientists, they are preparing the equipment for collecting the first open sea samples as soon as possible. Certain procedures have to be confirmed and protocols refined. There is no time to lose “because at sea everything takes 2 to 3 times longer than on land,” comments Michel Flores, scientist in charge of atmospheric particle sampling.

Working at sea is very different. The rolling of the boat hinders gestures and movements. Safety instructions are announced in English by first mate Nicolas Bin, so that everyone can understand. On board are 4 nationalities living together: Mexican, American, Chinese, and a majority of French, all with very different backgrounds and experiences at sea. This expedition promises to be a beautiful human challenge, learning to live and work together in close quarters for several months, or even a year for oceanographic engineer Guilaume Bourdin, who until now had spent only one week on a boat at sea.


L’équipe Tara Pacific au départ de Lorient
The Tara Pacific team at the departure from Lorient © Maeva Bardy

Presentation of the crew (pictured from left to right from top to bottom):
- Samuel Audrain (captain)
- Nicolas Bin (first mate)
- Daniel Cron (chief engineer)
- Marion Lauters (sailor-cook)
- Julie Lherault (deck officer)
- Louis Wilmotte (sailor-electrician aka “Fuse”)
- Leah GODIVEAU (volunteer)
- Maéva Bardy (on-board correspondent)

The scientists:
- Thomas Leeuw (optical engineer)
- Michel Flores (atmospheric sampling system developer)
- Yajuan Lin (in charge of the mass spectrometer installation)
- Guillaume Bourdin (oceanographic engineer – in charge of high-speed sea water sampling)


L’équipe Tara Pacific au départ de Lorient
The Tara Pacific team at the departure from Lorient © Maeva Bardy

Maéva BARDY, correspondante de bord

Tara weighs anchor: 11,000 kilometers left before the corals of the Pacific

Saturday evening May 28th, Tara headed out to sea on her 11th expedition, this time to the Asian-Pacific. For the next two and a half years the schooner will sail the planet’s largest ocean, exploring coral reefs in a new way to better understand the evolution of reef biodiversity in the face of climate change.


11,000 km before reaching the first reef in the Gulf of Panama

After a day of festivities celebrating Pacific cultures and coral, Tara left the harbor accompanied by  many boats that came to bid her farewell. “The adventure continues for Tara, and also for Lorient, her home port. This voyage will encourage everyone to focus on the specificity of the Pacific Ocean and also assess the environmental issues affecting our daily lives. For elected officials of the Lorient Agglomeration, TARA represents the values ​​of sustainable development and provides an excellent   illustration of our actions in the region”,  explains Norbert Metairie, president of Lorient Agglomeration and Mayor of Lorient.

From the port of Lorient to the first coral reefs of the eastern Pacific, Tara will travel 11,000 km, (6,000 nautical miles). After a 30-day Atlantic crossing, Tara will stopover in Miami on the east coast of the United States before entering the Panama Canal in mid-July.

 Le public est rassemblé sur le port pour le dernier au revoir à Tara et à son équipage.
© Fanch Galivel

40,000 samples of coral and seawater

The first dives on coral reefs will take place immediately after exiting the Panama Canal and will continue from east to west, all the way to Japan in the first year of the expedition. This campaign  associates coral biologists, chemists, oceanographers and plankton specialists who will investigate the behavior of coral reefs confronting climate change over a wide geographical area that has not yet been studied.

From June 2016 to September 2018, approximately 40,000 samples will be collected and will ultimately provide new information on the unknown role of certain biochemical parameters — acidity, salinity, turbidity, etc. We will also study certain species involved in the life of the reefs and their adaptation to major environmental changes.

28 Mai 2016 à Lorient, départ de l'expédition Tara Pacific
© Fanch Galivel

Many stopovers to raise public awareness

Reefs are true oases of life: they offer food and shelter for a multitude of species and provide a direct livelihood to over 500 million people in the world thanks to fishing. During the 2-year expedition, Tara will make 70 stopovers to raise awareness concerning the richness and fragility of  reefs.

The Tara Expeditions Foundation will take advantage of this expedition to appeal to policy makers and the business world, to raise public awareness about the most pressing environmental challenges as well as the problems faced by populations who depend on an ocean in good health.

“For biologically rich regions such as lagoons and coral reefs, protective measures are increasingly needed. But parallel to conservation, it’s essential to support research — to better understand and effectively protect these reefs”, says Romain Troublé, executive director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation. Sustainable development and establishing an ongoing dialogue about the environment are long-term challenges for the beginning of the 21st century.

 Un dernier au revoir de l'équipage, prêt à lever l'ancre pour le début de l'expédition Tara Pacific
© Fanch Galivel

Major stopovers

Panama, Malpelo (Colombia), Easter Island, Papeete (French Polynesia), Cook Islands, Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Kiribati Islands, Micronesia, Mariana, Japan, Taiwan, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Philippines, China, Hong Kong, South Korea.

On the program: film-screening, exhibition, school visits, conference with a local association. At each stopover, Tara will meet with local people involved in research or the preservation of reefs and focus attention on the work being done.

Tara a levé l'ancre : dernière ovation de l'équipage pour remercier du soutien qu'elle a reçu© Isabelle Martos

Tara Pacific in numbers

• 11th Tara expedition since 2003
• 2-year voyage — May 2016 to September 2018
• 30 countries visited
• 70 stopovers
• 100,000 km covered
• 40 archipelagos systematically analyzed and compared
• 26 institutions and research laboratories collaborating
• 10 sites to be the subject of targeted studies about local issues, including 5 sites in 2016-2017
• 40,000 samples collected in 2 years
• 70 scientists embarking from 8 different countries


Farewell Theresa

In the technical area of the Keroman port in Lorient, Tara’s masts are silhouetted against a wet sky. Undergoing renovation in preparation for the Tara PACIFIC expedition 2016-2018 (departure scheduled for May 28), the big gray whale is suspended 10 meters above the ground with her fins hanging loose.

Three levels of portable stairs are required to access the rear deck. On board, the 6 crew members have taken apart the bubble that protects the central living area otherwise known as the carré.  Gone is the large table where everyone usually gathers for meals and meetings. The kitchen is reduced to a simple trench, the corridor is ripped open and reveals a tangle of tubes like the large black bowels of an animal. Seats and flooring have also been taken out.


Wednesday, February 17th is the big day for removing the engines. Captain Martin Hertau oversees 4 helmeted workers hidden in the gaping hole where Tara’s original starboard engine (fondly nicknamed “Theresa”) is located. Hoists and pulleys rotate with a deafening sound of chains. Everyone is occupied, carefully lifting the big blue engine out of the carré. The crane operator, remote control in hand, listens attentively to orders. Theresa just barely passes through the opening, swaying slightly as she rises into the air, then descends onto a pallet located 10 meters below. The empty hole left behind is enormous. “It’s big enough to accommodate a beautiful cabin!” Martin jokes. Jean Collet, technical director of Tara’s overhaul, is filming the entire scene. He was the captain of the boat when it was first built in 1989 and called “Antarctica”.  The collector still needs to be removed. “It must weigh at least 900 kilos. Only metal gears in there!” says Jean. The operation is tricky since the huge compact block must first be moved to the height of the hole, then hoisted outside. Chief engineer Loïc Caudan is standing in the entryway where he has passed hundreds of times. He observes the scene: “I feel like crying. It’s strange to see these machines leaving us. We worked so hard on them!” The collector is now safely outside of its niche and joins Theresa on a nearby pallet.

Rain begins to fall. The opening of the carré is quickly covered with a tarp. Everyone takes refuge inside since the cold has descended on Lorient. It’s raining too hard to begin the scheduled work of removing Brigitte, the port engine. “We’ll have to wait for better weather,” says Jean Collet. “Yes, in July!” one of the workers jokes about the weather in Brittany. The operation of cleaning the engine compartment can begin while we wait for the sky to clear over Lorient.

Dino Di Meo, in Lorient


Tara Expeditions wishes you a wonderful 2016

2015 was a full and important year for Tara: from BeMed to the COP21, along with the the publication of results from Tara Oceans in the journal Science, Tara continued her missions, adding to scientific knowledge about the ocean, raising awareness and sharing discoveries with a growing public.


In March 2015, Tara Expeditions co-organized the conference Beyond Plastic Mediterranean, where over 200 participants from 10 Mediterranean countries discussed the issue of plastic pollution.

In May 2015, the journal Science published 5 major articles based on the results of Tara Oceans, presenting  a new approach in how the world of plankton is studied and understood.

In June 2015, on the occasion of World Ocean Day organized by UNESCO, Tara Expeditions co-launched with the Ocean and Climate Platform the Ocean Call for Climate, initiating a broad mobilization for a better consideration of the ocean in climate discussions.

In July 2015, Tara Expeditions and the Ecopolaris program joined in an observer mission on the east coast of Greenland, 11 years after their first collaboration.

En route for the Paris Climate Conference, during stopovers in  Stockholm, London and Nantes from June to September 2015, Tara welcomed more than 10,000 people aboard.

Two days before the opening of the COP21, the film “Secrets of the Oceans: Climate Control” directed by Christophe Cousin was broadcast on FR3 Thalassa – a co-production of Tara Expeditions and Via Découvertes.

During the COP21, Tara was docked in Paris to support the campaign for  a universal climate agreement, and to bring the voice of the ocean to the international negotiations. On the quay of the Seine alongside Tara, many events were held at the Tara Ocean and Climate Pavilion, designed as a place for exchanges, encounters and mobilization. We were especially honored by the presence of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, who supported and commended the work of Tara.

Through all these actions and accomplishments, it’s essential to say that in achieving them, we draw our strength day after day from all of you who follow and support us.

A big THANK YOU for your continuous support and collaboration!


Voeux 2016

Video: “Ocean and Science days” at the Tara Pavilion

During these first days of the COP21, 40 scientists have took turns presenting their work on climate change, its impact on the Pacific Islands, the situation in the Arctic, and also the first inhabitants of the oceans: planktonic organisms.

© Y.Chavance/Tara Expéditions

VIDEO : Tara is in Paris!

The Tara team has been hard at work for a long time preparing to participate in the upcoming 2015 Paris Climate conference (COP21). To pass under the bridges of the Seine, Tara’s masts had to be taken down. Then for 3 days, the schooner went up the river. At quay, the masts were re-installed to get Tara ready for her opening to the public on Saturday, November 14. The Tara “Ocean & Climate” Pavilion will open on November 13. Discover this impressive feat and the hoisting maneuvers involved in video. The research schooner will be docked near the Pont Alexandre III until December 18.

Click here to discover Tara’s program

© N.Pansiot / Tara Expeditions.org

Video: Exhibition “Tara: Journey to the Heart of the Climate Machine” in Nantes (France)

The schooner Tara arrived on October 14 in Nantes (France), but the exhibition “Journey to the Heart of the Climate Machine” has been present on the Island of Nantes since September 26. Over the past 4 weeks more than 10,000 people have walked through multi-media displays describing 2 of Tara’s emblematic expeditions – Tara Arctic and Tara Oceans. An excellent opportunity to learn about the mechanisms that closely link climate and ocean.


©C.Lesacq/Tara Expéditions

En route to Nantes, last stopover before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference

After a month of rest and work in Lorient, Tara left her home port at dawn on Wednesday, October 14, heading for Nantes. The schooner has been invited to take part in “GreenWeek”, an event dedicated to sustainable development. For Tara Expéditions, these 10 days in Nantes are a crucial final stopover before Paris and the COP21.

Dark and cloudy night over the port of Lorient. It’s 5am and first sounds can be heard aboard Tara. Soon engine noises fill the schooner, and each sailor takes up his position: the somewhat sleepy machine needs to be given a kick start after 3 weeks of being idle. The trip will be short: 90 miles separate Lorient from Nantes, Tara’s next and last stopover before sailing up the Seine to Paris.

Once the crew has hoisted the foresail and mainsail, exiting Lorient harbor goes smoothly, shortly after 6am. The schooner is moving at good speed – 8 knots instead of the average 6. After passing the island of Groix, sky and sea – the same shade of light grey – gradually are tinted pink. In the light of a reddening sun,Tara sails between Belle-Île-en-Mer and the Quiberon peninsula.

During the morning, the effervescence of departure subsides, and clouds disperse, leaving behind a soft light. A relative calm settles on board, accentuated by the shutdown of one of the engines. “As soon as there’s a little wind, Tara sails really well. To be ecological, we turn off an engine and hoist the third jib called the yankee” explains Captain Martin Hertau. Between 10am and 11am, we pass the islands of Houat and Hoëdic on the port side.

After an invigorating lunch (no cook aboard, but with the good care of Sylvie Duboué, president of the association “Les Amis de Tara”), we pass offshore Le Pouliguen and La Baule and continue smoothly to Nantes. The sky is cloudless. Aboard the schooner we all know these 10 days in Nantes mark a doubly symbolic milestone: 1) the presence of Tara for the city’s first Greenweek and 2) our last stopover before the COP21. Tara has been invited by Nantes Metropole for Greenweek, and as part of a bi-annual event, the Climate rendez-vous. Participating in such an event and supporting a city that wants to reduce by 50% its gas emissions by the year 2030, is totally relevant for Tara  – a prelude to the 2015 Paris Climate negotiations beginning the end of next month.

Shortly before 4pm, Tara passes under the impressive Saint-Nazaire bridge, signal that the scientific schooner has definitely left the ocean for the Loire. After 4 hours of navigation on the river, Tara will arrive late in the day in the city that has long been called the “Venice of the West”.

Clémence Lesacq

Related articles:

- Discover Tara’s program at the 2015 Paris Climate conference (COP21) (will soon be available in English)

- Follow Tara live video through our multi-media library


Home sweet home

After a week of encounters and exchanges in London, Tara is on the final stretch this friday, September 18, returning to Lorient, her home port.

20150916_LEG LORIENT J1

©P.Planté/Tara Expéditions

Leaving London and descending the Thames River at sunset, Tara spent a first quiet night at sea and woke up in the morning in French territorial waters. Life on board is regaining its normal rhythm. Everyone goes about their daily activities and also takes some time to relax. A moment of recreation on the deck gives us the opportunity to catch sight of the slender fins of common dolphins. Moments later, a whole pod is playing in front of the schooner’s bow. Much to everyone’s delight, our traveling companions escort us with style and rapidity. “The presence of dolphins has to be merited!” points out Captain Martin Hertau with a broad smile.

A true moment of grace when light and clouds come together offering a spectacle of great beauty, worthy of an impressionist watercolor. White and anthracite clouds gather on the horizon, with just enough wind to fill the sails so the schooner manages to dodge the next rainfall.

Tara toutes voiles dehors pour son retour au port de Lorient

Tara under full sail returning to Lorient, her home port. ©P.Planté/Tara Expéditions

The next day, sailing goes smoothly. The crew is getting slightly impatient however. We’re laughing, teasing each other as the end of the journey approaches, and we all begin to think about the near future, once docked at the Breton port. Preparation for upcoming work on the schooner is already in people’s minds.

Loïc Caudan, all-around sailor and mechanic aboard will reunite with his family here – an eagerly awaited moment for this Breton by adoption who chose to settle down in Lorient. During the period of work on the schooner, this future dad can enjoy being with his family while waiting for the birth of his first child at the end of the year.

Loïc Caudan, mécanicien et marin polyvalent à bord, durant son quart de nuit.

Loïc Caudan, mechanic and sailor, on night watch. ©P.Planté/Tara Expéditions

Another night on board and for his last shift, Loïc will follow the route towards the Finistère. In the area of Ouessant with its strong current, named the “Fromveur”, sailors must remain vigilant and not miss the signals. A delicate passage in the Chenal du Four, a precise course aligned with the Pointe Saint-Mathieu and the Kermorvan lighthouse, and it’s done! In the starry night, the Pointe du Raz can be made out in the distance. With her sails billowing and an average speed of 7 knots, Tara will have to navigate a few more miles before passing the Bay of Audierne.

For our last afternoon at sea, the sun is shining on the Brittany coast. In the wheelhouse, a tune from Django Reinhardt. Tara is speeding up. Opposite the island of Groix, the crew decides to hoist the biggest sail, the 200-square-meter spinnaker. Full speed ahead towards a welcoming Lorient. After a 3-week pause for maintenance work on the schooner,Tara will head for Nantes to join the first Green Week organized in the region, dedicated to sustainable development. A stopover scheduled from October 15 to 24, before Tara sails to Paris for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21).

By Pauline Planté, correspondent aboard



Just arrived from Sweden, Tara and her crew moored in the Marina of West India Docks, within a stone’s throw of the famous Tower Bridge in London.

From 9 to 14 September, docked in the middle of one of the largest European megacities, Tara aims at raising awareness among the greatest number of people about the importance of preserving the ocean. This outreach program is in preparation for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change, also called COP 21. But what does “COP 21” mean and what are the challenges of this conference?



The next COP, in other words “Conference of the Parties”, will take place in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015. It will bring together the 195 signatory nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as NGOs, associations, companies and groups of scientists. This conference will be the 21st since its inception in 1995.

Its objective: reaching an agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, mitigate the impact of anthropogenic activities, enable populations to adapt to climate change, best encourage and support northern as well as southern countries during the energy transition. The most recent IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), published in November, is alarming. It predicts an increase in temperature between 0.3 and 4.8° C by the year 2100. The Paris summit meeting is a real opportunity to set targets to limit anthropogenic impact on the environment and the Ocean. Before giving the Ocean a loud and clear voice in Paris and to remind everyone, especially decision-makers, about the ocean’s key role in the climate system, Tara’s stopover in London is a major event on her way to the COP21.

Sylvie Bermann, Ambassadeur de France à Londres

Sylvie Bermann, Ambassadeur de France à Londres. ©P.Planté

Sylvie Bermann, Ambassador of France in London, officially welcomed the schooner on the docks of her adopted city. “This meeting in London is important. It’s one of Tara’s last stopovers before the COP21 but, most of all, it’s the symbol of a very rich scientific cooperation between the United Kingdom and France. A financial collaboration as well, not only  from the governments, but also from businesses and many institutions.”

If this London stopover is a link between the countries that will gather at the COP 21, the French Embassy is also mobilizing the general public around the key event of this year. “We’ve organized a series of conferences called “Road to Paris”. The conferences will address various aspects of climate change to raise awareness among the general public, students and also in the business world.” said Sylvie Bermann. She then explained that England pays particular attention to the conservation of its surrounding marine ecosystem. “The United Kingdom is not only concerned but has high-level laboratories conducting scientific research. Like France, England crosses the seas with the purpose of protecting the oceans. I am convinced that cooperation between the different nations is crucial in research.”

Asked about what concerns her the most in the relationship between the ocean and climate, she responds: “What strikes me is the importance of plankton and the potential negative impact of global warming. The marine ecosystem is very important for life on Earth as demonstrated by the scientific results of Tara’s expeditions. The ocean really deserves to be taken into account”.

Interview by Pauline Plante.



