[Tara Oceans] Plankton data and north-south cooperation

© Francis Latreille/ Fondation Tara Océan

Coinciding with the current United Nations talks about future status of the high seas, the Tara Foundation and Dr. Eric Karsenti, scientific director of Tara Oceans, are inaugurating in Chili a new program of north-south cooperation. Over a period of 4 years, the « Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development » project (funded by the FFEM — Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial) will extend the impact of the Tara Oceans expedition by reinforcing expertise about the ocean in developing countries. This new dimension of the action of the Tara Expeditions Foundation will be symbolically launched (along with the FFEM, the government of Chili, and the University of Santiago) on Easter Island when the schooner stops over there.


Christian Sardet
Mix of zooplankton sampled in the Galapagos during the Tara Oceans expedition © Christian Sardet


« Before we can swim, we must first learn to float, » declared an African delegate yesterday at the UN during discussions about the high seas. This says a lot about the issue of sharing information and know-how between north and south. « Encourage sharing of knowledge »  is the motto of the project which will bring together young researchers from several southern countries and the Tara Oceans consortium. In Latin America, 9 laboratories in Argentina, Brazil and Chile have already been selected to work with the Tara Oceans scientific consortium.

Concretely, in the framework of the « Oceanic Plankton, Climate and Development » Tara and the FFEM will finance the research of 6 postdocs from 6 developing countries, working in laboratories in France and other European countries. In addition, scientific meetings will be organized in developing countries to strengthen analysis of the Tara Oceans data and develop tools for assessment and analysis. This will provide the opportunity for southern countries to appropriate research protocols, models and results of the scientific program which can then be used by those countries in local programs. The goal is not to teach them, but to give them tools for doing the research themselves in the future.

Tara’s return to Easter Island after a previous stopover in 2011 (during the Tara Oceans expedition) will allow the Tara Foundation to renew the scientific cooperation initiated between the Tara Oceans program and Chilean scientific institutions. Dr. Eric Karsenti (CNRS-EMBL) will also report to the Chileans the scientific results published since Tara’s last stopover in Chile.


Tara au mouillage face à la plage d’Anakena (île de Pâques), réputée pour ses moaï encore dressés.Tara moored facing the beach of Anakena (Easter Island), famous for its moai still standing erect – © Yann Chavance – Tara Expeditions Foundation

After this meeting on Easter Island, 2 days of activities will be organized in Santiago, in collaboration with the French Embassy and local institutions — scientific meetings, a public lecture at the Chilean National Congress, and the signing of an agreement of cooperation between the Tara Expeditions Foundation and the University of Chile.



Related Articles :

- Tara OCEANS: Developing countries will contribute to the research
- Plankton network linked to ocean’s biological carbon pump revealed