Countdown begins for Antarctic expedition

British-Australian adventurer, Tim Jarvis, says he is counting down the days until he sets sail on the most challenging expedition of his career – Shackleton Epic – in which he hopes to be the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s incredible voyage of survival.

With exactly one month to go before he departs South America on 2 January 2013, Jarvis’ friends and supporters bid him farewell at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney yesterday.

Jarvis (who claims not to suffer from seasickness) and his crew of five plan to recreate Shackleton’s legendary 800 nautical mile voyage across the treacherous Southern Ocean in a 22.5’ lifeboat, the Alexandra Shackleton, before traversing the mountainous interior of South Georgia.

“We’ll be undertaking the expedition just as Shackleton did it – with rocks as ballast, gabardine outer-layers and woollen jumpers as our only protection from the elements, as well as consuming a rationed diet similar in calories to Shackleton’s men including the hard-to-stomach pemmican made from animal fat and a bit of seasoning,” Jarvis said.

“At any given time only four of the six crew on board the Alexandra Shackleton will be able to shelter in the cramped space below deck, and at all times – in all weather – two crew members will be on deck steering the boat through the harsh, freezing conditions,” he added.

Sir Ernest Shackleton's crew. Credit: Frank Hurley (courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute).
The stranded crew wave goodbye as Ernest Shackleton and five men set out on a desperate rescue mission. Credit: Frank Hurley (courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute).

During the expedition, crew on board the support vessel, Australis, will work in conjunction with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to collect data on ocean pH, sea surface temperature, air temperature, wind speed, wave height and iceberg incidence.

“The data being gathered on the Shackleton Epic voyage will help raise awareness of the need for immediate action to conserve the fragile Antarctic ecosystem,” said Joe Heffernan, Environmental Scientist at FFI.

Funding raised through the expedition will support FFI’s biodiversity efforts across the globe, while the data gathered will be used by FFI to inform climate change mitigation strategies and projects.

As an environmental scientist with Arup, Jarvis is determined to make the most of this opportunity to highlight the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s unique environment.

“The irony is that Shackleton tried to save his men from Antarctica and we are now trying to save Antarctica from man,” he said.

FFI will continue to provide Shackleton Epic updates as the expedition progresses, and readers can also track the progress of the Alexandra Shackleton in real time at www.shackletonepic.com.

Learn more about Ernest Shackleton’s original voyage, and find out how FFI is getting involved with the Shackleton Epic centenary re-enactment.

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