After a month in Greenland on the Tara Ecopolaris mission 2015, the schooner is  back in Stockholm, on the way to the Paris Climate conference this winter.

This stopover will allow Tara Expeditions and the Taranauts to share their observations and remind the general public of the vital services rendered by the Ocean. A steady stream of visitors have come aboard: Tara’s partners, political personalities, young people. Romain Troublé, secretary general of Tara Expeditions, highlights the importance of this type of event.

What is the purpose of this stopover in Sweden?

Sweden is one of the most advanced countries regarding sustainable development! We organized this  5-day stopover in Stockholm to get to know our Swedish partner, to present our experiences to school children, and talk about the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) to be held in Paris this winter. Passing through major cities – Stockholm, London and Nantes – during “Green Week” is extremely interesting. At each of these stops we welcome aboard policy makers – here for example the Swedish Minister of Development who represents the Green Party, and the former Prime Minister who is involved with forest-related issues. It’s very interesting to discuss the theme of oceans with these people. We’re also here to meet with representatives of BillerudKorsnäs, our new partner, very active in the preservation of the environment as the leading Swedish supplier of renewable materials and packaging.

Who are Tara’s sponsors?

Our faithful supporters are agnès b., our founder, along with Etienne Bourgois, who bring their vision and long-term financial security to the project. Lorient Agglomeration, our home-port, has been sponsoring us for 8 years now, as has the Albert II of Monaco Foundation. We’ve also been working with the Veolia Foundation for 6 years. Tara’s partners are a select group of people engaged in thinking about climate change and sustainable development. Some are pioneers in developing sustainable industrial processes, for example the Serge Ferrari company. These are people who have the means to change things! They are not flawless, but they have the desire to do the right thing and take action.

This year we established a new partnership with Billerudkrosnas, a Swedish company producing sustainable paper for packaging. By making a port-of-call in Stockholm, we can assess the value and meaning of this collaboration over the long term. Our partners are medium-sized French companies. I mentioned Serge Ferrari, but the IDEC Group also shares our philosophy and ideas on the purpose of the Tara Expeditions project.

Without them Tara could not exist! We also have a prestigious non-funding partner: the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which helps us deal with the political aspects of the work. UNESCO supports us in getting our messages out to the UN. Together we are mobilizing  member countries around the question of the Ocean and its place in sustainable development.

Tara is investing a great deal in the COP21 to be held this winter in Paris

This is true, and hosting a UN Climate Conference in France is an historic event!  We must make sure the Ocean receives greater consideration in thinking about the future of the climate and sustainable development. What has blocked climate negotiations for 20 years is basically the north-south conflict about who should pay the bill for less pollution. Each party defends its interests. If the discussion is not addressed from another angle, we will end up with nothing, or else a weak consensus. We must try to find an ambitious, common goal for all.

Here at Tara Expeditions we believe that the health of the Ocean could be our common objective. The Ocean has the capacity – as a common heritage of humanity – to unite people, as demonstrated in the past with the Rights of the Sea agreement. I believe that if we manage to resolve the problems of the Ocean, we will settle some of the problems of humanity. Because the Ocean plays a major role in the climate system – as a carbon sink, regulator of temperature, and producer of oxygen.

This is what we’re trying to accomplish with the Ocean and Climate Platform, and of course via the Ocean’s Call for Climate. This is why Tara will be in Paris this winter, docked near the Pont Alexandre III during the COP21,  from November 12 to December 18.

Interview by Noëlie Pansiot

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Mission-over – Heading for Stockholm

After 3 days of sailing between the Sofia Sund Fjord in Greenland and the East Coast of Iceland, Tara docked at Vopnafiordür for a few hours.

“It took us 18 hours of intense sailing to leave the ice field, long hours of slaloming,” explains the captain, Martin Hertau. A safe crossing through the ice has allowed the schooner to continue her course southwards, on to the next destination: Sweden. “When we looked at the maps today we could see that the channel has already closed up again. We sailed close to the wind for 3 days – quite a rough crossing for certain people.”

Let’s not mince words, it was stormy. For 3 days the Taranauts abandoned the messroom, holed up in their cabins, struggling with that insidious suffering: seasickness. Trapped in space and time, bodies curled up, minds wandering through a tunnel of endless sleep. There was only one thing to do: wait for the agony to dissipate. And rejoice upon arrival at the dock in Iceland.

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

For the members of the Arctic Ecology Research Group (GREA) this stopover marks the end of the Tara Ecopolaris 2015 mission. Brigitte Sabard et Olivier Gilg disembarked, relinquishing their places on board. Despite the exceptionally icy conditions for the season, Brigitte and Olivier’s work has progressed. Samples collected this year, combined with their study of bird colonies enabled them to complete an environmental assessment, 11 years after their first mission with Tara in Greenland. These samples have to be sent to the lab for analysis: pollutant levels will be carefully compared with those of 2004. Logistically, the schooner enabled GREA to store nearly a ton of equipment on-site so that their scientific work can continue for the next 3 years. Olivier and Brigitte will return to roam across these same latitudes, as they have been doing for the last 25 years.

After docking for only 5 hours, the schooner left the small town of Vopnafiordür, leaving behind with no regrets the overpowering smell of the fish processing plant.  The schooner is currently advancing at a good pace towards Stockholm where she is expected to arrive in about a week. Next stop on the way to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, this first encounter with the people of Stockholm will be an opportunity for the Tara Expeditions team to share their vision on the prospects for sustainable development of the oceans. Continuing her role as sentinel, the schooner will be sharing the latest discoveries and data from Tara Oceans, and will proudly fly the Ocean and Climate Platform flag, inviting each and everyone to support the Ocean’s Call for Climate, in preparation for the upcoming climate talks. Objective: to galvanize the largest number of supporters to ensure that the Ocean’s voice will be heard in Paris this December, and thus remind policy makers that a healthy ocean is tantamount to a protected climate.

Noëlie Pansiot


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“Sky, Birds and Sea”

Author and documentary filmmaker, Christophe Cousin is primarily a storyteller. Camera in hand, he came aboard Tara 2 weeks ago. His next film, co-produced by Tara Expeditions and Via Découvertes, conceived for the TV program Thalassa, will recount the Tara-Ecopolaris mission.

Christophe has long been one of the “New Explorers” on Canal+, showing us the life of nomads around the world. “Traveling led me to photography,” he says, “at a time when I wanted to turn my back on a society that didn’t suit me, that was encouraging me to go around the world by bicycle.  After that  experience I wanted to prolong the encounter.”

©N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

What did you know about Tara before boarding?

What vision of Tara did I have? A boat for scientific expeditions whose vocation is to highlight the future of the oceans and their marine ecosystems. I had no notion of the human dimension, and that’s what I was looking for.  Try to put into perspective the connections there may be between scientists  researching  plankton and the sailors who are on the boat all the time and make it move forward.

You’ve been filming the Taranauts for 2 weeks now. What will be the subject of your next documentary?

Last year while I was finishing a film, the production company with which I work, Via Découvertes, offered me a project – a continuation of the previous film. The producers wanted to make a documentary showing the role of the oceans in the climate system.

I must admit that initially the subject was unfamiliar to me. But after exploring it a bit, I felt this was a clear challenge. I’m part of the generation who were told that the “lung” of the planet is the Amazon, which is not necessarily wrong. But it’s not the only lung. Just 6 months ago I learned that the oceans play a role too, and my new awareness made me want to get involved in this project. I’m not a scientist, and I’m the first to be surprised by the subject, but I want to take up the challenge, popularize these ideas, and ensure that viewers fall in love with the Ocean, and with life. This deserves a story!

Everything began at a meeting between Romain Troublé (secretary general of Tara Expeditions) and the production company. We were reflecting on ways to express the relationship uniting “man, sky and  sea.”

Can you tell us something about “Once upon a time the Arctic”, your previous documentary?

I had this film in mind for several years. I wanted to tour the Arctic region, describe the geopolitical issues, but without interviewing politicians or economists, just speaking to the people living there or  traversing the area. The film incorporates 4 stories that echo one another: 150 Chinese millionaires go to the North Pole on the largest nuclear icebreaker in the world; Inuit men go hunting on the sea ice for their survival; Canadian soldiers deploy their force in the northernmost areas of the country; and finally, Nenets in Russia see their transhumance evolving to the rhythm of gas and oil pipelines. The film questions and challenges without judging. Describing the interdependence of ocean and climate  comes as a logical continuation of our goal – to make films that have an impact and real meaning.

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

I’m aware that it will be difficult to reach a wide audience because ecology sometimes seems far removed from everyday problems. At the same time, the opportunity was too good not to take. The way I want to make this film different from the others by maintaining the human dimension. Science is one thing, but we must not forget that in the midst of all this are humans – their presence on Earth, and their impact. Humans are part of the whole, yet we tend to set them apart. I just returned from making a film in Malaysia with the Badjaus Laut (sea nomads). There’s a lot of talk about marine protected areas as a potential for recreating a dynamic biodiversity, except that people are left out of all this. The Laut Badjaus living from the sea can no longer go to their traditional fishing areas. And here we’re not talking about intensive fishing, we’re talking about a few families who need food.

What are you looking for through these encounters?

In every journey and encounter, in every population we meet and each issue raised, there’s a portion of everyone’s history. Let’s try to understand why we are here, what we’re doing here, where we’re going.  Finally what interests me in this multitude and in their differences is the universality of emotions.

How do you see your work in view of the upcoming climate conference next December?

The climate conference belongs to the people with power in this world, but I think we should all be concerned everyday by the notion of climate. Let’s worry about what we’re doing to the planet, and not just during a special meeting. If the fact that important people come together and manage to change things, so much the better.  But I think that the solution, if one day there is one, will depend on the masses, on large numbers of people rather than an elite.

This is why I think it’s important to communicate about climate, or at least to talk about climate by telling human stories. Because it’s thanks to these stories that we feel concerned, and we will eventually act.

Interview by Noëlie Pansiot


From one island to another: Tara is heading for the Faroe Islands


On the way to Greenland, after several days at sea, Tara reaches the high latitudes of the globe with the   ocean’s rhythm pounding on the hull at night and pitching passengers in the corridor. The ocean is sometimes illuminated by a thunderstorm, water everywhere. Entrenched behind aluminum walls, the Taranautes look like islanders. Navigating in the open sea has gradually transformed life aboard. From collective days with synchronized rhythm, the crew has slowly adapted to this boat with variable geometry. In the limited space between stern and bow, life on board is organized with its habits, codes and timetables. Our clock is dictated by night shifts shared by sailors and passengers, with a change of guard every 3 to 4 hours. Night-watch is like a parenthesis during which TARA seems to resound differently beneath the moon or rain. Staying on course, checking machines, traffic surveillance and night maneuvers, all imperatives that enable the crew to sleep soundly. Night owls meeting in the corridor and kitchen, recommendations exchanged between one watchman and the next, the pleasure of returning to your cabin for the hours remaining until the next watch, always different from the preceding one.


Out at sea but sedentary, the body sometimes calls out for exercise. On deck or in the hold, for a few moments we find ways to escape the limits imposed by the ship. Soon a road bike is turned into a stationary bike pushed up against the ladder of the forward hold. Yoga alternates with sports exercises on deck, sometimes limited by the sudden coolness of the air. Setting yourself some reference points is probably one of the keys to life on board. Beyond the specific work at each position, collective tasks, and meal times, the crew conjugates singularity of this voyage and daily routine.


Five days after leaving France, yesterday we had a chance to see a coastline previously hidden beyond the horizon. Floating on a calm sea, the Orkney Islands were soon in sight, and with them, slices of light green, seen for the last time along the Seine. The entire crew comes out on TARA’s bow at the sight of these unlikely meadows: with binoculars we glimpse the ruins of a stone house or the roof of a sheepfold. Everywhere the vegetation seems to have capitulated long ago to rainy winters and the onslaught of wind. A world at the end of the world, yet bearing evidence of an energy transition in the works: on the starboard side, the Island of Eday has no trees, only the mast of a wind turbine. Further along the same coast, an amazing platform attracts our attention. What could at first glance be taken for a drilling site, is actually the support for a hydrokinetic turbine being installed. Steep cliffs, mountains covered with clouds and shadows playing on the grassy plateaux, the passage of the Orkney Islands is like a lovely reward after more turbulent times.


Pierre de Parscau

Heading North

Heading North


At 5 in the morning under an orange sky, the crew headed the boat out to sea. TARA drifted slowly with the current, as if not to awaken the sleeping city of Rouen. The Gustave Flaubert Bridge was raised, marking the start of a long-awaited 3-month campaign. Bleary-eyed but light-hearted, sailors and passengers pulled in the ropes for the last time before the next port, Akureyri. The very name evokes adventure. A few loops of the Seine later, a nordic vision struck us all on the bow: the coolness of the morning had covered the surface of the river with mist, and TARA headed into a sea of clouds that looked like a steamy icepack.


Tancarville, Normandy Bridge, Le Havre: the Seine seemed to push us even faster out to sea. In the middle of the Le Havre channel, the needle of the wheelhouse compass slowly moved to point zero: We were heading due North – finally.

After months of construction, weeks of preparation, and days of river navigation, and prior to the Paris Climate conference (COP21) at the end of the year, it was time to head for latitudes already familiar to the schooner. Near Le Havre, a zodiac came to meet us. It was the younger brother of Do, the cook on board, passing as a neighbor to call out a last goodbye before the two-and-a-half month expedition that will keep TARA far from French coasts. The foghorn sounded a last farewell as the schooner headed out to sea.



On board the pace of activity quickened, especially with the rise of an unexpected breeze from the northwest – a chance to give the engines a rest and also the pleasure of feeling ourselves carried by the sea breeze. In the cockpit, Martin the captain kept his eye on the route, while out on deck a crew of old-timers and new-comers got into position for the first maneuver. Electric winch, halyards and sheets, each person found his place as the mainsail and foresail swelled in a cooler wind.


In the belly of TARA, front and rear holds had been filled to the brim in Rouen. No less than 9 cubic meters of scientific equipment and food, mostly destined for the EcoPolaris mission that TARA will refuel when we arrive on the east coast of Greenland. The ship should reach this destination around July 11th. But before reaching the icy coasts and fjords, TARA must navigate the 1,600 miles still separating us from Icelandic shores. Our route will take us through the English Channel and its uninterrupted traffic of huge cargo ships; along the east coast of the UK with its many offshore platforms; and finally to the open sea. The dotted red line marking our route on the GPS map follows the Normandy cliffs, snaking among the huge container ships on the horizon.

Already the white line of the Normandy cliffs disappears from view, leaving only a charcoal gray sea surrounding TARA, and a promise: England tomorrow.

Pierre de Parscau


Goodbyes and Hellos

Goodbyes and Hellos

Largage d'amarre à Lorient

After several months at dock, it seemed as if TARA wanted to stretch her sails. For several days there was a certain feeling of impatience during conversations in the main cabin. Since the departure of the Volvo Ocean Race, the docks of Lorient remained empty, and it was clearly time for TARA to raise anchor.

At 3:30 pm on Sunday Tara’s foghorn reverberated across the Lorient docks. A starting signal and final goodbye to those remaining behind, waving their hands at the end of the quay until the familiar silhouette disappeared in the sunlight. In short, the life of a sailor, with tugs at the heartstrings and the Ocean beginning its spectacle in front of the bow. A few manoeuvres and the rolling of the boat quickly bring smiles to the faces of the sailors – so happy to be back in their natural environment.

Derniers adieux sur le quai de Lorient

Finally heading west, wind and sun in my eyes for a first voyage along the coast before sailing to the North Atlantic, the Arctic Circle and Greenland’s cold. Up until our departure the holds were being loaded with the last supplies, and the cabins filled up with people, delighted to share with TARA this journey to Rouen. Olivier, Jules, Doug, Catherine and Gerard – 12 of us traveling together on a route traced by Captain Martin Hertau with a pointer on the GPS map in the wheelhouse: Raz de Sein, Channel Islands, Raz Blanchard – key points on a kind of warm-up trip before hitting the open sea.

After a quick stopover in Roscoff tomorrow night on the occasion of the Jacques Monod conference, Tara will arrive in the center of Rouen on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. We’ll stay in the heart of the “City of 100 Steeples” to meet the public and schoolchildren, but also to play the role of Ambassador of the Climate at the ARF national convention (Association of Regions of France) held in Rouen June 25 – 26. In addition, TARA will take aboard 6 cubic meters of material destined for Greenland – logistical support for the EcoPolaris expedition. Food, fuel and equipment will eventually be dropped off on the east coast, allowing on-site teams to continue their research on the ecosystems of circumpolar countries.

Dauphins communs à la rencontre de TARA

Off the starboard side, through binoculars we watch the coast of Brittany running by. Suddenly we feel movement in front of the bow. Leaning over the railing, Doug points to a form below the surface. Driven beyond Tara’s wake, 4 dolphins are jumping out of the water, or swimming like torpedoes beneath the schooner’s hull. After the goodbyes on the docks, it’s as if the sea were giving us a very special welcome.

Pierre de Parscau

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Video: TARA, first in line for the volvo ocean race


This week, the organizers of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) set up operations on the quays of the  Lorient base for the final stop in this race around the world.
A few meters away from TARA, the British skipper Sam Davis and her ten team members crossed the finish line to everyone’s complete surprise and put the entirely female crew in the spotlight. We had a chance to meet this Breton by adoption aboard her boat SCA and talk about the role of TARA on the starting line, before the VOR finally arrives in Gothenburg.

Tara is sailing again after several months of renovation.

After the public outreach mission in Penerf, Tara headed back to Lorient. On the way, the 2 engines, Brigitte (port-side) and Thérèse (starboard) had a few problems – not surprising after 4 months of renovation. The 1,2-ton giants have been in service nearly 30 years, moving Tara’s 140 tons across the seas of the world.

Brigitte had several worrisome drops in speed, maybe a problem of fuel supply. The first mate Daniel Cron went down to the engine room when Thérèse started showing the same symptoms.

Finally, Brigitte held up until Lorient, thanks to regular purging of the fuel filter to remove the air bubbles responsible for her hiccups.  As for Theresa, more fear than harm. A leak came from a failure of the cooling pump. With the engine shut off, the pump was repaired in time for arrival. Tara sailed calmly through the Lorient channel powered by 2 engines, thanks to the perseverance of the 2 mechanics, Loic and Daniel, who spent most of the journey in the engine room.

Tara must be ready for future missions. This summer, Greenland; next year the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The secret? The crew’s constant work to keep the boat in good shape. Almost daily maintenance is required. After long missions, Tara returns to Lorient, her home port, for a complete overhaul – 4 months this winter (including 2 months in dry dock) were required to verify the fuel tanks, valves, and propeller shaft. The engines were also overhauled: gaskets, pistons, etc. – a necessary step in getting the boat back into optimal form. Considering Tara’s age, efforts are increased, each element of this proud ship is pampered, and all parts showing signs of wear are carefully checked.

This voyage was the opportunity to test repairs and fine-tune certain adjustments. In one month Tara will be totally ready for her next adventures!

