Ecology-studying schooner ports at OMSI

Here’s why this ocean-going sailboat docked in East Portland, and the message brought by its crew …

After years of voyaging to all corners of the globe, the ocean schooner Tara Pacific is currently tied up at OMSI dock along the Willamette River.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Starting in 2003, the 118 foot, 120 ton ocean schooner named “Tara” has explored the world’s oceans traveling 233,000 miles, stopped at ports in 60 countries and completed four major expeditions before docking at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) on July 8.

For the past two years, the craft has taken on the name Tara Pacific as the scientists on board have studied coral reefs’ capacity to adapt to climate change.

In the wheelhouse of Tara Pacific, Captain Martan Hertau tells how this very large sailboat is operated.

East Portland News was invited onboard for a tour. Captain Martan Hertau told us he’s captained the Tara Pacific for about five years, with the aid of a crew of six specifically involved in operating the schooner. Plus, there are ten people in involved with the research project aboard.

“Tara is considered a ‘small commercial marine vessel’, but it’s big sailing ship – everyone on board participates. We take turns washing dishes, standing watch, and other duties,” Hertau explained.

In the stateroom, Tara Expeditions Foundation executive director Romain Troublé said the ship’s mission has been to conduct essential research to understand impacts of climate and ecological changes, and to better anticipate future crises.

Tara Expeditions Foundation executive director Romain Troublé tells about their scientific discoveries aboard the Tara Pacific.

“In doing so, the Tara crew and its scientific partners, have discovered some 100,000 microscopic marine species, and millions of new genes,” Troublé remarked.

He deplored the “North Pacific gyre” – an area some call the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, said to be the among the largest concentrations of plastic and microplastic anywhere in the world’s oceans. “We are not against the plastic; we are  against waste being improperly disposed,” Troublé clarified.

During the same day as our visit, Swedish paper packaging company BillerudKorsnäs was hosting a conference entitled “Challenge 2018: Solutions for a Sustainable Future” at which plastic packaging pollution was the main subject.

The science crew aboard the Tara Pacific shows works on equipment they’ve used to collect data during their voyages.

“It’s really cool that the Tara Pacific Expedition stopped here, because it’s focused on innovation, sustainability, and working toward a better and healthier earth,” commented OMSI spokesperson John Farmer. “These are all things that OMSI really cares about, and which align with sparking the curiosity of how we, as individuals, can make a difference to help our planet.”

Find out more about upcoming programs at OMSI by visiting their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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