Chase Expeditions is delighted to be working with Pen Hadow, helping him lead a global process to gain greater protection for the Arctic and in particular the Central Arctic Ocean.
It is quite possible that the ocean surrounding the North Pole is one of the more significant generators of life on Earth. Researchers have only just been able to access the area, now that the sea-ice habitat is reducing due to rapid ice melt. This unique ecosystem supports the single spiral-tusked, unicorn-of-the-sea (narwhal), the white whale (beluga), the double-tusked mammal (walrus), the offshore-living fox (Arctic fox), the world’s largest surface carnivore (polar bear), the world’s largest dolphin (orca, aka killer whale), the world’s second largest animal (bowhead whale) … and even the world’s longest living animal (Greenland shark).
Lead by British explorer and Arctic visionary Pen Hadow, Protect 90ºNorth is an advocacy team focused exclusively on the conservation of the delicately balanced but increasingly threatened wildlife and floating ice-reef ecosystem in the Arctic Ocean’s international waters, with the aim of ensuring that the Central Arctic Ocean (CAT) becomes a globally protected and recognised marine reserve. In urgent need of protection, this requires conservation measures to preserve it from imminent exploitation by commercial fishing, commercial shipping and commercial mineral extraction as well as cruise ship tourism.
More significant than any of these charismatic mega-fauna are the smallest marine plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton), for these specialist Arctic ‘primary producers’ convert and store the sun’s energy into their living tissue, upon which the mega-fauna ultimately depend for their food supply.
In 2003 Pen became the first person solo, without resupply, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole – a feat unrepeated to date; and is the first Briton, without resupply to ski to both the North and South Geographic Poles from the respective continental coastlines. Pen is passionate about continuing his work in the Arctic.
In 2017 Pen Hadow launched a new programme of scientific expeditions, Arctic Mission, to explore the wildlife and floating ice-reef ecosystem of the international waters around the North Pole which Chase Expeditions co-ordinated.
The key insight from the voyage was to realise that “… reported sea-ice loss needs to focus less on the geophysical phenomenon of ‘melting sea water’, and far more on the potentially catastrophic loss of a floating ice-reef habitat and ecosystem involving some of the planet’s iconic species including beluga, narwhal and polar bear.”
These expeditions will serve as a platform for ‘Protect 90 North’, operating in the Arctic Ocean every year till 2032, with two objectives:
- To gather scientific information about the wildlife and ecosystem that will inform international policy-makers on the optimum conservation approach
- To engage the public in understanding more about the wildlife and the multiple environmental and human threats it faces, and to update interested parties on the progress towards creating a conservation area.
Arctic Mission’s first expedition involved sailing two 50’ yachts into the North Pole’s international waters. In becoming the first vessels in history to do so without the use of icebreakers, the expedition demonstrated the extent of recent summer sea-ice loss … and the resulting accessibility of these waters to commercial shipping, fishing, tourism, and mineral extraction.
Chase Expeditions managed the 2017 Arctic Mission expedition, and is integral to the future plans of ‘Protect 90 North’ – focusing on both the ocean advocacy side and associated expedition logistics.