BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 20 Jan '18

Penguins pop up across the globe in march for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, as landmark expedition begins

As a groundbreaking expedition begins in the Antarctic, pop-up penguins have been spotted from London to Seoul, Buenos Aires to Sydney and Johannesburg to Washington DC, marching for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

The striking geometric sculptures are travelling to the Antarctic with suitcases in hand. They have appeared by national landmarks across the globe, including by the White House, Buenos Aires’ colourful Boca district, Sydney Opera House and the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

A safe haven for penguins

The penguins are part of a new Greenpeace campaign calling for the creation of the largest protected area on Earth: a 1.8 million square kilometre ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic.

‘This sanctuary would be a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals, and put the waters off limits to the industrial fishing vessels sucking up the tiny shrimp-like krill on which Antarctic life relies.’

FRIDA BENGTSSON
Head of Greenpeace’s new Protect The Antarctic campaign

The ship’s crew will undertake pioneering scientific research in submarines, document the area’s unique wildlife (which is facing pressures from climate change, overfishing and pollution) and gather evidence of the urgent need for governments to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

The expedition will see the first humans ever to visit the seafloor in the Weddell Sea, which is the subject of an EU proposal for an ocean sanctuary to be considered by the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR) in October 2018.

Creating a global movement

Antarctic scientists will conduct research to identify Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and new species on the seabed, including rare corals and sponges. This would provide further evidence for the need for comprehensive protection of the area.

The crew will also undertake water sampling to identify the presence of any plastic pollution in this remote region.

35 scientists, campaigners, submarine pilots and deck hands will be on board the ship, hoping to return in three months’ time with a global movement calling for governments to protect the Antarctic.

Dr Susanne Lockhart, a renowned Antarctic specialist with the California Academy of Sciences is joining the expedition’s dives to the seafloor.

‘The first steps have finally been taken by those entrusted to govern the Antarctic Ocean to protect one of the world’s last pristine marine ecosystems; an ocean that connects all oceans. I’m excited to partner with Greenpeace and provide the science that will help determine areas which should be a priority for protection as countries work together to create the world’s largest ocean sanctuary.’

DR SUSANNE LOCKHART
California Academy of Sciences

‘Let’s make it happen’

Frida Bengtsson, head of Greenpeace’s new Protect The Antarctic campaign, said that while the bottom of our blue planet ‘may seem far away to many of us’, what happens there ‘is crucial to all of our futures’.

She added that an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary ‘would not only safeguard the unique penguins, whales and seals in this incredible area, but it will ensure the ocean is healthy enough to help mitigate against the worst effects of climate change. When governments meet in October, they have the opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth. Let’s make it happen.’