Maéva Bardy


Tara’s fete

Tara arrived friday evening in Penerf. An SNSM* boat helped the aluminium giant manoeuvre in the narrow channel – between oyster beds and shallows – to reach a mooring where the schooner stayed until monday.

We were greeted with great fanfare by the inhabitants of Penerf and Pencadenic, two villages located on opposite sides of the Penerf River. Bagpipes and bombards sounded aboard the SNSM boat and made us forget the gray weather of this late afternoon.

Tara celebrated all weekend. People from the region were here to meet us, and even some visitors came from Paris, Toulouse, etc. Some are just curious, but others have been following Tara for many years and a little rain won’t stop them! Over the weekend, more than 600 people took the shuttle boat to come and visit the legendary schooner. Everybody is fascinated by the history of Tara and her crew, and on this level, they got what they came for! Of the 7 people on board, including 5 sailors, a cook and a journalist, most have already been on long expeditions with Tara (Tara Arctic, Tara Oceans, Polar Circle, or Tara Mediterranean) and are full of anecdotes to tell.

At the Oyster House, the room was packed for a screening of “Journey to the Heart of the Climate Machine.” Vincent Hilaire, correspondent aboard the Tara Arctic missions, came to sign his book «Voyage autour du pôle à bord de Tara». He answered questions, many of which reflect current concerns about climate change. Tara has a magnetic effect, captivating the attention of visitors of all ages.

Saturday night, near Pencadenic, the rain finally stopped. We ended the day in style with oysters offered by the local oyster farmers, an all-you-can-eat Eco-soup, and a rock ‘n’ roll concert – the occasion for everyone to spend an evening talking about the experiences of these adventurous sailors.

Maéva Bardy

* Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer


The architect of Tara: “It was a great experience. I have only good memories.”

When Tara arrived in Lorient last November after a 7-month expedition in the Mediterranean sea, everyone who had contributed in one way or another to the boat’s adventure was waiting patiently to welcome her. Among them was Oliver Petit, one of the 2 architects who designed the schooner.

25 years ago, Oivier and his friend Luc Bouvet drew the plans for Antarctica (Tara’s original name) for an expedition conceived by Jean-Louis Etienne. In Lorient, Olivier told us how moved he feels each time he visits Tara, remembering the good times he spent on board. His only regret: not having sailed to Antarctica. Olivier describes his meeting with Jean-Louis Etienne, and discusses the origin and the evolution of the project. A story of encounters, dreams and a strong dose of audacity!

How did you become involved in the Antarctica adventure?

I knew Jean-Louis Etienne because we had crossed the Pacific together on Pen Duick VI with Eric Tabarly. At the time, I was studying architecture and I was called to do military service. Every year, 3 or 4 conscripts were engaged to take care of Pen Duick VI. I was one of the lucky ones, just before Titouan Lamazou, who took my place the following year. (Other lucky ones were the Poupon brothers, Jean-François Coste, Lamazou and Jean-Louis Etienne.)  When I was aboard with Jean-Louis, we talked a lot. We were on night shift together, and we had fun imagining the ideal boat for traveling. 

How was this “ideal boat” you imagined?           

We were talking about space, and transporting equipment: sleds, ski-doos, etc. Jean-Louis was doing a lot of mountain climbing, and I did some too, as an amateur. So our ‘dream’ explorations were oriented towards mountains and sea. After this experience aboard Pen Duick, we remained very close, and have continued to do expeditions together: first to Greenland with Japy Hermes, and then to Patagonia aboard Gauloises 3 with a group of mountaineers. Once Jean-Louis completed his solo crossing of the North Pole, he wanted to build this boat – Antarctica, today named Tara. His team was able to raise funds, they embarked on the adventure, and we designed the boat. At the time I was working with Luc Bouvet, a naval architect and it was only the second boat we designed. We had done a first one with Titouan Lamazou. Not bad for some young kids just starting out! We were designing a 36-meter schooner, and didn’t realize what we’d gotten into.

When the chantier began, Jean-Louis’s team didn’t have all the necessary funding…

I think the financing of the project was kind of “ole, ole.” At the time, the engineer Michel Franco assisted Jean-Louis, and there was an incredible dynamic around these two guys! It was a powerful experience – only good memories. We were a group of friends, and we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. That may be why it worked: we really applied ourselves, but did the project without taking ourselves seriously!

So the expedition boat was conceived in this way.  How did you get the idea for these very unusual forms?

With Luc Bouvet, we imagined a boat that could spend the winter on the icepack. The boat’s forms

really come from that! If we had wanted to make a boat just to sail, the forms would have been totally different. We knew the boat would be covered with snow, and that it must not collapse under the weight. It had to have rounded shapes everywhere. Hence the very compact form, the igloo-shaped superstructures. Next, we wanted a lot of windows to enjoy a maximum amount of light, and also recuperate heat through the greenhouse effect. This works very well, especially when the boat is in the Mediterranean! The interior looks something like a mountain cabin, because the team in charge of furnishing the boat were mountaineers. Michel Franco and his colleagues used their jigsaws to do the interior. As for the choice of materials, we opted for an aluminum hull because the boat had to be as light as possible, and rise up under the pressure of the ice. At the time, I was doing a lot of racing and knew about the latest in winch equipment, etc. So, in terms of deck layout and maneuvering, we wanted a boat easy to handle, with a schooner rig – the idea being that 2 sailors could maneuver the boat and take a reef quite easily. On that score, I think we fulfilled our contract!

Did you ever imagine that the boat would still be on expeditions 25 years later?

Not at all, not a single second! In fact, the boat has had 3 successive lives. We could never have foreseen this. The boat has moved far beyond us. It no longer belongs to us at all.

Today, if you were to build a new “ideal boat,” would the schooner be a source of inspiration?

I’ve worked on other projects for expedition ships with my new partner, Nicolas Berthelot: between 40 and 62 meters. It’s all there in our files. We’ve taken some ideas from Tara, and changed other things, such as the engine room. At the time of Tara’s construction, we didn’t realize how much time the engineers would be spending down there, bent in half.

Are you are ready for Tara 6?

Yes, absolutely! Just choose the size…


Interview by Noëlie Pansiot

Tara has completed her mission, but scientific research continues

When we woke up this morning, the schooner’s arrival in Lorient was just a beautiful memory. After a short night, the Taranautes got up early to welcome visitors aboard. The first croissants were delivered by  families of the crew. Around the table in the main cabin, 6-year old Luana Oriot, daughter of crew member Matthew Oriot, recalls the boat’s arrival: “I loved when Dad came back. I was so happy.” Sitting opposite her, Ipanema and Marley, the children of artist-in-residence Malik Nejmi, talk about yesterday’s events.

“There was music, there was a great ambiance, and the minister Segolene Royal was there.” says 10-year-old Marley. “The mayor and citizens of Lorient also came to greet Tara. The boat arrived as if she were a legend.”

After a 7-month expedition, the schooner came back to her home port of Lorient on 22 November – first day of the European Week for Waste Reduction. A happy coincidence! As Marley mentioned, Tara’s return was saluted by Mme. Segolene Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. She spoke of implementing a ban on non-reusable plastic bags by 2016 – a welcome announcement marking the end of this expedition dedicated to plastic pollution. Almost 2,300 samples were collected throughout the Mediterranean by the scientific teams aboard, and all of them contained microplastics!

The last samples stored aboard Tara in a container of liquid nitrogen are about to be sent to various partner laboratories. The boat has completed her mission but the research will continue: scientists must now analyze the samples to quantify and qualify the plastics, but also to study their effects on living organisms.

The ‘whale’ is ready for renovation in the shipyard for 3 months. For the crew – Nicolas de la Brosse, François Noël, Samuel Audrain and Mathieu Oriot – the adventure continues on the ground in Lorient, at the Keroman site (Port de Pêche). Luana won’t have to wait several months for her father to come home.

On board, the day continues. The most courageous visitors are provided with umbrellas and slickers to visit Tara in the rain. Several generations of Taranautes meet in the main cabin to remake the world. The joyful tribe flips through books about the various expeditions, making comments. No doubt about it, the future is assured!


Noëlie Pansiot



Video : Return of the Tara Mediterranean Expedition in Lorient

After 7 months at sea, the schooner came back in Lorient on November 22, 2014.

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

Video : Leaving Peniche for Lorient

The schooner left its last stopover port a few days ago. Onboard the crew was yelling “let’s go home!”, happy to reunite with their friends and families. For the last leg of this 10th expedition, some guests joined the sailors: Michel Franco, the schooner’s engineer and a real story-teller, and his friend Bernard Buigues, administrator of the Transantarctica expedition and mammoth hunter. Both men were there when Transantarctica was born 25 years ago, and they are now rediscovering Tara..

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

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

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco aboard Tara

Sunday, July 27, 2014.  Prince Albert II of Monaco came aboard the schooner for a visit, highlighting his Foundation’s support of Tara’s mission

On July 27, 2014, during Tara’s stopover in the Cyclades (Greece), Romain Troublé Secretary General of Tara Expeditions, and the crew of the schooner had the honor of welcoming aboard H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and his delegation for a few hours. One of the main partners of the Tara Mediterranean expedition, the Albert II of Monaco Foundation has been supporting Tara’s missions since 2006.

This visit allowed H.S.H. Prince Albert II to fully appreciate the implications of Tara’s scientific expeditions by seeing first-hand the work accomplished for years with our partner laboratories and institutes. H.S.H. Prince Albert declared, “I am extremely happy to be on board. I had seen the boat at dock without actually sailing on it, so this is a real satisfaction to share at least a few hours with Tara’s crew. I think that by having this opportunity to talk, we can now envisage other ideas and other adventures.”

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco was able to discover the boat in the conditions of an expedition – the occasion for the Prince to highlight the interest of the Tara Mediterranean expedition: “This campaign – to study pollution by plastics – is also a way to alert our contemporaries and make them understand that the situation is serious. I think Tara is really an example. This is a great adventure, environmental and maritime of course, but above all, human.”

The visit of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco aboard Tara underlines the commitment of his Foundation to protect the oceans, and his support for the Tara Mediterranean mission. This expedition has a scientific component – to better understand the impacts of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem, and an educational component – to raise public awareness of the many issues related to the Mediterranean. This includes the promotion of efforts to develop Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

“This entire day spent aboard Tara with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and his Foundation’s team gave us the opportunity to support the launching of the Gyaros MPA, and strengthen ties with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. For over 7 years he has been supporting and encouraging Tara’s quest for knowledge,” says Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions.

Also present on this day were the members of associations involved in a major program of conservation of the monk seal on the island of Gyaros. H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco considers vital the program – run by his Foundation and local partners – to preserve this endangered species.  “It was important to try to save one of the last monk seal habitats on the island of Gyaros and other surrounding islands,” he said. “We are very happy to be a partner in this program, via my Foundation. I think we will not only better protect the monk seal and its habitat, but also the fauna and flora of these extremely fragile ecosystems.” These conservation actions and scientific studies are accompanied by a determination to work with local partners. “Projects like these only work if everyone feels involved, when everyone meets around the same table,” explains Prince Albert. “We must be able to work with the local population, especially with the fishermen, to show that it’s in their interest too, in the long run, that monk seals and fishermen coexist.”


Articles you might like :

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-Discover what is coming up next for Tara Méditerranée

Sazan : a Franco-Albanian Preservation Project

The island of Sazan can be seen from the quay where Tara is docked, at Vlora, Albania. Sazan is the center of a preservation project uniting French and Albanian environmental agencies. This collaboration was officially signed on the deck of the schooner during a 3-day stopover in Vlora.

During 10 years of expeditions on the high seas, Tara has been alternately a platform for scientific research, a place for seminars and policy discussions, and a vehicle for raising public awareness about the oceans. During our stopover in Vlora, Albania, for a few hours the schooner became a highly symbolic site for the official signing of an important contract, establishing a common conservation policy between the French and Albanian Coastal Protection Agencies. At the center of the agreement is Sazan, the largest island of Albania, facing the bay of Vlora.  It is essential to preserve this rich natural area in a country where political strife has long deterred ecological awareness.

In 2010, the coastline around the island was declared the  Karaburun/Sazan Marine Protected Area — Albania’s first and only MPA. This initiative prompted the French Coastal Protection Agency to begin a collaboration with their local counterparts on issues concerning the island. “We had already worked (until 2006) with the Albanian groups, including conservation policies on lagoons,” recalls Céline Damery, Policy Officer at the European and International Department for Coastal Protection, which manages the Albanian case. “We returned here in 2011, taking advantage of  the dynamic that came with the creation of the MPA to provide our institutional and technical assistance, and support them in the implementation of a policy for coastal management.”

In 2012 and 2013, the French Coastal Protection Agency launched its PIM initiative (“Petites Iles Méditerranéennes) which included studies of the biodiversity of Sazan. Surveys quickly revealed the natural wealth of the island, including some 300 species of flora, 40 bird species and 10 new insect species unknown until now in Albania This rich inventory, followed by an ecological evaluation, and an assessment of land-based pollution, resulted in a management plan for the island. Until now, Sazan has been only partially affected by the newly established MPA. “The waters surrounding the island are part of the MPA, but the land area is owned by the Defense Ministry, and presently has no protection status,” explains Céline Damery. “We want to work on this project, because it can be an exemplary site for Albania, with integrated management of land and sea.”

Since the beginning of this year, French and Albanian agencies have been working to establish a Protected Land Area. This collaboration became official with the signature of the convention aboard Tara, in the presence of cameras and local politicians. “This is a new stage in cooperation with the Albanian authorities in terms of exchange of know-how and sharing experience on issues of coastal management,” exclaimed the French project manager. The whole Tara team was proud to host this signature. It was also an opportunity to highlight this kind of local initiative so that our scientific mission in the Mediterranean becomes a relay for the positive actions we encounter along our route.


Yann Chavance


Articles you might like:

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-Have a glimpse of this Franco-Albanian collaboration

-Follow Tara’s team in their daily adventures

Launch of Ocean and Climate Platform 2015 at UNESCO to mark World Ocean Day

World Ocean Day will be celebrated on 8 June under the banner of “Together we can Protect the Ocean”. At UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters, the event will be marked on 10 June with the launch of the Ocean and Climate Platform 2015, which will bring together the research community and civil society with the aim of placing the ocean at the heart of international climate change debate. The platform is being launched ahead of the next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Convention (COP21), which will take place in Paris in November 2015.

A press conference will be held at 9 a.m. on 10 June at UNESCO Headquarters (Room 3), to explain how the Platform* will work, what it aims to achieve, and outline the collaboration underway between UNESCO and the French Government to prepare COP21.  Participants will include UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova; France’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Philippe Lalliot; Roman Troublé, Secretary-General of Tara Expeditions and representative of the non-governmental organizations involved in the Platform; and Françoise Gaill, Research Director at the French National Research Centre (CNRS).

The ocean is the main source of oxygen in the world, making it as important as forests in serving as “lung” for the planet. It also absorbs over one quarter of the carbon emissions produced by human beings, which means it plays a crucial role in regulating climate change. But increasing CO2 emissions, which are acidifying the ocean, along with the over exploitation of marine resources and pollution, are reducing the capacity of marine eco-systems to adapt to climate change.

Launched jointly with several research bodies, NGOs and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the Platform will inform COP21 debates on the vital interaction between climate and ocean. The fact that climate change also means oceanic change must be taken into account in the negotiations. Yet, until now, climate talks have focused mainly on carbon emissions from human activity, the role of forests in capturing and storing CO2, and climate change adaptation measures. The ocean has only been given marginal consideration.

COP21 will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. It will seek to achieve a new international agreement on climate, aimed at limiting keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.

*Founding members of the Platform: Agence Française des Aires Marines Protégées (France); Association Innovations Bleues (France); CNRS; French Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Green Cross France and Territories; Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation; Oceanographic Insitute, Foundation Albert I, Prince of Monaco; Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI); Institut Ecologie et Environnement (France); Institut Océanographique Paul Ricard; NASF; Nausicaá –Centre National de la Mer (France); The Pew Charitable Trusts; Network of marine protected area managers in the Mediterranean (MEDPAN); World Ocean Network; Surfrider Foundation Europe; Tara Expeditions; UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO).

Interview with Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions

Interview with Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions

A new expedition, a new base for Tara in Paris, a new website, the  launch of an Ocean and Climate platform on the occasion of World Ocean Day – Etienne Bourgois provides an update on all the exciting news about Tara during the month of June.

The expedition is launched and the scientific part of Tara Mediterranean began this week…

Tara is primarily a research boat, so this is a good thing! I am especially pleased that the scientific aspect of the expedition has expanded in recent weeks with more universities and institutes getting involved  under the direction of Gaby Gorsky, director of the Observatoire Oceanologique de Villefranche sur mer.

Let’s not forget that we are also devoting 50% of the time on this mission to raising awareness about environmental issues. We also aim to publish a “blue book” at the end of these 7 months in the Mediterranean.

A few days ago we welcomed an artist aboard. In all, there will be 11 artists-in-residence with carte blanche to do their projects. This is a unique experience for them, but also for the scientists and sailors they will cohabit with aboard Tara!

What message do you especially want to transmit?

A message of determination concerning the environment. Unfortunately the wheel of time is turning quickly, and the reactions of politicians are slow. We need to act now and adopt strong orientations.

Have there been any special moments since you’ve been in the Mediterranean?

Yes, I went aboard Tara in Port-Cros in early May during the study of deep coralline led by Laurent Ballesta’s team and the Agence de l’Eau. Laurent showed me extraordinary photos proving that the establishment of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) has had excellent results, and the Mediterranean ecosystem is extraordinary. The MPAs often lack resources and are still too few to cover 10% of the sea by 2020, the goal set by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the very professional crew–motivated, cooperative, modest, etc.

June 8 is World Ocean Day. How is Tara’s outreach program progressing on a political level?

This year’s World Ocean Day – June 10th – will be the occasion for a series of events targeting young people and the press, held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, with the launch of the Ocean and Climate Platform 2015.  Spurred by a small group of founders including Tara, the platform will bring together active citizens and scientists committed to a major goal: strengthening the role of the Ocean during  international discussions on climate, particularly with the COP 21 coming up next year in Paris.

Another source of satisfaction: the UN has just released the first version of a text concerning goals for sustainable development. “Conservation and sustainable use of marine resources” are on the list, along with 11 other goals. André Abreu, Tara Expeditions’ project manager, was involved in this effort at the UN.

 Tara’s new website is on the program for mid-June…

Yes, we needed a new interface, more adapted to new technologies, for better communication of our messages. The new site, created in partnership with Agence 76, will be easier to use, more visual, and will be organized around the 4 major missions of Tara Expeditions: science, environment, education and art.

Tara Expeditions also has a new space: the Base Tara…

Yes, it’s the rear base of Tara. The land team, led by Romain Troublé, has offices there. This is a magical place near the Bastille, full of light. We can host exhibitions, conferences, meetings for school groups, projections, etc.

The first exhibition, “The Secret World of Plankton” just started on Monday, and will remain open to the public until June 26. With his experience as an artist-in-residence aboard Tara, Rémi Hamoir, Professor at the Ecole des Arts Deco, proposed to teachers and first-year students to work on a creative project  around the theme: “Tara and the secret world of plankton.”

A damper on your current actions?

Despite the support and commitment of agnès b from the beginning, the budget is still not complete. It’s  a constant stress that prevents us from better preparing the medium term. This can sometimes be discouraging.  I wish to repeat here that no donation is too small!

In this regard what are your future projects?

We are preparing a project that requires a two-year budget. It’s a major scientific program about coral reefs. It requires at least 12-18 months of preparation, and we’ve already been hard at work for 3 months.

Is Tara’s 10th year a milestone, or the beginning of a second life?

We are in continuity. Over the last10 years we have done 10 expeditions, and all of them had real meaning. This is our treasure. Our projects have the distinction of being initiated by individuals who form a group, and not by companies or institutions.
I hope that other projects like Tara will be born in the world.

What can we wish you?

To complete our funding as soon as possible, and encounter favorable winds in the Mediterranean!

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 is in its initial running-in period

“We are at the stage of setting up protocols”
Interview with Samuel Audrain, captain of Tara

Since last week, there’s been excitement on board: the captain’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing, the crew expects deliveries, and many groups take turns visiting the boat during this stopover in Toulon. In chief mechanic Martin Hertau’s workshop, adjustments are being made on the sternposts. Paul Dufay, a talented electronics trainee is optimizing the electric panel wiring. There are final purchases to be made and parts to be found for minor repairs. The deck officer, François Aurat, has the shopping list: hydraulic bladder, plumbing for the dry lab, ampere-meter clamp, cyalume stick. All crew members are busy preparing the boat, leaving nothing to chance for the expedition. Samuel Audrain is aboard Tara again, captain for this leg.

Tara has been docked at Toulon’s “Quai d’honneur” for the last week.  The crew welcomed nearly 1,000 visitors aboard in just three days. Outside of visiting hours, what is happening onboard?

I recently embarked and this stopover lets us speed up preparations of the boat. We are still in reach of our French suppliers, making it easy to order parts. We have to anticipate the up-coming seven-month expedition (with stopovers in many foreign countries).

We carried out a safety check and tested each of the life jackets for buoyancy. We’re making sure we have all the necessary equipment on board before departure. As for the machines and motors, there’s always something to do on a daily basis.

We’ll be in the Mediterranean and it will be hot, so we’re looking for fans. All these things take time. Yesterday, technicians came aboard to check the air-conditioning in the dining room. Our stopover in Nice will be as long as here in Toulon and will let us finish installations. We have to advance every day and not wait until the last moment. And all of this while welcoming visitors — the general public and schools groups. But I really enjoy starting the expedition and sharing our experience with the public during stopovers.

Who are the embarking scientists?

For the last couple of days, Hervé Le Goff, CNRS engineer, has been responsible for setting up the dry lab for the Mediterranean mission. Jean-Louis Jamet, professor at the University of Toulon, has just boarded and is scientific coordinator for this leg. He is in contact with Gaby Gorsky, scientific director of the TaraMedPlastic project and designer of our entire scientific program. We are all discussing the implementation of protocols for data collection and sampling.

In short, many things are being finalized and this stopover is rather intense. We are in a phase of setting up protocols, and want to be efficient from the very start, i.e., from the 2-9 of June.


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

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

Interview : Romain Troublé about Tara Mediterranean expedition

Romain Troublé: “The Tara Mediterranean expedition will be rich in scientific research, and rich in encounters with the public and local associations.”

On the occasion of the schooner’s first stopover – in Port-Cros (France) – Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions, discusses the objectives of our current mission: a 16,000 km circumnavigation of the Mediterranean Sea.

For her tenth expedition, Tara is sailing in the Mediterranean, a place dear to the French. What is the goal of this expedition?

The challenge is to continue the research on plastic that we started in 2011, during the Tara Oceans expedition. The current expedition will be devoted to issues of plastics pollution in the Mediterranean. For the Tara team, the coming months will also be an opportunity to educate the public – to explain where the plastic comes from, and how it winds up in the sea.

Why address this issue ?

For quite some time, scientists involved in our expeditions have observed the presence of plastics in oceans all over the world. Plastic is everywhere! The schooner traversed the famous Pacific gyre so often in the news: the so-called “plastic continent.” We thought it would be interesting to devote an expedition to this important subject. We want to contribute to scientific research efforts – in the western basin, as well as in the little-studied eastern basin.

The problem of plastic pollution affects everyone. All countries bordering the Mediterranean are concerned, and all have an impact. Plastic found along the coasts of France is not necessarily French plastic. The Mediterranean Sea is a real mix of currents: plastics originating in Morocco arrive on the French coast, French plastics are found in Italy, and so on.

Research conducted by scientists aboard Tara will focus on the interaction of plastic with our food chain, and especially with the first link in that chain – plankton. For 4 years, scientists working with Tara have been studying plankton. We will continue to focus on plankton and its interaction with plastic.

In what ways is this expedition innovative ?

The problem of plastic affects everyone on a daily basis. Plastic is what we throw in the trash bin every day – waste products of what we consume. It represents our relationship to consumer society.

This year, Tara will be close to home. The boat will be sailing around our very own Mediterranean Sea where many of us swam when we were kids.

Because the Mediterranean is a closed sea, it provides an especially important example. In the coming years, if we can manage human impact on the Mediterranean, we will be able to better manage the global ocean. The Mediterranean is under strong anthropogenic pressures: increasing population, maritime traffic, tourism, fishing…

This expedition will allow us to draw attention to serious issues, such as the importance of sanitation systems, and educating people about sorting and recycling waste.

It’s often said that the Mediterranean Sea is dying; yet some scientists say it’s never been so productive, that many large predators and cetaceans are still present. The Tara Mediterranean expedition is our way of contributing knowledge towards a better understanding of the current state of this sea.

Tara is not only about science, but also about education, and increasing public awareness.

People are showing a real interest in the subject. They wish to learn more about the consequences of pollution: Does plastic enter the food chain, and end up on our plates? Do the molecules from plastics have an impact on the reproduction of marine organisms? Are there other impacts?

Tara’s many stopovers will provide an opportunity to invite people aboard to discuss this question: Why do plastic bags that are scattered inadvertently in nature, wind up their journey at sea?

We want to show that action is possible. Yes, the sea is dirty, but we must stop adding plastic to the mess. This is an achievable goal and it ‘s not utopic.  We speak of feasible actions: educate people, develop appropriate equipment, support research to invent truly biodegradable plastics (not bio-based or bio-fragmentable), but plastics that can be digested by plankton, bacteria or enzymes. Certain companies are beginning to address these issues and have good ideas. They should be encouraged — to offset the influence of petrochemical companies and their lobbies.

The last word

This expedition will be very dense, taking into account the pace of scientific research at sea, but also the many stopovers. Tara is now known and recognized by the public. People are eager to come aboard and explore the boat at ports-of-call. We believe this is a great project, rich in scientific research, rich in encounters with the public, associations, and volunteers who offer their time and energy to manage marine areas – people who are committed to sharing their passion for a cause: the Mediterranean and the sea in general.

Interview by Noëlie Pansiot

Stopover in Port-Cros

Port Cros – one of 4 islands off the coast of Hyères – was the first Marine Protected Area to be established in France (in 1963). Tara will dock there from May 5 to 19 to collaborate on a study of the island’s coralline with biologist/diver Laurent Ballesta and his Andromède team.

A very particular environment exists here at a depth between 50 and 90 meters, where there’s not much light. Calcareous algae form the base. When the algae dies, they leave behind calcarous skeletons. Over the years, limestone accumulates, serving as a support or hiding place for coral, fish, sea urchins, etc. More than 1,700 different species have been observed here. This very rich environment is vital for biodiversity in the Mediterranean, but has been studied very little because access is so difficult.

Specific diving equipment is necessary to go down to these depths. The Andromeda team is experienced in diving with air recyclers, and perfectly familiar with techniques of underwater inventorying. The team has been commissioned to conduct a study that will help the Park Manager better protect the environment.

Tara will serve as a logistics platform, moored very close to the study sites. This stopover will also prepare us for the next Tara coral expedition, scheduled for 2015.


Noëlie Pansiot, correspondent aboard.


Articles you might like:

-More information on Marine Protected Areas via our partner, MedPan

-Discover this region’s beautiful panoramas in our photo library

-Learn more about Tara’s future projects with the ANDROMEDA divers



This famous Strait is a true knot in the center of four cardinal points: Europe to the north, Africa to the south, the Atlantic to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. Tara entered the Mediterranean on April 25 – our new field of investigation for the next 7 months.

Gibraltar is also a city – since 1704, a British enclave in Spain, now a free zone, a “pied à terre” in the Mediterranean for the English, and a place for monitoring maritime traffic – a rock evolved into a real naval base.
Arriving from the Atlantic, you first see Tarifa, a port well-known to windsurfing and kite-surfing fans. Given the number of windy days in the year, this city is an ideal place for wind-sport aficionados. Tarifa is nestled at the water’s edge, below hills topped with hundreds of wind turbines. Winds blow alternately from west to east or east to west, depending on the season.

40 km long and 8 km wide, the Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow stretch between Spain and Morocco, through which a huge part of global maritime transport – goods and raw materials – passes. Its particular location makes this a site for all kinds of trafficking, including drugs and refugees: Gibraltar represents the ultimate test, the final stop in the odyssey of Africans who have paid their rite of passage with money saved by their families for years. Their goal is to reach Europe, an eldorado crystallizing dreams of success and better lives, but the outcome of their voyage is often tragic.
This strait is a naturally-formed opening into the Mediterranean. Today Tara is passing through, amidst bustling activity, to start her next mission.

A salute to the rock guarding the entrance, Tara dons her complete wardrobe – mainsail, foresail, yankee and staysail– and takes advantage of Gibraltar’s venturi effect, gliding into  warmer, saltier waters.

This is a reunion for Tara. In 2004 and 2009, the schooner already sailed this sea, taking samples of plankton during the Tara Oceans expedition.

Martin Hertau

Upcoming departure for Tara-Mediterranean

Departure for Tara-Mediterranean expedition

Saturday, April 19 at 11 AM, the schooner Tara left Lorient, her home port, for a seven-month expedition in the Mediterranean. The crew will conduct studies about plastic, and raise awareness about the many environmental issues related to the Mediterranean.

450 million people live along the Mediterranean coasts in 22 bordering countries. Due to its geography and climate, the Mediterranean Sea hosts nearly10% of global marine biodiversity, although representing only 0.8%  of the ocean’s surface. Today’s cities are saturated and almost a quarter 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.

The Tara Mediterranean mission includes several components, including:

1. A scientific study concerning plastic found in the sea will be carried out, coordinated by the Laboratory of Oceanography of Villefranche-sur-Mer (Pierre et Marie Curie University and CNRS) in France and the University of Michigan in the United States, in collaboration with the University of South Brittany and other universities in France.

2. An educational component to promote the efforts of local and regional associations on the many environmental issues concerning this almost-closed sea:
- Promotion of Marine Protected Areas in collaboration with the MedPAN network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean
- Promotion of solutions for waste reduction
- Sharing of the first analyses of data obtained in the Mediterranean during the Tara Oceans Expedition (2009-2012)

Duration: 7 months = 115 days at sea,  and 115 days in ports of call
Number of stops: 22
Number of countries visited: 11
Distance to be covered: 16,000 km
The team on board consists of 5 sailors, 2 scientists, 1 journalist and 1 artist

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.

Discover the map of the expedition

Click here to see the highlights and planning of the stopovers


December 16, 2013 to January 10, 2014 , Monday to Saturday, 10am-7pm
At agnès b. 17 rue Dieu, 75010 Paris, metro République
- Free entrance

On the occasion of Tara Expeditions’ 10th anniversary, the artists who embarked during the scientific expeditions aboard Tara are exhibiting their work at the agnès b. headquarters in Paris, from December 16, 2013 to January 10, 2014. In chronological order onboard Tara :

Ariane Michel. Pierre Huyghe. Xavier Veilhan. Sebastião Salgado. Loulou Picasso. Laurent Ballesta. Francis Latreille. François Bernard. Ellie Ga. Vincent Hilaire. Rémi Hamoir. Benjamin Flao. Julien Girardot. Guillaume Bounaud. Aurore de la Morinerie. Mara Haseltine. Giuseppe Zevola. François Aurat. Christian Sardet. Mattias Ormestad. Cedric Guigand.  Alex Dolan. Ho Rui An.

Invited by Agnès Troublé and Etienne Bourgois, the artists had carte blanche to chronicle their experiences on board during voyages in the Arctic, Antarctica, Patagonia, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Galapagos Islands. For Tara Expeditions, the presence of artists on board is an essential way to promote environmental awareness to a wider audience.

Ten years ago, with the leadership of Etienne Bourgois and support from Agnès Troublé, the Tara Expeditions project was conceived to increase our knowledge about the oceans, and encourage their preservation. Over the past decade, 6 short campaigns of several months each were conducted (between 2004 and 2006) from Greenland to Antarctica, before the launch of 3 exceptional missions: Tara Arctic (2006-2008), Tara Oceans (2009-2012) and Tara Oceans Polar Circle (2013) devoted to climate and marine biodiversity. In the tradition of 19th century expeditions, scientists and artists converged aboard Tara to share the same experience.

agnès b. — patron and collector for 30 years — supports artists through the Galerie du Jour in Paris; her personal art collection; the gallery shop at 50 Howard St. in New York; the gallery bookshop in Hong Kong; and the “Point d’ironie”, a free newspaper conceived in collaboration with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and the artist Christian Boltanski.


The artists and exhibited works

- Ariane Michel : Greenland Expedition 2004
Video: On Earth, 13 min, 2005
On a wild shore, in quiet so absolute that water ripples like oil, deep breathing resounds. Out of time, far from the mundane world, a sleeping walrus appears old as stone, barely disturbed by an intruder’s approach.

- Pierre Huyghe : Antarctic Expedition 2005
Video: A Journey that Wasn’t, 25 min
Courtesy of the Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Navigating between fact and fiction, Huyghe’s artistic practice is based on the idea that because reality is so incredible,“it must be turned into fiction in order to tell the truth.”
Huyghe merges 2 events he initiated: an expedition to Antarctica to find an albino creature, rumored to exist on an unknown polar island that emerged during the retreat of the ice; and a reconstruction of the expedition in the form of a concert and complex light show that took place in Central Park in October, 2005. It’s simultaneously a documentary about nature, a science fiction movie and a musical. The cinematic experience is somewhere between exploring a sublime landscape and an orchestrated show — leaving us to decide what to believe. As the title suggests, perhaps the journey never occurred.

- Xavier Veilhan : Antarctic Expedition 2005
Book: Voyage en Antarctique
Xavier Veilhan came aboard Tara with Pierre Huyghe in 2005 with lots of ideas, but no concrete intention, no clear plan for the type of art that would emerge from this amazing expedition. He took more than 1,000 photographs, then published this rare book, tracing a unique adventure.

- Sebastião Salgado : Antarctic Expedition 2005
Photos from the Genesis exhibition: Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, Deception Island.
Sebastião Salgado traveled the world for 8 years, photographing people and nature untouched by civilization. In 2005, he voyaged in Antarctica aboard Tara, taking photos that became“The South Edge” chapter of his major exhibition Genesis, an hommage to the fragility of our planet, currently exhibited and published worldwide.

- Loulou Picasso: Expedition in South Georgia, 2005.
Paintings: Voyage to South Georgia

- Laurent Ballesta : Patagonia Expedition 2006
Photos: Cape Horn

- Francis Latreille : Tara Arctic Expedition 2007
Photos: Arctic
Polar specialist and photographer, he sailed several times aboard Tara to the Antarctic and during the Tara Arctic and Tara Oceans expeditions, capturing his vision of the poles.

- François Bernard : Tara Arctic Expedition 2006
Photos: Settled in the ice, After wintering in the Arctic
Polar specialist and mountain guide, François Bernard is also a photographer very familiar with the polar regions, having traveled there extensively for over 20 years.

- Ellie Ga : Tara Arctic Expedition 2008
Photos: Fissures. Tara Collection Fund
Fascinated by the successes and failures of past explorers in their documentation of the “unknown”, Ellie Ga began cataloging and archiving the Arctic world. She boarded Tara for the Arctic expedition in 2008. Mixing narrative genres — memoirs and travel journal — the artist pushes the limits of photographic documentation and uses different media in her performances and installations. Her work explores the distinctions between documentary and fiction, public and private stories, writing and visual inscriptions, still and animated images.

Cards: Reading the Deck of Tara
With a deck of cards made ​​from images of her trip to the Arctic, Ellie Ga highlights our relationship with the uncertain. After drawing a card, the viewer shares an experience in which the immediate future depends on weather forecasts.

Videos: A Hole to See the Ocean Through, Probabilities, At the Beginning North Was Here
These videos plunge the viewer into the intricacies of richly varied research, oscillating between documentary and fiction, archival and ephemeral, reality and prediction. The boat’s engine, the creaking of breaking ice, and the infernal tick-tocking of a clock are the sounds accompanying each story.

- Vincent Hilaire: Tara Arctic Expedition 2008
Photo: The whale
Journalist-correspondant aboard Tara, Vincent Hilaire’s photographic eye and his passion for black and white photography accompanied the Tara Arctic and Tara Oceans expeditions for several months.

- Rémi Hamoir : Tara Oceans Expedition 2009
Watercolours: The Greek Islands, a Greek island, Tara at dock, Navigation
Artist-painter, Remi embarked on a short and intense voyage in the Mediterranean, from Dubrovnik to Athens. Good weather conditions allowed him to paint at different times of day, to capture variations of light and atmosphere where the boat itself is sometimes the object.

- Benjamin Flao : Tara Oceans Expedition 2010
Travel diaries and drawings
Illustrator, Benjamin Flao boarded Tara in the Indian Ocean during the Tara Oceans expedition to make a travel journal.

- Julien Girardot : Tara Oceans Expedition 2010
Photo: The bloom
Tara surfing on a plankton bloom* in the Arabian Sea (*a rapid proliferation of micro-plankton).

- Guillaume Bounaud : Tara Oceans Expedition 2010
Photo: Das Boat noze
Guillaume is a photographer on film sets and makes ​​portraits of actors. He boarded Tara in 2010 in Argentina during the Tara Oceans Expedition between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.

- Aurore de La Morinerie : Tara Oceans Expedition 2011
Salpe, Estampe: digital prints of monotypes on Japanese paper, 2013
Aboard Tara in May 2011 between the Galapagos and Ecuador as a guest artist, Aurore’s  research is oriented towards abstraction, giving infinite forms to the depths.

- Mara G. Haseltine : Tara Oceans Expedition 2011
Sculpture: Coccolithophore
Her passion for natural sciences is evident in the sculptures of Mara G. Haseltine. Even the most abstract forms are actually ​​enlargements of microscopic images, or are inspired by amino acid sequences.

