After 883 days of sailing across the Pacific, the Tara ship has just returned to Lorient, Morbihan, her home port, on Saturday 27 October 2018. Accompanied by dozens of other boats between the island of Groix and the Lorient La Base port, the Tara docked at 3:30pm in front of the sailing museum ‘Cité de la voile Éric Tabarly’ in front of thousands of people, who showed interest and enthusiasm about the mythical boat and the scientific works that were carried out onboard. The vessel was decorated with the logos of the Centre Scientifique de Monaco and the Prince Albert II Foundation, and has traveled more than 100,000 km, highlighting the Principality of Monaco’s large contribution to the mission.
The lengthy expedition created a very close community and all the data that was collected will be used for years to come by international laboratories. Coordinated by Dr. Serge Planes, Director of the Laboratoire d’Excellence Corail and by Professor Denis Allemand, Scientific Director of the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the international mission, which brought together more than 100 scientists from 23 research institutes, led to the collection of more than 36,000 samples of various kinds, and more than a thousand photographs taken in 30 different countries on more than 32 coral sites.
Many researchers and technicians from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco participated during the 2.5 year expedition in numerous missions of studies and samples on board the Tara. Two researchers from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Dr. Stéphanie Reynaud and Dr. Didier Zoccola, coordinated the working groups.
The scientific and human adventure was launched to study the Pacific coral reefs and more specifically, the functioning of coral with symbiotic algae, as well as a wide variety of bacteria, protists and viruses and its ability to adapt to anthropogenic changes.
After the ship docked after her incredible voyage, several personalities made speeches about the great adventure: Norbert Métairie, President of Lorient Agglomeration, Bernard Pouliquen, Vice-President Region for Higher Education, Research and Digital Transition, Antoine Petit, President and CEO of the CNRS. Frédérique Vidal emphasized that Tara is a summary of what a scientific adventure is about: to learn, to understand, with a lot of soul, reminiscent of the great scientific expeditions.
Although the field mission has just ended, work for the scientists is far from over and many years will be needed to decipher the huge amount of data that was collected.
This mission was the first of its size in many ways: geographically because it studied the main reefs of the Pacific Ocean, methodologically because of the diversity of techniques and disciplines involved, temporally because of the duration of the mission and finally, its human scale thanks to the number of researchers and technicians who participated in the sampling and who will participate in the analyses.