The striking geometric sculptures have appeared by national landmarks across the globe, on local transport, and travelling to the Antarctic with suitcases in hand, including by the White House, Buenos Aires’ colourful Boca district, Sydney Opera House, and the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.
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,” said 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. 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.
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.”
“There are 35 of us on this ship – scientists, campaigners, submarine pilots, deck hands – but when we return in three month’s time, we want to come back with a global movement calling for governments to protect the Antarctic.
“The bottom of our blue planet may seem far away to many of us, but what happens there is crucial to all of our futures. 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.”