After seven months tracking microplastics in the Mediterranean, the scientific schooner Tara returned to dock in Lorient on November 22. The initial findings are damning.
After traveling 13,000 kilometers around the Mediterranean and making 20 stopovers in 13 countries, the scientific schooner Tara returned to her home port on Saturday, November 22. The ship has been crisscrossing the blue waters of the Mediterranean collecting samples of the plastic micro-fragments that are polluting the sea.
Almost a thousand people were there to welcome the ship home, including Ségolène Royal, the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. Throughout the weekend the public was invited to the events organized jointly by Tara Expeditions and the town of Lorient, including a beach cleaning operation and a conference with Maria Luiza Pedrotti, one of the scientists aboard the schooner.
Analysis of the 2300 samples collected by Tara will begin in December and the results will be presented at the conference on marine plastic pollution organized by the Albert II Foundation in Monaco in March 2015. The Veolia Foundation - a Tara Méditerranée expedition partner - will also be supporting the event.
A "serious but reversible" situation
"The expedition's initial findings are highly instructive," according Gaby Gorsky, the expedition’s scientific director. The Mediterranean is not only virtually closed but is also very popular with tourists. It has "on average the largest density of plastic in the world, with 250 billion microplastic fragments," indicated Francois Galgani, a researcher at Ifremer (French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea). This plastic pollution threatens the ecological balance of the Mediterranean.
"We now know that the situation is even more serious than we feared,” observed Roman Troublé, secretary general of Tara Expeditions, “but it is still reversible." 2015 looks set to be a very busy year for defenders of the oceans. Tara will also present at the Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris in 2015.
Main picture: © HD Media-TaraExpeditions