About

Welcome to the Belgica120 expedition website!

In the framework of the RECTO project funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office, the expedition aims at carrying out a biodiversity census in the Western Antarctic Peninsula in March 2018, and to test-case the potential for an agile sampling platform (the Australis sailboat). The expedition bears a strong historic link to the first scientific expedition to overwinter in Antarctica in 1897-99 recording the first intertidal biodiversity data, 120 years ago. This historic expedition was led by Adrien de Gerlache, onboard the RV Belgica.

Science

There is a dearth of knowledge about biodiversity levels found in intertidal environment in the Southern Ocean, a situation opposite to that found in other oceans. These habitats are exposed to fast-paced changes in key environmental parameters (seawater temperature, salinity, primary production, sea-ice regimes), and host organisms which have been facing past events shaping the function and structure of ecosystems. On top of understanding these aspects, the RECTO/vERSO projects have identified plasticities (trophic, dispersive) and connectivities as a key areas of research to understand the impact of the environmental changes on Antarctic ecosystems.

Find out more about our science projects here

Ship

Based in the Southern Hemisphere ‘Australis’ is a steel hulled, fully rigged motor sailor registered as a commercial – Category 0 (zero – Unrestricted) vessel. She carries a comprehensive range of safety, operational and navigational equipment. A 180hp Gardner diesel engine powers the vessel and she is equipped with 2 zodiac tenders. She sails beautifully and has a powerful engine to push her along at 8+ knots when needed.

You can find more information about the vessel on the Ocean Expeditions website.