- Giuseppe Zevola : Tara Oceans Expedition 2012
Digital photos on photographic film: Tara.

- François Aurat : Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition 2013
Photo: Polar Circle
Deck officer and passionate photographer, François spent many months aboard Tara since 2009 and gives us his view of the expeditions.

- Collective of photographers (Christian Sardet, Cédric Guigand and Mattias Ormestad): Tara Oceans Expedition 2009-2012
Photos of plankton: Photographing the invisible
Christian Sardet is director of research at the CNRS and author of numerous scientific publications. As co-founder and coordinator of Tara Oceans expedition dedicated to the global study of plankton, he initiated the project “Plankton Chronicles” that combines art and science to share the beauty and diversity of plankton.
Cédric Guigand is a biologist and oceanographer at the University of Miami. His main interest lies in the development of new imaging systems to study the distribution of marine plankton and their behavior.
Mattias Ormestad is a photographer and scientist. In 2009, he collaborated with Tara Expeditions on various legs of the Tara Oceans expedition.

- Alex Dolan : Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition 2013
TARA 1 (scopolamine and ropes)
Alex Dolan, artist (b. 1990, USA ) is based in Portland, Oregon. His work uses a variety of media to express the influence of contemporary tension factors, for example, global warming, technology or the internet. He was selected to board Tara by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets for 89plus.

- Ho Rui An : Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition 2013
Ho Rui An (b. 1990, Singapore) is an artist and writer who works at the intersection of various fields: contemporary art, cinema, philosophy, and fiction writing. He sees himself as a researcher and an “intermediary in the social, cultural and institutional lives of aesthetic things.” He was selected to board Tara by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets for 89plus.

Tara Oceans Polar Circle is launched!

Over a year has passed since the previous Tara Oceans expedition ended, and Tara is finally heading out to the open ocean. Sunday afternoon May 19 the schooner cast off from Lorient to begin a nearly seven-month voyage around the Arctic. The Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition has begun.

All the sailors and scientists aboard had been anticipating this moment for weeks, or even  months. At 3pm, before a crowd of onlookers and friends from all over France, Tara left her home port of Lorient, and will return here only in December. Meanwhile, Tara and her crew will have traveled 25,000 kilometers around the North Pole, first along Russian and then North American coasts.

But Tara did not begin this journey alone. All around the schooner, dozens of boats, from the smallest dinghy to the largest sailboats, symbolically escorted Tara on this new scientific adventure. Over twenty people were on deck: journalists, Tara’s land team, and even the next crew. As the sea became rougher, the number of escorting boats decreased. 

At Groix Island, off Lorient’s coast, Tara followed tradition and the boat was blessed by the island’s priest. Then a second departure began: one after another the accompanying people  piled into dinghies, until only fourteen remained on board. Fourteen people who will share two weeks of life at sea before the Faroe Islands, our first stop.

Yann Chavance


Last week, Tara Expeditions organized with the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the international conference «The High Seas, heritage for all Humanity : what governance for sustainable ocean management?»

The highlight of the day was the reading of the Paris Appeal for the High Seas. Because the High Seas belong to none, they must be managed in the interest of the public good as a shared “common heritage for all humanity”. With this Appeal, we declare our commitment to mobilize all active forces in civil society, to call on our governments, economic partners and networks to obtain an ambitious agreement during the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.

We need you ! Sign the Paris Appeal for the High Seas on www.lahautemer.org


The High Seas lie over the horizon, beyond the reach of States. While these international waters cover half of our planet, they are less familiar to us than the surface of the moon. Yet we could not survive without them. They feed us, provide half of our oxygen, regulate our climate, capture most of our greenhouse gas emissions, and enable almost all trade in goods. They inspire poets and nourish children’s dreams. If such a treasure were to belong to a single nation, it would be its most cherished possession.

But the High Seas belong to none; they must be managed in the interest of the public good, as a shared “common heritage for all humanity”. This status was partially acquired in 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, through a framework that defines rules and authorities for the exploitation of the seabed’s resources and for deep seabed mining, but not for the water column. With the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the United Nations took a crucial, necessary step towards the peaceful governance of the sea. Crucial but insufficient, as we have come to realize 30 years later, since the protection it offers is insufficient to safeguard a gem that continues to surprise us each day with new riches.

Today parts of the High Seas have become lawless places, their intimate depth plundered, their resources exposed to pillaging and trafficking, with generalized pollution reaching the farthest seas. The immensity is dying, its life is wilting, emergency is at our door and the price of indifference is looming.

There is hope yet : civil society is mobilizing everywhere, and moving nations. There are solutions. An appointment has been set for the United Nations General Assembly to initiate negotiations towards an international instrument for the protection of biodiversity in the High Seas within the framework of the Convention on the Law of the Sea as early as 2013, and no later than the fall of 2014. But some are reluctant, and resistance can mobilize.

Recognizing that this unique global commons’ natural resources can only be safeguarded and managed sustainably through shared, transparent, democratic, international governance, We, the signatories of the Paris Appeal for the High Seas :

- Declare our commitment to mobilize all active forces in civil society, to call on our governments, economic partners and networks to obtain an ambitious agreement during the United Nations General Assembly in 2014;

- Request that a clear mandate be given to the United Nations General Assembly, so that the negotiations cover the following: the preservation of High Seas’ ecosystems, access to and sharing of benefits related to the exploitation of marine genetic resources, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, research support and marine technology transfer;

- Propose that the International Seabed Authority participate in managing High Seas resources, especially marine genetic resources (and to provide means for the operational execution of these missions) ;

- Recall the importance of meeting the objective to cover, by 2020, 10 per cent of the ocean with marine protected areas as established in Nagoya in 2010 in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity ;

- Consider that civil society should be fully involved in international processes relating to the use and governance of the High Seas. Through these resolutions, we declare that the High Seas are not solely the business of specialists and professionals, but that they are at the very heart of the survival of humanity and, as such, concern us all. We believe in all seriousness, with confidence and determination that they provide a space for peaceful and exemplary co-construction of States, which lust propose an innovative “blue economy” for future generations, based on the respect of ecosystems and human rights. Rebuilding humanity’s relationship with the High Seas is essential for human development, for the resilience of the planet and the climate. It is a pressing and urgent ambition.

All life comes from the ocean, and a living ocean is what we wish to pass on to our children.


Prince Albert II de Monaco,Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Hubert Reeves, Luc Jacquet, agnès b., Jean Jouzel, Nicolas  Hulot, Jean-Paul Delevoye - CESE president, Catherine  Chabaud, Patricia Ricard, Isabelle Autissier, Erik Orsenna, Jasmine et  Philippe Starck, Natacha Régnier, Romain Troublé, Etienne Bourgois –  Tara Expeditions president, Maud Fontenoy, Maud Fontenoy Fondation, Jacques Rougerie, Serge Orru, Anne Hidalgo, Françoise Gaill, Eric Karsenti, Jérôme Bignon, Allain  Bougrain-Dubourg, Lady Pippa Blake, Jean-Louis Etienne, Claude Lévêque, etc.

International Conference: The High Seas *, what governance for sustainable ocean management ?

The Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) will be held on April 11, 2013 in Paris


Watch it live:

In recent years, many activists have been mobilizing for a sustainable management of the oceans. The Rio+20 summit organized by the United Nations (UN) in 2012 proposed concrete goals and timetables. As the second largest maritime nation in the world with 11 million square kilometers and a presence in all oceanic regions of the world, France can play a major role on this issue. To achieve this, it is necessary to mobilize the political, industrial and associative worlds, civilian society, to persue the commitments announced at Rio+20 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and by French President, François Hollande.
This is the ambition of the conference organized by the ESEC with Tara Expeditions.

The conference proposes to clarify the issues of high seas management. A full day of lectures and debates will bring together French and international participants in a positive and realistic approach to the subject.

Different members of the steering committee will formulate at the end of the day an ‘appeal’, relayed to institutions and politicians in view of the important negotiations on the governance of the High Seas, coming up in 2014 at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. 

Conference participants: Delphine Batho, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic for the  protection of the planet; François Gabart, winner of the Vendée Globe Challenge 2012; Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Green Cross France and Territories; Gilles Boeuf, president National Museum of Natural History, etc…

Participation in this event is free and open to all. Prior registration required. SIGN UP NOW !

Conference venue :

Economic, Social and Environmental Council

9 Place d’Iena 75116 Paris

Subway: Iéna (line 9)

Bus Stop: Iéna (lines 32, 63 and 82)

Consult the day’s program.

Live Twitter feed at:  #hautemer
Stay connected on Facebook for the High Seas ‘appeal’

Initiated by : the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and Tara Expeditions

Partners : MACIF, Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute

Support : French Maritime Cluster, Nausicaa, the French Institute of the Sea (IFM), Ifremer, France Shipowners

Members of the Steering Committee : Marine Protected Areas, Armateurs de France, Economic, Social and Environmental Council, French Maritime Cluster, Com’Publics, EPHESE, Foundation Albert II of Monaco, France Nature Environnement, Green Cross, IDDRI, French Institute of the Sea, Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute, Maud Fontenoy Foundation, Marine Nationale, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Nausicaa, General Secretariat of the Sea, Surfrider Foundation, Tara Expeditions, UNESCO-IOC.

* The “High Seas” in international law are maritime areas that are not under the authority of any State, beyond the coastal areas managed by each country. This marine area covers half the globe’s surface and 64% of the oceans.

Interview with Etienne Bourgois, president of Tara Expeditions

After Tara’s long stopover in Paris, and before the next Arctic adventure, Etienne Bourgois gives us the latest news about Tara Expeditions.

The schooner Tara was in Paris for 4 months this winter. What are your conclusions?

It’s always magical to see Tara at the foot of Pont Alexandre III with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I was especially pleased to present to the general public our exhibition which clearly explains the two previous expeditions, Tara Arctic and Tara Oceans. I also think it’s  very important to welcome young people on board. Almost 5,000 school children came on Tara’s deck and asked questions as diverse as “Why and how does a boat float? “or “Why is it important to discover plankton?”.

During the evenings of screenings and discussions, the many questions raised by the general public added a new perspective to the exhibition.

Finally, I was very honored to receive such personalities as the late Stéphane Hessel, Jasmine and Philippe Starck, Nicolas Hulot, Yann Arthus Bertrand, Elsa and Jean-Louis Etienne. We also welcomed three government ministers, two ambassadors, the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and many scientists with whom we collaborated.

I have only one regret — that we underestimated Nature, and were blocked for 15 days by the flooding of the Seine not being able to pass under the bridges. We were really looking forward to sailing in the Mediterranean, but we had to cancel due to lack of time.  Stopovers in Toulon, Marseille, Nice and Monaco will certainly happen sometime in the future. Tara is in Bordeaux for the “Week of Sustainable Development” until April 7th, with a program including the exhibition, projections, and tours for the general public and schools. 

What are the preparations for the upcoming Tara Arctic expedition? What will be the mission of Tara Oceans Polar Circle ?
After the tropics and the high seas during Tara Oceans, we’re returning to the Arctic and I am delighted! This will be the completion of the Tara Oceans Expedition on marine plankton, with highly sophisticated equipment on board, and the experience we have gained with laboratories and institutes involved for several years. 

We will also carry out studies on plastic in the Arctic, and therefore try to provide answers to questions about the pollution occuring in these remote areas.

It is very important to conduct these studies in the current context of major changes in this region. In fact, after the sad record of 2007, the melting of the Arctic ice pack in the summer of 2012 surpassed any of the last few thousand years.

We will also use our local presence to mobilize the political and economic world, and inform the public of the most pressing environmental challenges in the Arctic, as well as issues faced by the 5,000,000 people populating the Arctic Circle. At the same time, the first part of the IPCC report on climate science will be published in September.

Is the budget finalized for the Tara Oceans Polar Circle ?

An important partner finally withdrew because of the major economic crisis that we are experiencing. Today we lack 25% of the total budget, and we’re trying hard to find other sources to fill this lack. If we do not succeed, we will have to drastically reduce the program, which I would enormously regret.

I would like to thank the partners who are with us today despite the difficult economic context — Lorient Agglomeration, the Foundation Albert II of Monaco and of course agnes b.

The environment is an even more serious crisis in the medium and long term. This is why it’s very important for me to lead a program like Tara Expeditions.

Will you embark on the Tara Arctic expedition?

I’m thinking of spending 8-10 days on board for the Northwest Passage. The boat is, however, basically ‘requisitioned’ by the scientists.

How is the boat specifically prepared for this mission?

Tara is in very good condition thanks to the hard work of the crew, captain Loïc Valette, Jean Collet (former captain of Antarctica) who are helping prepare the boat for the Arctic, along with the companies in Lorient with whom we work. Tara is constantly being improved. More specifically we recently completely overhauled the engine cooling systems, the electrical system,, and the dry lab has been totally renovated for science. It was also necessary to provide heating in the wet lab, due to the freezing temperatures we’ll encounter in the Arctic. We removed the rigging while in Paris, tanks were cleaned, a rudder changed, and drop-keels and anchorage were revised.

Has the crew been finalized?

Romain Troublé and Philippe Clais have assembled a full crew, good sailors and polar experts. Loïc Valletta and Samuel Audrain, who participated in the Tara Arctic expedition, will take turns as captain.

When is the scheduled departure?

The weekend of May 18-20 from Lorient. We had a big party a year ago for the return of Tara Oceans. This time, we’re counting on all of Lorient’s spontaneity to accompany us at the beginning of this new adventure.

How is Tara Oceans coming along? What’s happening in the laboratories?

Last week I attended the launch of the OCEANOMICS project. It won first place in the government program “Investments for the Future.” OCEANOMICS will help structure a database from thousands of planktonic samples collected during the Tara Oceans expedition. I’m more and more amazed by the extent of the results and discoveries that lie ahead.

Tara Oceans has collected an immense treasure. Gaby Gorsky, one of the main scientific coordinators of Tara Oceans, said “It takes madness to undertake such projects.” The whole Tara Oceans team was sufficiently “crazy and determined” to carry out this extraordinary expedition.

What motivates me about the OCEANOMICS program is the basic research towards understanding and discovering the ocean, where each day a little more unfolds.

Tara Expeditions news is happening increasingly on land. You are co-organizing a conference on the High Seas at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council on April 11th.

France has a very important responsibility in issues concerning the oceans. We are the second country in the world in terms of the size of our ocean jurisdiction.

The High Seas is a free space but should not be one of lawlessness. In 2013, and at the very latest in 2014, the UN must re-examine the question of the High Seas. This issue is extremely important, which is why we wanted Tara Expeditions to be involved. 

Where are you finding the energy for your commitment?

Each person involved in our expeditions, with his resources and expertise, is committed to a  better world. Dealing with environmental issues today prevents humanitarian risks and conflicts of tomorrow.

I feel that this preoccupation is far from that of the generation of 15-30 year olds. I would like Tara to make her mark, by encouraging them to mobilize and take control of their destiny.

During Tara’s stay in Paris – meetings, debates and film projections on: the Ocean, Major Challenge for the Future

In recent years, Tara Expeditions has been invited to national and international policy meetings concerning the ocean, for example“Le Grenelle de la Mer” in France, or the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development organized by the UN.

Tara is currently participating in many forums and networks to promote solutions and marine policies needed to ensure a future for our blue planet. Aiming to bring   together as  many interested parties as possible, we are proposing a series of  debates, meetings, and film projections on these specific issues.


”Climate change, geopolitics and management of the Arctic high seas” - January 22 at 18:30

“The oceans to protect : carte blanche for the wind festival” With the wind festival, Sea Shepard, Sea Orbiter – January 30 at 18:30

“The potential of bio marine ressources in a sustainable sea economy”


- January 17 at 18:30
 “Mountains of Silence” (attended   by Daniel Buffard, president of the Mountains of Silence Association   and Catherine Chabaud) by  Luc Marescot. 52 minutes. 2005, A group of deaf people accompanied by sailors and mountain  climbers on a forty-day expedition, following in the footsteps of  legendary Sir Ernest Shackleton, legendary character in the conquest of the poles, who in 1914, saved his crew from death. Led by the sailor  Catherine Chabaud and mountain guide Paul Pellecuer, the group of deaf people set sail aboard Tara from the Falkland Islands  to South Georgia, then hike and ski from King Haakoon Bay on the west coast to Stromness on the east coast. Beyond courage and endurance, the film highlights an  intimate human adventure: non-deaf  people  entering the  world of the deaf by learning to communicate in sign language.

- January 24 at 18:30 “The last dream of Sir Peter Blake” by Frank Mazoyer 52 minutes. Sir Peter Blake, legendary sailor killed in the Amazon, dreamed of going to  the Arctic, the realm of the  polar bear, threatened by global warming. As a tribute to their captain, former teammates decided to accomplish  his last dream by embarking on the legendary polar schooner Tara for a unique expedition.

- February 2 at 18:30 “Man on Land” (attended by the director Ariane Michel). 95minutes. At the edge of a frozen sea, a boat approaches land. Strange human silhouettes appear. Ice, stones and animals of Greenland witness from their   unchanging world, the passage of scientists who have  come for a  summer to study them.


Free events.

Location: The main exhibition “Tara Expeditions: Discovery of a New World: the Ocean.” Right bank, Pont Alexandre III, Port des Champs Elysées.

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

Exhibition information on French website: taraparis2012.blogspot.fr

Contact for meetings/debates and reservations: André Abreu, andre@taraexpeditions.org

Contact for film projections: Myriam Thomas, event@taraexpeditions.org

Press Contact: Eloïse Fontaine, eloise@taraexpeditions.org



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

From Le Havre to Paris, an unusual trip

The adventure began in Le Havre alongside an obscure commercial quay. To get to Paris via the Seine and its bridges, we had to take down Tara’s masts: not a small undertaking.

First, we began by dismantling all of the fittings and rigging. Then the booms were lowered onto the deck and the spans (“maroquins”) were dismantled. These are the two cables that connect Tara’s two mastheads. Hanging in a harness up at 27 meters, it takes a bit of unselfish concern to loosen the turnbuckle with 2 oversized wrenches. Using two hydraulic jacks, we raised a mast by 1 mm to remove shims that maintain the compression and tension of the rigging. The only thing left to do was disconnect all the guys so that the crane could lift the mast. This was an awesome moment when everyone had to know exactly what to do in order to avoid damaging the equipment. While part of the crew worked on the masts, others construct wooden structures on the deck where the dismounted masts were placed.

Friday at 2am: our strange journey began with the crossing of the Quinette lock and a harsh reunion with the ocean – wind at 35 knots and a choppy sea. Some rocking swells confirmed the solidity of our constructions before we entered the access channel to the Seine.With the tide rising, we went up the Seine to Rouen at an average speed of 9 knots. Here we finally left the ocean world for the realm of the river: after a few bridges, we were passing cargo barges. Two days of bucolic navigation between cows and locks brought us to the capital. Since last Sunday at 3pm, Tara has been docked in the heart of Paris. Wednesday we put up the masts, and curious people gather around, wanting to know what this strange boat is doing here.

