Exploring and protecting the Antarctic | The Economist
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Exploring and protecting the Antarctic | The Economist

August 19, 2019


This woman is about to attempt something no human has ever done before. Dr. Susanne Lockhart is about to be submersed 600 meters beneath the frozen
iceberg-strewn Antarctic Sea in one of the least explored
places on our plant. No scientists have been in a submarine in Antarctica before. I didn’t think it was possible. Vast, remote and pristine, the Weddell Sea is one of
Earth’s last great wildernesses. Spanning more than a million
square miles of Antarctic ocean and ice, it’s a refuge for penguins, blue whales and complex
underwater ecosystems but life in the Antarctic is under threat. It’s a threatened one
because of climate change but in particular manmade disturbances such as over fishing. They use such enormous trawls. Lots of organisms are killed that aren’t the target specifies. Melting ice and improving
fishing technology is rapidly opening up new areas of the Antarctic Ocean to fishing. There are currently 14 nations
fishing in the Antarctic. Where there is fish, there is money and where there is money, the fishing will go. Commercial fishing will
have immediate effects for the penguins, the
seals and the whales. Susanne is working with Green Peace to try and discover what life exists in the untouched depths
of the Weddell Sea. If she can prove to the
Antarctic Commission, a conservation body made up
of 24 member states in the EU that there are rich and
vulnerable ecosystems, she can make a case for creating a series of marine-protected areas, zones in which fishing is restricted or banned altogether. Susanne and her copilot, John Josafa are on board the Dual Deep Worker 2000. Its state-of-the-art technology
is now allowing scientists to go where they have never gone before. We’re lifted by a crane
and put in the water. You sink down into the depths. The water above goes green and gets darker and darker until there’s no light at all. And you’re left alone in the dark. It’s like going down into an abyss. There is definitely a feeling of space where you are a very tiny being in a very large ocean. At one, zero, two, three. We got to see things that were glowing and flashing in the water
column on the way down. The sea spiders can be
the size of dinner plates. Yeah, see, there’s one of those baby basket stars right here. Scientists once believed the seabed here was too cold, too dark and too deep to support much life. Susanne’s research paints an
entirely different picture. So, you’ve got sea stars, fish hook star. People are really surprised. The colors on the seafloor of Antarctica are really spectacular that I think just as important as the tropical reefs that we try so hard to protect. For Susanne, the next six months are
going to be spent in the lab analyzing her data. Currently only 3.7% of the
world’s ocean is protected but Susanne’s on a mission to help make Antarctica
the biggest no-fishing zone in the world. Sponges and corals are
the backbone of community that can have very low resilience to the kind of disturbance that fishing gear will cause. It would take 10, maybe even 100s of years to get back to the state it
was in before the disturbance. So far in her career, Susanne has identified 3/4 of the vulnerable marine ecosystems living on the Antarctic Ocean floor but never before has her
research been so important. We need to characterize these communities as best as we can so that the evidence that I present to the
Commission later this year is as strong as possible. For the marine-protected area to be established, it has to be unanimously agreed upon by all 24 member states and the EU. Approving and passing the
marine-protected area proposals is very difficult. The only other marine-protected area in the Antarctic took 10
years of negotiations. The pressure is on, there is definitely a time limit but we can get it done. Many believe transforming the Weddell Sea into a marine-protected area could be the only way to
save its delicate ecosystems. In July 2018, when the
Antarctic Commission meets, all hopes will be pinned on
Susanne and her research. All of us should care
about protecting Antarctica because Antarctica is our responsibility. Everyone should watch the negotiations to make sure that we really are giving it the best protection because
it really does affect the whole planet for the next generations.

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  1. Maybe educate and give out free condoms for Africa, so that we fish less, as our population increase so will our hunger. Deal with the issue before it appear, rather than act proactively.

  2. "All of us should care" Sure, sign me up on limiting the fishing so that the prices will go up and fish will only be available for the rich.
    Focus on limiting population growth, is it so hard to understand ?
    That's the reason we are in this mess to begin with.

  3. i don't support greenpeace for their sometimes terrorist like activities.

    but we should be careful with the Artic since it's the only largely untouched place in the world.

  4. They say it man made, they go after the ordinary people, why don't you go to the manufacturers they charge the ordinary people more money for everything go after the factorys

  5. Boats are incredibly polluting to the environment and sea life , much more so than cars for example. Kinda ironic Greenpeace is using their own… even if it's for studies.

  6. zionist have a secret project in antartica – hence they don't want the public having access. youtube it!

  7. There are other factors that were discovered and not fully understood of the Earth's own protective electromagnetic field is weakening that is causing the field to have 'fissures' thus allowing more of our Central Sun's heat and radiation through and also we know that polar shifting is real [ wasn't long ago when emergency calibration for all aviation and maritime to adjust the magnetic compass because of the polar shifting that is constant phases of movement ] and has a direct effect on weather patterns and a negative effect upon migratory animals more specially marine life mammals that are beaching themselves in addition to the evidence of the regular exercises by military naval fleets using sonar pinging and DEW sonar that is weaponized.
    Gore and his team including those that truly believe that this global warming and/or climate change is 100% fault of mankind using fossil resources and raising domestic animals primarily cattle and pigs causing green house gases are wrong to say it is all man made; at best it contributes to the bigger discoveries that is not fully understood but is recognized to be the major cause…oh, the ozone hole most likely been there long before mankind even existed as there is NO proof that the ozone was fully intact prior to the discovery and also the hole is constantly changing in size of aperture and location…when false science told the world that it was the chemical aerosols and freon gas?!?

  8. Isn't nice as a western European tyranny to easily hire dupes to help over extend the jurisdiction of a centralized N/W European power to restrict, and police territories in the southern hemisphere?

    I'm sure just a stupid starfish, and a multicolored reef is more than enough excuse they need to secure for themselves such over reaching authority.

  9. I love how Dr. Lockhart is communicating with so much passion and knowleadge about wildlife there. Hope everything goes right. Good luck.

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