Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was a welcome guest aboard the ship “Tara” last Saturday. The UN backed scientific expedition, known as Tara Oceans, has travelled 70, 000 miles across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian oceans investigating the effects of global warming on biodiversity and marine life, particularly focusing on marine plankton, and aims to bridge the knowledge gap between the scientific community and the public by regularly sharing its findings and data and allowing visitors into the Tara vessel wherever it docks.
Accompanied by his wife and deputy spokesperson Eduardo del Buey, the Secretary General was greeted by captain Loïc Valette, fashion designer and sponsor ‘agnès b’ and Romain Troublé.
As Tara left North Cove Marina where it had been moored for almost a week, Mr. Ban listened intently to explanations about the masts, sails, and scientific equipment. Captain Loïc at the helm, Tara descended the Hudson River and then sailed up the East River.
Mr Ban later went inside Tara to discover the living space especially designed for polar expeditions. Accompanied by Eric Karsenti, the scientific director, Mr. Ban learned about the challenges of their mission and the scientific equipment on board. He then spent considerable time in Tara’s “dry lab” discovering images of the amazing but unfamiliar world of plankton.
In view of the upcoming Earth Summit in Rio, Mr Ban stressed his personal commitment to issues concerning the oceans, and invited Tara Expeditions to help define the role of oceans for mankind in the various initiatives promoted by the United Nations.
Andrew Hudson, Coordinator of UN Oceans, said earlier this week that “the Tara expedition represents an extraordinary human endeavour by focusing on the key major gaps in our knowledge on plankton”. He added that the expidition is facilitating communication not only between scientists and the public but also with policy-makers so they know how the ocean works and how human activity impacts this vital ecosystem.
One last handshake with agnès b, an appreciative salute to the whole crew with words spoken in French, saying that he was “very moved by this visit, ” and the Secretary General returned to land. The mission is carried out under the auspices of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and in partnership with UNESCO’s International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
(source: Oceanology Internatonal – picture AFP Julien Girardot)