Tara Expeditions Brief

Tara Expeditions Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht News

Sailing yacht TARA successfully completes expedition in the Mediterranean

November 24, 2014

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Saturday, November 22, 2014, the first day of ‘European Waste Reduction Week’, saw sailing yacht Tara return to her home port of Lorient, following the successful completion of an expedition in the Mediterranean from May to November 2014. This expedition comprised scientific research about plastic pollution at sea, as well as educational outreach during stopovers concerning plenty of environmental issues related to the Mediterranean.

Expedition yacht Tara in the port of Lorient on November 22, 2014 - Image credit to Tara Expeditions

Expedition yacht Tara in the port of Lorient on November 22, 2014 - Image credit to Tara Expeditions

The strategy of the Tara Mediterranean expedition was to collect samples offshore, but also along the coasts, near the mouths of rivers, and in harbors, to study influences coming from land. At each sampling station, collection was done at the surface using special nets. The samples will be sent to partner laboratories for chemical identification of the collected plastic, analysis by microscopy, and also for studies of the living organisms colonizing the plastic, and the interaction between zooplankton (the base of the marine food chain) and plastic.

Analyses of samples will begin in December, and the first results will be published in spring 2015. But the initial findings of Tara Mediterranean are highly significant!

According to Tara Mediterranean’s scientific director Gaby Gorsky (CNRS/UPMC), and the expedition’s scientific coordinator Maria Luiza Pedrotti (OOV CNRS/ UPMC), “Plastic fragments were found in every net haul, throughout the entire Mediterranean from west to east. Greater concentrations of plastic were observed near big cities, but there were also significant concentrations in the high seas.” Martin Hertau, one of Tara’s two captains, confirmed, “We thought certain areas very far from big cities would be spared, but even these are affected, for example between Crete and Tunisia.” According to Francois Galgani, researcher at Ifremer, “The Mediterranean Sea has, on average, the world’s highest density of microplastic.”

The Tara Mediterranean expedition, the 10th for expedition yacht Tara since 2003, visited 13 countries with 20 stopovers (in France, Italy, Monaco, Albania, Greece, Lebanon, Cyprus, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Spain, Morocco and Portugal). Nearly 12,000 adults and school children from around the Mediterranean were able to visit the schooner.

Five workshops were conducted with local citizens, experts and policy makers in order to foster international cooperation and on-site projects. There is an urgent need to move towards solutions such as water treatment, waste management, innovation for biodegradable plastic, and promoting sustainable tourism, education and the creation of Marine Protected Areas. A “Blue Book” to be released in March will highlight local initiatives and solutions, and will review the exchanges accomplished during the Tara Mediterranean mission.

The Tara Mediterranean expedition in numbers:

– 13 countries

– 20 stopovers

– duration: 7-months

– 8,000 nautical miles (= 15,000 km)

– 2,300 samples collected to study the distribution of micro-plastics and zooplankton; to analyze the chemical composition of micro-plastics and the microbial communities attached to the plastic; to study POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) associated with plastic. Analyses of images, temperature, salinity, turbidity and pigments.

– 350 net hauls (each net was towed at the sea surface for an hour, or 4.5km)

– 14 laboratories involved

– 12,000 adults and school children welcomed on board

– 11 artists-in-residence (An exhibition of their work will be held in Paris in April and May 2015)

– 10 nationalities represented (Algerian, American, Brazilian, French, Israeli, Italian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Portuguese, Tunisian)

– T° max of air: 34° C; T° max of water: 31° C in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean.

T° max in the engine room: 60° C

– 3 gale force winds (between 7 and 9)

– More than 400 media releases

Plastic in the Mediterranean : BEYOND THE FACTS, WHAT SOLUTIONS?

March 10 – 11, 2015, Tara Expeditions will organize with the Surfrider Association and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation a conference entitled: “Plastic in the Mediterranean: Beyond the Facts, What Solutions?”

The purpose of the conference is to initiate a dialogue between participants (industry, civil society, citizens, scientists and politicians) and to develop actions to curb plastic pollution. This conference, open to the general public, and will take place in Monaco.

Tara in 2015: en route to the Climate Conference: The highlight of 2015 will be Tara’s stay in Paris during November and December. The schooner will be an ambassador for the world ocean, docked alongside the Ocean and Climate Pavilion. Before and during the Climate Conference in Paris (COP21) in December 2015, this pavilion (under the patronage of UNESCO/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) will shelter dozens of NGOs, scientific institutions and universities, with the aim of bringing greater visibility to issues linking the ocean and climate. A series of exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and workshops for schoolchildren will also be held at the Tara Base in Paris (11 Boulevard Bourdon, 75004) on the theme “Ocean and Climate”. A feature film co-produced by Tara Expeditions is also in preparation, with a planned release in November. Prior to that, beginning in March 2015, Tara will voyage to several cities in France to inform the public about these issues.

Partners of the Tara Mediterranean expedition

agnès b., Fondation Veolia, IDEC Group, Serge Ferrari, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Lorient Agglomeration, IOC/UNESCO, CNRS, UPMC, University of Maine, University of Michigan, NASA, AFP, Le Monde, RFI, FRANCE 24, MCD, Le Monde Futura Science, MedPAN, European Surfrider Foundation, Oceanographic Observatory of  Villefranche-sur-mer, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Free University of Berlin, IFREMER, Oceanographic Observatory of Banyuls, University of South Brittany, University of South Toulon, Aix Marseille University, University of Corsica.

Sailing yacht TARA on new mission in the Mediterranean

May 29, 2014

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Following more than four years of sailing around the world and the Arctic, sailing yacht Tara has set sail for a new mission in the popular Mediterranean yacht charter destinations, which will last until November 2014. The objectives of this mission are to accomplish scientific study concerning plastic pollution, and to promote awareness of environmental challenges in the Mediterranean region.

