The executive director and two staff from Oceanities were on the ship for the whole voyage. Oceanities is a nonprofit organization that is conducting a multi-year biological site inventories at a variety of critical environmental sites around the Antarctica Peninsula. Oceanities is a small, independent research organization funded by foundations, individual contributions and the National Science Foundation. They are the only non-governmental research organization operating in Antarctica. More information about Oceanities is at their website at http://www.oceanites.org.
It’s been great having the Oceanities researchers onboard. Ron, the executive director gave one talk on their research that was very interesting. But more important, when they are not counting penguins and doing photo documentation of sites, they act as additional naturalists--very knowledgeable naturalists. (Lindblad/National Geographic provides logistics support by allowing the Oceanities researchers to use their cruises to access the sites.)
Some major points from Ron’s talk:
- The Antarctic Peninsula warming 5 times faster than the average over the whole earth
- Adelie and chinstrap penguin populations are rapidly dropping in the Antarctic Peninsula as the area warms. Since they rely on sea ice, as the area warms their range is shrinking as it moves south.
- The gentoo Penguin population in the Antarctic Peninsula area is increasing. Since gentoo penguins’ food supply is in warmer water, their range is moving south as the climate warms.