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Displaying items by tag: Antarctica

A new expedition to find the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance will set sail for Antarctica one month after the centenary of his death.

According to The Irish Times, the Endurance22 Expedition aims to find, survey and film the wreck of Endurance, which sank in the Weddell Sea during the Anglo-Irish explorer’s mission to Antarctica in 1915.

Sea ice trapped the three-masted barquentine for more than 10 months before the crew — including Kerryman Tom Crean — escaped by foot and in lifeboats.

The expedition sets out from Cape Town in South Africa on 5 February. Mission director Mensun Bound said: “We will do everything we can to survey and capture footage of Endurance and to bring the epic tale of her final voyage, and of the leadership, courage and fortitude of her crew, to people around the world.”

This past Tuesday 5 January in Connemara, a group of enthusiasts marked 100 years since Shackleton’s passing with readings, recitations and song, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Historic Boats

The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed a satellite recording of what may be the world's largest iceberg - slightly larger than the Spanish island of Mallorca.

The ESA says the iceberg was spotted by the British Antarctic Survey and confirmed from the US National Ice Centre with Copernicus Sentinel-1 imagery.

Named A-76, the berg measures around 170 km in length and 25 km wide, and has calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf, lying in Antarctica's Weddell Sea.

The ESA explains that icebergs are traditionally named from the Antarctic quadrant in which they were originally sighted, then a sequential number, then, if the iceberg breaks, a sequential letter.

"The enormity of the berg makes it the largest in the world, snatching first place from the A-32A iceberg - approximately 3880 sq km in size - which is also located in the Weddell Sea," the ESA says.

An iceberg named A-74 which broke off the Brunt Ice Shelf in February 2021 was only 1270 sq km, it says

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

#Shackleton - A new expedition is being launched next year that will attempt to find the wreck of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance in the Antarctic.

As BBC News reports, the primary focus of the scientific mission is to study the Larsen C Ice Shelf, from which one of the biggest icebergs ever recorded split last summer.

But since the ice shelf is close to the last known position of the Endurance, which was lost in 1915, “it would be a shame not to [try to find it],” said Prof Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge who is leading the international mission.

It’s expected that ROVs for surveying the ice shelf will also be used to have a deeper look beneath the thick ice in the Weddell Sea where the Endurance is believed to lie.

BBC News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

There’s increasing concern about cruise ships in the Antarctic and whether people could be rescued should one get into trouble amidst the ice. 300 ships traverse that Polar region, with nearly a quarter-of-a-million tourist visitors aboard from November to March every year. The international search-and-rescue station in the region is operated by the Chilean Navy and named after the first Chilean Head of State and legendary revolutionary leader, Bernardo O’Higgins, whose father was from County Sligo. It’s the only permanent Chilean base on the Antarctic mainland, located on Puerto Covadonga since 1948.

More cruise lines are offering trips there and there is more and more pressure on the area from tourists and from demands for exploration.

Two weeks ago I met the seafarer who took the largest ice-breaking vessel through the ice at the earliest possible time of the year this year. It was a historic journey. So this week on my Podcast, when I bring you a selection of items from my radio programme THIS ISLAND NATION, I’m taking you to the Polar regions and to that unique SAR rescue station.

Also on this PODCAST edition, I was shocked to hear what Dr.Simon Berrow, Chief Science Officer of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, had to tell me about the damage which plastic in the oceans is doing, particularly to whales.

As I walk along the shore at Monkstown in my home village in Cork Harbour I see more marine debris washing in, particularly plastic. Do you see the same in your part of the coast.

What Dr.Berrow has to say should make us all think….

Listen to the Podcast below

Tom MacSweeney presents the maritime programme, THIS ISLAND NATION

Published in Tom MacSweeney

#Offshore - A giant private yacht has broken the record for the most southerly navigation, reaching 78°43.997’ S and 163°41.421’ W at the Bay of Whales in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

The World, a 43,188-ton yacht with 272 crew and carrying 145 residents and guests, recorded the new polar record – the furthest any vessel has ever sailed – at 10.41 ship’s time (New Zealand time) on Saturday 28 January.

The mega yacht, which circumnavigates the globe every two to three years, is currently undertaking a 22-day expedition of the Ross Sea, including 12 days in Antarctica assisted by EYOS Expeditions led by Rob McCallum.

Commenting on the new record, The World’s Captain Dag H Saevik said: “When we designed this remarkable expedition to the Ross Sea with our residents, that has taken two years of preparation, we hoped that with the right conditions we might be able to reach the ice shelf and set a new record for the most southerly navigation.

“This voyage of more than 5,000 nautical miles has taken us to the most isolated area of the world. Explorers like Amundsen, Shackleton and Scott have always been driven to explore the furthest boundaries. However, not many people get to travel to the end of the earth from their own home.”

Few vessels have made the journey to this remote part of Antarctica. In February last year, the polar expedition vessel Akademik Shokalskiy reported reaching 78°43.971’S.

Published in Offshore

In the proud annals of Irish explorers there is a forgotten name and it surprises me that so few Irish people know about him.

When I have mentioned the name of Edward Bransfield, very few have had any knowledge of him.

Yet his story is an amazing part of Irish, British and world maritime and exploration history which a person no less than Vladimir Putin of Russia is set to challenge, disputing the achievements of this man.

The Antarctic is the focus of a lot of attention at present.

There are fears that the Larsen C ice shelf, almost as big as County Cork, could break off. If it does that could raise sea levels by as much as four inches.

There is another story about Antarctica, quite fascinating, which you can hear on this edition of THIS ISLAND NATION, the maritime programme, involving a man from the small village of Ballinacurra, on the edge of Cork Harbour.

It is the story of Edward Bransfield, the Irishman who discovered Antarctica but, amazingly, is not recognised for that achievement. Taken, probably ‘press-ganged’ from his father’s fishing boat in Cork Harbour as a young man by the British Navy, he rose through the ranks to command ships in the service and first sighted Antarctica on January 30, 1820… the anniversary is but a few days away.

Jim Wilson is a highly respected ecologist and ornithologist of 40 years’ experience who is in the Antarctic at present, where he has been going for many years, as a guide. He comes from Cobh, not far from Ballinacurra and is part of a group which intends to provide the first memorial to honour Bransfield, but they don’t even have a photograph of him, because none is known to exist. And they expect opposition from Russia.

Putin versus the Cork village of Ballinacurra….. Now there’s a story which you can listen to here on this week’s edition below

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

#AntarcticIce - The Guardian reports that a helicopter mission to rescue stranded passengers - including two of the paper's journalists - from a research vessel stranded by ice in Antarctica has been successful.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped in pack ice far south of Tasmania on Christmas Eve after embarking on a private expedition retracing the route of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson a century ago.

A number of attempts to reach the stricken ship by icebreaker failed due to poor weather, with lack of visibility also hampering plans to airlift the passengers from the vessel by helicopter.

But it's been confirmed that a rescue chopper sent from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long managed to land next to the Akademik Shokalskiy in the early hours of this mooring (2 January) to retrieve the first group of passengers, most of whom were removed to the icebreaker Aurora Australis after five back-and-forth flights.

The Russian crew of the ship will remain on board to free it from the ice when conditions improve as is forecast over the next few days.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Tagged under

#AntarcticIce - A research vessel carrying journalists from the UK's Guardian remains trapped in Antarctic ice after a failed attempt by an Australian icebreaker to reach the ship, the newspaper reports.

The Akademik Shokalskiy has been trapped for more than a week far south of Tasmania, some 100 nautical miles from the French Antarctic station Dumont D'Urville, after embarking on a private mission to mark the centenary of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's expedition to the ice-bound continent.

A previous rescue attempt by Chinese icebreaker the Snow Dragon was halted by thick ice within sight of the trapped vessel, while the latest effort by the Aurora Australis reached as close as 10 nautical miles before it was forced to turn back thanks to poor visibility, which is also hampering plans to airlift the stricken ship's 74 passengers and crew.

The Guardian's Alok Jha and Lawrence Topham are currently updating their experiences on the paper's Antarctica Live blog.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Tagged under

#MarineLife - Scientists from Russia say they have found a new form of bacterial life in Antarctic water cut off from the surface for millions of years, as BBC News reports.

The research team at Vostok, the largest subglacial lake on the continent of Antarctica, are studying samples of bacteria from water released after drilling through some 4km of ice to the lake beneath.

The body of water at Vostok is believed to have been isolated for so long that the possibility of it hosting microbial life new to science is high - and scientists say their initial findings are promising.

"We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified," said geneticist Dr Sergei Bulat of the St Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics, who added that one particular form of bacteria has DNA less than 86% similar to known strains.

"A level of 90% usually means that the organism is unknown," he said.

These astounding new findings are however pending verification by other experts before any confirmation can be made.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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