Tara Mediterranean Expedition

Tara Mediterranean Expedition - Photo credit to R. Gladu / A. Deniaud — Tara Expéditions / Lorient Agglomération — © Design by www.laniak.com TM

450 million people live along the Mediterranean coasts in 22 bordering countries. Due to its geography and climate, the Mediterranean Sea hosts close to 8% of global marine biodiversity, although representing only 0.8% of the ocean’s surface.

Today’s cities are saturated and almost 30% of the world’s maritime traffic is concentrated in the Mediterranean. Problems related to pollution from land are increasing, putting pressure on the marine ecosystem essential for the people of the region, and for life in general. Among the pollutants is the growing presence of micro-plastics.

These are most likely incorporated into the food chain, and thus into our diets. It is therefore urgent to find concrete solutions such as water treatment, waste management, biodegradable plastics, promotion of sustainable tourism, and the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – solutions proposed decades ago by the Barcelona Convention, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and also by the European Union.

A scientific study on plastic will be conducted aboard expedition yacht Tara coordinated by the Laboratoire de Villefranchesur-mer (Université Pierre et Marie Curie and CNRS) and the University of Michigan (USA).

The accumulation of plastic debris in nature is “one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet…” (Barnes et al, 2009), and one of the major environmental concerns of our time. Yet we know too little about what happens to these plastics and their role in ecosystem dynamics to predict their future impacts on the oceans of our planet and on humans.

Expedition yacht Tara underway

Expedition yacht Tara underway - Photo credit to R. Gladu / A. Deniaud — Tara Expéditions / Lorient Agglomération — © Design by www.laniak.com TM

To fill this gap, scientists board Tara yacht will undertake an interdisciplinary mission to better understand the impacts of plastic on the Mediterranean ecosystem. They will quantify plastic fragments, and measure their size and weight. They will also identify the types of plastic (and adhering organic pollutants) found in the sea, and study the dynamics and function of microbial communities (bacteria, protozans, micro-algae, molluscs, crustaceans) living on the plastic. Included in the latter are questions about the probable entry of these molecules into the food chain – a subject virtually unexplored in the Mediterranean. This floating plastic carted by large rivers flowing into the Mediterranean became a component of the ecosystem that influences the chemistry of the sea,” says Dr. Gaby Gorsky, chief scientist of the mission and director of the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

This work will complement the research accomplished aboard Tara yacht in the Pacific during the Tara Oceans expedition in October 2011, and in the Arctic in 2013, and will add to the research carried out by the MED Expeditionin the north-western Mediterranean.

The results of this scientific study aim to influence the policy-makers and populations of countries bordering the Mediterranean towards better waste management and sanitation. The results will also encourage industrial innovation in developing new bio-degradable plastics.

Two scientists in charge of research protocols will always be on board, guided by satellite data via ground stations. Net hauls will be performed at the water’s surface, night and day, when sailing yacht Tara is at sea.

SCIENTIFIC GOALS OF THE TARA MEDITERRANEAN EXPEDITION:
– Evaluate the spatial distribution of floating plastic fragments (0.3 to 50 mm) in the Mediterranean Sea
– Chemical analyses of the different plastics
– Scanning electron microscopy, stereo microscopy and genomic analysis of microbial communities attached to the plastic
– Study the plankton ecosystems in contact with plastic fragments – day and night variability
– Record environmental characteristics – temperature, salinity, turbidity, pigments, ocean color

The team from the University of Maine (USA) in collaboration with NASA will also install instruments aboard superyacht Tara to measure turbidity in relation with algal pigments and satellite measurements.

SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR:
Gaby Gorsky, Professor at UPMC, director of the Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche sur mer (Université Pierre et Marie Curie and CNRS)

Highlights

APRIL 13: Departure from Lorient
MAY 5-23: Study of reefs at the Port Cros National Park (France), the first MPA of France
MAY 22: International Day for Island Biodiversity
MAY 23-28: Stopover in Toulon (France)
MAY 29-JUNE 2ND: Stopover at Embiez (France)
JUNE 5: World Environment Day
JUNE 8: World Oceans Day
JUNE 10-15: Stopover in Nice (France)
JUNE 16-18: Stopover in Villefranche sur Mer (France)
JUNE 19-20: Stopover in Monaco
JUNE 21: World Ocean Sampling Day, Tara in the bay of Villefranche sur mer
JUNE 22-26: Stopover in Antibes (France)
JULY 5-9: Stopover in Cala Gonone (Sardinia, Italy): Scientific meeting – Oceanomics in collaboration with the Aquarium of Cala Gonone (Sardinia)
JULY 15-20: Stopover in Durrës (Albania)
JULY 24-31: Stopover in Cyclades (Greece)
AUGUST 5-12: Stopover in Beirut (Lebanon)
AUGUST 14-21: Stopover in Haifa and Tel Aviv (Israel)
AUGUST 29-30: Stopover in La Valette (Malta)
SEPTEMBER1-6: Stopover in Bizerte (Tunisia)
SEPTEMBER 9-14: Stopover in Algiers (Algeria)
SEPTEMBER 20-29: Stopover in Marseille (France)
SEPTEMBER 30- OCTOBER 5: Stopover in St. Tropez (France)
OCTOBER 9-14: Stopover in Naples (Italy)
OCTOBER 24 – NOVEMBER 2: Stopover in Genoa (Italy), Science Festival
NOVEMBER 4-9: Stopover in Palavas les Flots (France)
NOVEMBER 10-14: Stopover in Perpignan (France)
NOVEMBER 15-19: Stopover in Barcelona (Spain)
NOVEMBER 23-28: Stopover in Tangier (Morocco)
in collaboration with the Mohammed VI Foundation
NOVEMBER 29-30: Stopover in Faro (Portugal)
DECEMBER 7: Return to Lorient
RELAY CAPTAINS: Martin Hertau and Samuel Audrain

