Hoping to put their experience and their passion for the sea to work protecting the planet and its oceans, French skipper Philippe Poupon and his wife Géraldine Danon decided to embark on a trans-ocean observation expedition aboard a sailboat.
With Philippe and the helm and Géraldine narrating, they will use their journey from the North to the South Pole to :
• Evaluate the health of our oceans and their flora and fauna through a variety of observations,
• Raise awareness among everyone concerned (the general public, industrial companies and public authorities) about the effects of pollution and climate change on our increasingly fragile environment (such as glacier melt and the decreasing salinity in ocean water),
• Educate future generations about sustainable development to help them think about every action in their daily lives from the perspective of an environmentally responsible citizen.
During their first expedition in 2009, Philippe Poupon and his crew managed to traverse the Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean along the northern coast of North America. They did so in less than 2 months, a trip that only about twenty sailboats have made successfully in nearly three centuries. Now, in 2010, Fleur Australe is ready to embark on a new adventure.
The 20-meter sailboat left Alaska in June, heading for the Antarctic through the Pacific. This mostly sea voyage will spend nearly 3 years in little-traveled sailing waters where the consequences of climate change will be especially severe as water levels rise as expected. A variety of observations and several specific operations will be performed throughout the journey to take stock of our oceans' health, including water quality readings (temperature and salinity), pollution on the open sea and in coastal areas (bulk waste and chemicals), and the concentration of marine mammal populations, for example..
The team will also seek out opportunities in its many ports of call (including North America, Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, South America, and Antarctica) to meet with the local population, influential figures and various specialists and talk about the effects of climate change on their environment (natural environment and habitat). At the same time, they will use these landings to explore initiatives being taken in other places to preserve our environment.
As an educational expedition, Fleur Australe offers real-time feedback on the consequences of human behavior on our oceans and coastlines. This approach has earned it a place in the Explorers Club founded in May as part of the Oceans Initiative (Grenelle de la Mer) by the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea.
The crew on the sea ice during the first Fleur Australe expedition: the Northwest Passage.