Agulhas II returns

MATTHEW HIRSCH

Eager relatives of SA Agulhas II crew were at the V&A Waterfront early last Thursday to welcome the vessel back from Antarctica.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said the three-month trip had been successful and the team had collected valuable data.

Department spokesperson, Zolile Nqayi said the crew had left for Antarctica in the first week of December last year.

While they were there, they were split into two teams. One stayed on the ship, while the other went on to the Antarctica base. The team conducted many experiments, testing, among other things, the warmth and height of the ocean.

“Whatever happens there, affects us here, so the data is very useful for us,” said Mr Nqayi.

“It is also quite useful in terms of weather predictions.”

He said one of the things the team had noticed was that the Antarctic birds had to fly further distances for food for their chicks. This, according to Mr Nqayi, was most likely due to climate change.

The SA Agulhas II has been in operation since 2009 after replacing the old ship that had been used for 35 years.

The ship will be at the Waterfront for a few weeks before a new team of scientists goes the country’s base on Marion Island.

“We have had a base there for a number of years. There will be a new team of 15 people going there next month. This is to give the team that just returned a break.”

He said data from the voyages would be used by the department, but specific data was available to the public upon request.

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