FIGURES

EXPEDITION TIME : 7 months
NUMBER OF STOPOVERS: 22
NUMBER OF COUNTRIES: 11
TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: 16 000 kms
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF PLASTIC MICRO-FRAGMENTS
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA: 250 billions (source of statistics: Expedition MED)
NUMBER OF MEDITERRANEAN MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: 170
PERCENTAGE OF POLLUTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN ORIGINATING ON LAND: 90 %

STOPOVER PROGRAMS:
Film projection, exhibition, school visits, conference with a local association. At each stopover, representatives from surrounding Marine Protected Areas will present the work being done in their regions.

PARTNERS

agnès b., Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Veolia Foundation, IDEC, Serge Ferrari, UNESCO/IOC, MedPAN, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Lorient Agglomeration, Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development of Energy, CNRS, AFP, RFI, France 24, MCD.

THE SCIENTIFIC PARTNERS
Oceanography Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, CNRS, University of Michigan, University of Maine, Ecole Normale Supérieure, NASA, Free University of Berlin, Pierre and Marie Curie University, IFREMER, Oceanological Observatory of Banyuls, University Bretagne Sud, Toulon University South University Aix Marseille Université de Corse.

LOCAL AND REGIONAL ASSOCIATIONS INVOLVED TO DATE:
Expedition MED, Mohammed VI Foundation for the Environment, Acquario di Cala Gonone, Network-Euro-Mediterranean, Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute, Fondation Annah Lindt, EcoOcéan Institut.

TARA Yacht comes back home from the Arctic expedition

December 10, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Following the 7-month Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition around the North Pole, Tara yacht returned to her home port in Lorient, France, on December 7, 2013. The schooner docked at 6:30 in the marina, especially illuminated in honor of sailing yacht Tara’s return.

Return of expedition yacht Tara - Photo credit to Caroline Tattevin

Return of expedition yacht Tara - Photo credit to Caroline Tattevin

The scientific mission in the Arctic Ocean covered 25,000 kilometers, and traversed the Northeast and Northwest passages in a single season. Supported by agnès b., the Albert II of Monaco Foundation, CNRS, CEA, EMBL, Lorient Agglomeration, EDF Foundation and other private and public partners, the expedition’s goal was to research plankton biodiversity in the Arctic.

By circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean, Tara Oceans Polar Circle completes the goals of the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012): to collect plankton in all the world’s oceans, in order to understand how oceans are reacting to the major changes taking place. In addition, other issues were studied, including an assessment of mercury levels, and also the concentration of plastic particles in the sea.

55 scientific sampling stations were carried out under extreme conditions, and 5,000 samples of plankton were collected. “We were able to carry out the entire mission beyond our expectations — with a half-dozen more sampling stations than originally planned,” explains Eric Karsenti, the scientific director of the mission.

Analysis of the samples will continue in laboratories for years to come, but as of 2013 (just 4 years after the start of Tara Oceans) 8 scientific publications have already appeared.  These articles are devoted to very precise subjects. The 7-year Oceanomics research program began in March 2013 with thousands of samples collected during the Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle expeditions. The data will be organized and used to understand how plankton biodiversity and the oceanic carbon pump function. In the long term, certain compounds will be identified for the pharmaceutical field. Raw data has been made available online to the scientific community.

“It is surely one of the most important achievements of this kind of  expedition,” continues Eric Karsenti. “It’s almost like a library, where researchers around the world can work on the samples, without anyone knowing what will be the outcome.”

During recent months,Tara Expeditions appealed to policy makers and the general public concerning the most urgent environmental issues in the Arctic, by publishing “A Plea for the Arctic.”

Nearly 10,000 students followed the expedition via the website “Echos d’escale” where they could discover the key environmental issues affecting the Arctic. Older students can continue exploring by participating in the program, “From boat to laboratory” which allows them to use real scientific data, and be in contact with researchers who are examining the collected samples.

KEY STATISTICS OF THE TARA OCEANS POLAR CIRCLE EXPEDITION

55 sampling stations, including 18 long stations, at depths down to 1,000 meters – 5,000 samples –  23 scientific instruments on board – 11 stopovers – 5 countries visited –  202 days of expedition – 3 captains relayed each other: Loïc Vallette, Samuel Audrain and Martin Hertau – 57 people took turns aboard Tara including 40 scientists, and 17 crew members – lowest recorded temperature: -8° C in the Canadian Arctic in September – highest recorded temperature: 29° C in Dudinka (Russia) in July – the northernmost position attained: N 080° 48′- E 047° 41′ at Franz Josef archipelago (Russia)

10 YEARS OF COMMITMENT

10 years ago, with the leadership of Etienne Bourgois and the support of agnès b, the Tara Expeditions project was conceived to promote the protection of the oceans and thus the planet. During this last decade, a lot of water has flowed under Tara’s round hull. 6 short campaigns, each several months long, were conducted between 2004 and 2006 with artists and scientists aboard, from Greenland to Antarctica, before the launch of 3 major missions devoted to climate and marine biodiversity: Tara Arctic (2006 – 2008), Tara Oceans (2009 – 2012) and Tara Oceans Polar Circle (2013).  Ecology needs more science. The next decade will be crucial for making major decisions on climate change.

For the entire Tara Expeditions team, the coming years will be rich in discoveries and full of promise.

