Film stars and penguin scientists voyage to the Antarctic with Greenpeace to highlight ocean threats

Award-winning actors and marine scientists on board two Greenpeace ships; the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, have arrived in the Antarctic to expose how climate change, plastic pollution and industrial fishing are impacting  penguin colonies, whales and other marine life in the region.

Stars swapping the red carpet for ice floes include award-winners Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception), Gustaf Skarsgård (Vikings, Westworld) and Ni Ni (The Flowers Of War, The Warriors Gate). As Greenpeace Ocean Ambassadors they will be raising awareness about threatened Antarctic wildlife, supporting the call for a global network of ocean sanctuaries to protect marine animals.

Marion Cotillard, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for La Vie En Rose said: 

The Antarctic is a frozen wilderness that should be far beyond the reach of human impact, but even the most remote parts of our planet are changing at an alarming rate.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever lived on a ship, and it’s amazing to spend time with the Greenpeace crew and the scientists who are out here doing crucial work to understand the threats facing the oceans, like climate change, industrial fishing and plastic pollution. Our planet is a blue planet: the ocean covers more of it than every continent combined. We all have a responsibility to protect it.”

Louisa Casson, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner said:

“Oceans across the world are under increasing pressure and the Antarctic is no exception. The threats facing this remote wilderness give greater urgency to our call for a strong Global Ocean Treaty and the creation of a global network of ocean sanctuaries that allow marine life to thrive.”

During the four-week expedition, a team of six scientists from Stony Brook University and Northeastern University in the US will be conducting ground-breaking research to understand how climate change and other human activities are transforming the Antarctic.  They will travel to some of the most inhospitable islands around the Antarctic Peninsula to gather data on the health of fragile penguin colonies in remote and rarely visited islands.

Heather J. Lynch, IACS Endowed Chair of Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University and the expedition’s scientific lead, said:

“We are going to gather data on the status of penguin colonies in places that have either never been properly surveyed or haven’t been surveyed since the 1970s, allowing us to observe the pace of change in this region over the past half-century. Penguins are sentinel species, by studying them we can understand how climate change and fisheries are affecting the Antarctic environment”

The team will also conduct Environmental DNA monitoring, the first time such research has been carried out in Antarctic waters. By analysing seawater samples, scientists will be able to gain unique insights into the biodiversity of the Antarctic, detecting the prevalence of different species of whales, sharks, fish and other marine life that may have travelled through the sea over a two-day period.

The voyage to the Antarctic is the last stop of Greenpeace’s Pole to Pole expedition aimed at highlighting the threats facing international waters – from the Arctic to the Antarctic – and the urgent need to protect them through a new Global Ocean Treaty due to be concluded in 2020 at the United Nations.

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