Global environmental challenges
I awoke today Dec 8 at 5.40 a.m. to an unfamiliar sound – l’Astrolabe crunching her way through sheets of ice. After days of wild seas the ship’s progress has slowed as she makes her way through the floating ice.
After months of anticipation, I sat up in my bunk and peered out through the cabin port hole to see icebergs, it’s an amazing feeling!
I rushed onto deck, wearing a polar jacket and my pyjamas tucked into my polar boots. As far as the eye could see there were large chunks of floating ice.
I spotted a baby penguin on the ice but as soon as the ship neared, or was it my purple pyjamas, it dived into the icy water and disappeared.
Snow is falling on l’Astrolabe, which is being hit by gale-force winds up to 45 knots an hour, while westerly swells pound with four-metre waves and southerly swells hit with two-metre waves.
We have been sailing for five days and are about 58 degrees South on our voyage to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica.
The Southern Ocean is toying with us, like some killer whale tossing its prey before devouring it.
The small French research ship l’Astrolabe is being battered by 55 kmh (35 mph) winds and tossed like a cork in icy, three metre (9 feet) waves.
Reuters employee Pauline Askin has sailed for the Antarctic for a six -week expedition on the icy continent where she will help restore Mawson’s huts named after Australia’s most celebrated Antarctic explorer on Commonwealth Bay, the windiest place on earth.
During the expedition, Pauline will report on topics ranging from climate change and the environment to tourism and Christmas celebrations in Antarctica.
First, a bit of Reuters history:
Reuters links with Sir Douglas Mawson, Australia’s most celebrated Antarctic explorer, began in 1911 when the company helped finance the young explorer’s maiden voyage to Antarctica.
In 1911, the Reuters Telegram Company Ltd sent a hand written telegram confirming it had pledged 1,000 pounds to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition lead by Mawson (see picture above.)