What Can You Do To Protect Antarctica as a Tourist?
I am certain that those who wish to visit Antarctica have a commitment to the environment. Antarctica is not your average tourist destination with hotels and spa’s it is a place to witness the true beauty of nature and it’s diversity.
On The Way to Antarctica
Basically there are a few ways you will get to Antarctica; as a tourist, a scientist, or a trades-person to maintain and upgrade the bases. There are other ways but these are the main three. I was fortunate enough to have lived and worked in two distinct areas of Antarctica – the continent and a sub-Antarctic island, and I know from those experiences that the operators of the scientific research bases such as the Australian Antarctic Division go to great lengths to preserve the pristine environment of Antarctica, but is it enough?
Unwelcome Invaders Colonizing Antarctica
It appears from some recent studies that no it’s not enough, and that Alien Species are Invading Antarctica. Don’t panic they are from this world but nevertheless they are unwelcome invaders.
DUBLIN: “Alien species are invading the Antarctic continent, and climate change is magnifying the chances of them gaining a foothold.
New research reveals a blueprint as to which exotic species are expected to colonise the pristine wilderness of Antarctica and where. The warnings could allow for better protective measures to be introduced.(http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5375/aliens-invade-antarctica)
It’s certainly not something new, but it is starting to become something we need to be concerned about. The mix of more people visiting Antarctica and climate change is quickly accelerating the problem.
It is interesting to note however that the main culprits for contaminating Antarctica with foreign seeds are the scientists and support staff themselves, even though there are higher number of tourists that visit Antarctica each year than scientists. It is noteworthy however that scientists usually have more exposure and contact with areas of higher environmental and science value, such as protected areas.”
A Few Simple Tips To Deter Antarctic Invaders
So what steps can we take in order to minimise the risk of contaminating Antarctica’s pristine environment? Below are a few easy and common-sense tips:
- If possible take all new clothing and boots, keep them in a sealed plastic bag while at home or before departing to Antarctica.
- If you are taking clothes that you have worn before ensure you thoroughly wash them in a mild solution of bleach prior to departing and seal them in a plastic bag to take with you.
- Once on the ship or vessel always brush and vacuum any Velcro or material on your clothing each time before disembarking at your destinations, particularly inside pockets, whether new or old.
- If you are taking any footwear you have worn previously wash the soles in bleach and thoroughly vacuum the boots, then seal in a plastic bag to take with you – if possible.
- When on the tour ship or vessel you are traveling to Antarctica on ensure you wash the soles of your boots with bleach and thoroughly brush and vacuum the tongues and any Velcro or material on the boots each time before disembarking at destinations.
- Be mindful of where you step and what you touch, never get too close to the wildlife or vegetation – if any!
We Can Only Do Our Best
We will probably never be able to completely stop alien invasions into pristine environments, particularly where nature plays a part such as winds carrying seeds into areas where global warming has made environments previously hostile to some species suitable for their colonisation. However we can do our best to slow down the rate of both invasions and global warming!
© 2012, Haich. All rights reserved.