Research schooner Tara at anchor in Walvis Bay for five days
The Tara research schooner sailing under the French flag, arrives in Walvis Bay this Wednesday 01 June for a five-day visit before continuing on her journey northward along Africa’s west coast. The ship is on a scientific voyage on behalf of the Tara Ocean Foundation, a French research organisation that works for the protection of the ocean.
Her journey started in Cape Town and will eventually cover seven countries as she sails north to Angola, the DRC, Congo Brazzaville, the Gambia and Senegal.
The Tara Foundation is studying the Benguela current which flows offshore Africa’s west coast from south to north. This current originates in the southern seas, moving northward hugging the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia before moving deeper into the Atlantic Ocean. Closer to the Equator, it forms multiple eddies spreading as far as Brazil with a significant impact on the mechanics of the entire South Atlantic Ocean.
During the Tara’s stopover in Walvis Bay the marine and scientific crew will organize guided tours of the schooner to show this floating laboratory to learners and the general public. The Tara Ocean Foundation will also conduct conferences and a film screening in collaboration with local scientific and research organisations to raise awareness of marine protection.
The African west coast leg is only one phase in an extensive 70,000-km journey of the South Atlantic along the coasts of Africa and South America and from there to Antarctica.
During the first stage of the expedition, the scientific team studied Chilean, Brazilian and Argentinian waters. The schooner Tara then sailed to the Weddell Sea in Antarctica.
Conceived by the Tara Ocean Foundation, the international AtlantECO programme, and scientific partners like South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Universities of Cape Town and of Pretoria, this mission investigates42 research structures around the world to study the ocean microbiome and its interactions with climate and pollution.
In addition to the Tara’scientific mission, the crew conducts awareness-building activities at every stopover. It is at these venues where they engage the local residents to talk about the ocean, its immense value for human existence, and reasons why it must be protected at all costs. For the Walvis Bay visit, these activities are coordinated with the French Embassy.
the Tara Ocean Foundation, the scientific and marine crew organises awareness-raising activities at each of the schooner’s stopovers. These moments on land are an opportunity to meet the general public, schoolchildren, the scientific community and political decision-makers in order to discuss the Ocean. Tara will also host a three-day summer school for young African researchers from labs & universities along the Atlantic coast of Africa to train in standard sampling & analysis methods for marine microbiomes and microplastics.
On Thursday and Friday, 02 and 03 June, the activities consists of film screenings, information sessions and scientific workshops. This coming weekend, however, the schooner is open to the public but eager visitors must first register at https://my.weezevent.com/tara-in-walvis-bay-public-visites .