Bigelow Laboratory Hosts March 9 Café Scientifique Discussion about Three-Year Ocean Research Expedition [RESCHEDULED FROM JANUARY 19]
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is hosting a special Café Scientifique gathering at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at the Opera House, 86 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor. Dr. Michael Sieracki, a Senior Research Scientist at the Laboratory, will lead a discussion about his recent experiences as Chief Scientist aboard the 118-foot French research schooner Tara. His talk is titled “Tara Oceans—the Beginning of a Trans-Global Ocean Biodiversity Expedition.”
“Over the next three years, Tara Oceans will analyze plankton ecosystems in relation to environmental conditions throughout the world’s oceans,” Sieracki said. “I joined the voyage in Malta in early November for a total of three weeks, on the legs from Malta to Tripoli in Libya, and then from Tripoli to Dubrovnik, Croatia.”
Tara Oceans will finish its first year in Cape Town, South Africa; the second year will take it through the Southern Ocean, the South Atlantic, and then across the Pacific to Australia. In 2012, the ship will sail from Australia north through the Pacific, up around Alaska and through the Northwest passage back to Boston, and then back home to France.
The expedition is organized by a private foundation owned by Agnes B, a clothing design company in France. The schooner is built for research; most recently it gathered scientific data in the Arctic for two years while frozen into the ice. The current expedition’s staff consists of 15 people, with a rotation of five scientists, five media people, and five crew members.
“We're trying to learn about the oceans in terms of the plankton of the ocean, using new molecular methods looking at DNA and imaging of the microbes in the ocean, and at the same time teach the world about the state of the ocean and what the microbes are telling us about climate change and ocean acidification,” Sieracki said.
MPBN radio broadcast an interview with Sieracki from the Tara on November 13, 2009.
Sieracki received a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, and studied the microbial ecology of marine planktonic ecosystems. He is also the director of the Laboratory’s J. J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry, which provides access to the latest cytometric instruments, technologies, and applications for scientific research and training to scientists within Bigelow Laboratory and visiting researchers from around the world.
The Laboratory’s Café Scientifique gatherings are organized as informal conversations about scientific issues, research, exploration, and the latest news from the field. The cafés are free, open to the public, and a cash bar is available. Bigelow scientists have hosted public talks since the beginning of the Laboratory’s residence on the Maine coast in 1974. The Café Scientifique movement itself began in 1998 in England, and has spread quickly throughout Europe and the United States. There are over 150 science cafés organized in over 42 countries.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a center for global ocean research. An independent, nonprofit research institution, the Laboratory is supported by federal research grants and private funds. The Laboratory’s research ranges from microbial oceanography -- examining biological productivity in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale biogeochemical processes that drive interactions between ocean ecosystems and global environmental conditions. These programs have taken Bigelow scientists around the world to every ocean and the polar seas. ###