FOLLOW TARA LIVE

09/05/19

Tara is back in the Mediterranean Sea to track pollution from rivers

Tara is once again studying plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea. The Tara Ocean Foundation’s long-lasting interest in plastics is …

Tara is once again studying plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea. The Tara Ocean Foundation’s long-lasting interest in plastics is fully justified. The issue has become so important that the word “continent” is often used when referring to the billions of tons of plastic fragments scattered in the oceans. Five years after Tara’s first expedition dedicated to plastic pollution at sea, research is still under way. The behavior of plastics and their impact on marine biodiversity are still poorly understood.

2014: Assessing the amount of plastic and studying its relationship with living organisms

For almost 10 years, Tara scientists have been investigating the problem of plastics at sea. After observing that plastic litter is absolutely everywhere, the 2014 Tara Mediterranean expedition revealed that microplastics in this semi-enclosed sea are 4 times more concentrated than in the North Pacific Gyre. Tara scientists also studied the living organisms associated with these tiny fragments.

Today, they define plastic material as “a new ecosystem because “some microorganisms that are a minority in the water column have found a new habitat where they feel particularly good and therefore proliferate”, explains Jean-François Ghiglione, a CNRS ecotoxicologist and scientific director of the new 2019 Microplastics mission.

2019_07_28_Hoedic_Huitre-plastique©Lucas_Blijdorp_Fondation_Tara_OceanA piece of polystyrene found inside an oyster © Lucas Blijdorp / Tara Ocean Foundation

2019: Studying plastic flux to combat its dispersion

Building upon the early work quantifying and qualifying microplastics from the Mediterranean Sea, the schooner has returned to study this semi-enclosed sea. Tara is, of course, navigating in the open sea, but also sailing up 3 major rivers that flow from Spain (Ebro), Italy (Tiber) and France (Rhone) into the Mediterranean Sea. Motivating the Tara Ocean Foundation’s new 2019 Microplastics mission is the fact that 80% of plastic material at sea comes from land and microplastics represent 60 to 80% of all plastic debris present in rivers.

DCIM101MEDIADJI_0007.JPGSampling of microorganisms and microplastics in the Ebro River (Spain) using a Manta net © François Aurat / Tara Ocean Foundation

Given the severity of plastic pollution and the lack of research on the problem, the urgency is all the more pressing. “Since the problem of plastics has no solution at sea, we need to understand the sources represented by rivers and identify the unique characteristics of each of them”, Jean-François Ghiglione says.

Scientists aboard Tara are taking samples of water, microplastics and plankton, at sea, in estuaries, as well as in key locations along the rivers to assess the impact of major cities.

“We will also investigate the microorganisms living on microplastic debris, and other organisms, such as mussels, oysters, sea urchins and bass, to understand the bioaccumulation of pollutants attached to plastics.” In addition to these measurements, a model will be designed on the scale of the Mediterranean basin allowing scientists to describe and compare the influences of these 3 rivers regarding plastic influx to the Mediterranean Sea.

Margaux Gaubert, journalist

Related articles

© François Aurat / Tara Ocean Foundation
06/17/19

First samples from the Thames

Tara went to sea to reach the first European river for sampling: the Thames. Jean-François Ghiglione, scientific director of the Microplastics Mission 2019 shares these first impressions, observations and questions.

Tara went to sea to reach the first European river for sampling: the Thames. Jean-François Ghiglione, scientific director of the Microplastics Mission 2019 shares these first impressions, observations and questions.

A thirteenth stroke of midnight was exceptionally struck by the schooner Tara for her departure from Saint Malo. Some faithful friends made the trip in the middle of the night to wish us good luck. We pull our rain gear over our ears and everyone is on deck with a big smile for the start of the Microplastics Mission 2019. We congratulate each other for all the preparatory work it took to launch this new mission. Let’s go hunting for microplastics!

The sea is calm to slightly agitated — ideal conditions for testing the equipment. The dress rehearsal will last two days. Time to create that special link between sailors and scientists; time for everyone to find their bearings. Protocols are discussed, materials are secured, labels are affixed so that the precious samples can then find their way to the 12 partner laboratories.

The famous London smog welcomes us for our first sampling at sea, off the Thames estuary. We are a little tense, afraid to botch this first sampling. The sea has considerable swell, but the crew is experienced in deploying the Manta net we will use to filter microplastics from more than 100,000 liters of water. It will take 2 hours of sampling and 3 hours of processing to finish this first station. But the tide doesn’t wait, and we must leave for the second station in the estuary before we’ve finished the first. Our work day will end at 3 in the morning. We’re not yet broken in!

