In partnership with the Flotilla Foundation, Scott Polar Research Institute, Nelson Mandela University, University of Cape Town and the University of Canterbury – The Weddell Sea Expedition deployed AUVs and ROVs to investigate life beneath the ice and the potential implications of climate change. The expedition was one of the largest and most ambitious non-governmental Antarctic scientific expeditions for decades.

In 2019, 36 scientists, surveyors and technicians embarked on a 45-day voyage of science and discovery in one of the most remote and least studied regions of the world. These modern day explorers examined the marine life of the western Weddell Sea ecosystem looking up from the seabed at the under surface of the ice to discover new communities of sympagic fauna for the very first time in this region.

Nekton’s research focus: Microplastic prevalence (ongoing)

The Weddell Sea Expedition provided the first opportunity to collect contemporaneous samples of sediment from the seabed, water from the surface, ice from sea ice and the ice shelf and aerosols from the air. Using this unique combination of samples, we are investigating microplastic prevalence in remote regions of the Weddell Sea. With these data we are:

  • Providing the first temporal analysis of microplastic pollution in Antarctica.
  • Elucidating on the transfer pathways of microplastics in the remote southern polar region and how they move across the planet (through comparison with studies from other locations).
  • Publishing and disseminating the scientific literature, engaging with key stakeholders and amplifying the importance of the applied research through media engagement.