• Greenpeace’s infamous Arctic Sunrise has just docked at the V&A Waterfront’s Jetty 2, Cape Town.
  • Fans will be able to get a glimpse of what life is like onboard this infamous icebreaker, as it is open to the public for guided tours this weekend.
  • On 20 October it sets sail on an expedition to document rare lobsters and to recover the ‘ghost nets’ (abandoned fishing gear) that threatens underwater life at the Vema Seamount.
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Greenpeace’s infamous Arctic Sunrise, that was detained for 10 months by the Russian government in 2013 and that held a 12-day standoff with oil giant BP as it was delivering an oil-rig in the North Sea, has just docked at the V&A Waterfront’s Jetty 2, Cape Town.  
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

Fans of the environmental conservationist group will be able to get a glimpse of what life is like onboard this infamous icebreaker, as it is open to the public for guided tours this weekend.

On 20 October it sets sail on an expedition to document Tristan lobsters and to recover ‘ghost nets’ (abandoned fishing gear) that threatens underwater life at the Vema Seamount, roughly 1,000 kilometres northwest of Cape Town in the Atlantic Ocean, said Captain Mike Fincken. Discovered in 1959, the seamount rises from 4,600 metres in depth and makes a patch of rock that at its shallowest point lies at 26 metres underwater. Nutrient rich deepwater is transported by currents upslope and eventually hits the sunlit upper layers of the water column.

Vema is one of the few seamounts that reach close to the water surface and hence is at diveable depths. The sunlit peaks and parts of the plateau are dominated by Kelp habitats and home to seaweeds, crustaceans, seastars and other spineless animal species.

Photo Jay Caboz.
Google Maps.

Due to its location in High Seas, there was no fisheries control or management leading to a huge population of Tristan lobster, the most expensive lobster species worldwide, to be overfished. It was been under strict protection since 2007. The crew of the Arctic Sunrise want to see if anything has changed since and clean up some litter while they’re at it.

The journey is part of Greenpeace’s Pole-to-Pole campaign to rally support for a Global Oceans Treaty which will see 30% of the world's oceans become protected by 2030 under the UN.

Locally, the project is highlighting the impacts of overfishing on local fishing communities in Kalk Bay.  

Greenpeace offered Business Insider South Africa a sneak tour onboard to give us glimpse of what life is like on the icebreaker:


We found a gym:

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

Aptly nick named the ‘Washing Machine’ by its crew, the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker is one helluva rocky ride as it does not have stabilisation rudders – it can’t have them as they’ll get scraped off when navigating through ice fields.


They've got bikes and darts to keep them entertained:

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

As well as an ongoing CrossFit challenge.

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

The Arctic Sunrise has been part of the Greenpeace fleet since 1995 when she took her first trip to the North Sea to document marine pollution by oil from offshore installations. The ship was bought under a pseudonym as sellers did not want Greenpeace to purchase it.


There was parsley in the bathoom. 

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

Since then, she has been all over the planet, including the Congo, the Amazon and most recently a three-month expedition to the Antarctic to conduct scientific research on biodiversity in the region.


Tom the Puffin is their cabin mascot.

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

The ship made its way down the African coast from Dakar, Senegal, on September 15.


They've got cool graffiti over surfaces:

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

Once at the Vema Seamount, researchers will take tissue samples of Kelp to be analysed for their genetic information. No samples of Vema Kelp have ever been taken.


There was even a shopping list: 

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.

Secondly they want to take underwater video footage using an underwater drone. The Remote Operated Vehicle footage will be analysed by researchers to tell the species visible on the images. This has also never been done before on Verma.


Finally their lounge had plenty of wine, books and guitars hanging from the ceiling: 

Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.
Photo Jay Caboz.


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