Belgica120 expedition to study biodiversity in Antarctica
On 21 February, a group of Belgian and French scientists set off to Antarctica. The aim of the Belgica120 expedition is to draw up an inventory of biodiversity in the Southern Ocean. The team will also study the extent of the damage caused by plastic in the water.
In order to keep the impact on the environment to a minimum, the team is making the voyage with a light sailboat, the Australis, to the Strait of Gerlache, which is near the Antarctic Peninsula. The ship will cast anchor there for a month while the scientists study the effects of global warming on biodiversity in the Southern Ocean. They will make a detailed inventory of all the life present, down to a depth of 100 metres. There is a good chance that the researchers will discover new animal species. In addition, the expedition will also investigate whether the global problem of plastic in the oceans also has an impact on the marine life around Antarctica.
The team is made up of nine researchers, connected to the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Ghent University, KU Leuven, the Université de Bourgogne and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
The name of the expedition, Belgica120, is a reference to the historical voyage made by Adrien de Gerlache to Antarctica in his ship the Belgica, 120 years ago. You can find out more about Belgium's historical links with Antarctica here.