A two masted ship called the Tara and its crew are setting sail for Antarctica to witness at first hand the impacts of global warming and environmental change on the world’s most southerly Continent.
Tara Expeditions, which is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), hopes to generate public interest in both the beauty and frailty of planet Earth.
On board the vessel will be the internationally renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado who is part way through a project called Genesis. During 2004, he photographed the Galapagos Islands, the Virungas forests and mountains of Africa and whales in the Valdès Peninsula of Argentina.
Now Mr. Salgado has the haunting beauty of Antarctica in his lens.
The expedition, which will sail to various areas including the northern Weddell Sea, is scheduled to take one month. It will also serve as preparations for Tara’s next and arguably most important venture to date.
Between 2006 and 2008, the ship will spend two years adrift in the Arctic as part of the 2007 International Polar Year.
Etienne Bourgois, project manager for Tara Expeditions, and his team will be collaborating with international scientific research projects as a platform and on-site think tank, in order to help better comprehend the inner workings of global warming.
Salgado and Genesis
The planet is in danger. This alarming cry is proclaimed so often that it is rarely ever really heard. The earth’s biodiversity only manages to subsist in the rare zones that are still left to the wilderness. These areas are also the only places that may still hold the key to our existence, and to the origin of our species.
Salgado intends to explore the world in order to show the purer face of nature and humanity, in an attempt to strengthen the bond between our species and our planet.
Salgado has named the project Genesis, going back in time as far as possible, to our planet’s very origins. He is working on four chapters:
· Creation: air, water and fire, which gave life;
· Noah’s Ark: the animals which have resisted domestication and remain “wild”;
· The first men: remote tribes with practically unchanged lifestyles, qualified as “primitive”;
· The first civilizations: the remnants of the very first human colonies, and early-organized society.
This journey is a form of planetary anthropology. It’s also a statement being made, in order for those parts of the globe that haven’t yet been contaminated to be preserved, and to avoid the term “development” being systematically synonymous with destruction.
The Genesis photos are to be published in major magazines and newspapers, such as Paris Match (France), The Guardian weekend edition (UK), Visão (Portugal) and Rolling Stone (USA). The project in its whole will be undertaken with the collaboration of UNEP, UNESCO and other institutions. An article on the project will be published in the next edition of Our Planet, UNEP’s magazine
Itinerary and fauna in the Antarctic Peninsula
Embarkation will take place in Ushuaia, on Argentina’s southern extreme coast. Tara will then take the Beagle channel and, according to the weather, will stop on the island of Horn. Then she will sail towards the Diego Ramirez archipelago where reside several large colonies of rock-hopper penguins, albatross and petrels in an exceptional environment for tussock grass (large sub-Antarctic Graminaceae). If the ice allows for it, the expedition will follow its course to Marguerite Bay, the point of interest there being the large number of bird species and the reputed good weather conditions. Tara will then sail on to the very rarely traveled waters near the islands of Argentina, where dwell colonies of Adélie penguins, crab-eater seals and Weddell seals. Passing by Port Lockroy and Cuverville Island, the expedition will move towards the Chilean base Videla, completely taken over by penguins. This area is home to Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, Humpback whales and Leopard seals.
The rest of the trip will be devoted to the northern part of Weddell Sea with the visit of Paulet Island (base camp remnants of the Larsen-Nordenskjöld expedition of 1902) and of Seymour, a strangely bare and sandy place within the icy environment of Smith Island.
Tara’s final destination will be Deception island and its huge crater, where the Chilean base at Pendulum Cove partly melted during the eruption in 1967. The last eruption there took place in 1992.
This itinerary describes the journey’s main framework, without going into too much detail, seeing how in Antarctica the weather and ice dictate their own conditions!
Tara Expeditions Contacts:
Eloïse FONTAINE - +33 6 12 13 04 67 firstname.lastname@example.org
Romain TROUBLÉ - +33 6 60 68 97 12 email@example.com
Tara Expeditions web site: www.taraexpeditions.org
Robert BISSET - +33 1 44 37 76 13 firstname.lastname@example.org
UNEP web site: www.unep.org