On 12 December, the schooner Tara left her home port for a two-year expedition to the South Atlantic. Her mission: to study the functioning of the Marine microbiome and its sensitivity to temperature rises and ocean pollution.
Tara's previous missions have revealed the secrets of plankton over the past ten years and alerted us about the plastic pollution of the ocean. To its credit, a collection of 100,000 samples and the discovery of 200,000 species of virus in seawater. In association with the CNRS, the Tara Ocean Foundation and its scientific partners will travel 70,000 km along the South American coasts, Antarctica and West Africa. An odyssey of 21 stops in 23 countries for the 81 researchers and 38 international scientific institutions partners. As the world faces a pandemic, the stakes are high.
Studying the invisible population of the ocean
What is the microbiome? An invisible Marine population, made up of bacteria, microalgae and viruses that allow our planet to breathe. This marine biomass transforms solar energy into proteins while capturing carbon. The microbiome produces 50% of the oxygen on Earth. How does it respond to climate change? How are the different ocean regions connected by currents? How does it evolve on a planet laboring under human pressure? Many questions that scientists from around the world who will take turns on board will try to answer.
Research for climatologists and biologists
A long-term research journey along the lines of the Dumont D'urville expeditions! For 21 months, the crew (5 to 6 sailors and 6 to 7 scientists) will take turns in three-month increments on the laboratory boat with which 42 Laboratories from around the world are associated. The solid ship, with a good sea hold, sports brand new sails for the occasion. A scientific and human adventure where everyone maneuvers the sails while ensuring the collection of samples.
A next expedition is already scheduled: in 2023, it will focus more specifically on the links between the environment, biodiversity and human health.
The operation "In the wake of Tara" offers classes the opportunity to exchange throughout the school year with the crew members aboard the schooner, but also with scientists or the team ashore. The public will be able, throughout the mission, to follow on the foundation's digital platform, the human and scientific adventure, discover the different countries encountered and understand the usefulness of the Marine microbiome.
© Yohann Cordelle / Wikimedia Commons
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