On December 12, 2020 the schooner Tara will set sail on a new major scientific expedition. The sailing laboratory will travel 70,000 km in the South Atlantic, along the South American and African coasts and as far as Antarctica for nearly two years. The mission involves 72 research institutions from around the world. They will study the ocean’s most fundamental fabric — the microbiome — to understand the functioning of this ecosystem in a context of ongoing global change.
From press release: "Microorganisms play an essential role in the ocean, representing more than two thirds of the marine biomass. They are the first link in a huge food web that feeds much of humanity, and provides vital ecological & economic services. Microscopic organisms capture atmospheric carbon dioxide on a planetary scale and in return produce oxygen that we breathe every day. An essential cog in the great climate machine, the functioning of this invisible world remains largely unknown to date."
"By definition, the ocean microbiome refers to all marine microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, microalgae, protists, etc.), but also their interactions with the environment. "It's like a complete living being," says Romain Troublé, CEO of the Tara Ocean Foundation. “It goes beyond a simple description of the microorganisms present. We want to understand how this microbiome functions as a whole — whether its effectiveness is sensitive to plastic pollution or to the ongoing warming of the ocean.""
During some of the 23 planned stopovers, the scientific teams will share knowledge with local researchers on know-how, best practices and techniques needed to study the ocean, from collection of samples, management and analysis of data, to the use of results in practice.
Throughout the mission, the public will be able to follow the human and scientific adventure on the Foundation's and AtlantECO’s digital platforms, encounter different countries and discover marine microbiome research.
Given current health restrictions, the public will not be allowed to assemble and follow the departure of the schooner from Lorient, but a LIVE streaming of the event will be offered on Facebook and Instagram.
Source: Tara Océan / photos: Christian Sardet, Noé Sardet