News
9 june 2015

First scientific findings of the Tara Oceans expedition published in Science

Over an expedition lasting three years, the schooner Tara collected almost 35,000 samples of micro-organisms and coral reefs. Some of the secrets of the data collected were revealed recently, notably by allowing mapping of a wide range of marine plankton organisms. These first scientific findings were relayed in five articles in a special edition of Science published on May 22nd.

The Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2013) goal of studying plankton biodiversity was formally recognized by publication of a number of contributions in Science. The special edition of the famous American scientific journal published on May 22nd devoted its cover and five articles to the first findings of the studies produced thanks to the Tara Oceans expedition.

With the support of the Veolia Foundation, the expedition team has offered the scientific community one of the world's largest and most reliable databases of hitherto unknown marine plankton. These microscopic organisms that exist in a drifting state in the oceans and are influenced by the climate produce half of our oxygen - they also form the basis of the marine food chain that sustains fish and marine mammals.

The chief benefit of the studies carried out was to enable better understanding of the marine ecosystem by mapping a wide range of plankton organisms. They also made it possible to more precisely identify the distribution of plankton in the different oceans and measure its susceptibility to climate change.

These data constitute an unprecedented treasure trove of resources for the scientific community and will transform the way we study the oceans and assess climate change.

Tara in the open sea since 2004 with the Foundation

Built for extreme conditions, Tara has notched up more than 300,000 kilometers since setting sail for Greenland in 2004. The 10 or so expeditions organized have led to better understanding of the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis on the world's oceans.

Between 2009 and 2013, Tara travelled the planet's oceans to model climate change and its impact on our biosphere.

In 2014, Tara visited 13 countries in Mediterranean Europe. The goal of this most recent expedition - Tara Méditerranée - was to track micro-plastic waste to measure pollution, not only near the cities but also in the open sea. The workshop-debates held during the schooner's 20 or so stopovers provided useful material, particularly for the March 2015 symposium on "Plastics in the Mediterranean: beyond the facts, what solutions?" co-organized by the Foundation.