Tara Océans
hors série

Here is one of the treasures of the Tara Oceans expedition: plankton. The photographs on display, under the artistic direction of agnès b. Troublé, are those taken by the scientists of Tara Oceans. These photos reveal the living world to us in all its beauty and diversity.

Tara is a schooner dedicated to scientific exploration. She has been on the high seas since 2003, following an initiative by Etienne Bourgois and agnès b. Troublé, the aim being to gain a better understanding of the impact of global warming on ecosystems. She has so far made 7 expeditions.

Between 2009 and 2012, Tara carried out an expedition lasting 21⁄2 years which explored all the world’s oceans. This expedition, known as Tara Oceans, was the first ever attempt to make a global study of marine plankton, a minuscule life form which extends from marine viruses to fish larvae to jellyfish.

Scientists have recently discovered the importance of plankton for climate: not only can the plankton population be very quickly affected by climatic variations, but it can itself in turn influence the climate by modifying the absorption of carbon. In a context of rapid physical and chemical change, like the acidification now being observed in oceans, there is an urgent need to predict how plankton will evolve. Studying it is like taking the pulse of our planet.

Tara has taken 27,000 samples which will be analysed in the laboratory: enough to give us hitherto unknown insights into plankton. A new global database is to be created in order to better understand the overall regulation of the earth’s climate. About a hundred scientists from more than 12 different research areas (oceanographers, biologists, geneticists and physicists) are involved in the project.