Tara Oceans, a boat for the planet

The expedition made by Tara Oceans has sailed the world seas from 2009 to 2013 on a map-making mission in order to record the depths of its biodiversity. On the occasion of the publication of its first findings in the magazine Science, we are inviting you to relive this scientific expedition for the sake of the climate.

An International and multi-disciplined expedition

The Tara Oceans expedition has crisscrossed the wide seas on a map-making mission from 2009 to 2013 to record wealth and biodiversity of the oceans. In fact the expedition has given rise to a discovery of a myriad of plankton organisms and has explored their behaviour. This data will serve as a valuable resource for the scientific community by providing a catalogue of millions of previously unknown species...

Tara Oceans expeditions which later became Tara Oceans Polar Circle are the eighth and ninth expeditions to be embarked upon in the schooner Tara; from the Mediterranean sea to the Atlantic, and then from the Indian ocean to the Pacific as well as encompassing the Ant artic to the Artic oceans, all within 938 days.
A total of 250 team members,(scientific, artistic and journalists) from 35 different nationalities, all sharing the life aboard the Tara. An impressive number of 55 researchers involved in the research co-wrote the 5 articles published in the special edition of the science revue on 22 May.


An expedition supported by Europe and France

The expedition supported by Centre national de recherche scientifique (CNRS), le Laboratoire européen de biologie moléculaire and Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) and a number of other public and private participants, have studied planktonic ecosystems in the two hemispheres and every ocean.

The French involvement in this research is at the heart of this exhibition and is making a significant contribution given that more than 50 different laboratories and research centres are offering their expertise : the CNRS, the CEA, l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche, the Laboratoires d’Océanographie et du Climat, le Génoscope, l’Ecole Normale Supérieure, l’Université Pierre et Marie Curie, l’IFREMERas well as many others are bringing their expertise.


A Frenchman from Ireland on board!

Emmanuel Reynaud, a French researcher from University College Dublin, was in charge of the platform for microscopic imaging on board the schooner for a period of time on this expedition.

Some of his photos have been presented in the Tara Oceans exhibition, with support from the Embassy of France in Ireland while the schooner was docked in Dunlaoire harbour during the summer of 2012.,lors du passage de la goélette à Dún Laoghaire pendant l’été 2012. Since then the schooner has also travelled to Germany, Sweden, Greece, UAE and South America and today can be found in Romania.



The expedition clearly reveals the importance of plankton in our ecosystem for the survival of our planet.

Made up of animal organisms, plants, algae, and the virus and bacteria that come from them, plankton is in fact an essential link in the chain of climatic cycles and global biochemistry and it represents 80% of the unicellular organisms that appeared in the world 2.7 billion years ago. These microscopic beings produce half of our oxygen, influencing and being influenced by our climate and serve as the basis for the marine food chain that feed fish and sea mammals.

The work carried out sequentially by science teams, is the biggest ever research made into marine organisms as pointed out by Patrick Wincker of Génoscope(CEA) : « The analyses has revealed about 40 millions species of microbials, the great majority of which are new, which suggests to us that planktonic diversity could be more important that one thought ».

Expedition Tara Océans The Tara Ocean’s expedition has developed an Eco systemic approach, which allows for the taking of samples in a systematic way from the oceans of the earth and when the findings are brought to bear, numerous environmental variables are revealed. The data obtained are made up of points of reference that will permit the evaluation of the impact of climate change of the oceanic ecosystems of the future


Before accommodating the Tara expeditions, the schooner, conceived by a medical explorer Jean-Louis Etienne in 1989, circumnavigated the globe under the name of Antarctica jusqu’en 1996. Until 1996. Then taken over by Peter Blake under the name of Seamaster, she has been the principal instrument in the program of defense of the environment supported by Programme des Nations-Unies pour l’Environnement (PNUE). It was in 2003 that the director general of Agnes B, Etienne Bourgeois acquired it and renamed it Tara : he launched simultaneously the Tara Expeditions project so as to make us conscious of the fragility of the environment.

Published on 29/05/2015

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