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Antarctica is one of the world’s greatest and most precious wild places. It’s also one of its most vulnerable. One hundred and thirteen million square kilometers of Antarctic land and sea provide a habitat for a large number of plant and animal species, such as the emperor penguin and the Weddell seal.
However, most of Antarctica’s species are migratory: they come to Antarctica to breed and feed their young during the summer and leave the continent at season’s end.
In order to understand the main threats that face this unique continent, we must focus on overfishing, climate change, and ocean acidification.
Do you know why? Because climate change and ocean acidification put Antarctica’s habitat, the ability of krill to develop, and, therefore, the hundreds of species that feed on it, at serious risk, which, in turn, puts the whole marine ecosystem at risk.
Meanwhile, we are witnessing the melting of Antarctica’s ice shelf and its glaciers, a rise in ocean temperatures, and changes in ocean stratification, ocean currents, and the ocean’s nutrient cycle, as well as in its oxygen content and pH. These are very big changes that have had big impacts. Think: over the past fifty years, the western part of the Antarctic Peninsula has recorded a rise in temperature four times larger than the average rise in temperature experienced by the rest of the planet. Sea ice covers a surface area 40% smaller than it did twenty-six years ago.
And this issue isn’t just Antarctica’s. Consider that if a whole ecosystem, such as Antarctica’s, changes, it will also affect the rest of the planet’s sea and land ecosystems.
We work for the conservation and rational management of Antarctic natural resources, encouraging the creation of marine protected areas in vulnerable habitats and the incorporation of the effects of climate change into adaptive management mechanisms and management assessments of the krill fishing industry.
In order to do this, we work with NGOs, scientists, technicians, and government representatives to highlight the value of Antarctic marine ecosystems and to propose the incorporation of conservation initiatives and adaptive management mechanisms, which take the effects of global shifts, such as climate change and ocean acidification, into account.
That’s what we do to look after the sixth continent, which belongs to all of us.
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