Our atmosphere correspondent Matthew Taylor travelled for an unforgettable region to witness the threat it faces

5 Feb, Punta Arenas, Chile

I’ve showed up in Punta Arenas around the southern tip of Chile following a 24-hour whistlestop tour of South American airports. Very happy to see my bags make it too. I had been requested to prevent packing synthetic and lower clothing whenever we can since it could contaminate the atmosphere, so was pleased all individuals carefully selected natural fibres had managed to get beside me over the Atlantic. Luke, my press contact at Greenpeace, meets me, which is equally as along with I do not really speak Spanish. We obtain taxis towards the pier and that i have my first look at the Arctic Sunrise the Greenpeace ship last in news reports if this was stormed through the Russian FSB within the Arctic. It’s busy with individuals fixing things, loading things, working and chatting. Everybody is friendly. I question concerning the different tales that drive them all here. Could they be the type of people who wish to jump from the fringe of the map, as Werner Herzog found in his documentary concerning the Antarctic? The ship is smaller sized than Id imagined and much more workmanlike. Basically had have you been in almost any doubt, Now i understand the next two days, crossing a few of the roughest water on the planet to some place that’s mostly uninhabitable, isnt likely to be a cruise.

6 Feb, Punta Arenas

I was designed to sail first factor today. However the ship continues to be a flurry of activity and also the weather within the Drake Passage the well known stretch water between South Usa and also the Antarctic is referred to as not good, so we must wait. I choose to stretch my legs having a enter the center of Punta Arenas. It begins well having a magical view out over forbidding seas for the Southern Sea, and i believe I place an albatross. However it ends more prosaically after i am attacked with a dog.

7 Feb, Punta Arenas

At breakfast I hear sobering tales from the passage ahead. Apparently the ship is well known because of its pitching and moving, and known passionately because the washing machine. The ships physician, an attractive man, stated it may be so severe the walls end up being the floor and when you keep the rail around the bridge your legs fly up behind you which means you effectively perform a handstand. Within the mid-day, Sometimes within my cabin I wish to make certain I take full advantage of the trip journalistically. Greenpeace is supporting an EU-backed proposal to create the worlds biggest ocean sanctuary within the waters around Antarctica seas controlled with a disparate number of countries such as the United kingdom, US and Australia. While here’ aspire to report on the undiscovered ecosystems discovered by scientists aboard the ship, the threats facing wildlife because of climate change and krill fishing, and also the state of the Antarctic ice shelves. But a minimum of as vital for me personally is to absorb around I’m able to of the place, and also to absorb any wider training there might be for the broader atmosphere movement.

The Guardians Matthew Taylor in the Antarctic. Photograph: Daniel Beltr/Daniel Beltr / Greenpeace

8 February, Punta Arenas

Did some exercise in the makeshift gym in the hold (a couple of yoga mats, some free weights, a rowing machine and exercise bike) before breakfast. At 8am it is cleaning duty as I am not crew I dont have to help out but was told that it aids morale if people pitch in. Surprisingly I have found I quite enjoy sweeping the corridors and cleaning the toilets it makes me feel, in a very small way, part of the daily routine of life on board. We are due to set sail today and at lunch I overhear the captain and some of the engineers laughing as the newbies (journalists, photographers, Greenpeace campaign team) tumble in to the mess, speaking and laughing. They are saying something like look their way all laughing and happy now … other product idea what’s coming.

9 Feb, Atlantic, Argentinian coast

I wake to some moderate swell. During cleaning responsibilities I start to feel a little rough so finish articles and lie lower, which will help a great deal. Later I am going on the bridge and call the very first mate, Fernando, who shows me the elements forecast for the following couple of days five-metre-plus swell and 40-knot headwinds. It is going to be rough, he informs me happily. You won’t appreciate it, but it’s not harmful.

11 Feb, Drake Passage

I haven’t had the ability to leave my bunk for 2 days because the ship is thrown around by huge waves. The pitching and moving dont appear to possess any rhythm. About a minute I’m being pressed with a few pressure into my bed mattress – the following I’m lifted, almost hovering, over the bed. My mind is frequently shunted in to the headboard, my ft in to the wall in the finish from the bed. From time to time a wave catches the boat perfect and i’m lifted and shunted simultaneously and so i am left standing, virtually vertical, on your wall at the end of my bed. I come up with it towards the mess however the stairs, which in normal occasions are steep, become momentarily horizontal when each wave hits. My brain, in the current scrambled condition, cannot exercise when it’s safe to get up them, and so i retreat to my bed. Luke very kindly brings us a blueberry.

12 Feb, Drake Passage

Apparently I’m not the only person that has been suffering. Lots of people happen to be limited for their bunks and Tom, our Antarctic safety expert, continues to be so ill he’s been placed on a drip. Got up for any bit this mid-day watching Pulp Fiction around the ship television but soon retreat to my bunk. Learned that tomorrow we’ll awaken in Antarctica proper and calmer waters!