After the Statue of Liberty in New York in February and Tower Bridge in London a month ago, we are now at the foot of the Eiffel Tower! A very special stopover before heading back to sea.

By Tara’s captain, Loïc Vallette


Interview with Chris Bowler, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans expedition

Our stopover in London continues. This afternoon the team of Taranautes was expected at the Maritime Museum for a screening of the first in the series of 4 documentaries made during the Tara Oceans Expedition: “The Secret World”.

Chris Bowler, researcher at the ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure) in Paris, specializing in diatoms, spent the day answering questions from the public. I decided to ask him some questions too.

Laëtitia Maltese: Chris, what are diatoms?

Chris Bowler: Diatoms are phytoplankton. Because of their relatively “large” size and weight, they play a significant role in the functioning of the oceans’ carbon pump, and therefore in climate balance – first through photosynthesis, and then when they die by “transporting” the carbon trapped in their cells to the ocean depths. They are also a vital link in the food chain since they’re the favorite food of copepods, the dominant species of zooplankton.

LM: How long did you spend on board and what was your job?

CB: I spent a total of 6 weeks, on 3 separate legs: Dubrovnik–Athens, Monte Puerto–Valparaiso, Bermuda–Azores. This last leg was particularly interesting because we were far away from the continental influence, and at the junction of waters from very different zones. Stations were defined in advance, based on satellite maps. As chief scientist, I had to decide the most appropriate zone to study.

In the oceans, waters are sometimes “separated”, vertically and horizontally. They are characterized by (among other things) different temperatures, salinity and density, and they don’t mix. Our goal is to compare the plankton of these different water masses. This analysis of biodiversity allows us to understand the relationship between the physico-chemical parameters and plankton. We can then make the connection between the natural phenomena of circulation and climate change.

LMWhat are the first results of the expedition?

CB: Before Tara Oceans, there was little data on a planetary scale. Thanks to the expedition, we’re finding that diatoms are abundant in various oceans of the world, and there’s a great diversity of species. The first DNA analyses allow us to quantify: We thought there were 5,000 species of diatoms, but with the data from Tara, it looks like there are around 30,000 species! The results should be published in 2013.

Before the Tara expedition we were studying diatoms from cultures grown in our laboratory over several years. Now we can check a number of hypotheses using the wild diatoms collected in the samples of Tara Oceans. The samples we collected are so numerous (27,000) that 6 months after the expedition, taking into account all the laboratories, we’ve analyzed barely 1%. I’m convinced that the results of the expedition will serve as a reference in years to come, by the sheer mass of information provided.

LM: How did Tara change your life as a researcher?

CB: I have a better understanding of the issues of my research at the global level, a much more comprehensive vision, an openness to the world.

LM: In what way do you think Tara missions are essential today?

CB: With today’s advances, cutting-edge technologies can be easily miniaturized for use aboard ships of Tara’s size. So, at a lower cost, studies can be carried out on a large scale, accelerating collection of data and therefore scientific advances. The difficulty in oceanographic research is logistics, and the real problem is that we realize our ignorance of ocean life! Many doors are opening with this unique and exciting project.

After this exchange with Chris, I think of the story he told at the Maritime Museum about the epic explorers like Columbus and Vasco de Gama. And I go away reassured by the idea that mankind still has so much to discover! As for Chris, he will participate in the event “Science Museum Lates”, September 26th at 19.30, on the theme of climate change.


Laëtitia Maltese



After Dublin and before Paris, the French scientific research vessel Tara arrived in London on September 17th for a ten-day stay. The schooner has just completed a two-and-a-half year, 70,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian Oceans, investigating marine ecosystems and biodiversity under the impact of climate change.

Formerly Sir Peter Blake’s “Seamaster”, since 2003, Tara belongs to  agnès b and Etienne Bourgois, COO of agnès b. Tara is on course to alert  the public to the fast upheavals in the oceans due to global warming  and organize scientific expeditions.

Scientists aboard Tara, mainly supported by the CNRS, EMBL, CEA*, the Veolia Foundation and EDF Foundation, have been exploring the role played by plankton in the earth’s life support system, and observing the effects of climate change on this critical base to the marine food chain.

Artists and journalists have also participated in the Tara Oceans expedition, helping to promote public awareness about the serious threats facing the world’s oceans. 21 laboratories in 10 countries are collaborating on the mission, and their research findings are being published immediately on free-access databases. It could take up to 10 years to analyse all the samples and complex data collected during the expedition. This work will eventually provide the first complete overview of the world’s plankton ecosystem.

Researchers from Tara Oceans shared their message about cherishing and protecting the world’s oceans at United Nations headquarters in New York, and at the recent Rio + 20 summit, where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heralded the work of Tara Oceans: “Earlier this year, I had the chance to board the Tara. The team was really inspiring. They shared so much information with me about oceans and climate change. I am really grateful that they are raising awareness around the world … and I am very proud that the United Nations is supporting them.

In May 2013 Tara will head north for a new scientific expedition, crossing through the Arctic Ocean by the northwest and northeast passages.

French fashion designer agnès b. is the main sponsor of Tara  Expeditions. Deeply concerned by the ecological threats facing our  planet, she has funded the schooner as a platform for state-of-the-art  scientific research: “Since 2003, I have been personally committed to  this project which at the beginning may have seemed totally utopic. In  fact it has turned out to be a remarkable story. Above all our program  helps advance knowledge. Thanks to Tara’s adventures, we are succeeding  in raising young people’s awareness about the environment.”


Tuesday, September 18th at 9am

Aboard Tara – St Katharine’s Docks, 50 St Katherine’s Way, London E1 1LA.

In the presence of Etienne Bourgois, president of Tara Expeditions & Chris Bowler, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans.

Researchers and crew will be available for interviews aboard Tara until 5 pm.

A series of events are planned in London to raise awareness about the work of the Tara Expeditions Foundation :

- Exhibition and screenings at the agnès b. covent garden shop – 35-36 Floral Street London- from September 4th to 27th Tara Oceans, The Secret World screening at the Maritime museum : September 20th at 12am (free. rsvp marc@taraexpeditions.org)

- Public visits : September 22nd – 23rd from 10am to 12am and then from 1pm30 to 5pm

St Katharine, SKD Marina Ltd, 50 St. Katharine Way, London, E1W 1LA

- School visits : September 24th – 25th (contact marc@taraexpeditions.org)

- Climate Change evening at the Science Museum – September 26th (free)

3 talks by Chris Bowler, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans from 7pm20 to 9pm30.


Tara Expeditions Marc Domingos – marc@taraexpeditions.org and Eloïse Fontaine – eloise@taraexpeditions.org ; agnès b. Emma Brunn – press@agnesbuk.co.uk

* French National Center for Scientific Research, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and The European Molecular Biology Laboratory


Emmanuel Reynaud, scientific coordinator of Tara Oceans and specialist in imagery, welcomed two weeks ago the schooner Tara and her crew in Dublin, the city where he lives. On the occasion of the major European festival called “Dublin 2012 City of Science,” many events took place for an enthusiastic public. Impressions of this stopover:

Tara’s silhouette appears on the horizon behind a red cargo ship awaiting authorization to enter the bay, with the Kish lighthouse in the distance. I left the boat in Lorient at the beginning of April after my last leg between the Açores and A Coruña. Here she is, recently renovated and sailing into my home port, Dún Laoghaire in the southern part of Dublin Bay, previously called Kingstown. The whole crew is out on deck to greet us, and we salute them from the military battery with the Irish flag and a burst of sunshine.

As soon as Tara (Teamhrach in Irish) comes to dock, a rainstorm joins in the welcome celebration. All this was short but intense, including the welcome at the Maritime Museum and the sailors’ chapel, where the crew had a good Irish coffee and sang an Edith Piaf song. Then Eric Karsenti arrived directly from his boat docked in Lisbon, to speak at the ESOF (European Science Open Forum) about Tara Oceans, and bravely met 300 children for a ‘porridge-conference’.

Afterwards 450 people flocked to the wharf despite the uncertain weather to visit the boat.

Even the Irish television came to greet Tara, as well as the Youth Council of Dún Laoghaire, and the young competitors of ISAF.

Everyone was delighted with Tara’s first visit to this harbor, and the accompanying images of plankton of the world, displayed on 40 panels set up along the 1,6 km of the port’s east jetty.

The Irish premier of the new film “Planet Ocean” was presented to a full house in the presence of the co-director Michael Pitiot, whom I had not seen for almost two years. Even Patrick Poivre d’Arvor experienced the charm of Irish waters with a morning dip in the bay – water temperature 12 degrees!!

It was a pleasure to see everyone and spend some time together in Ireland. Tara departed in the rain, torrents of tears as she sailed away, carrying a message from the youth of Dún Laoghaire to Brest, their twin city. Come back soon!

Epilogue: As part of the Imagine Festival of Scientific Films in Dublin in 2012, “Invisible”, the short film made by Evin O’Neill and myself about plankton and its role, won first prize. We will fly to New York in late November to present the film at the Imagine Festival New York 2012.

Emmanuel Reynaud

Eric Karsenti fascinates scientists at the ESOF in Dublin

Eric Karsenti fascinates scientists at the ESOF in Dublin

Yesterday morning in Dublin, Eric Karsenti co-director of Tara Oceans, presented the first results of the two-and-a-half year expedition around the world, to an audience of scientists from all over Europe. Less than 4 months after Tara’s return to Lorient, several publications are planned for the next 6 months.  After his one-hour conference, Eric Karsenti received an ovation from his peers.

Vincent Hilaire: Eric, you’ve given many talks in different places around the world to present the Tara Oceans project. You just gave a talk today for scientists gathered at the European Science Open Forum (ESOF).  What are your thoughts about this conference?  

Eric Karsenti:
I gave the talk for about 200 scientists and many journalists. This was one of the first times I presented concrete scientific results from the Tara Oceans Expedition. The very first presentation took place not long ago at the Ecole Normale in Paris.
In general, scientists are amazed, and many people now want to use the same methods, especially our  sampling protocol and analysis. Just today for example, a researcher from Dublin asked if he could  use these methods. He wants to organize exchanges with Tara Oceans.

Vincent Hilaire: Since Tara’s return to Lorient in March, what have the researchers been doing in their respective laboratories?

Eric Karsenti: In all the laboratories of the Tara Oceans consortium researchers are working hard. Tara Oceans scientific coordinators are examining the thousands of samples we managed to collect. 4 articles are being written for forthcoming publication in scientific journals. We are currently recruiting postdoctoral researchers.  We’ve also created a specialized website at EMBL, the lab where I work in Germany, so that Tara Oceans scientific coordinators can share their results and give progress reports on their work.
We’ve also completed financing the “Great Loan” attributed a few months ago by the former team at the French Ministry of Research.
Vincent Hilaire: How long will it take to publish the first 4 articles you just mentioned?

Eric Karsenti: 6 months to one year. One article will cover the Mediterranean sampling stations. A second paper will discuss the biodiversity of 35 different stations. A third will be cover the gyrus –  giant viruses. A fourth article will about phages – the viruses on bacteria.

Vincent Hilaire: Do you still think it will take about 10 years to analyze all the samples?

Eric Karsenti: Yes, about 10 years.

Interview by Vincent Hilaire

Tara Expeditions at Rio +20: half-way through the Earth Summit

Romain Troublé, secretary general of Tara Expeditions, reminds us of the reasons and implications of Tara’s participation in the Earth Summit in Rio and Peoples 20. André Abreu, Tara Expeditions representative in Brazil, explains the preparation of the meeting and the results so far, halfway through the event.

How did the Rio+20 adventure begin? 

RT: It all began in October 2010 during our stopover in Rio de Janeiro. It was one of the most important stopovers of the Tara Oceans expediton. We met the mayor of Rio who asked us to be the “flagship” of Rio+20.We then communicated throughout the expedition about the importance of this Earth Summit. But the determining factor in our coming here was of course the New York meeting with Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN. During his visit aboard Tara, he strongly encouraged us to participate in Rio+20, in order to explain Ocean issues to the people of Brazil and the whole world. From then on, we started working with the UN team, while in Brazil André Abreu prepared the event.

How did the preparation of this event unfold?

AA: For nearly two years, since Tara’s stopover in Rio, we have established links with Brazilian universities, NGOs, researchers, culminating in this collaborative event. Together with this network of contacts, we have acquired a political force that helped us get a prime place in the Blue Pavillon. And obviously, we would like to thank our partners France Libertés, agnes b. and the Veolia Foundation.

What actions will Tara lead at this international summit?

RT: We’ve launched a major campaign aimed at the general public and the media. Locally, we speak frequently about the problems of the oceans on the Globo television network, the number one TV station in Brazil. As for the international press, we participate in the information platform “Oceansinc” which launches daily videos and articles on topics relating to the ocean and the negotiations taking place at Rio+20. And of course there are all the conferences, events, debates, happening at the Blue Pavillon, which we share with other NGOs. Three whole days are devoted to the oceans.

How were the first Tara events at the Blue Pavillon received?

AA: Lots of people come to each session. We are very impressed to see what a great need there is to address the general public about Ocean issues. I think that’s what is so greatly appreciated about the Blue Pavillon – we offer a democratic space where people can have discussions with the speakers. We also offer various means of communication – movies, plankton observation, TED conferences – which isn’t the case at Rio Centro. Thanks to the expertise of Tara Expeditions in popularizing and educating about science, the activities proposed are extremely popular with the Brazilian public.

What is at stake at Rio+20?

RT: Concerning the formal negotiations, we hope that countries will reconsider the role of oceans in their development policies, but also that the international community will pass legislation to protect the ocean and establish governance of the high seas. But most important for us, for Tara, is that society in general appropriates this problem and mobilizes to defend the oceans.

AA: We need to encourage a “blue” movement to pressure governments into making the right decisions.

If there was a message to convey to people, what would it be?

RT: We must act quickly to avoid reaching the point of no return. We can’t repeat our message too often: the oceans are essential to human survival and today they are at risk.

The positive side of all this is that the sea shows great resilience – much greater than the land environment. The thousands of micro-organisms and their frequent reproduction facilitate rapid adaptation and renewal. If we reduce the pressure inflicted on the oceans today, we can expect in the next five to ten years the first signs of regeneration. No, it’s not too late!

Interview by Anna Deniaud

Rio+20 : Ocean issues

The ocean — at the heart of the Earth System, essential for human survival.

It is very hard to overstate the importance of the global ocean, which encompasses every sea and ocean on our planet. A critical player in the Earth System, the ocean is central to climate regulation, the hydrological and carbon cycles and nutrient flows, balances levels of atmospheric gases, and is a source of raw materials vital for medical and other uses.

• The ocean provides the oxygen in every second breath we take, has absorbed approximately 30% of the CO2 and 80% of the additional heat we have generated in the past 200 years, and is the primary source of animal protein for over 2.6 billion people.

If the Earth is thought of as a human body, the ocean is — among other things – the driver of its circulatory and respiratory systems. If it became unable to perform the host of essential functions we all count on, the planet would become uninhabitable.

As we grow ever more aware of the full extent of the impacts that human activities are having on the planet, some scientists are stressing the need to respect certain ‘planetary boundaries’ if we are to preserve the favourable conditions which have allowed human civilization to flourish, i.e. continue to enjoy ‘a safe operating space for humanity’. The ocean is a fundamental element in this analysis, and a healthy ocean is necessary to prevent us crossing tipping points into undesirable, potentially uninhabitable, and uncontrollable conditions.

The ocean must therefore be considered from a long-term, holistic perspective that respects its position within the entire Earth System, and its resources carefully managed and used in order to prevent further widespread damage to marine ecosystems and the vital functions they fulfill. Unfortunately, this is a realization that is only just beginning to take root, following many decades of relentless exploitation, and shortsighted and disjointed policies, which have left the ocean in a critical state of health.

The State of the Ocean: multiple threats, major challenges

The ocean is being pushed beyond the limits that the marine environment can sustain. Human activities — from overfishing to the increased use of plastics to the burning of fossil fuels — are subjecting it to a multitude of interconnected threats that are unprecedented in human history. The ocean has born the brunt of careless and unsustainable human exploitation for too long, and experts increasingly warn that unless action is taken urgently to address the most pressing threats and build the resilience of key marine ecosystems and species we risk catastrophic (and potentially abrupt and unpredictable) changes — such as mass coral bleaching, collapse of major fish stocks and devastating shifts in weather patterns — that will prevent the ocean from providing its life giving services to humanity and fulfilling its functions within the Earth System. Major threats include:

Ocean warming: increased temperatures in the ocean, caused by rising global temperatures as a result of climate change, have been detected at depths of more than 3,000m. There is strong evidence that warming ocean temperatures are responsible for increasing the intensity of tropical cyclones, as well as disrupting global fisheries by causing valuable fish stocks to migrate towards cooler waters nearer the poles. Warmer waters are also a major threat to coral reefs, making them both more vulnerable to bleaching and other damage, and more susceptible to the effects of acidification. Some researchers have indicated that at 1.7°C above pre-industrial temperatures, all warm-water coral reefs will be bleached, and by 2.5°C they will be extinct.

Ocean acidification: the ocean has acted as a giant buffer, helping to cushion the effects of climate change caused by our growing CO2 emissions by absorbing around 30% of carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution. But at a huge – and not yet fully understood – cost to fundamental ocean chemistry and ecosystems. In the past 200 years, as a direct result of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere — the ocean has experienced a 30% decrease in its mean pH levels. At current rates, pH will drop by up to 200% more by 2100, a rate of change ten times faster than anything else suffered by the ocean for 55 million years, and which will reduce the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon in the future, and threaten the food security of communities reliant on vulnerable species of shellfish. The threat of ocean acidification is considered to be one of the nine so-called Planetary Boundaries which humanity must avoid exceeding, but which is currently not being addressed as global action to cut CO2 emissions flounders.

Unsustainable use of marine resources: FAO estimates that 85% of fish stocks are fully exploited, over exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion—the highest proportion ever recorded. Additional climate-related fishing losses are being concentrated in tropical least-developed countries, many of them in Africa and South-East Asia, further effecting fishing communities. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is responsible for the loss of between 11 million and 26 million tonnes of unaccounted for fish, out of a total world capture of approximately 80 million tonnes. Destructive fishing practices — including dragging nets the size of football fields across the sea bed — are causing tremendous damage to breeding, nursery and fishing habitats for marine life. Once abundant iconic marine species are disappearing from the ocean. Sharks are in particular trouble: studies estimate that up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to supply the fin trade, and they are often the victims of bycatch. Annual population declines as high as 70 to 80 percent have been reported for some species.

Hypoxia/Anoxia: agricultural run-offs mean that levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the oceans have trebled since pre-industrial times, leading to massive increases in the numbers and expanse of deoxygenated coastal ‘dead zones’. There are well over 500 such zones, and this number is increasing fast, spurred on further by rising sea temperatures.

