World Courier is proud to serve as logistics partner to Tara Pacific, a scientific research mission working to understand the environmental impact to the world’s oceans. Click here to find out how all the samples generated by Tara Pacific are sent to laboratories around the world.
Tara Pacific will sail nearly 100,000 km around the Pacific Ocean for more than two years, its 70 scientists collecting 40,000 coral reef samples. Intertwined with the expedition’s more than 70 stopovers and 30 countries visited, are World Courier’s global offices and agents ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.
Click on the site markers in the map below for more information.
Tara Pacific expedition prepares to depart from the Lorient harbor
Video: Tara Pacific stopover in Miami | Tara, a schooner for the planet
After departure from Lorient on May 28th, Miami was Tara’s first port-of-call at the end of the 30-day transatlantic crossing – logistically indispensable for restocking food and fuel before heading for the Pacific.
The 8-day stopover gave the Tara team the occasion to inform the public who came aboard to visit the schooner, to have exchanges with scientists and the media, and also to support the message of one of Tara’s partners about the importance of sustainable development.
Steve Allicock, Operations Manager in Miami, went to visit Tara during her stop over the 4th of July weekend for a tour of the boat and to meet with the crew. Clearly it was a great day out for everyone, and Steve shared his thoughts with us. Read more in this blog post.
After traversing the Panama Canal, Tara made a 48-hour stopover in Panama City. A short stop to resolve some technical problems and welcome aboard new team members, including scientists who will study the first coral reefs of the expedition. Rainer travelled to Panama and we collected frozen samples to send to the research institutes working with Tara that the on shore scientific work can continue.
Tara set sail in the night to head for the Las Perlas archipelago, or more exactly the outskirts of Saboga, a Panamanian island a few hours from Panama City. This archipelago will be the expedition’s first site for coral sampling.
The short stopover in Panama City officially marks the start of the Tara Pacific expedition and required good coordination to prepare this first leg. She then continued on to Buenaventura.
At dawn on Tuesday morning, after 36 hours at sea, Tara arrived at the island of Malpelo (Colombia) to begin a week of daily dives. The new team will be observing the biggest fish in the world – the whale shark.
After 2 days of calm navigation between Panama and Colombia with a small crew (10 people on board) everything speeded up when Tara dropped anchor in Colombian waters. We moored for only a few hours at Buenaventura, the country’s main port – just enough time to embark fresh food, diving equipment, and some new crew members. We spent a minimum amount of time on land. Given the city’s bad reputation (considered the most dangerous in the country) the team preferred not to dwell here for sightseeing.
The schooner and her crew finally arrived on Wednesday in Easter Island – here called Rapa Nui. The few hours gained over the last days thanks to favorable winds will be put to good use during the upcoming week to complete the busy schedule awaiting us.
Tara has actually been in the vicinity of Easter Island for a while. Since Tuesday evening, the small island has been displayed on the radar screen, but the wait was extended by a succession of sampling stations at various distances from shore. For the scientific team, the objective was to study the island influence on plankton composition: a protocol dedicated to this “island effect” that will be reproduced each time Tara approaches new land during her expedition in the Pacific Ocean. At the last sampling station at dawn on Wednesday, scientists had the pleasure between 2 net immersions in the water, to discover the first rays of sunlight gradually illuminating Rapa Nui.
When Tara dropped anchor for a short week near the shores of Ducie Island in the Pitcairn archipelago, everyone on board enjoyed the unique opportunity of being in one of the most isolated places in the world.
The archipelago of Pitcairn had no reason to become famous. Four small uninviting islands, far from any other land, lying due east of Polynesia, with the Gambier Islands about 500 kilometers away. There are few natural resources to invite settlement. Henderson, the largest of the 4 islands, measures 36 square kilometers, but has no source of fresh water. There is water on Pitcairn, but the island is smaller and very steep, limiting agriculture. Finally, Oeno and Ducie are tiny coral atolls emerging from the ocean, unfit for human settlement.
Leaving behind the Panama Canal, Colombia and Easter Island, Tara has reached the first islands of French Polynesia at Mangareva (Gambier Islands). On board, an international team of coral biologists, oceanographers and plankton experts are collecting samples of coral, reef fish, algae and water. One of their main objectives is to establish the first global analysis of coral reefs and reveal a largely unknown biodiversity.
