Science chronicles from the Tara mediterranean expedition

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

For 7 months his year, Tara sailed around the Mediterranean with scientists from many different countries working onboard. During the expedition they contributed their know-how: using the manta net, the bongo net and other scientific equipment, they collected samples of micro-plastics present in the sea. These samples will be analyzed in laboratories to further research on plastic pollution. The first results are expected to be published in 2015.

During the holidays, while Tara in in the shipyard, here’s a selection of interviews and scientific articles from the Tara Mediterranean expedition.

- TOOLS FOR SCIENCE

For Tara’s current mission – studying the small fragments of plastic floating on the surface of the sea – the schooner is equipped with special instruments adapted to this particular type of research. Overview of Tara’s scientific armada.

- FIRST OBSERVATIONS AFTER 5 MONTHS OF NAVIGATION

Maria-Luiza Pedrotti is one of the scientists involved in Tara’s 10th expedition. Trained in oceanography in Rio Grande, Brazil, she is a CNRS researcher and works at the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

- THE COLOUR OF OCEANS

Watching the sea, its waves, its color variations – there’s nothing more poetic. Aboard Tara, we observe it, live with its pace, but when it comes to describe and understand it, poetry often gives way to pragmatism and complicated words like calibration, adsorption, backscatter.

- INTERVIEW OF RACHEL CABLE

Partner of Tara Méditerranée, the lab of Melissa Duhaime in Michigan, participates in the scientific stations. For 10 days, Rachel Cable, American scientist, participated in the sampling on Tara’s rear deck.  Back home, she uses the same protocols in the Laurentian Great Lakes. She kindly answered a few questions about her job on board.

- “BACTERIA ARE THE SCAVENGERS OF THE OCEAN”

Among the researchers collaborating on this 10th expedition is Jean-François Ghiglione of the CNRS, Observatoire oceanologique, Banyuls-sur-mer. Aboard Tara for a few days, he communicates his enthusiasm and shares his knowledge in a most understandable way. Once Jeff starts talking about his research, it’s hard for him to stop. Here he focuses on bacteria in the marine environment.

- “SMALL PIECES OF PLASTICS COULD BE TOXIC FOR THE ORGANISMS”

Cristina Fossi’s research  aims  to determine the effects of microplastics on marine animals. Aboard of Tara, she is collecting krill and other microorganisms. During other sampling campaigns, she is collecting whale biopsy. For the professor on ecotoxicology in Italy, the only way to solve the problem of macro and microplastics in the Mediterranean is to work on a global scale: all countries must enforce the Barcelona Convention and follow the Marine Litter Action Plan.

- “TURTLES SUFFER FROM INGESTING OUR WASTE”

In the Mediterranean, the ingestion rate of plastic by loggerhead turtles varies from 15 to 80% depending on the region. As opportunistic feeders, turtles do not differentiate plastic from its natural prey. This weakness has given it “indicator species” rank for the European Community.

- “THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA HAS THEHIGHEST DENSITIE OF PLASTIC IN THE WORLD”.

Researcher at Ifremer, François Galgani has studied plastics for almost 20 years. This Corsican scientist has dedicated his career to petroleum products. On board the schooner this summer between Sardinia and Albania, he recently embarked again for a few hours. A brief passage that allowed Taranautes to talk with him around the big table in the main cabin. Extracts from this discussion.

- THE WAYS TO STOP PLASTIC POLLUTION

Interview with Gaby Gorsky, Scientific director of the Tara Mediterranean expedition, and director of the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer / UPMC-CNRS

- IMPORTANT INITIAL FINDINGS FROM THE TARA MEDITERRANÉE EXPEDITION

The exploration schooner Tara returns to her home port of Lorient on November 22 (the first day of “European Waste Reduction Week”) after successfully completing an expedition in the Mediterranean from May to November 2014.