It will be the most ambitious expedition in Greenpeace´s history with a single mission: to protect the oceans. The journey from end to end of the planet will take 365 days at high sea. With this trip from the Arctic to the Antarctic, the environmental organization will try to document and highlight the many threats facing the oceans while it demanding the approval of a Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations.
Throughout the expedition, Greenpeace will dock at some of the areas that need to be protected with greater urgency, as indicated in the report 30 × 30: Guide for the protection of the oceans, published by the environmental organization. The Pole-to-Pole expedition will bring scientists and activists on board to investigate the main threats that jeopardize high-sea waters: climate change, overfishing, plastics pollution, mining and prospecting for oil and genetic resources (pharmaceutical).
“Our oceans are under threat and it is up to all people to protect them”
“Our oceans are under threat and it is up to all people to protect them,” said Frida Bengtsson, head of Greenpeace’s Protect Oceans campaign. “This trip will take us to the first lines of battle in the defense of our waters and there we will fight with a team of first level scientists, to whom we are happy to support in this crucial work to understand how our seas and their marine life are changing and what we must do to help them survive.”
In the words of Bengtsson: “The negotiations towards a Global Ocean Treaty in the UN are already under way and it is essential that governments do the right thing. The world needs a solid treaty that has enough tools to create fully protected marine areas, free of the most harmful human activity. The science is clear: we need a network of these marine sanctuaries that cover at least a third of the world’s oceans by 2030 if we want to defend biodiversity, help in the fight against climate change and provide food security to billions of people. Our destiny and the fate of the oceans are intimately related. ”
Route from Pole to Pole
The route from Pole to Pole, of which a map is already available, has the following travel plan:
Arctic: Greenpeace´s ship ‘Esperanza’ will leave London this week and head towards the Arctic, where a multidisciplinary team of climate scientists and marine biologists will investigate the impact of climate change on the region and on wildlife, including whales and polar bears.
The Lost City of Atlantis: After the Arctic, the crew of ‘Esperanza’ will dive almost one kilometer deep, to the so-called Lost City of Atlantis (on the Atlantic Ocean ridge), a complex ecosystem of hydrothermal vents in the sea floor that is thought to harbor clues about the origins of life on Earth. Licenses have recently been granted to conduct deep-sea mining surveys in the area, which could cause the irreversible loss of unique biodiversity.
The Sargasso Sea: In this unknown sea, located in the famous Bermuda Triangle, the team will study the impact resulting from plastics pollution on the ecosystem and its biodiversity. Here the floating forests of seaweed (sargasso) create a unique environment that is a critical refuge for the youngest sea turtles and the spawning ground for eels. The Sargasso Sea is one of the five oceanic gyres that accumulate the largest amount of marine debris, in particular, plastics and microplastics.
Amazon Reef: In the north of Brazil and in French Guiana, the expedition will explore a unique and pristine ecosystem – discovered to the world recently – in the marine plume of the Amazon basin. Here, the largest river in the world meets the ocean and there are complex forests of delicate corals and sponges that harbor colorful fish, whales and sea turtles. Several companies want to develop prospections in search of oil in this region, where a spill would have devastating effects on marine life.
Mount Vema: A second ship of Greenpeace, the legendary icebreaker ‘Arctic Sunrise’, will visit Mount Vema, on the west coast of Africa, an incredible and diverse underwater mountain that rises from a depth of more than 4,500 meters, but has already suffered devastating impacts from industrial fishing.
Antarctica: The ‘Esperanza’ will arrive in Antarctica in earlier 2020. This fragile ecosystem is home to more than 9,000 species such as penguins, squids and large whales, but climate change and industrial fishing threaten it.