French schooner Tara stops in Miami on coral reef mission

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MIAMI: Scientists aboard the French research schooner Tara set sail from Miami on Tuesday after stopping for several days to raise awareness about the peril from global warming facing coral reefs worldwide.

The stopover was the first for Tara as it embarks on journey from France toward the Pacific Ocean, where it will collect samples from coral reefs over the next two years.

The public was invited to visit the double-sailed ship, which has traveled 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) across all the world’s oceans to study the impacts of climate change on the ocean.

Scientists also gave a series of talks to discuss their newest mission, called Tara Pacific.

The plan is to visit “40 reefs from Panama to the Philippines,” said expedition director Romain Trouble during a conference with other marine scientists at Miami-Dade College.

Coral biologists, chemists, oceanographers and plankton specialists will take 40,000 samples “over a wide geographical area that has not yet been studied,” said a statement from the non-profit expedition.

The crew already began taking samples after it left France last month, said Trouble.

The Tara Pacific campaign, which got underway in June 2016 and is set to run through September 2018, “will ultimately provide new information on the unknown role of certain biochemical parameters,” including the interactions between coral reefs, algae, fish and marine life and the effects of pollution and climate change, the team said.

The schooner will also make 70 stopovers to raise awareness about the need to preserve reefs, which are struggling worldwide from a mass bleaching event that is widely blamed on warming waters, driven by climate change and human activities.

The data from the coral reef mission is expected to be released in 2019 or 2020, around the time when Tara is setting sail on another new mission, this time to the Arctic, said Trouble.

“Science takes time,” he said.