The Tara Ocean Foundation
In 2003, Agnès and her son Etienne Bourgois, who have always loved the ocean, acquired the schooner Tara, initially as private individuals. They both wanted to create a floating scientific laboratory that would work to protect the marine environment. The objective would be: to observe, study and understand the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis on the ocean, in order to better protect it.
“This project was born from a passion for the ocean, from a humanist and committed vision,” explained Etienne Bourgois. In fact, the Tara project is also about bringing together top scientists, artists and the general public, to encourage multi-disciplinary work, multicultural work, and freedom. Since the project’s beginnings, the schooner has travelled more than 400,000 kilometres, stopping off in more than 60 countries during its 5 major expeditions. These missions, taken in collaboration with top international laboratories (in particular the CNRS, the French National Centre for Scientific Research), have facilitated important scientific advances.
In 2016, The Tara Ocean Fondation was created and became the first publicly recognised foundation dedicated to the ocean. Agnès and Etienne gifted the schooner to the Foundation, of which they were founder members. The “Agnès Troublé dite agnès b.” endowment fund is one of its main patrons, and Etienne is its director.
Today the four main missions of The Tara Ocean Fondation are:
- Expeditions and scientific research on ocean biodiversity, climate change and plastic pollution in the oceans.
- Raising awareness in young people of the challenges related to the oceans. Thanks to a partnership with French National Education, the Foundation has already engaged with 500,000 school pupils, teenagers and young adults, hosting them on board the schooner or offering a program with specialist teaching in schools.
- Advocacy with political and economic decision-makers for better ocean governance. Due to its high-level scientific expertise in the area of the oceans, the Foundation obtained the status of United Nations Observer.
- Cooperation with the southern hemisphere. Data collected by Tara is provided “open access” to scientists from all over the world. In addition, the Foundation is developing a programme of North-South cooperation to enable scientists from developing countries to train in the use of this data.
Furthermore, the Foundation regularly invites artists in residence on board the schooner. This is an innovative way to raise awareness in the public about the environment and the challenges to preserve it.
On 12 December 2020, the schooner Tara launched from Lorient, its home port, for a major new scientific expedition. For two years, the boat-laboratory will travel 70,000 kilometres in the Southern Atlantic, along the coasts of South America, then Africa, via the north Antarctic. This mission involves 42 research organisations from across the world. It aims to study microbiomes, marine microorganisms that play an essential role in the regulation of the climate and which are one of the main links in the global food chain.learn more
Food, design and a commitment to the planet… this is the spirit of the “Tara basecamp,” a venue for meeting and discussion located in Lorient, the schooner’s home port.
It’s in this boat house, part of which doubles as The Tara Ocean Fondation’s technical base, that Tara’s basecamp is located. There is a dining area, where you can also get a coffee, meet, work, flick through journals about the Tara expeditions or follow the expeditions live.
The Tara basecamp is also the meeting point for the sailors, scientists and artists who work with the Foundation.