Snapshots from Mission Microplastics

Tara in Barcelona
A view of Tara from the dockside in Barcelona, with the PRBB on the left. PHOTO: Jordi Casañas

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Highlights from the Tara stopovers in Rome, Marseille, and Barcelona

On 12 September, Tara sailed into the Porto Turistico in Ostia, Rome, at the mouth of the Tiber, against a backdrop of blue skies and Italian sunshine. During the three-day stopover, scientists from EMBL Rome organised multiple public outreach activities, including group tours of the boat and a hands-on workshop to build a fluorescence microscope. There was also a scientific conference to discuss the links between the study of the oceans and life on Earth, a press conference, which was well attended by Italian journalists, and a reception for EMBL Rome stakeholders.

Tara in Rome

Tara in the Porto Turistico in Ostia, Rome. PHOTO: Massimo del Prete/EMBL

A group taking part in outreach activities

The outreach activities on the dock included games, such as DNA origami, and the opportunity to build a fluorescence microscope. PHOTO: Massimo del Prete/EMBL

Romain Troublé and Edith Heard at the scientific conference

Romain Troublé, Executive Director of the Tara Ocean Foundation, and Edith Heard, EMBL Director General, give their opening remarks at the scientific conference ‘On the waves of science’. PHOTO: Massimo del Prete/EMBL

Edith Heard speaking at the press conference

Edith Heard, EMBL Director General, speaking at the press conference. PHOTO: Massimo del Prete/EMBL

Guests enjoying the stakeholder reception

Guests enjoying the stakeholder reception on the dock and aboard Tara. PHOTO: Massimo del Prete/EMBL

Finally, it was time to pull anchor and sail on to the next stop: the atmospheric port of Marseille. From 27–30 September, Tara was docked in Marseille harbour. Visitors on board included EMBL alumni and friends who were attending the EMBL in France event. Romain Troublé, Executive Director of the Tara Ocean Foundation, hosted a press conference, where Yannick Schwab, Head of the Electron Microscopy Core Facility at EMBL, spoke about EMBL’s links with Tara, and about research at EMBL Grenoble.

The Tara boat sailing into Marseille

Tara sailing into the port of Marseille. PHOTO: Elodie Bernollin/Tara Ocean Foundation

Tara docked in Marseille.

Tara docked in Marseille. PHOTO: Vincent Lombard

Edith Heard with colleagues and friends

Edith Heard, EMBL Director General, with colleagues and friends at the EMBL in France event. PHOTO: Vincent Lombard

EMBL alumni and friends in Marseille

EMBL alumni and friends gather in the Marseille sunshine for a tour aboard Tara. PHOTO: Vincent Lombard

Elodie Bernollin gives a tour aboard Tara

Elodie Bernollin (right), Director of Communications at the Tara Ocean Foundation, gives a tour aboard Tara as part of the EMBL in France event. PHOTO: Vincent Lombard

The next stop was Barcelona, where Tara was docked within view of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) from 4–9 October. The stopover coincided with the PRBB’s annual open day on 5 October, when EMBL Barcelona and the five other biomedical research institutes housed in the PRBB open their doors to the public for a day of talks, tours, and activities. There was a Tara focus to EMBL Barcelona’s offerings this year, with samples of aquatic organisms imaged at EMBL’s Mesoscopic Imaging Facility on display.

The mast of the Tara boat

Blues skies over Tara in Barcelona. PHOTO: Jodie Haigh/EMBL

Group photo on the deck of Tara

From left to right: Cyril Piquemal, General Consul of the French Embassy; James Sharpe, Head of EMBL Barcelona; André Abreu, Head of International Policy at the Tara Ocean Foundation; Bruna Vives, Managing Director of the Centre for Genomic Regulation; Nicolas Bin, Captain of Tara. PHOTO: Jordi Casañas

Group photo aboard Tara

James Sharpe, Head of EMBL Barcelona; Nicolas Bin, Captain of Tara; Mathias Jäger, EMBL Press Officer; André Abreu, Head of International Policy at the Tara Ocean Foundation; Carla Manzanas, Liaison Officer at EMBL Barcelona. PHOTO: Jodie Haigh/EMBL

Nicolas Bin and James Sharpe with a photo of Sir Peter Blake

Nicolas Bin tells James Sharpe about the sailor and former owner of Tara (then named SeaMaster), Sir Peter Blake. The New Zealander had a vision for the schooner: to explore and raise awareness about the oceans. PHOTO: Jordi Casañas

James Sharpe and Nicolas Bin in conversation on board Tara.

James Sharpe and Nicolas Bin talking science on board Tara. PHOTO: Jordi Casañas

A special reception on board Tara

Edith Heard, EMBL Director General, and James Sharpe, Head of EMBL Barcelona, were among the guests at a special reception on board Tara. PHOTO: Jordi Casañas

Tara is now in the final weeks of Mission Microplastics, which is scheduled to conclude with the boat’s arrival in Lorient, France, on 23 November. It’s the end of the voyage, but for the scientists involved, the collection of samples is just the start of their work. Now to analyse the data!