Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
Tara. Two syllables that roll from one side to the other... This is the name of an extraordinary boat, an oceanographic sailboat that is crisscrossing the waters of the Pacific in early 2018. On board, passionate sailors and researchers who are trying to unlock the secrets of coral reefs.
Tara Pacific Expedition
Launched in 2016, this expedition, named Tara Pacific, will be completed in the fall of 2018. With my journalist hat on, I was lucky enough to be able to board with a team of scientists and spend a week on board with them for a report, in February 2018.
I flew to the Philippines, where I joined them near Palawan, in the waters of the small island of Pangatalan. In the heart of the Shark Fin Bay, we discovered the work of restoration of the coral reefs led by the Sulubaai Foundationcreated by a French couple, before crossing the China Sea to Vietnam on board Tara...an unforgettable adventure.
My 2018 articles on Tara and the Sulubaai Foundation
Upon my return, I wrote a series of articles in Ouest-France, the newspaper I work for, which were published in February and March 2018. I also published a long-form feature in the magazine n ° 15 Dive! (May-June 2018) which has just been released on newsstands.
Here are links to all of these articles that appeared in 2018:
To discover above, my report for the magazine Dive! Eight pages in issue 15 of May-June 2018.
Sulubaai: they bought an island to save the coral
Frédéric Tardieu summed up the birth of his environmental project in Pangatalan, which was to become the Sulubaai Foundation : "At the beginning, we had the dream of erasing the damage caused by man on this island. Today it has become a struggle, to make this tiny place on Earth a lung of biodiversity."
Originally from Marseille, he and his wife Chris created this foundation in the Philippines in 2012, a year after they set their sights on this small island of Pangatalan, near Palawan. At an age when others are starting to think about retirement, the couple left everything in France to dedicate themselves to the restoration of the island, whose reef and vegetation had been devastated.
In 2016, the Tardieu's and the Sulubaai Foundation team managed to turn an area of about 40 hectares around the island into a marine protected area (MPA), where fishing is prohibited. They reconstituted an artificial reef with coral cuttings. They have surrounded themselves with marine biologists, hosted scientific missions, and educated the inhabitants of the villages of Shark Fin Bay about the protection of mangroves and the coastline, both on land and underwater...
I tell the whole story in an article published on March 15, 2018 in the evening edition digitalOuest-FranceI'll give you the link here:
Below are some photos brought back from my 2018 stay in Pangatalan :
Discover below, in addition, the video report on Pangatalan and the Sulubaai Foundation, made during our stopover by my sister Noëlie Pansiot, correspondent on board for Tara :
2020: return to Pangatalan for the Sea Academy project
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 2020. Two years after the story I mentioned above, I returned to Pangatalan in March 2020, just before the borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was able to dive again around the island in the Shark Fin Bay and to discuss with Frédéric Tardieu the current and future missions of the Sulubaaï Foundation, includingthe new Sea Academy projectwhich is scheduled to last three years until 2024.
Objective: to develop several small MPAs (marine protected areas) on a human scale, to restore the coral and mangroves and, above all, to bring back the fish thanks to innovative methods...
In September 2020, the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) has officially validated its financial support for the Sea Academy project. This news has allowed me to dedicate a new article in the evening edition digitalOuest-France to this wonderful initiative, which brings hope to marine ecosystems. The link is here:
UPDATE, MAY 2019.I also invite you to listen this May 22, 2019 episode of the excellent podcast On the roads of Asia by Romain Lazzarotto, who gives the floor to Fred Tardieu (player below). He tells with an infectious enthusiasm the incredible adventure in which he and his wife Chris embarked, helped by the young diver and marine biologist Thomas Pavy, to transform the island and obtain the status of marine protected area (MPA) around Pangatalan:
UPDATE, FEBRUARY 2020. The 20 Hours TF1 broadcasted, on Sunday February 16, 2020, a report on Pangatalan and the ongoing environmental missions promoted by the Sulubaaï Foundation, in particular the repopulation of the reefs thanks to fish post-larvae. I put you below the video of the report published on Facebook by the company ECOCEANbased in Montpellier and specialized in this field:
UPDATE, MARCH 2021. Three years after my first report in Pangatalan, Paris-Match devoted a report to Fred Tardieu and the Sulubaai Foundation, followed by a column in partnership on Europe 1. I put below the short video of Paris-Match A social networking site (with a few photos taken by me in it), where Fred Tardieu sums up everything that has been accomplished on the island since his arrival:
More pictures of the adventure
This fantastic February 2018 experience in the Philippines took me a little further, to Vietnam. Because after the stopover in Pangatalan, the schooner Tara crossed the South China Sea earlier than expected and I stayed on board... Which was not in the program, initially!
I discovered what it was like to spend several days on the high seas, on a round-hulled sailboat, when you are not used to sailing at all. I never thought I was prone to seasickness, but I became very humble again in front of the open sea...
And I now have a boundless admiration for the sailors and scientists on board who live this way every day, or almost every day, because it is their job. Maybe I'll tell you about it one day...