TARA’S FUTURE: TARA-MEDITERRANEAN, May to October, 2014

After more than 4 years sailing around the world and the Arctic, Tara is preparing a mission to raise awareness concerning the Mediterranean Sea, cradle of our civilization. Continuing our actions in favor of more sustainable development, this mission will be the occasion for Tara Expeditions, along with local and regional associations, to focus attention on the many environmental issues in the Mediterranean. During these 5 months, Tara Expeditions will also make public the initial results of the Tara Oceans Expedition (2009-2012).

The main partners of Tara Oceans Polar Circle:
agnès b., Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, Lorient Agglomération, CNRS, EMBL, GENOSCOPE – CEA, ENS, UPMC, TAKUVIK (Canada, Univ. Laval & CNRS), Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Russia), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia), Fondation EDF, NASA, ACCESS-iAOOS, the laboratories of the Tara Oceans Expedition (OCEANOLOGY consortium), Région Bretagne, IUCN et UNESCO – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Sailing yacht TARA to come back to France on December 7

November 13, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Following the 7-month Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition around the North Pole, sailing yacht Tara is expected to return to France on December 7, 2013.

Expedition yacht TARA - Photo by V.Hillaire/TaraExpeditions

Expedition yacht TARA - Photo by V.Hillaire/TaraExpeditions

The return will be celebrated on Saturday, December 7, in Lorient, Tara yacht’s home port, and on Sunday, December 8, at the Salon Nautique in Paris. These events will also be an opportunity to recapitulate the commitments of Tara Expeditions, and to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

The scientific mission in the Arctic Ocean covered 25,000 kilometers, and traversed the Northeast and Northwest passages in a single season. Supported by agnès b., the Albert II of Monaco Foundation, CNRS, CEA, EMBL, Lorient Agglomeration, EDF Foundation and other private and public partners, the expedition’s goal was to research plankton biodiversity in the Arctic.

By circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean, Tara Oceans Polar Circle completes the goals of the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012): to collect plankton in all the world’s oceans, in order to understand how oceans are reacting to the major changes taking place. In addition, other issues were studied, including an assessment of mercury levels, and also the concentration of plastic particles in the sea.

55 scientific sampling stations were carried out under extreme conditions, and 5,000 samples of plankton were collected. “We were able to carry out the entire mission beyond our expectations – with a half-dozen more sampling stations than originally planned,” explains Eric Karsenti, the scientific director of the mission.

Analysis of the samples will continue in laboratories for years to come, but as of 2013 (just 4 years after the start of Tara Oceans) 8 scientific publications have already appeared. These articles are devoted to very precise subjects. The 7-year Oceanomics research program began in March 2013 with thousands of samples collected during the Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle expeditions. The data will be organized and used to understand how plankton biodiversity and the oceanic carbon pump function. In the long term, certain compounds will be identified for the pharmaceutical field. Raw data has been made available online to the scientific community.

“It is surely one of the most important achievements of this kind of  expedition.” continues Eric Karsenti. “It’s almost like a library, where researchers around the world can work on the samples, without anyone knowing what will be the outcome.”

During recent months, Tara Expeditions appealed to policy makers and the general public concerning the most urgent environmental issues in the Arctic, by publishing “A Plea for the Arctic.”

Nearly 10,000 students followed the expedition via the website “Echos d’escale” where they could discover the key environmental issues affecting the Arctic. Older students can continue exploring by participating in the program, “From boat to laboratory” which allows them to use real scientific data, and be in contact with researchers who are examining the collected samples.

PROGRAM: TARA’S RETURN
Saturday, December 7 in Lorient – 17h30 to 19h: Tara will light up the harbor of Lorient. Tara’s unprecedented night-time arrival will be a high point in the inauguration of the city’s Christmas lights. Special illumination of the docks and boats, brass band, mulled wine. A popular and festive gathering to celebrate Tara’s return and 10th anniversary. All documentary films made over the past 10 years will be projected as part of “Tara’s Night,” to present the many facets of the expeditions.

Sunday, December 8 in Paris – 14h30 to 16h: Tara celebrates her 10th anniversary, and her return from the Arctic expedition at the Salon Nautique de Paris (Porte de Versailles) with the presence of the whole team.

KEY STATISTICS OF THE TARA OCEANS POLAR CIRCLE EXPEDITION
55 sampling stations, including 18 long stations, at depths down to 1000 meters –  5,000 samples –  23 scientific instruments on board – 11 stopovers – 5 countries visited –  202 days of expedition – 3 captains relayed each other: Loïc Vallette, Samuel Audrain and Martin Hertau – 57 people took turns aboard Tara including 40 scientists, and 17 crew members – lowest recorded temperature: -8° C in the Canadian Arctic in September – highest recorded temperature: 29° C in Dudinka (Russia) in July – the northernmost position attained: N 080° 48′- E 047° 41′ at Franz Josef archipelago (Russia).

10 YEARS OF COMMITMENT
10 years ago, with the leadership of Etienne Bourgois and the support of agnès b, the Tara Expeditions project was conceived to promote the protection of the oceans and thus the planet. During this last decade, a lot of water has flowed under Tara’s round hull. 6 short campaigns, each several months long, were conducted between 2004 and 2006 with artists and scientists aboard, from Greenland to Antarctica, before the launch of 3 major missions devoted to climate and marine biodiversity: Tara Arctic (2006 – 2008), Tara Oceans (2009 – 2012) and Tara Oceans Polar Circle (2013). Ecology needs more science. The next decade will be crucial for making major decisions on climate change.

For the entire Tara Expeditions team, the coming years will be rich in discoveries and full of promise.

Sailing yacht Tara crosses the Canadian Northwest Passage

October 01, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Saturday, September 28, saw sailing yacht Tara cross the Canadian Northwest Passage, a little over one month after traversing the Northeast Passage in Russia. The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition proceeds with its goal to better understand the Arctic ecosystem by exploring the rarely studied planktonic species near the pole.