The schooner left 10 days ago from Papeete with the newly embarked BioAtoll team to complete and diversify the samples collected since the beginning of the Tara Pacific expedition. Tara interviewed Valeriano Parravicini (CRIOBE/EPHE-CNRS-UPVD) who is in charge of leading this 2-week exploration around the Tuamotu Islands.
At the center of Niue Island hides Huavalu reserve, a 5000 hectare primary forest, home to century-old trees. Sionetasi Pulehetoa has fought for decades to protect and preserve this unique ecosystem around which he grew up and of which he knows every little secret. Taking advantage of TARA’s stop on his island, he takes us along to discover his “green paradise” through an audio picture.
It’s not a fiction, it’s a fact: Tuvalu is sinking. The impacts of climate change (extreme weather, sea level rise) are challenging Tuvaluan security and survival. Tara recorded an interview with the Prime Minister, on the future of Tuvalu.
"If we save Tuvalu we save the world" find out more
Wallis & Futuna
Just a few days before Christmas, Tara finished the first complete inventory of marine biodiversity in the Wallis and Futuna archipelago — an undertaking partially accomplished for the last time in 1990, before the impacts of warming. We also had a chance to review our 2 weeks of encounters and discoveries in the French territory furthest from the metropolis, where every enterprise depends on the agreement of the highest traditional authorities: the Kings. Read more here.
Built for extreme conditions, Tara is a legendary research schooner. It has enjoyed 10 expeditions since its initial launch in 2003 — of which World Courier served as logistics partner for the past five years. On May 28, 2016, Tara launched once again with World Courier aboard. This time to the Asia Pacific to examine the biodiversity of coral reefs and their evolution in response to climate change and mankind.
Coral reefs cover less than 0.2 percent of the of the oceans’ floor, yet are home to 30 percent of the known marine biodiversity. To this day, 20 percent of coral reefs have been destroyed, 15 percent are seriously injured and 20 percent may disappear in less than 40 years. While critical to the health of the ocean and to mankind, they are also fragile — which makes packaging and shipping samples of them a bit tricky.
Using dry ice shippers, the majority of the coral reef samples will maintain a temperature requirement of minus 80 °C. In less than 48 hours, the samples must be packed and shipped from Tara Pacific’s location to arrive at its corresponding laboratory, the majority of which will go to Paris-based CEA Genoscope. Depending on the sampling protocol, some zooplankton samples will ship ambient, buffered in ethanol. Although the mix of water and ethanol they require classifies the shipments as dangerous goods, which adds to regulatory compliance challenges. Because the focus of Tara Pacific is on coral origin RNA and DNA, the samples must be considered as endangered species and therefore meet regulations set under the CITES treaty. So in addition to being irreplaceable, further efforts are required to satisfy authorities, including the completion of mounds of paperwork to absolute perfection. Top all these potential threats off with unpredictable and often severe weather, language barriers and pirates (yes, pirates), and you might see the logistics of Tara Pacific as near impossible… Or you might see it as an extraordinary mission calling for extraordinary measures.
Enter World Courier and its unsurpassed global reach and knowledge on temperature-controlled shipments.
Meet Rainer Friedrich, project manager for World Courier (Deutschland) and logistics manager on the Tara Pacific project. His job is to coordinate the complete logistics of the sample shipments, including planning and communications with all parties involved, the completion of all necessary paperwork and the packaging of the samples on board. His past experience serving Tara Oceans from 2009 through 2013 has taught him not to expect anything — in other words, that anything can happen.
“Whenever you coordinate an expedition like this, you can figure out a plan A, but you always have to figure out a plan B or a plan C,” says Friedrich. “The original foundation of the logistics is ideal, but I’ve learned you can’t be sure of anything.”
His biggest concern with Tara Pacific at present: Making sure the export/import permits are in place for every city and managing against temperature excursions in remote areas with high heat like American Samoa. “You have to plan out a tight schedule,” says Friedrich. “What date and time will we arrive in Samoa? What date and time will World Courier’s New York office need to send the dry ice? How quickly can we import? All these little details must be approached with great care — and everything has to come together very quickly.”
Read more about the Tara expedition in these blog posts.