13 Feb, Selvick Cove, Antarctic peninsula (6439S 6234W)

Another world. I see an iceberg with the porthole within the cabin before I wake up. After my first breakfast in 72 hours I am going onto deck the very first time we’ve been permitted outdoors in days. The ocean is a lot calmer and also the air bitterly cold. It is extremely a scene. Low cloud obscures the tops from the ice-covered mountain tops rising straight from the ocean and icebergs loom on each side from the ship. Before I’ve finished my bag, three pods of whales, several seals and countless penguins. The area teems with existence. To my deprived modern eye, accustomed to sparsely populated nature, it feels a nearly claustrophobic, disturbing degree of abundance. Another whale a humpback arches its tail from the water and dives in to the deep 100 metres in the ship. We’ve showed up.

Gentoo penguins at Neko Harbour. Photograph: Daniel Beltr/Daniel Beltr / Greenpeace

14 February, Danco Island, Antarctic peninsula (6444S 6237W)

Greenpeace takes its responsibilities here seriously. The expedition involves lots of landings to view penguin colonies and seals close up. We have had several biosecurity briefings explaining how to avoid spreading diseases on our boots and clothes. And today we have to abort a trip to a penguin colony for the wonderful reason that there is too much wildlife. It is impossible to land without disturbing them. As one of the ships crew says, this needs to be a location where the requirements of the wildlife come before other things.

15 Feb, Cuverville Island, Antarctic peninsula (6441S 6238W)

Im said to be a weight helicopter ride over the peninsula to land the very first time its been done around the huge iceberg the size of London that broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf last year. To date, however, the elements is not adequate. I’m slightly anxious concerning the trip because the pilot, who’s very experienced in the area, is clearly not convinced it may be beneficial (too much, difficult terrain, etc). But we’re on standby to fly initially light tomorrow if weather permits.

16 Feb, Neko Harbour, Antarctic peninsula (6450S 6239W)

A poor nights sleep, due partly to the possibilities of the helicopter trip as well as in part to dreams haunted through the wonderful book I’m studying Apsley Cherry-Garrards The Worst Journey on the planet, an amazing and terrifying account from the bravery from the men active in the British make an effort to achieve the south pole in 1910. In a 4am meeting, it’s made the decision the elements is simply too bad. Later, Greenpeace decides to cancel the trip altogether due to the pilots concerns. It’s a shame, however the right decision. It’s the second mates birthday and theres a party at night, booze flowing and fun over-all.

18 Feb, McFarlane Strait to Hero Bay

An enchanting day. It is indeed my favourite type of weather: obvious blue sky and sharp cold air. The visibility is pin-sharp and also the views in the ship are very incredible a few of the ridges and peaks I can tell could be famous when they were elsewhere on the planet. Spent a few hrs inside a penguin colony just watching them waddle back and forth from the ocean, as seals bobbed interior and exterior the surf and whales glided past within the distance. Each day which will stay lengthy within the memory.

Greenpeace inflatables explore one of the South Shetland Islands. Photograph: Daniel Beltr/Daniel Beltr / Greenpeace

20 February, King George Island (6202S 5821W)

Last morning on the ship. We dont have to brave the Drake Passage on the way back, but our flight on a small plane to Chile is weather-dependent, so Im a bit tense. I have been away for nearly three weeks and Im keen to be reunited with my young family. But after a couple of hours wait we get the all-clear from the airport which I later discover consists of a couple of huts on a bleak, wind-ravaged island and we are on our way. I take one last look out of the window at the Antarctic being swallowed up by the cloud below. What a privilege it has been.

21 February, Santiago Airport, Chile

I sit in the airport, having a beer and waiting for my 14-hour flight back to London. The images of ice and mountains, and the abundance of life in Antarctic waters, are still fresh in my mind: they bring a smile to my face as I write. I have discovered I dont possess sea-legs but have nevertheless managed to publish articles from the ship, attempting to give readers a concept of what’s on the line lower here and just how a brand new sea sanctuary might start to address a number of individuals issues. Personally i think I’ve acquired an ongoing appreciation with this truly outstanding place as well as an understanding that we hope originates across within my reporting that although Antarctica appears as an untouched, pristine backwoods, it’s threatened through the all-too-familiar challenges of global warming and industrial-scale fishing. When I scroll through my emails waiting to board, I just read some harsh reports about freakishly high temperatures at sleep issues around the globe, within the Arctic. This only reinforces the overriding impression I’ve been playing in the finish of the trip: when we dont wake to the threats we face and alter, this area together with anything else is going to be lost.

Read The Same Content at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/03/antarctica-diary-environment-matthew-taylor-threat-greenpeace