The climate crisis impacts every aspect of the natural world and the need for change in human behaviour is apparent. In the polar Atlantic, marine life is being threatened every day by noise exposure, plastic and chemical pollution. The risk of tipping entire populations into terminal decline is now imminent – only immediate and carefully implemented action will save precious species from extinction.
The four-month Artic Sense expedition is now well under way – its mission to research, document and share valuable information about marine life so that it may be protected and treasured. With a special focus on keystone Artic and sub-Artic whale species, the multi-organisation project is being led by collaborative research group, Whale Wise. Starting and ending in Stavanger Norway, researchers will cover a total of 3,000 nautical miles onboard the ocean conservation platform, S.V. Barba.
The expedition hopes to encounter an array of species slowly recovering from past hunting, including the polar bear, walrus and blue whales. The aim is to assess the recuperation of numbers to date, track migration patterns and evaluate landscape changes. Utilising novel research methods, combined with historical data and storytelling, this fascinating project will offer a unique insight into the current, real-life condition of Artic marine life. It is an opportunity to promote the importance of conserving the Artic ecosystem made fragile by human intervention and interference.
Barba’s Expedition Director and Captain Andreas B. Heide said:
“The impacts of climate change are unfolding far more rapidly and intensely in the Arctic than anywhere else. Soaring temperatures, rapidly melting ice, acidification and rising sea levels, combined with pervasive levels of marine plastic pollution, are all threatening Arctic ecosystems. With the clock ticking, documenting and researching the threats faced by marine life in this highly inaccessible region is more important than ever to inform and inspire effective safeguards for this fragile environment.”
The latest field report from early September details the preparation of the S.V. Barba for a deep-sea ocean crossing. Extensive footage had been captured already, intended for nature conservation documentaries and the Nordplus educational programme. The blog offers some interesting insight into what life is like on such an amazing journey. Previous entries also detail some of the research conducted, such as recording the acoustics off southern Svalbard, photographing endangered blue whales and other cetacean species and navigating pack sea ice. Environmental changes and pollution have been monitored and baseline data captured for both ocean and land-based locations. Having recently battled some challenging weather conditions, the team of five were sailing south from Beerenberg in Jan Mayen towards Faroe Islands.
Due to complete its mission by returning to Stavanger on October 5th, the Artic Sense expedition is a stunning example of industry collaboration and ambition. The collection, sharing and analysing of raw data in this field is integral in the fight against climate change as we strive to protect the awe-inspiring natural environments that pollution and global warming are destroying.
To get all the latest from the teams involved and to see how you may be able to support future projects, be sure to meet the team at GOW21!
Check out the Instagram page for some stunning images too!