International Cooperation Workshop “tara PACIFIC in Okinawa 2017”Held

The tara Foundation, a French non-profit organization, and the University of the Ryukyus Department of Science hosted a joint workshop entitled “tara PACIFIC in Okinawa 2017” on April 17, 2017 in the Researcher Exchange Facility 50th Anniversary Memorial Hall.

The tara Foundation, founded by Agnès B. and Etienne Bourgois to highlight the effect that climate change and environmental destruction have on the ocean, has partnered with various research laboratories and institutions around the world to work toward making this information known. Their ship, the tara, has participated in 10 different exploration projects over the past 13 years, and the current “tara PACIFIC” project marks their 11th overall. The goal of the project is to investigate the biodiversity of coral reefs. Between February and April 2017, the ship made port calls in Fukuoka, Onomichi, Kobe, Nagoya, Yokohama, Tokyo, Shimoda and Chatan to hold public events to highlight their research activities. The workshop held at the University of the Ryukyus was the only meeting of experts that took place during the group’s visit to Japan. It was so that researchers at the University of the Ryukyus, whose home base is located in a coral reef area, and tara PACIFIC researchers could have a platform to exchange ideas.ニュース/タラ号が日本にやってくる/

(available in Japanese only)

The workshop was attended by this university Vice President and Director Mutsumi Nishida (Head of Research Planning and Strategy), who began proceedings with a welcome speech. The first half of the meeting saw Xavier Bougeard, who is in charge of education for the tara Foundation, assistant teacher Atsuko Tanaka (Department of Science) and assistant teacher Sylvain Agostini (University of Tsukuba) speak about the tara Foundation’s efforts and the goals and results of each of its projects.

The latter half of the meeting saw, from this university’s side, associate professors Takashi Nakamura (Department of Science) and Saki Harii (Tropical Biosphere Research Center) and from tara PACIFIC’s side assistant teacher Sylvain Agostini (University of Tsukuba), Dr. Maggy Nugues (CRIOBE-CNRS, France) and Dr. David Lecchini (CRIOBE-CNRS, France) give lectures regarding coral reef research. In a calm, relaxing atmosphere, a lively discussion among the participants ensued, especially regarding large-scale coral bleaching which has been in focus in recent years, as well as the effects of global warming. A productive exchange of ideas took place between the tara’s resident researchers and researchers residing in Okinawa.

At this workshop, over 70 specialists from both inside and outside the university participated. An especially large number of these were the University of the Ryukyus graduate school exchange students, which added to an atmosphere of youthful energy. The major significance of the workshop was that it deepened ties and allowed for personal exchange between coral reef researchers from the University of the Ryukyus, which leads Japan in the field, and researchers from the tara PACIFIC project, who carry out research on a global scale. This workshop has set the stage for future growth both in research and interpersonal collaboration.

Commemorative Photo

Vice President and Director Mutsumi Nishida (left) and head of education for the tara Foundation Xavier Bougeard (right)

Scenes from the workshop (Researcher Exchange Facility 50th Anniversary Memorial Hall)

Mass media took a keen interest in covering this workshop

Assistant Teacher Atsuko Tanaka (Department of Science) gives an outline of proceedings

Assistant Teacher Sylvain Agostini (University of Tsukuba) explains about the tara PACIFIC project

Associate Professor Takashi Nakamura (Department of Science) gives a speech

Dr. Maggy Nugues (CRIOBE-CNRS, France) introduces her research

Associate Professor Saki Harii (Tropical Biosphere Research Center) addresses the attendees

Former visiting researcher to the University of the Ryukyus Dr. David Lecchini (CRIOBE-CNRS, France) speaks at the workshop

Interacting with graduate school exchange students