Arrival of the schooner Tara in Chile: the Microbiome Mission can begin

© François Aurat / Fondation Tara Océan

The arrival in Chile symbolizes the beginning of the scientific adventure after two months of crossing. This country will host the first research and the first samples of the Microbiomes Mission. The schooner will sail along its coasts for more than three months. It is precisely in Punta Arenas that the Microbiome Mission, carried by the Foundation Tara Ocean and its partners, will begin. A Chilean scientific team will contribute to this initiative through specific work on climate change via the CEODOS* program.

12.12.2020 Départ Tara, Lorient© Maxime Horlaville / polaRYSE

From February to May 2021, the schooner will criss-cross the Chilean coast and will make five stops: Punta Arenas in February, Puerto Montt in March, Conception and Valparaiso in April, and Iquique in May for the final stage of the Chilean adventure. These stopovers will be an opportunity to exchange with local authorities on environmental and climate issues, to meet scientists and to raise awareness on biodiversity and pollution through exhibitions and visits of the boat.

The Chilean coasts will offer three subjects of study to the Tara and CEODOS teams: the fertilization of the ocean via water from Andean glaciers, the influence of an oxygen-poor zone on fisheries, and the challenges of the carbon pump in the oxygen-poor zone, which is among the most productive on the planet.
The scientific team will respond to three objectives.
The first objective is the quantification of the carbon that is currently fixed by the Chilean Ocean and its role in the exchange of greenhouse gases from Antarctica to Iquique. The second objective is the mapping of microbial and planktonic diversity, identifying species that could contribute to climate change mitigation. Finally, the third objective is the development of a tool for monitoring and identifying key regions for their climate services, so that they can obtain the “Key Ocean Planktonic Areas” label.

The specific objective of these observations will be to provide an estimate of the state of health of its seas in real time, to enable the identification of impacts and threats to marine life with unprecedented spatial resolution and to quantify the carbon reservoir of the Chilean Sea. In addition, scientists will identify areas where natural carbon fixation and essential climate services need to be preserved (KOPAs project) by thinking about nature-based solutions. Finally, scientific research will focus on upwelling, an upwelling zone of nutrient-rich deep water.


*CEODOS is composed of a consortium of national research centers and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation.