Antarctica – the world’s last great wilderness

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Almost half of our planet is a vast ocean, lying beyond national borders, belonging to us all. But these blue expanses are a huge resource that experts say need to be better managed and protected.

In fact, leading scientists say we should be safeguarding at least one-third of our oceans to allow them to recover and build resilience to the multiple threats that are developing across the world.

And that applies especially to one of the remotest regions on Earth – Antarctica.

The Antarctic Ocean is one of the world’s last great wildernesses, home to spectacular biodiversity from killer whales to starfish. But a warming climate and an ever-expanding commercial fishing industry are threatening this undisturbed land and its iconic creatures.

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Now a bid is under way to create the world’s largest protected area – a massive Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. It would cover 1.8 million square kilometres of the remote and rich Weddell Sea, home to some of the coldest waters on Earth and an estimated 14,000 species.

The proposal, formulated by Germany and backed by the EU, will come up for a decision when the group of nations who oversee Antarctica meet in Hobart, Australia in October.

The marine protected area would create a safe haven for wildlife like whales and penguins, putting the waters off-limits to the industrial fishing vessels that harvest the tiny shrimp-like krill, on which all Antarctic life relies. 

Greenpeace sent a team of scientists and campaigners down to these wild, desolate waters to create a body of evidence in support of the proposal and the expedition returned with some spectacular images.

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