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5 moments I’ll never forget from my journey across the seas

by Jackie Zamora

April 23, 2020

My name is Jackie, I'm a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace International and I was onboard the ships for five different stages of Greenpeace's pole-to-pole expedition. Join me as I share with you my most wonderful, shocking and unforgettable moments of this journey across the seas.

“This is real. I am here” 

I said to myself when I saw the first iceberg in the distance. 

We were officially in Antarctic waters.”

In April 2019, Greenpeace ships set sail on an epic voyage across the oceans, from the North Pole to the South Pole. On this year-long expedition, the team onboard was joined by scientists and experts to conduct crucial scientific research, witness threats first hand and strengthen the case for a strong Global Ocean Treaty to protect our oceans.

My name is Jackie, I’m a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace International and I was onboard the ships for five different stages of this expedition. Join me as I share with you my most wonderful, shocking and unforgettable moments of this journey across the seas.

1.  Sharks under attack

Greenpeace ship Esperanza is investigating the overfishing of sharks in the North Atlantic ocean on transit to the Azores.

I had heard about destructive fishing before and read about the estimated 100 million sharks that are caught and killed in fishing nets every year. But these facts shocked me on a different level when I saw the numbers translated in real sharks struggling in front of my eyes – one after the other.

In June, on route from the UK to the Azores, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza passed through the North Atlantic swordfish fishing grounds, where we peacefully confronted the fishing industry and their destructive practices.

Every minute was difficult to watch. There was no mercy. I remember the knot in my throat while documenting. It was heartbreaking to see the reality our oceans are facing.

2. Magic beneath the Sargasso Sea

A blackwater image of an octopus in the Sargasso Sea.

If you hear the word “oceans,” the first images that come to mind are probably whales and sea birds, however, there is a lot of undiscovered life and wonder in the oceans. 

While we were in the Sargasso Sea, an area in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we had on board a team of underwater photographers to capture the splendor of this unique ecosystem using a method called Blackwater photography. This is an emerging art form in which photographers dive into the open ocean at night, completely untethered. Something I will never forget is watching the sunset as we got ready to launch rhibs for the blackwater dives in the middle of the night. Each night, the team dove down to  depths of more than 30 meters and the creatures we found were incredible and unique. Some of them are even species to be identified. We were all very touched by the beauty and fragility of this sea. 

3. Heartwarming greetings

Local fishermen on colorful traditional boats display banners with various messages including “Protect the Oceans” and “Stop Fishmeal”. The activity is carried out after the fishermen have met Greenpeace and discussed how to work together to put pressure on fishery authorities to protect the ocean and stop fishmeal production plants.

During the stop in Dakar, the Arctic Sunrise hosted meetings with representatives from West Africa fisheries and local fishing folks and associations, to work together and put pressure on fishery authorities to protect the oceans.

As the ship was departing Dakar to investigate distant water fishing fleet practices in the Mid-Atlantic, a flotilla of local fishermen on colorful traditional boats gave us a lovely send off – sending their good wishes and displaying banners with various messages including “Protect the Oceans”.

Suddenly it started to rain quite hard and I was moved by the fact the flotilla was still there with the banners up and smiles on their faces. It meant a lot to me as it made me realize how we are all together in this mission to safeguard biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of the resources on which many of the world’s most vulnerable people depend.

4.  The first iceberg

Icebergs of the South Orkney Islands.

“This is real. I am here. ” I said to myself as I saw my first iceberg in the distance while holding back some tears. Being in the Antarctic can get overwhelming because there is so much beauty, you don’t know where to look at. While I was admiring everything with happiness the reality check that all of it is in danger hit me and I felt a huge responsibility to do everything I could to protect the heart of the oceans and all the precious wildlife that calls this wonderful place their home.

5.  A shared responsibility

Crew on board the Esperanza, pose with a Protect The Oceans banner at the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica.

While getting ready for a peaceful protest in Antarctic waters, I take a look at our team on board. We have activists, researchers, engineers, crew and campaigners. We are a highly prepared team of women and men with multiple talents and abilities, with the same mission. 

Our oceans are in crisis and no matter in which part of the world you live, your gender, your language, your age, everyone’s fate is bound to the fate of our oceans. The team onboard the Greenpeace ships is like a family and knowing we all share the same ideals coming from different countries and cultures made this whole experience much more meaningful and inspiring. Ultimately, as members of the human race, it is a shared responsibility to protect our home.

I’ve learned many things on this journey about the fragile state of the seas. Now more than ever there is no time to waste. Our oceans are facing many threats: Climate change, plastic pollution, deep-sea mining, overfishing – all of them getting more urgent every day. But there is hope: a strong Global Ocean Treaty is a vital step towards protecting a third of our seas by 2030 and only with your help and support, this can become a reality.

Be an Ocean Defender! Join the movement to protect the oceans HERE and if you have already signed, spread the word! Ocean defense is self-defense and we need all hands on deck to protect our blue planet, our loved ones, and the future generations.

By Jackie Zamora

Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace International

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