The Ocean plays an essential role in the equilibrium of our planet. With rapid changes occurring in the Earth's climate system, it becomes more urgent than ever to understand the Ocean. We need to discover the unknown aspects of the Ocean's functions, cycles and biodiversity, and anticipate modifications. This is the immense challenge facing a new science of the Ocean as we confront global
As long as there's plankton
The surface and illuminated layer of the Ocean shelters a formidable variety of tiny plants and animals that drift along with the current - THE PLANCTON . They play an essential role for humanity.
“Oceanography” aboard Tara means collecting more than 30,000 samples that were distributed to 20 international laboratories for analysis.
The journey of data and samples
Every 6 to 8 weeks, stopovers were the opportunity for the crew to ship the samples (stored in liquid nitrogen) to our various partner laboratories where they were subsequently analyzed, including the sequencing of their DNA. Samples were always analyzed taking onto account their environmental parametres such as exact provenance, depth, temperature, pH and salinity.
From samples to databases
More than 40,000 samples were collected during the Tara Oceans expedition. Thanks to recent advances in DNA sequencing methods, microscopic imaging and bioinformatics and within the framework of the OCEANOMICS Future Investment Program, 30% of the samples collected have already been processed between 2013 and 2017. These first analyses revealed above all the extent of our ignorance about the planktonic world.
Oceanographers are now taking a fresh look at this complex ecosystem, as if they had discovered the missing pieces of a puzzle. The image they discover will allow them to better understand the distribution, evolution, and adaptations of plankton.
Tara Oceans, a revolutionary expedition
In May 2015, the largest plankton study ever done in all the world’s oceans – the TARA OCEANS expedition – published its first results in 5 scientific articles in the journal SCIENCE.
In all there have been more than 120 publications in various scientific journals.
Plankton and climate change
Initial analyses identified temperature as one of the environmental factors that most strongly influences the distribution of planktonic communities. This implies that global warming could have a huge impact on planktonic communities and in particular the microscopic organisms whose photosynthetic activity is at the base of the marine food chain.
The plankton social network
The Ocean produces 50% of our oxygen and absorbs more than 25% of the CO2. Tara Oceans helped identify which planktonic organisms are responsible for this oceanic carbon pump. Published in the prestigious scientific journal NATURE, these results reveal the functional interactions within the planktonic community.
A treasure to share
Tara Oceans embodies a new philosophy of research. For the first time, our interdisciplinary team has made it possible to comprehend the oceanic ecosystem in a global way. All data collected during the Tara Oceans expedition is freely available, allowing the international scientific community to advance their research.
EXPLORE TO UNDERSTAND
SHARE FOR A CHANGE
Thanks to the new information learned from the Tara Oceans expedition, we will be able to better predict and anticipate the evolution of the Ocean in the face of climate change. Today, the Tara Expeditions Foundation continues and intensifies our actions. To move forward, we need everyone's help. The Tara Foundation remains independent, functioning entirely thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors.
The Tara Foundation would like to thank the photographers and illustrators who made this exhibition possible:
EBI / EMBL
Christian & Noé Sardet - Plankton Chronicles
Olivier Fontvieille - Anne Ponscarme - Offparis
The OCEANOMICS project benefits from state aid managed by the National Research Agency under the "Future Investment" programme with reference ANR-11BTBR-0008