by Arianna Caracciolo
MONACO Created twelve years ago in June 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation works for the protection of the environment and sustainable development of our planet. Over the past 12 years, the Foundation has supported 400 projects across the globe, for a total amount of more than 40million Euros. Building on a concrete approach, as close to the field as possible, the projects have all been selected after a rigorous process led by the Foundation’s governing bodies, composed of international experts.
A partner of the Tara Foundation since 2007, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is particularly active in developing and strengthening Marine Protected Areas, supporting polar projects, and fighting against plastic pollution. Tara Expeditions Foundation is a French non-profit organization active since 2003 in favor of the environment. A legendary boat built for extreme conditions, Tara is the platform for high-level scientific research missions. The missions of Tara Expeditions concern 3 main themes:
– Ocean & Mankind – Ocean & Biodiversity – Ocean & Climate. A strong partnership between Tara and Monaco Explorations has been outlined through 2020-2021. “Prince Albert II is a concerned and passionate man who doesn’t hesitate to go into the field, to meet scientists and project leaders. His involvement is also visible in the governance of the Foundation: he is present at all the meetings of the Scientific and Technical Committee, and the Board of Directors.” said Scientific Director Philippe Mondielli about the Foundation and its connections with Tara over the years. “The Prince Albert II Foundation is involved in 3 geographical zones: the least developed countries, the Mediterranean, and the poles. The schooner Tara has traveled the 7 seas from one hemisphere to the other. The connection between Tara’s expeditions and the Foundation’s fields of action is obvious.” Philippe Mondielli concluded. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is a financial partner, and a partner ‘at heart’ as well. It has been an ongoing adventure, almost since the creation of the Foundation. The Foundation supports Tara in all her missions. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation also joined with the Tara Expeditions Foundation, Surfrider Foundation Europe and the Mava Foundation in launching the initiative Beyond Plastic Med (on March 10, 2015) to encourage innovative and citizen-based solutions in the fight against plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.
On the occasion of the 2017 “Our Ocean” conference organized by the European Commission in Malta on October 5-6, 2017, an agreement was signed between Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Monaco Scientific Center and Tara Expeditions Foundation for Monaco Explorations. This agreement aims to pool scientific approaches and harmonize data collected on coral and planktonic ecosystems between Tara expeditions and Monaco Explorations. It is intended to ensure a continuity in scientific oceanographic research, initiated by the Tara Oceans and Tara Pacific consortia. Tara is about science, but it’s also one of the rare organizations that knows how to communicate about science. For 15 years Tara has been constantly on the move: the schooner has traveled 300,000 kilometers across all the world’s oceans. She has accomplished 10 expeditions to study and understand the impacts of climate change and the ecological crisis on the ocean, with concrete results. “Tara Expeditions works daily to increase environmental awareness among the general public and young people. Through his special consultative status at the United Nations, Tara Expeditions also develops a long-term advocacy plan to mobilize civil society and encourage politicians to act concretely on the solutions we all need for the planet. This ability to reach a very wide public seems essential to the Prince Albert II Foundation.” added the Scientific Director of the Foundatio Philippe Mondielli. “For example, the Tara Foundation has just established new relations with China, the largest country in the world, in the form of a partnership with the University of Xiamen.”
On April 6 2018 at a press conference aboard the schooner Romain Troublé, director of the Tara Foundation, along with Min Han Dai, director of the Science and Technology Department at the University of Xiamen, and scientist Chris Bowler (PSL, CNRS), reaffirmed their vision of the Ocean as a global system and announced their desire to collaborate. The University of Xiamen recently acquired an oceanographic research vessel, the Tan Kah Kee, which will navigate alongside Tara on the same scientific mission to expand the scope of scientific research. The oceanographic research vessel of Xiamen University, Tan Kah Kee, welcomed Tara upon her arrival in Xiamen. Side by side, these two scientific research vessels, French and Chinese, crossed the channel leading to the city’s harbor. Pending a future joint scientific expedition, Tara and the Tan Kah Kee welcomed aboard Chinese visitors. Nearly 4,500 people were thus made aware of the challenges involved in protecting the Oceans.
Tara’s main expeditions with the support of the Albert II of Monaco Foundation are:
2006 – 2008 TARA ARCTIC: in an unprecedented scientific and human adventure, after Nansen’s in 1893, from September 2006 to January 2008 Tara drifted in the Arctic, a region critical to the evolution of Earth’s climate.
2009 – 2013 TARA OCEANS: launched in September 2009, the schooner’s 8th and 9th expeditions (Tara Oceans and Tara Oceans Polar Circle) has been a three year voyage around the world, with fifty stopovers. Itspurpose has been to investigate planktonic and coral ecosystemsin the perspective of climate changes. 150 international scientists have taken part. The initial results of the expedition have exceeded expectations.
2014 – TARA MEDITERANEE: after more than four years sailing around the world and the Arctic, Tara was on mission in the Mediterranean from may to november 2014, with two objectives: to accomplish a scientific study concerning plastic pollution, and to promote awareness of environmental challenges in the mediterranean region. This expedition, the schooner’s tenth since 2003, is an opportunity for Tara Expeditions Foundation to promote the efforts of local and regional associations* on many environmental issues concerning this almost-closed sea.
2016-2018 – TARA PACIFIC: The research schooner Tara left her home port of Lorient on May 28th 2016 to sail nearly 100,000 km around the Pacific Ocean for more than two years.
The interdisciplinary team of scientists aboard, coordinated by the CNRS and the Scientific Centre of Monaco (CSM), are examining in a new way the biodiversity of coral reefs and their evolution in response to climate change and human activities.
Chris Bowler, researcher and scientific director of the expedition says: “Tara Pacific is exploring each reef‘s hidden biodiversity – genomic, genetic, viral and bacterial – in order to compare it with the biodiversity of the surrounding body of water. Our goal is to get a real idea of the overall diversity of a coral colony.” Besides the state of health of each reef and its biodiversity at different levels, the scientific team focuses on the capacities of resistance, adaptation and resilience of the reef ecosystems. A last aspect of the study will focus on the potential applications of coral biology to medical research. This expedition is unique in that it is cover such a huge geographical area – the Pacific Ocean – where over 40% of the world’s coral reefs are concentrated. A study on this scale has never before been accomplished. From east to west and from north to south, Tara is criss-crossing the Pacific Ocean, from the Panama Canal to the archipelago of Japan (2016-2017), from New Zealand to China (2017-2018), the schooner traverses 11 time zones of the world’s largest ocean, and visits the most remote islands and reefs.