In episode 40 of the podcast, we spoke with Romain Troublé, CEO of the Tara Ocean Foundation, about the foundation's mission and Mission Microbiomes, one of our flagship expeditions in AtlantECO, as well as the most recent activities of the Foundation.
Mission Microbiomes lasted 22 months, visited 14 countries, and journeyed over 70,000 kilometres. The expedition was challenging, with logistics being a major issue, especially with Covid restrictions. However, the team managed to make it as smooth as possible for the crew and scientists involved. The expedition yielded a lot of data and samples that are now being analysed in AtlantECO. A total of 168 scientists participated in the expedition, and the team used sails instead of the engine for a significant part of the journey, reducing carbon impact. The team had the opportunity to visit some unique oceanic artefacts and locations and study the biodiversity there. A highlight of the expedition was when scientists talked to French president Macron in real-time from Antarctica about climate change and the need to protect the area.
Romain also discussed the foundation's mission, which is unique in its approach, as it encompasses scientific research, education, political advocacy, and sailing. He highlighted the foundation's work and the importance of ocean exploration and biodiversity research. The foundation has enabled the collection of over 100,000 ocean samples across 12 expeditions. With the help of scientists, politicians, and the public, the foundation continues to raise awareness of the ocean's importance and the need to protect it.
And now, Tara, the schooner, has just left on its new mission called Tara Europa, part of the TREC expedition. In this two-year-long expedition, which will begin in Estonia and sail along the European coastlines to Athens in Greece, the team will study various forms of pollution, which is largely invisible, and its link with the microbiome. The TREC expedition takes place from April 2023 to June 2024, gathering biological samples and environmental data along the European coastline. Researchers will study organismal diversity using various techniques and place emphasis on detecting pollutants. The expedition aims to provide a pan-European census of coastal ecosystems. The foundation will use the same protocols it used in previous missions, allowing the collection of comparable data, creating a huge data set that can be later used for analysis.
Finally, the Foundation is also working on the Tara Polar Station project, which aims to document the changes in the Arctic Ocean due to climate change and melting ice. The Arctic Ocean is a unique and extreme environment threatened by global warming and pollution. To improve our understanding of its biodiversity and the impact of climate change, the Tara Polar Station will embark scientists from various fields until 2045. This multidisciplinary scientific approach aims to reveal unique adaptations of organisms, analyse the consequences of melting sea ice and pollution, and discover new molecules, species, and processes. The aim is to better understand the Arctic, so that we can protect the health of the planet.