Belgian researchers launch second attempt to reach Antarctica by sailboat
Share article:
Share article:

Belgian researchers launch second attempt to reach Antarctica by sailboat

© Belga
© Belga

Ten Belgian scientists will leave for Antarctica on Tuesday aboard a sailboat to study marine biodiversity and the presence of plastic in the Antarctic Ocean, following a failed attempt last year.

“The boat had not held up, so we’re trying again,” said ULB’s Marine Biology Laboratory researcher, Bruno Danis, head of the expedition.

The scientists will observe how Antarctic marine ecosystems respond to global warming. “These ecosystems, preserved until now, are undergoing rapid environmental changes that are revealed by a rise in water temperature, modified salinity and melting of glaciers, with a direct impact on biodiversity”, Danis explained.

Scientists will be “making a detailed inventory of biodiversity, to depths of a hundred meters,” he said.

Another part of the research will be on the presence of plastic particles in the Antarctic Ocean, which had been considered relatively unspoiled by pollution.

The peculiarity of the expedition is that it takes place on a small sailboat, to limit the mission’s environmental impact, which is usually carried out aboard an icebreaker.

Baptised Australis, “the boat is easier to manage and can move closer to shore,” the head of the mission said. 

Last year, their first attempt had ended in failure due to a problem with the boat’s engine. “We had to turn back,” Danis added.

So, researchers are trying again. On Tuesday, they fly to Argentina, where they will sail from Ushuaia on 22 or 23 February. “The exact date depends on the weather,” the biologist said. The scientists will head for the Gerlache Strait, in the Antarctic Peninsula, where they will cast anchor for a month.

The austral summer draws to a close, so the “Belgica 121” scientists should benefit from relatively mild weather. If all goes as planned, they will return to Belgium in April.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Limiting private contacts ‘needed to fight autumn wave’, expert warns
The Consultative Committee announced it is introducing a handful of measures in public spaces to control the quickening spread of the coronavirus, ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
UN issues strong warning ahead of climate change summit in Glasgow
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...
Belgium’s decision on possible third shot postponed until Saturday
The decision on how Belgium will proceed with the roll-out of third shots of the coronavirus vaccine has been postponed until Saturday.  The news ...
Experts and politicians respond to new coronavirus measures
The handful of measures (re-)introduced by Belgium's Consultative Committee on Tuesday in response to the worsening coronavirus situation have had a ...
New fraudulent e-mails circulating in Belgium
A warning has been put out about new phishing e-mails that have been circulating since last Saturday and are sent from what could appear to be an ...
Belgian ‘Space Bakery’ project highlighted at World Expo in Dubai
The Puratos Space Bakery project is taking centre stage at the Belgian pavilion in Dubai, where the World Expo is taking place. This week is ...