The main objective will be to understand the evolution of coral reefs in the context of climate and demographic changes.
Although covering only 0.02% of the ocean's surface, coral reefs harbour 25% of ocean biodiversity and provide direct livelihood to nearly a billion people, mainly in the 'Coral Triangle' (Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Papua) of South Asia.
20% of coral reefs have already disappeared forever
Ecological services from coral reefs (fisheries, tourism, coastal protection) are estimated at about 30 billion USD per year. This ecosystem should be a priority for study at the global level - because coral reefs are dying. Recent estimates indicate that about 20% of reefs have disappeared forever, 25% are in grave danger and an additional 25% will be threatened by 2050.
Coral reefs are particularly affected by global change; the accumulated effect of human population increase and climate change. Reefs are undergoing specific anthropogenic pressures specific to coastal ecosystems. Improving their sustainable management is urgent, and this will happen only by increasing and integrating scientific knowledge in their governance.
Coral reefs have often been at the forefront of research on climate change, due to bleaching (mostly related to the increase in temperature), ocean acidification, and concerns about reef growth process. But the increase in world population and UN projections in this context show more imminent threats.
The Coral Triangle area has over 30% of the world's reefs. Nearly 80% of the reefs in this area are threatened with extinction in the short term.By crossing the Pacific region from east to west, following an increasing gradient of biodiversity to the Coral Triangle, the Tara Pacific Expedition will have the opportunity to:
- Answer major questions about the health of remote reefs far from direct human disturbance
- Explore the potential for resistance, adaptation and resilience of these habitats to climate change,
- Study the biodiversity of these reefs at different levels of complexity, from the gene to the eco-system and
- Develop applications of this research for human health.
Find out more about the science of the Tara Pacific Expedition