Sampling stations will follow one another along the Thames. We’ll use a light boat to collect samples below London while the schooner Tara remains moored close to the famous Tower Bridge. Later, all the equipment will be transported ashore by the team to avoid the locks and to complete the sampling above London, which will serve us as a reference to evaluate the effect of this large city on pollution.

Echantillons_mains_Alexandra_Ter_Halle@Noëlie_Pansiot-12 2

Alexandra Ter Halle, scientific on board Tara, studies the first samples of microplastics © Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Ocean Foundation

Under the microscope, microplastics are present. By the hundreds. Many are microbeads used in cosmetics. There are so-called ‘mermaid’s tears’, granules that come directly from plastic manufacturers. There’s much more plastic than what the team usually observes at sea. Fibers from clothing, expanded polystyrene pellets from food trays, pieces of plastic bags. A lollipop stick and some candy packages are the only ‘big’ garbage collected. Microplastics (< 5 mm) make up more than 90% of the harvest. The first observation of this mission: most plastics arriving at sea from the Thames are already in the form of microplastics. Is this an exception or a generality? What about other rivers in Europe? The schooner is already on her way, continuing the journey to answer this question.

 Jean-François Ghiglione

Related articles

© Aude Boissay / Studio Cui Cui
03/04/19

[Tara in dry dock] 450 SIKAFLEX adhesive cartridges!

Four months after her return from the Tara Pacific expedition, the schooner is getting ready for her next mission thanks …

Four months after her return from the Tara Pacific expedition, the schooner is getting ready for her next mission thanks to the valuable know-how of her sailors and some local businesses. Designed nearly 30 years ago by the architects Olivier Petit and Luc Bouvet, Tara is a unique vessel. Sheltered from bad weather in the west wing of the ship repair area in Keroman in Lorient, the schooner’s maintenance is in progress. Conducted every 3 years, the work includes major renovations and small improvements.

450 Sikaflex cartridges!

The mess room is an essential living space. It is where Tara’s team members work, welcome guests and officials, eat, chat and even dance! During the last transatlantic crossing, the crew noticed several leaks around the Plexiglas panels. The seals had aged, and required repair. First, the mess room was entirely emptied and the panels removed following a well-defined procedure. Then came the famous Sikaflex, an adhesive mastic to be warmed up in a water bath. For the 2 largest panels alone, almost 50 Sikaflex cartridges were used and a total of 450 necessary to complete the entire job.

IMG_2437Application of Sikaflex mastic to ensure the proper sealing of the Plexiglas panels © Lucas Blijdorp / Tara Expeditions Foundation 

As for the Plexiglas panels in the PC-Com area, the first plate of double glazing was cracked and needed replacement. Plexiglass plates are molded then pared down to fit  precise dimensions. Plates are made larger than their final shape. A jigsaw and careful attention are required because the slightest error can cause the Plexiglass panels to crack or melt. A slow cut is made under running water to keep the plates constantly cool. This demands rigorous attention with millimetric precision.

Mess room refurbishment

In the mess room, the headliners – linings inside the hull – damaged from leaks, have been replaced, and new cork flocking was installed to improve insulation. From the icy Arctic Ocean to the warm turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, the temperature inside the schooner requires regular adjustments. Ensuring thermal and sound insulation is absolutely crucial, so Tara’s crew can enjoy the warmth of the mess room in the Arctic Ocean and its coolness in warmer regions. By the end, the entire mess room will have been refurbished!

Tara_Chantier-3-Keroman-2019_FrançoisAurat-FondationTaraExpeditions.jpg.jpgTara at Keroman dry dock © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation 

Tara’s masts

Since Tara had to be dismasted, the sailors took the opportunity to perform some checks and repairs on the masts. First step: removing rust from stainless steel parts, such as the guy ropes attached to either side of the mast to stabilize it. A protective acid-based product is then applied before rinsing thoroughly. Strands – cords, twisted together, that make guy ropes – halyards and sails are also inspected. Finally, the mast heads are given a coat of orange paint, Tara’s signature!

Generators, windlass, rudder, etc.

One of Tara’s major ongoing repairs is the replacement of her two generators (GE1 and GE2), located at the front of the vessel. To carry out the necessary work, each generator has to be brought into the rear hold. Very heavy and too large to pass through doorways, the generators and motor are separated to allow their removal from the vessel. This operation is complex because there is no hook on the hold ceiling to fasten a hoist. As a result, the power generators have to be manually extracted and moved with the assistance of a plate.

