The Expedition

The Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 will bring together world-leading glaciologists, marine biologists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists on S.A. Agulhas II, one of the largest and most modern polar research vessels in the world.

Its aims are to investigate the ice shelves around the Weddell Sea and, in particular, the Larsen C Ice Shelf from which a giant iceberg broke off in July 2017, to document the rich and little-studied marine life of the western Weddell Sea ecosystem, and to attempt to locate and survey the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’, which was trapped and crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915.

This unprecedented 45-day scientific expedition will endeavour to navigate its way through the heavy sea ice, freezing temperatures and harsh weather of this extreme and forbidding environment, in order to solve unanswered questions about one of the most remote areas of our planet. By uncovering vital new scientific data, the expedition hopes to improve our understanding of the Weddell Sea, and to use that knowledge to contribute towards the protection of the region and to inspire young people about science, engineering and technology.

The vessel is currently in the port of Cape Town preparing for mobilisation before the expedition. A live feed will be made available once the vessel embarks on the voyage.

As part of the expedition to one of the most remote areas on the globe, the team have contingency plans in place. Please see the Initial Environmental Evaluation for more details.