Discovering coastal ecosystems

​​Better understand the impact of pollutants on marine biodiversity.

Predict the impact of local and global climate change on the microbiome.

Inventory and map the micro-organisms present, define the interactions and the role of each species.

Discover new interactions and new species.


© Noelie Pansiot

For two consecutive years, the schooner Tara is participating in the study of coastal ecosystems all along the European coast. The sampling of Tara Europa is part of the TREC expedition – Traversing
European Coastlines
, conceived by EMBL in collaboration with the Tara OceanS consortium, the Tara Ocean Foundation and more than 70 scientific institutions. During this expedition, a parallel study of biodiversity on land, with EMBL’s mobile laboratories, and at sea, with the schooner Tara, is carried out.

Tara europa map 2024
Tara Europa expedition map © Fondation Tara Océan

Next stopovers

Malaga: February 27 to 28, 2024

Barcelona: March 24 to 31, 2024

Marseille: April 4 to 7, 2024

Nice: April 11 to 14, 2024

Naples: May 4 to 12, 2024

Venice: June 5 to 10, 2024

Athens: July 11 to 19, 2024

In brief

An expedition to the land-sea interface

Europe’s coastlines are environments rich in biodiversity, industry, culture and heritage. 40% of Europe’s population lives in a coastal region. Our seas and coasts are home to an extremely rich diversity of life and play an essential role in the stability and sustainability of wider ecosystems.

Discover the schooner
  • 25 520 kmalong the European coastline

  • 19 payscountries crossed and sampled

  • 17 countries where Tara will stop

  • 40scientists on board

Professor Peer Bork, Director of EMBL Heidelberg and TREC coordinator

“We will explore the interactions between the two major ecosystems on our planet in order to better understand how these ecosystems interact, and how the organisms within them respond to natural and anthropogenic environmental changes.”

Beyond plastic pollution, which is visible and has been the focus of attention for more than a decade, human-made chemical pollution of rivers and coasts must be at the centre of our concerns, as it is likely to affect global and human health at a faster rate than climate change.

Schéma TREC

An unprecedented study on chemical pollutants

Pollutants enter the environment through our consumption, particularly from industry, agriculture, homes and hospitals. The expedition’s researchers are looking at three categories of pollutants to understand the pollution gradients at the land-sea interface:


More than 4000 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in water resources. Degraded products are not taken into account in the studies of regulatory agencies. However, these products, even when degraded to by-products, can have an impact on ecosystems. For example, antibiotics pass through all sewage systems and trigger worrying pockets of antibiotic resistance in nature.


More than 1000 pesticides are being studied in the laboratory by EMBL in order to understand how pollutants are metabolised by bacteria and what their by-products are. Thanks to the field study conducted by TREC and Tara EUROPA, scientists will be able to validate their hypotheses and models.

Plastic additives

During Tara EUROPA, two main families of plastifiers will be studied by scientists who will seek to isolate the bacteria capable of degrading these molecules. Seven laboratories will work together for the chemical profiling of these additives.

The accumulation of pharmaceuticals, pesticides and plastics in the environment is creating a growing threat to ecosystem and human health.  Everything humans put into the environment comes back to them through the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat: the urgency is to understand the extent and impact on their health.


© Maéva Bardy

The team

All aboard the schooner

The Tara Europa expedition is the at-sea part of the TREC programme led by EMBL. TREC brings together 150 researchers from more than 70 institutions in some 30 countries.

Partner labs

Colomban de Vargas

Scientific director of Tara Europa

Clémentine Moulin

Clémentine Moulin

Director of operations

Ocean culture

Immerse in the expedition

Vue de la goélette tara en navigation

Tara Oceans

An expedition to the heart of the biodiversity of the world of plankton.

Les chercheurs de la misson Tara-Jambio font dériver un filet Neuston en forme d’entonnoir

Microbiomes Mission

Understanding the invisible life of the ocean

Our partners

Major partner