The scientific schooner Tara returns to France after a journey of 70,000 km

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The scientific schooner Tara back in France after a journey of 70 000 km

Romain Troublé, director of the Tara Foundation, poses aboard the schooner of the same name, which has completed a 70,000 km journey .

After 70,000 km around the globe, the schooner Tara arrived in France on Saturday, with thousands of samples of microorganisms whose analysis should make it possible to better understand how ocean plankton works.

We have no discovery to reveal to you, warned Romain Troublé, director of the Tara Foundation, during a press conference on the island of Groix (western France), at the end almost two years of Microbiome mission.

During its voyage from Chile to Africa, passing through the Amazon and Antarctica, the laboratory sailboat took nearly 25,000 samples of marine microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, prostites, etc). After analysis, within 18 months to two years, we will begin to have the first discoveries, according to Mr. Trouble.

At the base of the food chain, these micro- organisms, invisible people of the sea, constitute more than two thirds of the marine biomass. They capture atmospheric CO2 and provide half of the oxygen we breathe.

The question we ask ourselves is: how does it work? How do all these viruses, these bacteria, these marine microalgae manage to interact to produce oxygen, store carbon and produce proteins?, explained Romain Troublé. And how will it change tomorrow with climate change and pollution?

The schooner has taken particular interest in plastic pollution and the impact of the Amazon River, whose flow is around 200 million liters per second, on the life of the oceans and the ocean microbiome.

It is believed that the Amazon has a role in the development of sargassum, noted Samuel Chaffront, researcher at the University of Nantes (west).

These invasive algae , which proliferate in the West Indies, give off toxic fumes when they rot on the shore.

One ​​hypothesis is that Brazil's deforestation and increasing agriculture have increased the landfill of nitrate fertilizer in the Amazon, Mr. Chaffront said. This will allow the development of these sargassum […] which can be found as far away as the African coast.

The data collected by Tara during previous missions gave more than 250 publications in the scientific press.

The 36 m long and 10 m wide schooner, with several laboratories on board, accommodates 14 people, half of whom are dozen scientists of all nationalities.

She will leave in the spring of 2023 to study chemical pollution off the European coast.

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