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Monday, February 15, 2010

Follow Elysium's Extraordinary Explorers As They Document The Impact Of Climate Change On Antarctica

And Prepare For The 100th Anniversary Of Shackleton's 20th Century Trans-Antarctic Expedition

On 10 February 2010, a 57-member team of explorers from 18 countries will meet in Ushuaia, Argentina – the world’s southernmost city – to embark on a benchmark expedition to Antarctica. The Elysium Epic expedition has two purposes: to provide an in-depth scientific photographic survey of Antarctica’s flora and fauna and the impact of climate change on the planet’s last wilderness, and to produce a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s Trans Antarctic challenge in 1914.

Polar dive and expedition cruise expert, Waterproof Expeditions (waterproof-expeditions.com) has organized for the team to sail onboard the modern ice-strengthened Russian research vessel, Professor Molchanov. As the experts in operating polar dive trips, Waterproof Expeditions will also manage the dive operation for the full expedition.

The 21-day voyage will follow the route Shackleton and his crew travelled after the loss of the Endurance on their epic 20th century expedition - from the Weddell Sea, across the notorious Drake Passage to Elephant Island where Shackleton’s men waited for more than four months and on to South Georgia and Grytviken, where Shackleton is buried. You can follow Elysium Epic’s progress from 10 February through to 2 March 2010 as the explorers update their blog several times daily at ElysiumEpic.org.

Project director, Michael Aw of the Ocean Geographic Society (oceangeographic.org) says, “Elysium Epic is about extraordinary explorers using advanced imaging technologies to document the last wilderness on our planet. The aim of the project is to provide a visual library that documents the flora and fauna of Antarctica, and to produce a documentary feature and a limited edition book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the heroic legendary expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans Antarctic challenge in 1914.”

The 21st century team is no ordinary group of explorers; they comprise some of the world’s best wildlife photographers, film-makers and marine scientists. The principal members include: BBC Wildlife photographer of the Year winners Michael Aw, Goran Ehlme, and Amos Nachoum; David Doubilet, photographer in residence of National Geographic; Titanic and deep-sea vent discoverer Emory Kristof - also a National Geographic photographer in residence; eight-time World Underwater Pictures festival Winner Leandro Blanco; and the master of black and white underwater imagery, Ernest Brooks II, acclaimed as the Ansell Adams of the Sea; UK award-winning wildlife photographer, Heather Angel; chief scientist Cabell Davis, PhD from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Steve Nichol, PhD of the Australian Antarctic Division and a specialist in the dynamics of Southern Ocean ecosystems; and fine-art artist Wyland, renowned as the Michelangelo of the Sea.

Jonathan Shackleton, cousin of his legendary Irish forebear is also part of the lead team and will be on site to tell the story of Ernest Shackleton – revealing how the explorer managed heroic feats in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Other team members comprise medical doctors, geophysicists, oceanographers, marine biologists, professional film-makers and technical diving practitioners. By any visual or scientific standard this is the ultimate dream team.

The production shoot will begin where Shackleton and his team fought to survive their unexpected situation. What will it be like 98 years later? Will there still be the expanse of ice shelf in this time of global ocean change? Or has man’s destructive hand already irreversibly changed the landscape forever?

The Antarctic Peninsula has increased in temperature by 3°C in the last 50 years; that is more than twice the world’s average and the greatest increase in temperature of any place on Earth. It makes the Peninsula an important and poignant indicator for climate change. But what implications does this rise in temperature have for the organisms that call the Antarctic home? Elysium scientists and photographers will document the present state of global warming as it affects this vulnerable and volatile region. Visual records will be taken every step of the way: photographic testimony, video documentation, samples and population estimates. In addition, a collection of photos and videos of penguins, seals and seabirds will be collated into a publicly accessible index as a reference in time for future generations.

Elysium Epic aims to be the world’s only expedition of its kind, and will be entirely carbon neutral. The project team is working with experts in climate change science to calculate the carbon footprint of the expedition and to offset by means of purchase of carbon credits or by investing in offset schemes that yield measurable results.

Follow Elysium Epic’s progress from 10 February through to 2 March 2010 as the explorers update their blog several times daily at ElysiumEpic.org. The team welcomes questions about the adventure, climate change and ecological science of the Antarctic region. They will respond live whenever they can.

About Waterproof Expeditions

The Elysium Epic expedition has been facilitated by Waterproof Expeditions. Waterproof Expeditions specializes in unique photography, diving, snorkelling and cruise experiences to some of the world’s most remote and exotic destinations. From ice-diving in Antarctica’s polar waters and underwater filming in the Canadian Arctic to cage diving with great whites in Guadalupe, swimming with sea lions and penguins in the Galapagos and snorkelling with sailfish in Mexico – Waterproof’s fascinating destinations and marine life make their trips popular for divers and non-divers alike. All Waterproof Expeditions’ departures have an expert guide ranging from renowned underwater photographers and wildlife cameramen to conservationists, explorers and naturalists. For more information please visit www.waterproof-expeditions.com

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