Renowned British explorer Pen Hadow set sail from Nome, Alaska, for the Central Arctic Ocean on August 14, 2017, in what has been described as “one of the most significant voyages of the 21st century”.
The Arctic Mission, which consisted of an international crew including scientists and high-latitude sailors, steered two 15-metre-long yachts north and was the first to use sail boats to access the international waters of the Central Arctic Ocean.
Lead scientist Tim Gordon and Erik de Jong, skipper and owner of one of the team’s yachts, answered your questions live on Euronews’ Facebook page.
The team’s feat wouldn’t have been possible a couple of years ago, but global warming has caused the area’s ice to melt at an alarming rate.
“The main objective of the project was to demonstrate the accessibility of the central Arctic Ocean,” said Pen.
Erik, skipper and owner of Bagheera boat, explained that his vessel had covered 1000 miles (1609 km) of ground in the once-ice-covered area on “relatively small” boats.
“The fact that we’ve been able to sail here means any one can do it,” he said.
According to Erik, the area is now open to fishing, mining and oil exploitation, amongst other things.
By exploring and sharing stories of the spectacular wildlife – plants, animals and even bacteria – that live around the North Pole, Pen and his team also aim to encourage international policy-makers to decide how best to protect the area.
“It’s time to let the world know that this very vulnerable area is now accessible and that there needs to be discussion about what we’re going to do with it,” said Erik.
They aim to show the abundance of incredible species that the area plays host to including orca (killer whales), all-white beluga whales, dark-skinned polar bears, bearded seals, narwhal (the original unicorn) and Greenland sharks.
Euronews followed the team’s progress on its live blog.
The Arctic Mission’s Facebook account can be found “here”: