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By Editorial staff

Journalist


Why subantarctic studies matter

It should be recognised for what it is: an investment in the future of our planet.


That curse of the 21st century – the “who cares?” attitude – might be levelled by some at the fact that South African scientists are studying birds, seals and killer whales in the subantarctic Indian Ocean. How does the health of an elephant seal, a killer whale or myriad species of sea and land birds affect our day-to-day lives and shouldn’t the government money spent on this be better used elsewhere? ALSO READ: Japanese scientists find microplastics are present in clouds Those are fair questions – and ones for which the dedicated researchers who have been working in teams on…

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That curse of the 21st century – the “who cares?” attitude – might be levelled by some at the fact that South African scientists are studying birds, seals and killer whales in the subantarctic Indian Ocean.

How does the health of an elephant seal, a killer whale or myriad species of sea and land birds affect our day-to-day lives and shouldn’t the government money spent on this be better used elsewhere?

ALSO READ: Japanese scientists find microplastics are present in clouds

Those are fair questions – and ones for which the dedicated researchers who have been working in teams on Marion Island for more than 50 years have ready answers.

They will tell you that the birds and animals inhabiting the land and sea of Marion Island and its sibling Prince Edward Island – both South African possessions – are vital “indicator species” for the overall health of our planet.

Monitoring that is vital in an era of climate change and these scientists and their colleagues at the South African research base in Antarctica are doing work which is recognised globally for its excellence and relevance.

ALSO READ: Olifants River facing collapse, scientists warn

Keeping those people down there should never be a debate about expenditure. It should be recognised for what it is: an investment in the future of our planet.

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