Tara expedition

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The schooner TARA (Port Lay, Île de Groix, 2009).jpg
Schooner Tara.
French Ensign
  • Antarctica
  • then Seamaster
  • currently Tara
Builder: SFCN Villeneuve-la-Garenne
In service: 1989
Homeport: Lorient, France
General characteristics
Type: Schooner
Displacement: 130 t (128 long tons)
Length: 36 m (118 ft 1 in)
Sampling devices and working areas on-board SV Tara are shown from the vessel’s [a] side-view, [b] bird’s-eye-view of the deck, and [c] inside-view. They consist of the [1] Continuous Surface Sampling System [CSSS]; [2] Rosette Vertical Sampling System [RVSS]; [3] wet lab and storage in liquid nitrogen; [4] High Volume Peristaltic pump [HVP-PUMP]; [5] dry lab; [6] oceanography engineers data acquisition and processing area; [7] winch; [8] video imaging area; [9] storage areas at room temperature; [10] storage areas at +4 °C and −20 °C; [11] MilliQ water system and AC-s system; [12] diving equipment, flowcytobot and ALPHA instruments; and [13] storage boxes. The flow of seawater from the continuous surface sampling system to the dry lab is shown in blue.[1]
Courtesy of the Tara Oceans Expedition

The Tara expedition is an oceanic research expedition.

The boat[edit]

Tara is a 36-metre aluminum-hulled schooner, formerly named "Antarctica" then "Seamaster".[2] Designed by the naval architecs Olivier Petit and Luc Bouvet, built in France on the initiative of Jean-Louis Étienne, medical explorer, in 1989 the schooner Antarctica was used from 1991 to 1996 by Jean-Louis Étienne for scientific expeditions in Antarctica, at the Erebus volcano and then wintering at Spitzberg. Under its former name, it was owned by Peter Blake, who was shot and killed in 2001 by pirates while sailing Seamaster on the Amazon River.[2] Following Blake's death, the yacht was bought by Etienne Bourgois, renamed Tara and dedicated to environmental expeditions.[3]


The polar schooner Tara set out to drift in the ice for approximately two years from its first departure, late in August 2006. The expedition met with interest in the oceanography community, especially in the context of the International Polar Year (2007–2008). Dubbed Tara Arctic, this voyage ended on February 23, 2008. It was part of the international DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies) program.

Schooner Tara in Brest Harbour.

In 2009, Tara started a new expedition, dubbed Tara Oceans.[4] It travelled around the world until 2013 to study CO2 capture by marine microorganisms such as plankton. The costs of the expedition were €3 million per year, all from private funds. The expedition was primarily funded by the French fashion designer agnès b.[5] It was able to collect more than 35,000 planktonic samples from 210 stations in every major oceanic region, which through analyses revealed more than 40 million genes, most of which were new to science.[4][6]

Tara Mediterranean was the next expedition, followed by Tara Pacific beginning in May 2016. During this latest voyage Tara is studying coral reefs and plastic pollution.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pesant, S., Not, F., Picheral, M., Kandels-Lewis, S., Le Bescot, N., Gorsky, G., Iudicone, D., Karsenti, E., Speich, S., Troublé, R. and Dimier, C. (2015) "Open science resources for the discovery and analysis of Tara Oceans data". Scientific data, 2(1): 1–16. doi:10.1038/sdata.2015.23.
  2. ^ a b "Sir Peter Blake's former yacht sails into Whangarei".
  3. ^ Ainsworth, Claire (5 September 2013). "Systems ecology: Biology on the high seas". Nature. 501 (7465): 20–23. doi:10.1038/501020a. PMID 24005399.
  4. ^ a b "Tara Oceans expedition yields treasure trove of plankton data". Science Daily. ScienceDaily. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  5. ^ Morelle, Rebecca (22 May 2015). "Ocean's hidden world of plankton revealed in 'enormous database'" – via www.bbc.com.
  6. ^ "Tara Oceans expedition: researchers map the world of plankton". UNESCO. UNESCO. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.

External links[edit]