Sea-level rise threatens the very existence of some SIDS (small island developing states) and coastal cities, and could cause vast areas of land currently used for food production to become inundated. The pace of global mean sea level rise is accelerating: levels rose by approximately 1.8mm per year over the last 50 years, but doubled to 3.1mm per year in the 1990s, and were 2.5mm per year in the period 2003—2007. Estimates vary, but there is a growing consensus that mean levels could rise by over 2 metres before 2100 if further temperature increases stimulate the complex feedback loops which govern the patterns of polar ice melt. Summer sea ice in the Arctic has been decreasing by 7.4% per decade since 1978.

Marine pollution is now a major problem in over half the total expanse of the global ocean, and is weakening the resilience of species and habitats to other threats, such as acidification, and reducing their capacity to cope with climate change. Plastic is becoming even more of a problem, as are chemical pollutants such as the flame-retardant chemicals and synthetic musks found in detergents which recent studies have traced in the polar seas. These chemicals can be absorbed by tiny plastic particles in the ocean and ingested by marine creatures such as bottom-feeding fish. Plastic particles can also transport algae from one location to another, increasing the occurrence of toxic algal blooms, which are also caused by nutrient-rich agricultural run-off.

Multiple Stressors: over 40% of marine ecosystems are already simultaneously facing several of the major pressures outlined above, creating a perfect storm of interconnected ‘multiple stressors’ which is placing the very chemical and thermodynamic foundations of the ocean in jeopardy, and increasing the risk of catastrophic outcomes — such as a mass extinction of vulnerable marine species. There are complex feedback loops at play in the ocean, and there is an urgent need to fill remaining knowledge gaps concerning how the different threats interrelate in different ecosystems. It is already evident that the co-existence of more than one threat can create impacts that are greater than the sum of their parts; this is known as a ‘synergistic response’. For example, the bleaching of coral reefs has been shown to occur more frequently in response to a combination of stressors acting simultaneously — and often synergistically. The combination of global stressors, such as increasing temperature and acidification, interacting with local stressors, such as pollution and deoxygenation, presents a particular danger to coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems.

The cumulative effect of overlapping threats is a key reason why their impacts are being observed at a faster rate than previously predicted. It is therefore paramount that they be addressed together and across all scales from local to global, instead of on an issue-specific basis as is the norm today.

Climate change: Rising emissions from fossil fuels is the direct cause of the global stressors impacting on the ocean — acidification, warming and sea-level rise, the effects of which are already exacerbating and accelerating the impacts of other threats such as pollution and overfishing.

The Value of the Ocean: what do we stand to lose?

As the life giving pump of the Earth System, and home to hundreds of thousands of species, the ocean itself is so vital to our lives and futures that it is impossible to assign a value to it. However, many of the services it provides do have a tangible — and in many cases massive — economic value, and, with every year that passes without strong action to reverse the tide of exploitation, the cost of preserving and rehabilitating a healthy ocean is rising. Ocean economics is a subject currently gaining increasing — and long overdue – attention.

The UN has calculated that over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, and estimates the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries at $3 trillion per year, or about 5% of global GDP. The most widely recognised economic contribution of the ocean is fisheries. The global value of fish catches at landing is approximately $100 billion, and the wider economic activities related to fishing reach a value of about $240 billion. Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people worldwide, and many coastal communities depend almost entirely on fishing for both their livelihoods and as their main source of protein, as well as it being the foundation of their cultural heritage and identity.

Poorly managed fisheries cause economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars every year. Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are hindering efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$ 50 billion less per year than they could. In addition, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is responsible for the loss of $10 billion to $23 billion a year — the value of the 11 million to 26 million tonnes of fish that are unaccounted for, out of a total world capture of approximately 80 million tones. Environmental degradation and mismanagement have other, less visible and still under-appreciated, economic consequences. For example, the destruction of habitats which protect the coastline, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, causes enormous losses. Coral reefs alone have been estimated to provide goods and services worth up to $375 billion per annum; with the economic value of coastal protection from a coral reef calculated at $25,000 per hectare per annum. Reef-based tourism now brings in tens of billions of dollars every year.

Another emerging concept within ocean economics is that of ‘Blue Carbon’ — i.e. the value of the carbon stored in marine ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and sea groves. Some experts believe that total carbon deposits per square kilometer in these ecosystems could be up to five times those stored in terrestrial forests. Today, these ‘Blue Carbon’ ecosystems are being degraded and destroyed at a rapid pace resulting in globally significant CO2 emissions. The UN estimates that between 1980 and 2005, 35,000 square kilometers of mangroves were destroyed globally — an area the size of Belgium. The management of these ecosystems, through conservation, restoration and sustainable use has the potential to be a major tool in reducing carbon emissions, but the value of this ‘Blue Carbon’ is not being awarded sufficient attention, and remains wholly unrecognised by many governments and sectors. The valuation of ‘Blue Carbon’ activities and ecosystems could be pursued by the UNFCCC and incorporated into other carbon financing mechanisms, as terrestrial forests already are.

2012 study coordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute called ‘Valuing the Ocean’ has provided the first estimates of the ocean values we stand to lose if we do not address climate change. It calculates the cost of lost ocean value (in terms of impacts to services such as fisheries, storm protection and tourism) under different CO2 emissions scenarios. By 2100, the estimated annual cost of ‘business as usual’ policies, projected to lead to an average temperature rise of 4°C, is estimated to be US$1.98 trillion. By contrast, rapid emission reductions, whereby temperature increase is limited to 2.2°C, would ‘save’ almost $1.4 trillion a year. While these figures are preliminary — and tell just part of the story — by pricing the difference between “our hopes and our fears” this analysis hopes to encourage policy-makers to pay greater attention to the value of ocean services, and recognize that the cost of inaction increases greatly with time.

The Fate of the Oceans at Rio+20

Background and Introduction

As  part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio +20,  the agenda of the oceans occupies an important place in the text that  will be submitted to heads of state next June. The big “historical”  questions of the past thirty years are on the agenda – fishing quotas,  the governance of high seas, protected marine areas, as well as some new  challenges and emergencies such as ocean acidification, the regulation  of new shipping routes in the Arctic, and climate change.

Thirty  years after the agreements of Montego Bay, Rio+20 can be a historic  moment in the construction of political agreements and action plans to  enable humanity to live with a healthy ocean, or even just to survive.  We know that half the oxygen we breathe comes from oceans, the main and  most healthy source of protein for humans are fish and seafood, and the  role of oceans in regulating climate is essential. Degradation of  ecological conditions of the oceans in this sense is one of the most  serious threats to the future of humanity. It is no longer the fight to  preserve a particular species of fish or to save the whales but to  ensure the future of man on the planet and the balance of the Earth’s  ecosystem.

Identification of key issues

Following  the publication of the‘Zero Draft’ text for the June Conference, we  were able to identify the issues present in the Oceans chapter of the  section devoted to broad themes. These issues are essentially:  governance of high seas; the definition of fishing quotas and the fight  against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (also known as IUU  fishing); the promotion and regulation of aquaculture; ocean  acidification; the preservation of coral reefs; regulation and  monitoring of maritime transportation; impacts of climate change and  mitigation measures on increasing sea levels; integrated management of  water to reduce pollution from land sources; defining concrete  objectives for the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); defining  mechanisms of “blue carbon” or payment for services “rendered” by the  oceans.

Reform of International Environmental Governance (IEG) and the expected results at Rio+20

In  addition to specific proposals such as the creation of an observatory  on ocean acidification or the request for ratification of the Convention  on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Rio+20 will also be a turning point in  UN proceedings in relation to the environment, with the proposal of a  new framework for IEG. From a policy perspective on the oceans, this  governance reform is absolutely essential, given the profusion of  agencies, programs and multilateral commissions on the oceans that are  not necessarily coordinated with each other, or that depend on different  offices. After Rio, we will enter into an important process of defining  new agencies, programs and advisors of the UN in relation to the  environment and sustainable development.

The role of Tara Expeditions: recommendations and a public campaign “Our future depends on our planet Ocean”

In  international discussions within the United Nations during the first  half of 2012, Tara Expeditions was able to follow the negotiations,  better understand and communicate about the process that will lead to  certain agreements, recommendations and specific working groups seeking  practical implementation of solutions for each topic. The Tara  Expeditions team — striving since the beginning of this project to  place education and communication at the heart of its objectives —  believes that changes necessary for the planet will not happen without  greater participation of the civilian population. While this process  affects all of us, it too often remains in the realm of technicians and  specialists, and therefore requires more transparency. Particularly  concerning the Ocean theme, the so-called “blue” agenda, we identify a  large deficit in participation and understanding, compared to the  climate issues, preservation of forests and other topics on the “green” agenda. For this reason, we are preparing an awareness campaign at Rio  to alert and mobilize the general public on the subject of the oceans.

Summary of major issues concerning the oceans

1. Governance of high seas

2. The definition of fishing quotas and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU Fishing)

3. The promotion and regulation of aquaculture

4. Ocean acidification

5. The preservation of coral reefs

6. Regulation and monitoring of maritime shipping

7. The impacts of climate change, and measures to cope with increasing sea levels

8. Integrated management of water to reduce pollution originating on land

9. The definition of specific targets for the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs)

10. The Blue Economy, or the definition of payment mechanisms for services “rendered” by the oceans

Campaign RIO+20: Our Future Depends on Our Planet Ocean www.oceansinc.org

Oceansinc  is a platform for the ocean. It is concerned solely with what effects  the ocean and the measures necessary to preserve it for humankind. Its  aim is to provide one place where the many voices raised in support of  the ocean can be heard and where those concerned to understand what is  happening to this key life support system can be kept informed.

 Oceansinc@Rio will broadcast oceans news direct from the Summit from the  16th to 22nd June, including analysis from the experts and scientists  in attendance. From 8th June, it will begin transmitting news about the  oceans from conservation and environmental organisations around the  world. Oceansinc is conceived and produced by a collective working across the field of ocean communications. 


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

The countdown has begun

It’s March 1st. Mars is a planet, but it’s also the month of our arrival in Lorient, in just 30 days. Two and a half years of navigation. We’re hoping lots of people will come to welcome us home! In the meanwhile, we continue fishing for the infinitely small, and much work remains to be done.
The rosette “Rosie” is back to normal again. The weather is beautiful, and the sea has huge waves. We are enjoying warm temperatures again, around 22 degrees C: I spoke too quickly in the preceding text – we’re still wearing bermudas!
Wednesday evening we started a short sampling station that we’ll continue today with no problem. Everyone is at his post doing his job. A minor incident interrupted the sampling this morning, when a piece of cable was sectioned. It had to be totally cut, but the repair job took only half an hour.
We’ll be driftng until 7 o’clock this evening, then we’ll start heading east again. A depression is forecast with winds around 30 knots, so we couldn’t miss this window of good weather.
Since departing from Saint George Island (Bermudes) we’ve used the sails for a large part of the 700 miles — more than a third of the distance to Horta, one of the islands of the Azores archipelago. This will be the last leg to cover such a considerable distance, 1,800 miles. Afterwards, between the Azores and La Corogne, we’ll have scarcely 1,000 miles to go, and finally 300 more to reach Lorient.
When you think that we will have traveled 60,000 nautical miles, the total distance covered by Tara Oceans Expedition! That’s equivalent to three times around the globe.
The countdown, or the counting up of miles – Numbers don’t really matter, when the general feeling aboard is that our arrival is close and at the same time far away. We still have ten more days of sailing. And also because the scientific program will continue practically up to our arrival.
What really makes this arrival feel close are the memories of all the stopovers and past destinations. We feel that the end is in sight.
We’re all talking about the magic day in Lorient that’s awaiting us, but as our English friends say, “Let’s finish the job first!”. Wisdom of the oceans no doubt, but it’s the same on land when we say “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.
We’re thinking of all of you: families, friends, fans and supporters of Tara Oceans and Tara Expeditions in general. We’re on our way home, and soon there’ll be a big celebration.
There’s plenty of time to prepare the welcome!
Vincent Hilaire

Good Bye Big Apple

On Sunday morning around 9:30 New York time, Tara sailed away from Chelsea Pier. As part of the Tara Oceans expedition, we are beginning a new leg of the round-the-world voyage that will take us to Bermuda, on our way home to Lorient, France.
Two scientific stations are scheduled once we’re in the Gulf Stream again. Very cold weather, a strong wind from the northwest with gusts at 30 knots, but bright sun similar to the day of our arrival a week ago. This morning we’re headed for the open sea we all love so much.
Bye bye Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge, like a film playing in reverse, but this time with wind and some new faces on deck. The entire scientific team changed in New York. Lee Karp, an Israeli now living in the United States, is the head scientist of this new leg, replacing Lars Stemmann. As usual since the beginning of Tara Oceans, Sarah Searson has replaced Marc Picheral in the post of oceanographic engineer.
Celine Dimier-Hugueney from the Roscoff laboratory has returned after being absent for several months due to a health problem. Christian Sardet from the Villefranche-sur-Mer marine station is back in the optical lab with microscope and camera. For Anne Doye and Denis Dausse, this is their first voyage aboard Tara.
For sailors and scientists alike, Tara Oceans is a big family, continually breaking up and coming together again. But all this will soon come to an end, in a little over one month. Steffi Kandel-Lewis, biologist in charge of filtrations during the last leg, told me during Saturday night’s goodbye party that after our arrival “It won’t be the same any more; we won’t see the crew again.” Steffi, who embarked two times since the beginning of the expedition, left the boat in New York and won’t see Tara again until we dock in Lorient.
The stop-over in New York was especially remarkable because of Ban Ki-moon’s visit aboard Tara on Saturday. But also for the discovery of this cosmopolitan mega-city with its dizzying architectural exploits, paradoxically human in scale. In New York people talk to each other  and human warmth circulates naturally among the population in the streets. Surprising.
Sailing south to Bermuda, we hope to find a little warmth before beginning the transatlantic crossing via the Azores. In the evening after sunset, it was zero degrees. A good reason to feast on an excellent “tartiflette” (a classic of French Savoyard cuisine: potatoes and bacon au gratin with delicious reblochon cheese and creamy sauce) prepared by Julien Girardot, the cook who just replaced Celine Blanchard. This is Julien’s third voyage aboard Tara since the beginning of this expedition, but his first time in the cold.
Vincent Hilaire

New York, 8 million inhabitants, the Big Apple.

In New York, time doesn’t count. Life never stops beating. Sleep doesn’t exist. Noise is constant and everywhere. Lights never go out. It’s been five centuries since Jehan Angot, a ship-owner from Dieppe, France, financed Verrazzano’s North American expedition. New York harbor has been pinpointed on the globe ever since.
New York shoves you, pulls you, carries you, takes you with all its strength, and gives a lot back too. Tara is docked in North Cove Marina, Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan, very near the World Trade Center site still under re-construction. We’re here for a week of visits and meetings.
On our arrival “the man in black” was there. The understated elegance of Etienne Bourgois. A shy smile, a warmth that doesn’t say everything, but is strongly felt. His boat is living proof of his ideas. There’s science, but also the human side. Tara is a powerful link. At the base of the skyscrapers, the schooner doesn’t shock, she reassures. The Big Apple never stops seeing the world pass by – fertile ground for the wildest projects. Tara is one of those projects, led by an extraordinary family involved in fashion, art, and science. The result is… Tara moored at the tip of Manhattan, near the Statue of Liberty.
Everyone is here: Eric Karsenti, scientific director of the expedition, Colomban de Vargas, scientific coordinator, Romain Troublé, operations director – the people responsible for making this project happen. We’re here to talk about life in the oceans, and future projects. A few more days at the tip of Manhattan, and then Tara will return to Lorient, France to complete this amazing world tour.
Alain Giese

Daniel Cron, Tara’s Chief Mechanic: logbook

New York! A symbolic stopover, which many of us can’t wait to experience; a name that crystallizes lifelong dreams — especially for people like me who discover this city for the first time. What an experience!
As I began my night watch at 4am, we were sailing towards the mouth of the Hudson River. And as the sun rose, the night-veiled sky gave way to a deep blue and an incessant ballet of tourist helicopters and airplanes from surrounding airports. I then discovered that what I thought were light beacons at sea, turned out to be tall buildings that had been visible for hours, even though tens of kilometers in the distance!
Then before us, our eyes wide open, a spectacle which left none of us indifferent, even the pilot who has been here for 10 years…
We hoisted our sails among the picturesque ferries, and with all sails out, in bright sunshine, as a tribute to the “Great Lady”, symbol of freedom, we all shouted in unison when we saw her in the distance. How many times had we imagined her, saw her in movies and photos when we were children.
We then made our way to Manhattan. In front of us, a concentration of huge skyscrapers like nowhere else in the world. The closer we got, the more our eyes widened at this mix of shapes, eras and building materials. We then sailed up the East River from Lower to Upper Manhattan travelling along the shorelines of Little Italy and Soho — an opportunity to see legendary buildings like the Empire State or Chrysler.
We then veered in view of the United Nations headquarters, another symbolic place for Tara, since the hull proudly bears the logo of the “United Nations Environment Program” – a real engagement!
The end of our tourist route took us back to the extreme southern tip of Manhattan along Battery Park, and joining the Hudson, we eventually ended our trip by mooring at North Cove where a good-sized crowd was already waiting for us! There were marine scientists taking the next leg, and key directors of Tara Oceans who’ve come especially from Paris for the occasion: Etienne Bourgois, Roman Troublé, Eric Karsenti, Rainer, Julien, Céline, Baptiste…a real family, with warm smiles for each and every one, even if for some, it’s been almost 2 years!
We are actually close to “Ground Zero”, where 11 years ago the Twin Towers were destroyed, forever scarring the world. We are near their base and I have every reason to be especially aware of their absence, since I was born on September 11.
New York will be a major event for me because I will disembark here, after 3 and a half months on board. It was long and it was short — difficult to define, but that’s exactly how it felt to me! The America’s Cup in San Diego, the lost island of Clipperton, the wild Coco Island, crossing the Panama Canal, Belize’s Blue Hole, Savannah’s abandoned island and the improvised New Year’s fireworks…
But more than the landscapes seen and the deep commitment to this scientific expedition, there is the profound richness of various events and human encounters which will remain forever etched in my mind. For me the adventure will end on February 12, when Tara’s moorings are cast off early in the morning, with the same inexplicable feeling that many of us have at the time of farewell. I’m glad to have experienced these unique 3 years, from the preparation of Tara Oceans to today.
But in any case, we’ll meet again on arrival at Lorient on March 31!
See you there!
Daniel Cron
Chief mechanic on Tara