At the same time the crew overhauls, repairs and replaces many parts of the schooner – the windlass (winch used to let out and pull up the anchor), forestay and backstay (cables that stabilize the masts), wheeling system and rudder.

On the rear deck, a new coat of white anti-skid paint will be applied and the electrical capstans (winches used to roll up or down ropes) are being renovated.

Getting ocean-ready

The maintenance is well under way, but there is still much to do before Tara can set sail again. Crew and volunteers are getting ready to step Tara’s mast by mid-March. The schooner will then leave on a European mission about Microplastics. Scheduled departure in June 2019.

Bon courage to everyone at the Keroman chantier!

 

Related articles

© Tara dans la cathedrale de chantier 1 © Lucas Blijdorp Fondation Tara Expeditions
01/11/19

News from Tara… on land !

Tara completed her tour of the Pacific after 29 months of expedition and 100,000 km: the equivalent distance of two …

Tara completed her tour of the Pacific after 29 months of expedition and 100,000 km: the equivalent distance of two and a half times around-the-world. For the sailors, satisfied to have brought Tara back to her home port, and after a short well-deserved break, the work resumed, on dry land this time.

A few days after Tara’s return last October 27, everyone became active on deck and on the ground: Tara left Lorient La Base wharf for the Keroman naval repair area. The schooner was then hoisted out of the water with two large cranes and is now sheltered in the west cathedral of the dry dock site. Until April, the sailors and some outside workers will overhaul the boat to be ready for the European tour scheduled to begin in May 2019.

Prevention and restoration

Tara will undergo two types of maintenance: preventive and restorative. The first is the verification of a large part of the instruments, fins, rudders, generators, main engines, pumps, etc. Everything will be disassembled and some parts replaced if necessary. The restorative maintenance includes partial or complete changing of tools, as well as a “beauty treatment”: painting the deck, cleaning the hull and the submerged parts of the boat for better navigation performance.

P0670067Tara in the west cathedral of the Keroman repair site © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation

Security and compliance

Registered as a merchant marine vessel, Tara must comply with current international standards. This involves an annual visit including multiple verifications, for example, measurements of hull thickness. To return to sea, it is absolutely necessary for Tara to get a certificate of compliance with the standards of navigation, safety, security, care and protection of sailors aboard.

Volunteer reinforcements

New crew members, volunteers and outside help are expected to arrive in the coming days, a useful and highly anticipated reinforcement. This 5-month overhaul will allow Tara to leave for new adventures safely and comfortably!

Good luck to all at the Lorient Base!

Related articles

© Marie-Jose Gruber
11/06/18

Video : 10.27.2018. Tara back from the Pacific expedition

After navigating for 2 and a half years in the Pacific Ocean, where 40% of the planet’s coral reefs are …

After navigating for 2 and a half years in the Pacific Ocean, where 40% of the planet’s coral reefs are found, Tara returned to Lorient, its home port on October 27, 2018. The odyssey #TaraPacific comes to an end, but the scientific mission is only starting now ! To know more about this : oceans.taraexpeditions.org/?p=115283

Directing and editing : © Céline Bellanger / Fondation Tara Expeditions
Drone images : © Muriel Vandenbempt / Fondation Tara Expeditions

Related articles

© Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation
10/25/18

Video : Last plankton samplings in Northern Atlantic

After two and a half years crossing the Pacific to study coral reefs, the transatlantic signals the end of this …

After two and a half years crossing the Pacific to study coral reefs, the transatlantic signals the end of this scientific campaign for the Tara Expeditions Foundation. The last plankton hauls are confirming protocols of seawater filtration and various sampling nets.

© Céline Bellanger -  Tara Expeditions Foundation

Related articles

© © Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation
10/19/18

Video : Crossing the Atlantic – Tara in the tempest !

With gusts up to 57 knots and with waves over six meters high, Tara defies the elements and continues its …

With gusts up to 57 knots and with waves over six meters high, Tara defies the elements and continues its Atlantic crossing to get closer, all sails out, to its home port!

© Céline Bellanger – Martin Hertau /  Tara Expeditions Foundation

 

Related articles

© © Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation
10/10/18

Video : Goodbye America, hello the Atlantic Ocean !

« “This Saturday at 4 pm, we sailed away from Boston under the sun and with our smiling faces. Tonight …

« “This Saturday at 4 pm, we sailed away from Boston under the sun and with our smiling faces. Tonight I make my first shift with Monch and the stars guide our Atlantic Crossing! Another 2498 nautical miles before making a landing. Lorient and Brittany are straight on! In the meantime we will do our best to coexist with the Atlantic Ocean”, Maëlys, our new recruit aboard Tara.

© Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation

Related articles

© © Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation
10/05/18

Goodbye Boston ! Goodbye America !

Tara left the USA today after a week-long stopover in Boston. Immersed in the dynamic intellectual life of Harvard University, …

Tara left the USA today after a week-long stopover in Boston. Immersed in the dynamic intellectual life of Harvard University, the Taranauts took part in numerous exchanges and presented the scientific projects in progress. Moored at the docks of the most European of American cities, the crew also took advantage of this last stopover to gradually adapt to a colder climate before the big return to France.

 School children visiting the schooner © Céline Bellanger – Tara Expeditions Foundation

After several months in the tropics, this last stopover on the American continent gave the Taranauts a chance to re-adapt to a climate similar to Brittany’s! Thunderstorms, drizzle, fog and rain. We had to take out raincoats and sweatshirts stored at the bottom of our bags! But the inclement weather did not discourage the young Bostonians, who were excited to visit Tara and learn more about the fascinating life of corals.

The schooner was moored close to one of the oldest historic centers in the US, so the Taranauts also reconnected culturally. Victorian architecture reminiscent of the United Kingdom, Irish and Italian neighborhoods — the stopover in Boston created a smooth transition to Europe. What’s more, the French language took over on deck and in the main cabin during visits attended by many French speakers, including representatives of the French Consulate.

Visit of the French consul in Boston © Céline Bellanger – Tara Expeditions Foundation

This last stop was also an immersion in the heart of the intellectual life of the most famous American university: Harvard! Cell biologist Eric Karsenti presented his research on embryogenesis and talked about the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2013) of which he was the scientific director. As part of these exchanges, the Taranauts took part in discussions on themes such as scientific and human adventure, exploration, and transmission of knowledge.

Eric Karsenti’s lecture at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University) © Céline Bellanger – Tara Expeditions Foundation


We began stocking up on fuel (bunkering) and supplies as the threat of hurricane Leslie faded away. Departure time is approaching and Tara is ready for the big return!

Céline Bellanger

Related articles

© Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation
10/04/18

Tara prepares for the transatlantic voyage

This evening, Tara will leave Boston for her transatlantic voyage to France. Sailors, cook and scientists are busy preparing for …

This evening, Tara will leave Boston for her transatlantic voyage to France. Sailors, cook and scientists are busy preparing for this 3-week ocean navigation. Here are some of their comments a few hours before departure.

Sophie Bin, sailor/cook© Céline Bellanger / Fondation Tara Expéditions
Sophie Bin, sailor/cook

Today we filled the forward hold with 5 shopping carts of food: 100 kgs of flour, over 300 eggs, 70 litres of milk. We have to anticipate the amount of food for 11 people at sea for over 2 weeks. Once we depart we’ll consume the fresh food (fruit and vegetables) first. As for recipes, nothing stops me! I’ve made lemon meringue tarts during a storm at night

Martin Herteau et Nicolas Bin préparent la navigation:: Celine Bellanger : Fondation Tara Expeditions.jpg © Céline Bellanger / Fondation Tara Expéditions
Martin Hertau, captain, and Nicolas Bin, first mate

For 5 days we’ve been following the weather reports on Hurricane Leslie, at the moment east of Bermuda. We’re watching its path to find the best time to leave in good conditions. The hurricane is coming closer, so we’ll surely delay our departure and plot a course further north. In addition to preparing for the voyage, we have to check safety equipment, brief new arrivals and organize the night-watches in which everyone participates.

Portrait Charlène Gicquel : Celine Bellanger : Fondation Tara Expeditions © Céline Bellanger / Fondation Tara Expéditions
Charlène Gicquel, chief mechanic

Since we know this will be a long journey, I’ve done a lot of preventative maintenance so that the motors and generators are ready and operational before leaving. It’s reassuring because one never knows what the weather will be like at sea!

François couture avant transat:: Celine Bellanger : Fondation Tara Expeditions © Céline Bellanger / Fondation Tara Expéditions
François Aurat, deck officer

On deck I’ve been busy repairing things: verified the winches, replaced certain ropes, changed sail battens, re-sewn leather protectors. We also have to make sure everything is securely attached and tie down anything that might fall on deck or in the hold during the voyage.

Céline Bellanger

Related articles

© Céline Bellanger / Tara Expeditions Foundation

The Map

Load more
Load more