Expedition yacht TARA

Expedition yacht TARA in the Bellot Strait (Canada). Copyright : V.Hilaire/Tara Expéditions

On Saturday, an extremely stable anti-cyclone presided over the northern Canadian Nunavut region, allowing expedition yacht Tara to sail in perfect weather conditions. At dawn, Tara entered the Prince Regent Inlet, scattered with new ice typical at this time of year as the ice pack begins to reform.

In the morning, Tara yacht’s captain, Loïc Vallette received a radio message from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis St-Laurent inviting Tara to be escorted. This enabled Tara to cross a barrier of 100 km in half a day, through ice 15 cm thick covering 95% of the surface. Without help from the Canadians, the schooner would have taken a lot more time, including a crucial slalom in the dark between new and old ice floes.

This time saved was put to use on Sunday. The purpose of this expedition is not to realize an exploit, but to bring back a maximum of good quality samples. The scientific team went back to work and enjoyed exceptional weather conditions while conducting a 48-hour scientific station in Lancaster Sound.

The next expedition stopovers are planned in Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet in Canadian Nunavut on October 4th and 6th. Then follow Ilulissat in Greenland, Quebec, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and finally the return to Lorient (France) in early December.

Despite the presence of more ice compared to the past 4 years, the Northeast and Northwest Passages were traversed in the planned time, including the scheduled sampling stations, thereby dispelling any possibility of having to spend the winter in the Arctic. According to Jean-Claude Gascard, Emeritus CNRS Research Director of LOCEAN at the University Pierre and Marie Curie, “In general, the Northeast and Northwest Passages will tend to open up earlier and close in later, except for seasonal anomalies related to natural variability, as seen this year.”

Expedition yacht TARA now about to go through the Northwest Passage

September 24, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Expedition yacht Tara is presently circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean on a scientific research expedition. At the end of last month, Tara yacht crossed the Northeast Passage and is now about to go through the Northwest Passage. Following three months spent in the region, this is a chance for Tara Expeditions to transmit a strong message about the Arctic.

Expedition yacht Tara - Photo credit to M. HertauTara Expeditions

Expedition yacht Tara - Photo credit to M. Hertau/Tara Expeditions

What is the purpose of Tara Oceans Polar Circle Expedition?
Sailing yacht Tara is a “polar” schooner and Tara Expeditions has rare expertise in this region. But beyond a passion for adventure and the Arctic, Tara Oceans Polar Circle is a scientific expedition which will complete the sampling of marine ecosystems carried out between 2009 and 2012 during the Tara Oceans expedition.

Tara research in the Arctic, which is important to carry out now, will also help to understand the specific adaptation of this ecosystem, essential in a rapidly changing region, which is considered an “exotic” tourist paradise, a necessary cargo route, and a new Eldorado for oil.

Tara yacht is not only sailing for the sake of scientific knowledge, but is also motivated by the passion of those who want to change how the Arctic is viewed.

The more it melts, the faster things happen…
The Arctic is one of the last great natural areas of the world, a unique and fragile ecosystem harboring rich and unknown biodiversity. With industrial development, economic growth and pressure of human activities, climate change is altering the region at breakneck speed. Among these changes, there is the rapid melting of summer ice, acidification of the Arctic Ocean, thawing permafrost in Siberia, and threats to endemic species such as Siberian polar bears. These phenomena affect not only the lives of 5 million people living in the Arctic Circle, but also the whole world, and require a comprehensive and urgent response. We can move forward in several ways by balancing preservation, innovation and development.

Despite the progress of science and polar navigation, the logistics costs for research in the far North remain very high. The research effort is therefore extremely limited compared to the appetite of the actors involved in exploiting reserves of oil and gas in the region.

Biological resources are still largely unexplored
It is vital to remember the importance of Arctic biodiversity in the global carbon pump, and the great need for research to provide a maximum of data for future decisions. Beyond the mirage of a new oil Eldorado, the Arctic ecosystem is unknown, and may contain new biological resources to meet the challenges of a world undergoing profound change.

The biodiversity of polar plankton could help in producing energy and finding applications in medicine and industry. Diatoms (plankton) for example, produce their glass (silica) skeletons in very cold waters, but we are unable to do the same without high energy-consuming furnaces.

The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition is part of the international research effort to better understand the region and use its resources in a sustainable manner. The project brings together civilians and scientists from several countries, who believe in a shared and rational management of these resources.

During the course of this journey, Tara Oceans Polar Circle will have crossed 12 of the 13 Arctic regions of high ecological and biological significance defined by criteria established by the UN. The plankton data will complete ongoing studies to define areas of rich biodiversity, using plankton as an indicator of overall health of the oceans.

The Arctic’s hidden costs
Analysis of the hidden costs of climate change in the Arctic shows that no investment will be sustainable if it doesn’t take into account environmental factors. Thawing permafrost in Siberia, for example, can release so much methane that the “cost” of this is estimated at 60 trillion USD (1). This huge reservoir of methane can have unpredictable consequences for global climate. This gas contributes to the greenhouse effect and is 22 times more potent than C02.

Research by French institutions on the issue of ocean acidification (2) shows that the Arctic, where cold waters absorb more CO2 than tropical and temperate regions, is particularly affected by the phenomenon.

This year, the Arctic ice chart indicates that the ice melt will not be as extensive as the record melt observed during the summer of 2012. This is certainly “good” news, but does not, in any way, detract from the warming trend observed since 1981. New scientific predictions are expected at the end of September, when the IPCC (3) publishes the first part of a new report.

