The project arose from a passion for the sea and a humanist vision. Expeditions are driven by sailor Romain Troublé and conducted in collaboration with prestigious scientific laboratories and institutions.
Tara Expeditions works to raise awareness of the general public about the environment, with special attention to young people through the Tara Junior program. Tara Expeditions is also developing a long-term advocacy plan to encourage politicians to act for more sustainable development. Investing in this expedition will support educational actions and general programmes dedicated to young people from 8 to 14 years old.
On our watery planet, the ocean is the primary regulator of global climate. The ocean contains 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and is exchanging large amounts of CO2 with the atmosphere every year. In the past decades, the ocean has slowed down the rate of climate change by absorbing about 30% of human emissions. Moreover, 95% of the heat we have created over the last 200 years has been absorbed by the ocean. Today, climate disturbance has a direct role in the loss of biological diversity, that will effect the planet for generations to come.
To understand the ecological threats confronting the ocean and the impacts of climate change, the Tara Foundation has accomplished several major expeditions with the schooner Tara: Tara Arctic (2006-2008), Tara Oceans (2009-2013), and Tara Mediterranean (2014). And today, Tara Pacific (2016-2018) is completing the voyage throughout the Pacific Ocean to study coral reefs.
The Tara Oceans expedition was the largest sequencer of genetic material ever undertaken on marine organisms, and highlighted the fact that the majority of microbial genes were hitherto unknown
From 2009 to 2013, Tara had been the focal point for an ambitious project, which culminated in much lauded discoveries. This time, the schooner furrowed the world’s seas in search of plankton, those microscopic organisms which drift across the ocean. More than 35,000 samples were collected and analysed. The Tara Oceans expedition was the largest sequencer of genetic material ever undertaken on marine organisms, and highlighted the fact that the majority of microbial genes were hitherto unknown. This colossal and fascinating enterprise gained unprecedented recognition when in May 2015 five articles were published in the prestigious journal ‘Science’. A giant step forward in our knowledge of the invisible oceanic world. Tara does justice to the spirit of great explorers from the past, herself becoming a source of inspiration.
Sampling has allowed us to characterise more than 100,000 species of unicellular plankton! It was an unprecedented discovery in the microscopic world of the ocean. One that has considerably enriched our understanding of marine ecosystems. Sequencing close to a billion genetic barcodes has shown us that unicellular plankton is far more diverse than bacteria and animals, and that most of it belongs to little-known groups of parasites, symbionts and predators of every kind. These results have radically changed our views on the biological and functional diversity of the world’s plankton, an ecosystem that is essential to the health of our biosphere.
Supporting Tara is a step to raise knowledge of the key role of oceans in our planetary balance. Supporting the Tara Expeditions Foundation allows us to develop a long-term advocacy plan to mobilise the general public and encourage politicians to act with conviction on the solutions we all need for the planet.
For more details and support, visit www.taraexpeditions.org