Two talented young New Zealanders packed their bags for a 16-day Caribbean and Atlantic voyage onboard Sir Peter Blake’s legendary research schooner Seamaster, now named Tara, after winning a coveted Blake Ambassadorship.
Millie Mannering and Emily Wilson have been selected from more than 100 applications to travel from Panama to New York as part of a science expedition led by Tara Expeditions Foundation and supported by NIWA. They joined the French crew and an international collaboration of world-class scientists on 2 September to start conducting ocean biodiversity research on board Tara, including sample collection to determine water quality and plankton diversity.
Tara at anchor in the archipelago of Coiba, in Panama, righ before Millie and Emily get on board © Yann Chavance – Libération / Tara Expeditions Foundation
James Gibson, CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust says the voyage will be a life-changing experience: “Being onboard Tara and contributing to research that answers some of our most important scientific questions will be an incredible experience for them both.”
Romain Troublé, CEO of the Tara Foundation emphasizes that “for our founders and myself, having a long-term collaboration with the Sir Peter Blake Trust is very important as it is a way to keep New Zealand youth onboard. One can also see the Tara Foundation as a legacy of Peter’s vision for the future of our planet.”
Tara, formerly named Seamaster, was Sir Peter Blake’s iconic exploratory vessel used for environmental research as part of ‘Blakexpeditions’. Sir Peter and his crew had started a five-year journey on Seamaster as part of Blakexpeditions when he was killed in 2001. His mission was to visit ecologically sensitive parts of the planet “to make a difference” with a focus on water. Tara continues to focus on oceans, science and education. Since 2003 the schooner has travelled 400,000 kilometers across the world’s oceans. They have completed 11 expeditions to study and understand the impacts of climate and ecological changes on the ocean.
© Pierre de Parscau / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Millie is humbled and extremely proud to be selected as the 2018 Blake Tara Ambassador. She plans to continue on to postgraduate study in 2019, with particular focus on marine conservation and is excited to be able to work with the group of researchers on board Tara to learn more about our oceans and the threats facing them. “It is a huge privilege and I am humbled to be a Sir Peter Blake Ambassador. I am very excited to be involved in this important research and to understand how best to protect our fragile oceans, which are in critical need of help”.
Emily hopes to extend her technical knowledge and feed her interest in ocean sustainability with the Tara Expedition experience, and ultimately, have a greater educational and leadership impact on the communities she supports. “I’m excited about the upcoming challenge and hope to step out of my comfort zone, stretch my knowledge, and build a greater depth of understanding around how I can empower greater environmental sustainability within my communities.”
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