Greenpeace expedition arrives in the Antarctic to survey threatened penguin colonies

Scientists and Greenpeace Campaigners arrive in Antarctica to conduct new research on the impacts of the climate crisis on remote Antarctic penguin colonies


The Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise has arrived at the Antarctic Peninsula to conduct ground-breaking research on remote penguin colonies, many of which have never before been surveyed. On board are a team of scientists from Stony Brook University, NY, who will assess the impacts of the climate crisis and a rapidly changing Antarctic on this important sentinel species. Their arrival coincides with the international celebration of  Penguin Awareness Day, next Thursday, January 20th.

Photo and video is available here, and visuals from rarely visited penguin colonies will be available for Penguin Awareness Day on January 20th. Scientists and campaigners on board Arctic Sunrise are available for live interviews, including from Antarctic penguin colonies.

Penguin colonies are being severely impacted by the Antarctic’s rapidly changing climate. Greenpeace’s last expedition to the Antarctic found that chinstrap penguin colonies at Elephant Island had collapsed, some by as much as 77 percent in the last 50 years.

Louisa Casson, lead campaigner on board the Arctic Sunrise, said:
“Penguins are one of our planet’s iconic species but they are being heavily impacted by the climate and ocean crises. We are back at sea to investigate how the climate emergency and other pressures like industrial fishing are disrupting penguins across the Antarctic Peninsula and into the Weddell Sea.

“The oceans need protection, but governments are moving at glacial pace. A vast network of Antarctic ocean sanctuaries was promised a decade ago, but every year the Antarctic Ocean Commission fails to deliver. Governments must deliver new ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic and agree a landmark Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations in March.”

Fiona Nicholls, lead Greenpeace UK Oceans campaigner, said:

“This March, the UK Government must champion a landmark Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations, and help deliver a series of ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic that would turn things around for beloved species like penguins. Government has to stop dipping its toes into ocean protection and dive straight in: we need urgent and bold action to meet our international commitment to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

“Closer to home, the UK’s own Marine Protected Areas are far from protected. In 2020, industrial fishing boats fished within MPAs with destructive bottom-towed gear for 68,000 hours. The Government must use its licensing powers to ensure that industrial fishing boats like supertrawlers and fly-shooters cannot exploit vulnerable ecosystems and are banned from so-called ‘protected’ areas. This would give marine life and struggling coastal communities a chance to recover after decades of exploitation by industrial fleets and government inaction.”

World governments will meet at the UN in March 2022 to agree a new Global Ocean Treaty. This would overhaul the broken system of global ocean governance that has allowed the expansion of harmful activities and seen wildlife decline at alarming rates. It would also be a vital step towards protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.



Julia Zanolli, Global Comms Lead, Protect the Oceans: / +44 7971 769 107

James Hanson, Comms Officer on board Arctic Sunrise:

Greenpeace UK Press Office –

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