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A masted research vessel ties up at the Willamette River dock of our science museum

DAVID F. ASHTON - After years of voyaging to all corners of the globe, ocean schooner Tara Pacific is currently tied up at the OMSI dock along the Willamette River. Starting in 2003, a 118-foot, 120-ton ocean schooner named "Tara" has been exploring the world's oceans – traveling 233,000 miles, stopping at ports in 60 countries, and completing four major expeditions – before docking for a visit 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.

DAVID F. ASHTON - In the wheelhouse of the Tara Pacific, Captain Martan Hertau tells how this very large sailboat is operated. THE BEE was invited onboard for a tour. Captain Martan Hertau told us that he's captained the Tara Pacific for five years, with the aid of a crew of six specifically involved in operating the schooner. Plus, there are ten more people aboard in involved with the research project.

"Tara is considered a 'small commercial Marine vessel', but it's actually a big sailing ship, so everyone on board participates. We take turns washing dishes, standing watch, and other duties," Hertau explained.

In the stateroom, the Tara Expeditions Foundation Executive Director, Romain Troublé, said the ship's mission has been conducting essential research to understand the impacts of climate and ecological changes – the better to anticipate future crises.

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

He deplored the "North Pacific gyre" – an area some call the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" – considered among the largest concentrations of plastic and micro-plastic in the world's oceans. "We are not against the plastic; we are against waste being improperly disposed of," Troublé remarked.

The same day we visited the ship, 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.

"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 aligns 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 – www.omsi.edu

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