Award-winning actors and marine scientists are onboard two Greenpeace ships; the Esperanza, and the Arctic Sunrise, to research and expose the impact of climate change, plastic pollution, and industrial fishing in the Antarctic region on penguin colonies, whales, and other marine life.
Stars swapping the red carpet for ice floes include award-winners Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception), Gustaf Skarsgård (Vikings, Westworld) and Ni Ni (The Flowers Of War, The Warriors Gate). As Greenpeace Ocean Ambassadors they will be raising awareness about threatened Antarctic wildlife and the urgent need for a global network of ocean sanctuaries.
Marion Cotillard, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for La Vie En Rose said: "The Antarctic is a frozen wilderness that should be far beyond the reach of human impact, but even the most remote parts of our planet are changing at an alarming rate. I’m here to bear witness to this fragile environment, inhabited by penguins, whales, and seals whose ocean home needs to be protected.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever lived on a ship, and it’s amazing to spend time with the Greenpeace crew and the scientists who are out here doing crucial work to understand the threats facing the oceans, like climate change, industrial fishing, and plastic pollution. Our planet is a blue planet: the ocean covers more of it than every continent combined, and we all have a responsibility to protect it.”
Gustaf Skarsgård, who is no stranger to ships from his role in Vikings, said:
“It’s an incredible experience to be down here in the Antarctic, it’s remote, wild, hostile, inspiring. I’m here with a crew of campaigners, actors, and scientists to show what could be lost.
“Politicians should understand that climate change, plastic pollution, and industrial fishing are damaging our natural world beyond recognition and they should act to protect it. But they’re not. So I’m here to do what I can to tell the story of how we’re losing penguins, and whales, and seals, and other wildlife in the world’s oceans. We urgently need a Global Ocean Treaty, and it’s on the table at the UN! We have a unique chance to protect the world’s oceans with sanctuaries, free from human activity, so we can give nature a chance to heal itself.”
Multi-award-winning actress Ni Ni said: “For most of us, the Antarctic and the high seas are far away from our daily lives. Sometimes we forget that our actions have a profound impact on them. I look forward to joining Greenpeace’s Antarctic expedition and to witness the impact of human activities on these natural wonders. I want to understand why ocean sanctuaries are powerful tools for marine protection and to bring back what I have seen and learned to China. I hope that more people will take action in support of ocean sanctuaries, so we can protect at least 30 percent of our oceans before 2030.”
During the expedition, a team of six scientists from Stony Brook University and Northeastern University will be conducting drone and manual surveys of penguin colonies and operating from remote base camps to research population levels of chinstrap penguins in the region. Meanwhile another group of scientists will conduct research on microplastic pollution and whale migrations in the region.
Heather J. Lynch, IACS Endowed Chair of Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University and the expedition’s scientific lead, said: “We are going to gather data on the status of penguin colonies in places that have either never been properly surveyed or haven’t been surveyed since the 1970s, allowing us to observe the pace of change in this region over the past half-century. Penguins are sentinel species, by studying them we can understand how climate change and fisheries are affecting the Antarctic environment.”
The voyage to the Antarctic is the last stop of Greenpeace’s pole to pole expedition aimed at highlighting the threats facing international waters – from the Arctic to the Antarctic – and the urgent need to protect them under a new Global Ocean Treaty.