Establishing policies for sustainable management of mineral and biological resources in the Arctic is a challenge to preserve the region. Compared to the Antarctic, the Arctic does not have international status managed within the UN. Created with the aim to protect its own interests in the region, the Arctic Council (4) – formed by 8 bordering states – is slowly advancing the issues of sustainable management and conservation, and opposes demands for totally protected sanctuaries proposed by environmental organizations. So there is need for cooperation to achieve a rational management of resources through negotiated agreements, and the establishment of protected areas (Marine Protected Areas) to safeguard a minimum of zones seen as especially sensitive in terms of biological and ecological perspectives.

Tara Expeditions calls leaders and civil society for action in different areas, such as respecting the rules of environmental protection in the context of the exploitation of natural resources; facilitated access to research programs in the Arctic; establishing new international standards for shipping in the Arctic; setting up regulations for Arctic fisheries (currently expanding rapidly); stricter regulation of tourism in the Arctic; the establishment of a Marine Protected Areas network for ecologically important regions; expanding the Arctic Council.

How long will it take for these measures to arrive at the  negotiation table? The only certainty is that, given the rapid changes taking place, environmental urgency must go hand in hand with economic pressure.

(1) Nature – Gail Whiteman, Erasmus University, Netherlands, and Chris Hope and Peter Wadhams, University of Cambridge
(2) Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE / IPSL: CEA – CNRS), Laboratory of Oceanography and Climate: experiments and numerical analyses (LOCEAN / IPSL: CNRS – IRD – MNHN – University of Paris VI)
(3) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UNFCCC
(4) The Arctic Council was created in 1996 and has 8 permanent members: the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden.

Sailing yacht Tara enters the heart of the Arctic

July 15, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Pursuing scientific as well as educational objectives, sailing yacht Tara is presently undertaking a 7-month, 25,000 km voyage across the Arctic via the Northeast and Northwest passages. Tara yacht and her crew entered the heart of the Arctic this week. Scientific sampling is now well underway at the edge of the ice pack. Daylight is constant, temperatures are negative, and polar animals have made their appearance.

Expedition yacht Tara in the Arctic. Image credit to A. Deniaud/Tara Expeditions

Expedition yacht Tara in the Arctic - Image credit to A. Deniaud/Tara Expeditions

Since departure from Lorient on May 19, the first part of the expedition has been very successful, with all sampling systems working smoothly, including the devices added since the last Tara Oceans expedition.

After leaving Brittany, Tara yacht zigzagged voluntarily in the Atlantic Ocean, making short stopovers in Tromsø (Norway) and Murmansk (Russia). These past 2 months the weather has been incredibly mild. The team even had 30°C in Murmansk! These conditions have enabled us to accomplish about 20 short and long sampling stations of high quality.

Since the last stopover in Murmansk at the end of June, expedition yacht Tara has sailed straight northeast. In 24 hours of navigation, the team of 14 sailors and scientists currently on board went from Atlantic waters to polar waters, and therefore from summer to winter!

Earlier this week, the first scientific station at the edge of the ice pack took place for more than 24 hours. The crew collected extremely abundant plankton in the midst of an ice field. On this occasion a polar bear and a seal made their appearance! The content of the marine ecosystem is very different from one scientific station to another, which makes the work particularly interesting.

But at the poles, nothing is ever predictable. The rest of the sampling will depend on the weather, and the melting of the ice.  “’The real work has begun!” says Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions. The next major step in the expedition will happen when Tara passes Cheliuskin Cape (Russia). This is the place the farthest north on the Eurasian continent – most often blocked by ice in the Northeast Passage.

“In any case, the scientific sampling we are doing, and we will continue to do in this part of the world, is truly innovative and will contribute to the knowledge of this ocean at a crucial time! The Arctic is a direct indicator of climate change on our planet,” says Etienne Bourgois.

The position of the boat and ice from day to day can be followed on Google Earth.

The Expedition
The main objective of Tara Oceans Polar Circle is to better understand the Arctic ecosystem, starting with little-known plankton species, and trying to decipher their interactions with the environment.

The Oceans Polar Circle expedition: New scientific adventure for TARA Yacht

May 21, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Sunday, May 19, saw the 36m expedition yacht Tara begin a new scientific adventure: The Oceans Polar Circle expedition. Tara yacht will travel 25 000 ams around the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast as well as Northwest passages, returning to Lorient in France in December 2013.

The Tara Yacht's Oceans Polar Circle Expedition

The Tara Yacht's Oceans Polar Circle Expedition

The new challenge brings together biologists and oceanographers to focus on plankton biodiversity in the Arctic. Research will be conducted at the edge of the ice pacha where plankton is most abundant.

Circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean, Tara Oceans Polar Circle will complete the main objective of the Tara Oceans Expedition (2009-2012): to collect plankton in all the oceans of the world. Indeed, the Arctic is the only ocean missing form our global study of plankton. Other issues will also be explored: the assessment of mercury levels in the atmosphere and in the sea, and the concentration of plastic particles. Our aim is to obtain new measurements of these pollutants in the Arctic, and better assess their impact on the arctic ecosystem.

Extreme conditions
Sailing yacht Tara will be sailing in an environment where natural conditions are difficult. Although the period of thaw lengthens every year, time is short before the ice closes in between the Northeast and Northwest passages, leaving little room for improvisation. Beyond the Arctic Circle, temperatures vary between -10 ° C and +5 ° C in summer. Daylight will constant in the Russian Arctic (midnight sun) and then gradually diminish to 12 hours per day in September.

The context
The Arctic region is subjected to the efforts of accelerated climate change more intensely than anywhere else, as evidenced by the rapid melting of the ice pack in summer. This unique and fragile environment is increasingly coveted for its minerals and other riches, and is a key area for understanding climate change on the planet.

