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Skip Novak's International South Sandwich Islands Science Expedition

by Marina Johnson 21 Feb 2020 04:00 PST
Skip Novak's International South Sandwich Islands Science Expedition © Skip Novak Pelagic Expeditions

Skip Novak has just wrapped up his latest Pelagic expedition in which he led a team of 10 scientists from Oxford University, University College London, Cornell University, Bristol University and the University of Maine to the remote South Sandwich Island chain in the Southern Ocean on board his sailing vessel Pelagic Australis.

During this international 'South Sandwich Science Expedition' the research team were logistically supported by Skip and his Pelagic crew of three. A documentary film team of two were also on board. Each of the 14 team members were equipped with technical clothing and safety gear from Ocean Safety and Typhoon International.

The South Sandwich Islands are semi active volcanic features and each only a kilometre or two in diameter - so there is always a Southern Ocean swell running. 'Wet landings' were the only way to get ashore as the breaking surf was too big to beach their Zodiac RIB safely.

Onboard safety equipment included Ocean Safety's Kru Sport Pro 275 ADV lifejackets.

The team, with their equipment in dry bags, had to jump in above the surf line and then swim ashore in waters of 2 or 3 degrees C. They would be hauled back out again by a continuous line system.

The island chain is a Specially Protected Area and managed by the government of South Georgia. The waters surrounding the islands are a newly formed Marine Protected Area.

Science missions accomplished included penguin censusing with drones, taking ice core and water samples to monitor climate change and taking gas samples of the plumes of the volcanic craters, in addition to towing a hydrophone throughout the voyage logging whale speak.

Find more information about Pelagic's voyages: www.pelagic.co.uk

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