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Oceans in Crisis

Mystery penguins spotted on River Thames
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
© David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace

Main image: © David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace

Today (10 February), a towering two-metre high penguin ice sculpture appeared on the shores of the River Thames opposite St Paul’s Cathedral.

Erected by Greenpeace activists, the one tonne sculpture of a mother chinstrap penguin and her chick was installed to highlight the threats to marine life. It’s part of a global call by Greenpeace for greater action on ocean protection.

‘We want to send a clear message to the government and to the public that time is running out to save our oceans. We have seen first-hand how climate change, plastics pollution and industrial fishing are killing marine life in our oceans. A Greenpeace team in Antarctica is reporting that chinstrap penguin populations there are disappearing at an alarming rate.’

Greenpeace oceans campaigner

Penguins in capital cities

Penguin ice sculptures have appeared in public spaces in capital cities across nearly every continent – from Seoul to London and Buenos Aires to Cape Town.

The ice sculptures were created to boost Greenpeace’s campaign for a strong Global Ocean Treaty that will lead to much greater protection for marine life.

The ice sculpture in London was designed by a team from Icebox, a world leader in the ice-carving industry.

It took four people two hours to transport and erect the pre-carved sections of the sculpture to the Thames shoreline, where it was installed at low tide in front of the Tate Modern on Southbank.

With St Paul’s Cathedral and the skyline of the City of London behind them, the pair of penguins will be slowly submerged beneath the rising tide, eventually melting away into the river.

‘Rising sea-levels and warming oceans pose a significant threat to the future of marine species. The impacts of climate change, together with plastic pollution and industrial fishing have pushed our oceans into crisis. Six out of seven species of sea turtles are facing extinction. Millions of sharks are killed by industrial fishing every year and whales are washing up with stomachs full of plastic.

‘Governments must urgently create safe sanctuaries for wildlife to recover from the threats they are facing. To do that they first need to agree a Global Ocean Treaty at the UN this year. We hope the UK will be sending a minister to the negotiations. This would assert Britain’s leadership role in ocean protection and galvanise others to support a strong treaty.’

Head of oceans at Greenpeace

A Global Ocean Treaty

The Greenpeace ships Arctic Sunrise and Esperanza are currently in the Antarctic on the final leg of a pole-to-pole expedition, lasting almost a year, to research threats to the ocean.

Research teams exploring the impact of climate change, plastic pollution and industrial fishing on Antarctic wildlife were joined by campaigners and award-winning actors Marion Cotillard, Ni Ni and Gustaf Skarsgård, who are helping to raise awareness of the campaign.

Governments will meet at the UN for the fourth round of negotiations towards a Global Ocean Treaty in late March.

Greenpeace is campaigning for an ambitious treaty that would allow the creation of a network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity.

Scientists say this is needed across 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 in order to allow wildlife populations to recover.

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