Tara docked in NYC at the foot of Freedom Tower

Sunday morning around 6:30, with the brilliant sun scarcely compensating for the 2° C temperature, Tara began her final approach to New York City. The first skyscrapers began to appear on the horizon, breaking the surface of the ocean where we’d seen no construction for eleven days.We were still 25 nautical miles from New York, about 45 kilometers.
Excitement on deck, first photos taken, but the Big Apple kept us waiting impatiently. A white-bearded pilot came aboard to escort us through the labyrinth of New York’s islands. Then the Manhattan skyline began to be clearly visible.
Several of us were experiencing their first arrival in this part of the east coast of the United States, and to make it even more special – arriving by sea.
We passed the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (the second time for Tara), but now Loïc Valette is the skipper. With little wind but a rather strong current, the approach was made smoothly. This was the occasion for the pilot, Captain Thomas G. Britton, to learn more about Tara’s history and be impressed by the itinerary already completed since the beginning of Tara Oceans, and by the previous Tara Arctic expedition (from 2006-2008).
Being careful to enter the Hudson River without getting caught up in the traffic of ferries sailing between Staten Island and Manhattan, Captain Britton passed around cigars in sign of his admiration.
Then on deck we heard “Statue of Liberty!” That’s all that was needed to stir up enthusiasm among the paparazzi on board, otherwise slowed down by the very cold morning temperature. A series of photos in front of the world-famous American symbol, and Tara headed up the East River.
The Brooklyn Bridge, then a passage in front of the United Nations headquarters in mid-town Manhattan, for an historic souvenir photo.
Finally, we came back down the East River, took down the sails, and headed towards Battery Park, North Cove Marina. The tourist trip was over, and we started preparing for the final manoeuvre, installing fenders and mooring lines. The strong current complicated our entry into the small Marina at the foot of Freedom Tower.
After going around once to check out the situation, Loïc Valette and the pilot entered the Marina. A last port side turn, and Tara was rapidly moored along the wooden dock, at the foot of Ground Zero. We will stay here throughout our stopover, before leaving for Bermuda on February 12th.
Vincent Hilaire

Tara soon in the Gulf Stream

Tara arrived Friday, January 20th in Savannah, Georgia, in the southeastern United States. On Thursday, the schooner will set sail for New York, and during this leg will sample seawater from the region where of the Gulf Stream begins. Among the 15 crew members, the navigator and journalist Catherine Chabaud, embarked on this leg and re-discovered Tara with open joy.
Anybody who has returned to sail on Tara knows that seeing the “whale” again is a very emotional moment. I first looked for 2 masts of the same size, with their fluorescent orange tops, and after spotting those, I saw her rounded flanks sitting high in the water. And then a flood of memories came back, from my other voyages aboard Tara : unloading skis with the “Mountains of Silence” team, at the beginning of Shackleton’s Route, in South Georgia; sailing amidst the ice of the Antarctic Peninsula, the long hours on the foredeck with Sebastião Salgado, the photographer, waiting for a leopard seal to appear, the conversations in the wheelhouse or in the mess-room.
Since then, a wet lab has been added on Tara’s deck which allows scientists to filter water samples collected by the rosette, which is also kept on the back deck. A cabin has been transformed into an “optical laboratory” (the “dry lab”) where scientists analyze and photograph the freshly sampled microorganisms with cameras and microscopes.
One thing struck me since I boarded 2 days ago: during the expeditions I participated in before, in South Georgia and Antarctica, our favorite subjects were icebergs, penguins, and sea lions — photographed and filmed from every possible angle. Today, on the Tara Oceans expedition, our stars are viruses, bacteria, diatoms, copepods…They are the focus of everybody’s attention and subject of all conversations. A flat screen on a wall in the mess-room shows images of magnified “sea dust”, mostly invisible to the naked eye, exhibiting their unusual and beautiful forms.
In the days before departure, there’s excitement on board: scientists are preparing their sample tubes, using the protocol defined in advance for the entire expedition. With Loïc Valletta, captain, they analyze charts showing the currents, and study ideal locations for the next sampling stations. In the morning, high school students from Savannah visit Tara. On Tuesday morning, I shared this experience with advisors at the ‘Conseil Economique, Social et Environmental’, live via Skype. Tuesday afternoon, the two leaders of this scientific leg, Lars Stemman and Daniele Iudicone, presented the work of Tara Oceans at the University of Savannah, and in the evening there were cocktails for the crew: Marc Picheral, research engineer at the Laboratory of Oceanography in Villefranche, had just learned that the CNRS was awarding him the “Cristal”, the highest distinction for a research enginneer.
On Thursday, we will go down the Savannah River, like the container ships which transit here. Savannah is considered to be the second largest commercial port in the United States. The sea is 20 nautical miles away and we should have fair wind for our departure.
Good luck to all. You’ll be hearing from me soon, out in the open sea!
Catherine Chabaud

Tara in San Diego

San Diego media and VIPs turned out on Oct. 27 to welcome Tara to San Diego in style. On the Maritime Museum dock in front of the vessel, Dr. Stephane Richard of French BioBeach launched the press conference by welcoming Port of San Diego Chairman Scott Peters, who presented Tara with an official Port of San Diego proclamation.

“We recognize the importance of this marine scientific expedition and its significant scientific research that is crucial to all ports,” said Chairman Peters. “The Port of San Diego also has great concern for the world’s oceans and bays. One of the missions of the Port of San Diego is to serve as an environmental steward of San Diego Bay.”

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, having already received a tour of the vessel before the press conference began, then welcomed the Captain, crew, and scientists aboard Tara on behalf of the City of San Diego. “The ocean is central to life here in San Diego,” he said. “Not only is the beach a huge part of our culture, but the oceanographic and biodiversity research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is truly part of our identity. For the next few weeks, you’ll be a part of a community that celebrates our ocean. San Diego cares deeply for the health of the ocean and understands better than most communities the role it plays in a healthy planet.”

Following the Mayor, French consul general David Martinon, Dr. Eric Karsenti, and Romain Troublé spoke, after which the VIPs and press in attendance toured the vessel.

Later that day, San Diego scientists were in attendance at a scientific symposium and cocktail reception at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, sponsored by French BioBeach. Dr. Karsenti and other members of the expedition had the opportunity to present results and details of Tara’s research to some of San Diego’s top scientists. The following day, Oct. 28, Tara welcomed on board Dr. Craig Venter, famed in the scientific community for his role in being one of the first to sequence the human genome and in creating the first cell with a synthetic genome in 2010.

Venter founded Celera Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research, and the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, where he now works to create synthetic biological organisms and to document genetic diversity in the world’s oceans. Dr. Venter was given a private tour of Tara and learned about their research from the Tara team.

That evening, Tara docked at the scenic Bali Hai restaurant, with its spectacular view of San Diego Bay, and the crew and scientists were welcomed at a dinner organized by the Tara Welcoming Committee (French BioBeach, UK Sails, Joe Saad Associates, and STPR). There were more than 50 in attendance, and the guest of honor was four-time America’s Cup champion Dennis Conner, sailing legend and a fixture of the San Diego sailing community.

At the dinner, the Cortez Racing Association presented Tara with its club burgee to fly up the shrouds and CRA hats for the crew to wear as a souvenir of their visit to San Diego. Romain Troublé presented CRA (represented by Staff Commodore Joe Saad) a framed photo of Tara, dedicated and signed by all the crew.

Romain Troublé and Dennis Conner exchanged America’s Cup reminiscences, and Conner invited Troublé and other Tara crew to join him aboard Menace XXIV to compete in Class 3 in the popular CRA Halloween Regatta on San Diego Bay the following day. All joined the after-race party and awards ceremony at Fiddler’s Green Restaurant.

Stephanie Thompson

Welcome to San Diego

On Wednesday 26th October, we glimpse the California coast, first sign that a world exists and is waiting for us beyond the seemingly boundless ocean. Whales accompany us into the bay. Then we see a bunch of white sails.

All of Tara’s team is there to escort the boat to San Diego’s Maritime Museum Port. Tara takes her place among the “Surprise” (the boat from the film, Master and Commander), a Soviet submarine from WWII, and other historical ships anchored there.

On the following day, San Diego’s mayor Jerry Sanders visits the schooner and welcomes Tara on behalf of this city, which cherishes the ocean, is capital of the America’s Cup, and home to Sea World, the world’s largest aquarium. He joins Scott Peters, Port Authority Chairman, in offering an honorary plaque to Tara Oceans celebrating the progress of this worldwide expedition in the presence of Romain Troublé and Eric Karsenti.

In the afternoon, the Tara team visits Scripps Institution (University of California in San Diego), one of the leading centers for oceanography in the world. Key members of the expedition — Eric Karsenti, Chris Bowler, Mike Sieracki and Matt Sullivan — present the latest techniques used in acquisition and analysis of samples.

After immersing ourselves in the world of diatoms, the genomics of viruses and other plankton inhabiting the oceans, we celebrate our arrival on the terrace of this splendid site overlooking La Jolla Beach. A band of dolphins appears among the surfers as we enjoy the California sunset.

Andres Peyrot

San Diego Prepares to Welcome Tara

When Tara arrives in San Diego on October 26th for a three-week stopover,  she will be greeted with excitement and pomp by America’s Finest City’s  officials and scientific community, which includes the University of  California, San Diego, and Scripps Institute of Oceanography, among  others.

Starting with a boat parade to escort the vessel into the harbor, all  efforts are being made to honor Tara’s mission and take advantage of her  presence in the city. Tara will be berthed on Harbor Drive in the heart  of San Diego’s busy downtown, as a guest of the Port of San Diego, at the San Diego Maritime Museum alongside such tourist attractions as the  historic Star of India and Berkeley.

On October 27th at 11am, the Mayor of  San Diego, Jerry Sanders, and Port of San Diego Chairman Scott Peters  will hold a press conference to officially welcome Tara to San Diego.  The Consul General of France in Los Angeles, David Martinon, the  scientific director of Tara Oceans, Dr. Eric Karsenti and Romain Troublé, operations manager of Tara Oceans will also speak at the event.

Port Chairman Scott Peters tied Tara’s research to efforts the Port is  making to safeguard its own environment. “As an environmental steward,  the Port of San Diego has great respect and appreciation for the marine  research being done by this team,” said Peters. “The port’s jurisdiction  includes more than 3,000 acres of water. We are developing a Climate  Mitigation and Adaptation Plan to prepare for potential climate change  impacts here in San Diego.”

Following their remarks and questions from the media, the VIPs will receive a tour of the vessel.

Stephanie Thompson

Heads of Tara Oceans Expedition in Rio de Janeiro

They hadn’t been together aboard Tara since Beirut, Lebanon. That was almost a year ago, last December, as the expedition was preparing to leave the Mediterranean for the Red Sea. More than ever Etienne Bourgois and Eric Karsenti, co-directors of Tara Oceans Expedition, are convinced of the importance of this scientific/humanistic project which has mobilized a team of women and men all over the world.

Etienne Bourgois (CEO of agnès b.) is responsible for the maritime, logistical, technical & educational aspects of the project. Eric Karsenti (senior scientist at EMBL) is in charge of the scientific part. But this doesn’t prevent the two men from having opinions about the other’s domain.

- Vincent Hilaire: What are your thoughts about the beginning of the expedition’s second year, since our departure on September 5 from Cape Town, in South Africa?

- Etienne Bourgois: “It’s a good start. Thanks to what we’ve done since Cape Town, and will continue doing until our mission in Antarctica, we’re going to have a very precise image of life in the south Atlantic Ocean at a given time. The level of cooperation for water sampling between the sailors on board and the scientists reached a new high during the voyage between Cape Town and Rio via the islands of Saint Helena and Ascension. We took samples in waves 4 to 5 meters high which had never been done. Before confronting the seas of the southern hemisphere, this is an important accomplishment.”

- Eric Karsenti: “When we left Lorient in France more than a year ago, things were a bit chaotic. Our itinerary was marked with many stopovers. Today, the ‘breaking-in’ period is over, and we’re doing high-level science aboard Tara. Everything is working perfectly. We’re doing everything we hoped to accomplish, and we have developed reliable methods. As Etienne says, we’ve moved to a higher level. It’s no longer random sampling of plankton, but a precise and targeted global hunt.”

- V.H: Speaking of ‘the hunt’, the one undertaken between Cape Town and Saint Helena is exemplary – one of the major accomplishments of this leg.

- Eric Karsenti: “I can tell you that what we just did in the south Atlantic is a real scientific achievement. With the help of meteorology, satellite imagery, and the almost-hourly collaboration between our teams on land and at sea, we succeeded in entering the heart of a huge whirlpool originating in the Indian Ocean via the Aiguilles Current. This current runs in an east-west direction, and after descending the Mozambique channel, passes the Cape of Good Hope and generates whirlpools that cross the south Atlantic — carrying a diversity of living organisms linked to its original environment. We succeeded in finding and exploring one of these whirlpools. We now work aboard Tara as if a land-based router were giving weather forecasts to a competitor in the Vendée Globe race. What’s more, with our accumulated experience, we can succeed in finding a needle in a haystack. This is unique. In addition, we accomplished the mission using our sails for most of the 5,000 miles between Cape Town and Rio.”

- Etienne Bourgois: “I want to emphasize that we obtained these results in conditions of total safety, never easy at sea, especially considering the windy weather we had. Our sailors and scientists even succeeded in organizing an extra sampling station despite the tight time-schedule for arriving in Rio. This shows you just how committed the team is.

- V.H: What are your thoughts about the stopover in Rio?

- Etienne Bourgois: “For us, arrival in Brazil and in Rio is above all a continuation of the expedition, but it’s also a very special stopover. Rio is a huge city, and for two weeks we’ve had many exchanges with scientists, political personalities, artists and environmentalists. This is not a technical stopover for Tara, but a time for meetings, and the most important event was the presentation of our work in the botanical garden of Rio. Two or three hundred people came, including the Ambassador of France to Brazil.”

- Eric Karsenti: “We arrived in Rio at a time when there are many new projects here for scientific development in oceanography. And Tara offers this scientific community an opportunity to be inspired by our expertise, for example concerning our extensive sampling of everything from larva and viruses to zooplankton. The study of ecosystems along the Brazilian coasts could greatly benefit from this partnership which scientists here are hoping for enthusiastically. Tara went to a workshop at Ilha Grande, near Rio. Representatives of the French CNRS met their Brazilian counterparts with the goal of facilitating scientific exchanges between our 2 countries at the highest level, including the Tara Oceans program.”

- V.H: On the starting line for this second year, and after Rio, Antarctica for a month?

- Etienne Bourgois: “We will not be the first to go there. Other research vessels have done it before. But with Tara’s low draft and her 36 meter length, we can get to places where no other oceanographic ship has been. For example, we hope to sail in the Wedell Sea, to the east of the peninsula.”

- Eric Karsenti: “If we succeed in studying and describing this sea, it will be a real first. Part of it is under ice. We know there’s a lot of sea life and not much biodiversity, but no one is able to prove this with scientific data. Our study will be a continuation of what we were doing before in the Malouine current. Our goal of achieving a global description of ecosystems at the scientific time “T” would not be meaningful without Antarctica.”

- Etienne Bourgois: “During the three years of our expedition, we’ll go to Antarctica only once, but we’ll stay there for a whole month. It’s a long enough period to complete some important research, especially valuable considering the challenging weather conditions in the southern seas: we’ll be in the Furious Fifties.”

- Eric Karsenti: “I think human aspects of the adventure will sometimes be as important as the scientific expedition. At these latitudes, science isn’t done in the same way, when it can be done at all!”

- V.H: Do you have any particular wish for this second year, which has begun so successfully?

- Eric Karsenti: “I wish we didn’t have to run after financing. I hope that scientific institutions and private organizations begin to realize the quality and importance of this expedition. I would like to stop begging. I’m a research scientist. If we don’t get the necessary funding, we could export our savoir-faire.”

- Etienne Bourgois: “Funding remains a problem. To have even a chance of completing our three-year expedition, we will have to decrease costs. For example, in an activity that uses a lot of equipment like ours, there’s a certain amount of wear-and-tear and breakage inherent to any expedition of this kind. We have no spare parts. To continue using the sails and benefiting from the increasingly strong winds present in the oceanic regions we’ll be crossing, we’ll have to replace our two main winches on the deck. This operation will cost 25,000 euros, just to give you an idea of our needs. If we can’t meet these costs, Tara will be used to the breaking point. And so this extraordinary, legendary boat would be the victim of lack of funding. Since we began organizing expeditions with Tara, we’ve gone from 12,000 motor hours to 24,000, in seven years of adventure. That’s an enormous voyage.”

- Eric Karsenti: “We feel a bit alone in this struggle. Everyone who made promises should now take action. We have the impression that despite our explanations, certain people don’t realize the difficulty and significance of what we’re doing.”

- Eric Karsenti: The agnès b. Foundation and the Veolia Environnement Foundation have supported us since the beginning. EDF Foundation, World Courier, Brittany Region, Cap l’Orient, the CNRS and the Foundation for Biodiversity Research also help us financially. It is through them that the expedition is possible!

Interview by Vincent Hilaire

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

Energy packed guests

In Mayotte, Tara was given the pleasure of welcoming the lucky winners of the EDF internal contest onboard.

Here’s the info on this special day:

The EDF Diversiterre foundation is a branch of the French energy group EDF, and one of the most important sponsors of the Tara Oceans expedition.

The foundation was created essentially to support a number of projects and solidarity based actions. Be it through the development of renewable energy, through sponsorship, or the active support of various associations, EDF is looking to change its image, to be more than a simple producer of electricity.

In order to do so, Diversiterre’s commitments extend over four different fields of action: Sports, through the promotion of disabled and adapted sport ; Culture, through the renovation of French patrimony; Social work, in its fight against medical exclusion and last but not least, the Environment, through sustainable development and the preservation of biodiversity.

It’s through the organisation of an internal contest that 6 members of EDF personnel were given the chance to win a trip to Mayotte and spend a day onboard Tara.

One word is enough to sum up our guests’ reactions throughout the day: “Impressed”. Impressed by the scientific equipment, by the ship itself, by its captain, the crew’s availability, and the organisation on board…
Eric, Frédéric, and Richard, followed by Emma, Laurence, and Didier shared the life of our crew members for a day.

Our guests were treated to a tour of the boat, an introduction to the scientific equipment onboard, discussions and explanation with scientists of the coral mission, and a meal with the team followed by a trip to the diving site alongside our divers: enough to get a real feel of life onboard Tara. 

Needless to say, their stay in Mayotte will have been a powerful and intense experience.

However, winning the contest didn’t come without a share of responsibility: our guests were given the mission to share the information collected on the various sites visited, through the company’s intranet. Eric, who is celebrating his birthday today, is in charge of relaying information about Tara, and he is ecstatic! “It’s exceptional to be on this boat, being a sailor myself; I can tell you this is an amazing birthday gift!” As a devoted reader of maritime literature, this, to him, was “a great escape, Tara evokes great human adventures ».

The others, including Emma, find the technical and research aspect most remarkable : « the equipment is impressive, especially at sea, it is as adapted as what can be found in the CNRS”, “it’s exceptional to be able to share this experience with the scientists, who’ve made it a point to be available”.

After a day spent in the shoes of Tara team members, our guests –proud and satisfied- left us. They wore smiles on their faces as they released this unanimous comment: “We had a great day!”
Interviewed on board by Valerian Morzadec.