Summary of the scientific mission
– Comparison of biological data on plankton and their physicochemical environment in the Arctic with the data collected in other oceans during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012)
– Study of floating plastic, and mercury (dissolved and atmospheric) present in the Arctic.
– Study of the “coolr” of the ocean, its composition and surface pigment particles.
– Specific study of spring phytoplankton blooms at the ice pack’s edge.

Sailing yacht TARA to embark on new expedition in the Arctic

May 14, 2013

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

This month will see sailing yacht Tara circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean via the Northeast and Northwest passages, representing a scientific and academic adventure covering 25,000 kms and lasting 6 months. This international expedition will be in partnership with countries bordering the Arctic Ocean as well as in association with the Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation and agnès b.

Sailing yacht Tara is finally heading back to the sea - Photo credit to J. Collet TaraExpeditions

Sailing yacht Tara is finally heading back to the sea - Photo credit to J. Collet/TaraExpeditions

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE EXPEDITION
All the scientists and institutes involved in the Tara Oceans 2009-2012 expedition will participate, along with Canadian & Russian laboratories specializing in Arctic research.

During the Tara Oceans Expedition 2009-2012, only the Arctic Ocean was missing in our effort to collect plankton from all the world’s oceans. There is therefore great interest in comparing  biodiversity in the Arctic with other oceanic regions, especially in the context of the major  transformations taking place. In fact, the summer of 2012 marked the most extensive Arctic ice melt ever observed.

The Tara Oceans Polar Circle 2013 research will be conducted around the borders of the ice pack where planktonic activity is the most important.

In addition to this global biological approach, oceanographic and chemical analyses specific to the Arctic will be undertaken. The aim is to understand the vulnerability of polar biodiversity in the face of human activity; how melting of the ice pack impacts the polar marine ecosystem and what types of pollution come into play in these remote areas.

Several key factors assure the success of this expedition. The scientific team has been working together since 2009. Their collective expertise and overall ecosystem approach, the availability of existing equipment, and Tara Expeditions’ experience in polar environment logistics are also invaluable assets.

Loic Vallette, Tara Yachts Captain is glad to find Tara back in the water - Photo credit to J. Collet TaraExpeditions

Loic Vallette, Tara Yachts Captain is glad to find Tara back in the water - Photo credit to J. Collet/TaraExpeditions

CONTEXT
This mission will contribute to the international effort to study the Arctic ecosystem before a probable climate change. It will provide baseline data on the ecological status of Arctic waters, and help identify issues concerning the future development of this region.

Tara Expeditions will also use its presence to inform the public, politicians and the business world about the most urgent environmental issues in the Arctic, as well as problems faced by the people who inhabit the Arctic Circle. For some, the opening of maritime routes is an economic asset but for others, this development has an environmental risk. Sustainable development in the Arctic is definitely in question.

PEOPLE
Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions
Roman Troublé, General Secretary of Tara Expeditions
Loïc Valette, Captain of Tara and the crew
Scientific Directors:
Chris Bowler, Spokesman(CNRS / ENS)
Eric Karsenti (EMBL / CNRS)
Gaby Gorsky (CNRS)
Marcel Babin (U LAVAL, CNRS)
Colomban de Vargas (CNRS / UPMC)
Emmanuel Boss (U of Maine)
Jean-Claude Gascard (CNRS)
Scientific coordinators of Tara Oceans
Stefanie Kandels-Lewis, Logistics (EMBL)

ONBOARD SCIENTIFIC EQUIPMENT
– Plankton nets
– Special net for collecting surface plastic
– CTD rosette (pressure, temperature, conductivity, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorescence, optical properties of water)
– FlowCAM to count and characterize plankton
– Flow Cytobot (underwater) to count and characterize plankton
– UVP (Underwater Video Profiler) to characterize zooplankton, large particles and their vertical distribution
– AC-s spectrophotometer for continuous pigment and particle distribution measurement at the ocean’s surface (coordinated with satellite ocean color imaging)
– Retrodiffusion device to characterize surface material (linked with ocean color satellite)
– Cytofluorimeter able to determine small groups of organisms by size and fluorescence
– Spectrofluorimeter ALFA capable of continuous measurement of fluorescent organisms at the ocean’s surface
– UltraPath spectrophotometer able to characterize optical properties of dissolved material
– PAR radiometer, measuring the luminescence of photosynthesis

Expedition yacht Tara is back at sea, the scientists are testing the CTD device - Photo credit to J. Collet TaraExpeditions

Expedition yacht Tara is back at sea, the scientists are testing the CTD device - Photo credit to J. Collet/TaraExpeditions

THE OUTREACH PROGRAM
– A journalist will be constantly on board Tara yacht to cover the expedition via texts, video and photos for the internet and social networks.
– Media partnerships
– Tara Journal at the end of the expedition
– Production of TV programs
– Tara Junior educational program

SCIENTIFIC PROGRAM
Tara Oceans Expedition global approach. Its goal is to compare the plankton and physico-chemistry of the Arctic with data collected in other oceans during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012):
– Study of drifting plastic and air pollutants in the Arctic
– Study of ocean color, composition and pigments of surface particles for NASA by the University of Maine, USA
– Study of spring plankton blooms at the edge of the ice pack, conducted by the Université Laval, Quebec
– Collaboration with the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Moscow) and the Russian Arctic National Park

ARCTIC CONDITIONS
As of today, only 2 sailboats have circumnavigated the Arctic Ocean.

