Our goal is to make the Ocean a responsibility of all nations. Let’s provide the means to accomplish this!
A major goal of the Tara Expeditions Foundation is to share as widely as possible the most recent knowledge about the Ocean. In view of this objective, the Foundation initiated a new project in 2016 — to help researchers from developing countries get training in molecular biology, bioinformatics and genomics in Tara’s partner laboratories. Developing international scientific expertise is a condition essential for shared and efficient global governance of the Ocean for the next 50 years.
Share and continue Tara Oceans research work with developing countries
In the current state of international plankton research, the gigantic database collected during the Tara Oceans expedition, which is open access, can only be exploited by some 20 countries that have the capacity to translate this data into usable information.
The stakes are high. Unfamiliar and invisible, plankton is a crucial marker of planet Earth’s state of health. Studying how plankton functions will help us better understand the Ocean’s role in the climate system.
Today’s advances in technology make it possible to capture and analyze the diversity of planktonic microorganisms and conduct innovative research. The first results of Tara Oceans, based on international and interdisciplinary cooperation, go way beyond our expectations.
This research suggests a great potential for the future of ocean science that must be extended to developing countries.
© David Sauveur / Tara Expeditions Foundation
Reinforcing research capabilities for a new generation of oceanographers
In 2016 the Foundation initiated the “Ocean Plankton, Climate and Development” project with the support of the French Facility for the Global Environment (FFEM). The project was born from the desire to continue the scientific adventure of the Tara Oceans expedition by giving it a new dimension: that of scientific cooperation for development.
The project is co-financed by the scientific institutions of the Tara Oceans program (6 million euros) and public funds of the FFEM (2 million euros).
Janique Etienne, coordinator of the FFEM project “Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development”
Lars Stemmann, scientific coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition working at the laboratory “Observatoire océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer”
What is a cooperative project for scientific development?
This type of project creates new opportunities for developing countries. It aims to strengthen the research capacities and facilitate their appropriation of techniques and knowledge so they can participate in and benefit from scientific advances, at present and in the future. Developing scientific expertise in developing countries will enable them to better face the challenges of the future — climate change, food security, etc.
What are the objectives of this project?
The project in 6 key words:
This 4-year project aims to collaborate with 6 developing countries by training young researchers (from Latin America, Africa, Indian Ocean) in advanced European laboratories, partners of the Tara Oceans expedition (the CEA, EMBL, CNRS, ENS, etc.).
This project aims to stimulate the reciprocity, exchange and openness that is often lacking in the field of science. Young researchers will receive training, but they will also use their past experience and specific expertise to enrich the Tara Oceans program.
Thanks to this project, they will be trained in state-of-the-art technologies in their fields (genetics, biology, bioinformatics,etc.) and will develop an expertise. Their research will help to better understand the global planktonic ecosystem, shedding light on interactions, evolution, and finding new species.
In addition to carrying out their own research projects, we hope that the selected scientists will work closely with each other. The aim is to bring about new and long-term scientific collaboration among developing countries, and between developing and developed countries.
The scientific indicators and models obtained by the young researchers will have the ultimate goal of providing tools for decision-making by States — management of fish stocks, identification of marine areas to be protected, actions against climate change, etc.
This project will boost advocacy, that is, better promote the importance of the Ocean and its issues (plastic pollution, governance of the high seas, etc.) in international negotiations (UN, European Commission, etc.) but also within civil society, businesses and local communities.
© S. Bollet / Fondation Tara Expéditions
… and why is this relevant for the participating countries and the Foundation?
1. This project embodies the research philosophy of the Tara Expeditions Foundation, which believes in the benefits of sharing knowledge and transcending borders to manage and protect the ocean.
2. Participating in the progress of marine sciences in emerging countries is essential because they are so little developed, while the challenges facing marine and coastal regions are very important.
3. If we want to make the protection and sustainable exploitation of the Ocean a shared responsibility, each country must be able to participate and be capable of making the right political decisions. These decisions should be based on solid scientific expertise, resulting from reliable scientific data.
Portraits of researchers participating in the “Ocean Plankton, Climate and Development” project:
“If we want a viable ocean, we must first and foremost understand how it works”
Juan Pierella Karlusich, geneticist, Rosario. Discover his interview
Host laboratory: École Nationale Supérieure (ENS), Paris (France)
Subject: Acclimation of phytoplankton in function of environmental conditions
“I just received a gigantic dataset! Researchers working on Tara’s data are collaborating with each other.”
Janaina Rigonato, geneticist, São Paulo. Discover her interview
Host laboratory Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA), Paris (France)
Subject : Diversity of plankton: phytoplankton and zooplankton in ocean areas with low oxygen concentration.
“The Tara Oceans data are unique because they result from sampling on a global scale. Usually we only have access to parts of the Ocean. Just imagine the potential!”
Alejandro Murillo, microbiologist, Concepción. Discover his interview
Host laboratory: European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg (Germany)
Subject : Study of interactions between planktonic organisms in regions of the Ocean with low oxygen concentration.
Marko Budinich, bioinformatician, Santiago. Discover his interview
Host laboratory : Roscoff Biological Station (CNRS, UPMC), Roscoff (France)
Subject : Adaptation of genetic diversity of plankton in the world Ocean.
“This project is an opportunity to work with the best tools and laboratories to acquire expertise and bring added value to my country from an operational point of view in the fields of climate and fisheries.”
Dodji Yawouvi Soviadan, oceanographer/physicist, Lomé. Discover his interview
Host laboratory: Villefranche-sur-Mer Oceanography Laboratory (LOV), France
Subject : Modeling the distribution of zooplankton to predict their distribution in different oceans.
« Plankton is a vital element because it is the basic food for fish. If we understand how plankton is distributed in the Ocean and why, we can generally explain the state of fish stocks and their distribution. »
Baye Cheikh Mbaye, modeler. Discover his interview
Host laboratory: Villefranche-sur-Mer Oceanography Laboratory (LOV), France
Subject: Dynamic modeling of plankton distribution to study and predict the state of tuna stocks and their allocation.
Lars Stemmann, joining forces with a new generation of oceanographers
Lars Stemmann is a former scientific coordinator of the Tara Oceans expedition. ...Read more
Responsible for coastal and high seas management projects at the French ...Read more