Yesterday was Penguin Awareness Day, and, to 'celebrate, a waddle of penguins joined Manchester Greenpeace in Castlefield, and campaigners around the world, to raise awareness about the need for the world's largest protected area to be created in the Antarctic Ocean.
The Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary would be the largest protected area on earth, covering 1.8million square kilometres of ocean, and would be a safe haven for animals like penguins and whales which call the Weddell Sea home. It would also make the waters off-limits to the industrial fishing vessels sucking up the tiny shrimp - like krill, on which Antarctic life relies.
The Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR - an international body which includes the UK government) will meet in October this year to decide whether the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary should be created. The UK government, as a member of the Commission, will have a crucial say in whether this ocean sanctuary becomes a reality. In late 2017, the Antarctic Ocean Commission failed to create a new sanctuary in the East Antarctic because of lobbying from the fishing industry.
"This city has had a connection with the Antarctic since the foundation of the Manchester Geographical Society in 1885" says local campaigner Martin Porter "In 1910 the Lord Mayor provided vital funding to Scott's Tera Nova Expedition, and Marie Stopes, the first female science lecturer at Manchester University, showed the Captain which fossils to look for.
"Scott died on the ice, but his expedition was not the failure it has sometimes been portrayed as" he explains "Unlike Amundsen, who was basically just a day tripper, Scott was doing real science. After his death the fossils he had found for Stopes were located in his tent, along with Emperor Penguin eggs, that are still used today as a control in the measurement of the build-up of persistent chemicals in the environment.
"The science now is telling us that ocean sanctuaries are essential in order for eco-systems to survive pollution, as well as climate change and overfishing" he adds "I hope the people of Manchester will now support this vital campaign to protect the Southern Ocean, and sign the Greenpeace petition to create the world's largest protected area."
To sign the Greenpeace petition – click here
Photos by Steven Speed