Several types of risks can be identified: natural and technical. Natural hazards include the unpredictable weather, and the formidable presence of ice. Although the period of thaw gets longer almost every year, the window of passage (before the ice closes in again) is short and doesn’t leave much room for the unexpected. Temperatures will be between -10°C and +5°C  when expedition yacht Tara sails beyond the Arctic Circle from July to October. Daylight will predominate in the Russian Arctic, and will gradually turn into clear nights lasting 12 hours starting late August. Tara will undergo some adaptations to protect the workspaces and scientific equipment from the cold.

PARTNERS
agnès b. Foundation
Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
City of Lorient
CNRS
EMBL
GENOSCOPE
TAKUVIK (LAVAL & CNRS)
SHIRSHOV
NASA and the OCEAN consortium laboratories

Under the High Patronage of François HOLLANDE, President of France.

Below is an amazing video made on board Tara yacht, released by Tara Expeditions in February 2013.

New expedition for polar schooner TARA

April 25, 2013

Written by Eva Belanyiova

Departing from Lorient on May 19th, 2013, the polar schooner TARA is setting off on a new expedition named Tara Oceans Polar Circle. This scientific adventure will take seven months, cruising 25,000 kms around the Arctic Ocean through the Northeast and Northwest passages.

Map of Tara Oceans Polar Circle

Map of Tara Oceans Polar Circle

Supported by the CNRS, CEA, EMBL and other private and public partners, this mission unites biologists and oceanographers. They will focus on plankton biodiversity in the Arctic and other specific issues in this region susceptible to climate changes, at a time when we are witnessing an accelerated summer melting of Arctic sea ice.

By including the Arctic Ocean, the Tara Oceans Polar Circle will complete the Tara Oceans (2009-2012) mission to collect plankton in all the world’s oceans. During Tara Oceans, only the Arctic Ocean was missing in the efforts to collect and analyze. It is therefore very important to compare the Arctic marine biodiversity with other oceanic regions to determine major changes in this area.

Discovering Arctic plankton

Main objective of Tara Oceans Polar Circle: better understanding of the Arctic ecosystem, through discovery of unknown plankton species and trying to decipher their interactions with the environment. Plankton store much of the C02 that we emit. Based on the experience of Tara Oceans, the scientists will conduct a comprehensive and multidisciplinary study of arctic marine ecosystems to better understand their present and future evolution.

Science has an urgent need for this data. The planktonic ecosystem (from viruses to fish larvae) is for the moment less compromised by industry and remains a good indicator of changes.

The Tara Oceans Polar Circle expedition is a multidisciplinary programme with unique plankton sampling: it includes oceanographic, optical and genomic tools used to describe plankton (viruses, bacteria, archaea, protists and metazoans) in its physico-chemical environment with new and original methods. Various disciplines including oceanography, remote sensing, ecology, genomics, molecular biology of cells and systems, taxonomy, bioinformatics, data management and modelling, will be involved in processing data.

In addition to this overall biological approach, specific oceanographic and chemical issues will be addressed, for example, the assessment of mercury levels in the atmosphere and sea, or the concentration of plastic particles. The aim is thus to understand the vulnerability of polar biodiversity to human activities, how the melting of the ice pack affects the marine ecosystem, and what pollutants are present in these remote areas.

A team effort

The Tara Oceans Polar Circle 2013 research will be conducted at the sea-ice edge, where plankton activity is most important. All scientists and institutes involved in Tara Oceans will accompany the project, along with other laboratories specialized in Arctic research including the Takuvik laboratory (Joint International Research Unit, CNRS/Laval University), the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Moscow) and LOCEAN laboratory (CNRS/UPMC/MNHN/IRD).

The team of scientists united since 2009, their collective expertise, the global ecosystem approach and the still available equipment, coupled with Tara Expeditions’ logistical expertise in extreme environments–are all key factors for success of the voyage.

A summary of the scientific mission:

– Global approach of the Tara Oceans expedition. The strategy is to compare the biological data about plankton in the physico-chemical environment of the Arctic with data collected from other oceans since 2009 during theTara Oceans expedition.

– Study of plastic pollution, mercury and air pollutants in the Arctic by KAUST and OMP/IFREMER for mercury.

– Study of ocean “color”, its composition and surface pigment particles for NASA by the University of Maine, USA.

– Specific study of spring phytoplankton blooms at the ice pack’s edge, by the University of Laval, Quebec and the ENS.

Awareness for our future

Tara Expeditions also benefits from Tara’s presence in the Arctic to pressure politicians and the business community, increase public awareness of the most pressing environmental issues in the Arctic, as well as challenges faced by the people who inhabit the Arctic Circle. For some, the opening of sea routes, development of navigation, and fishing opportunities are economic assets, for others they carry an ecological risk. Sustainable development in the Arctic is an issue in this early twenty-first century.

TEAM

Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions

Roman Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions

Loïc Vallette, Tara’s captain

the Tara crew

Scientific direction:

Chris Bowler, spokesperson (ENS/CNRS)

Eric Karsenti (EMBL/CNRS)

Gaby Gorsky (CNRS)

Patrick Wincker (Genoscope, CEA)

Marcel Babin (Univ. Laval/CNRS)

Colomban de Vargas (CNRS/UPMC)

Emmanuel Boss (Univ. of Maine)

Jean-Claude Gascard (CNRS).

and the scientific coordinators of Tara Oceans

Stefanie Kandels-Lewis (EMBL), Scientific logistics

KEY PARTNERS

agnès b.,

Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco,

Lorient Agglomération,

CNRS,

EMBL,

GENOSCOPE – CEA,

ENS,

UPMC,

TAKUVIK (Univ. Laval & CNRS),

SHIRSHOV INSTITUTE OF OCEANOLOGY,

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST),

NASA,

ACCESS-iAOOS,

Laboratories of the Tara Oceans expedition (the consortium OCEAN)

Région Bretagne,

et UNESCO – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission