By Meera Gandhi
The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest ice store on earth – Area: 5.4 million square miles (14 million kilometers), Mass: 7.2 million cubic miles (30 million cubic meters). It is the highest, driest, coldest, and windiest continent on Earth. In all sense, it is an Incredible Bucket List Destinations for Once in a Lifetime Trip.
So in March this year, I embarked on an expedition to Antarctica. Antarctica, the vast, untouched continent is one of the few places left on Earth that has not been reshaped by human activities. The trip was organized by a group called Dybrkr that is seeking to call attention to Climate change and the damage human commerce is doing to damage the planet and the human species.
I met some incredible people along the way and got to see stunning nature and witness astonishing displays of joy and creativity. One of the people I met was the amazing Colin O’Brady, and it just happened to be his birthday! Colin is inspirational light to all when he shows everyone by his feats that nothing is impossible. Antarctica echoes this sentiment – “If you think it, you can do it!”
Guy Laliberte, the billionaire who started cirque de soleil was on the trip wearing his Pequot outfit totally whimsical and captivating. Steve Martocci founder of splice music and his wife Kelly were aboard to spread the message of saving our planet as was DJ Blondish and a host of influencers from every field imaginable.
The Foyn Harbor and Governoren shipwreck
Our Antarctica expedition took us to Foyn Harbor, Enterprise Island where we went close up to see the shipwreck of the Governoren. I found the story below in the NYT.
“In the 1900s, Antarctica was the hub of new whaling activity, and the Governoren, once a cattle carrier, eventually functioned as one of the largest whaling factory ships of her time. In terms of capacity, the Governoren was known for once producing more than 22,000 gallons of oil. The Norwegians considered the ship a leader among factory ships and one of the most technically sophisticated.
On January 27, 1915, after a successful whaling mission wrapped up, the crew threw a party (as was standard practice aboard floating factories) to celebrate the success of a long and laborious mission hunting and processing whales, and the anticipated journey home. Because the Governoren’s working decks were designed for flensing, and not for dancing and partying, the celebration was held below decks.
Someone, perhaps while dancing too boisterously, knocked a lamp off a table and the ship caught fire. The Governoren was of course full of thousands of gallons of whale oil, ready and waiting to be hauled back to Norway. This oil fueled the fire, causing it to quickly grow out of control.
Although resulting in the terrible loss of whale oil and of a historic ship, the captain set Governoren aground and the entire crew of 85 was able to escape, only to watch the blazing ship burn to ruin. None of the crew members were injured by the fire; all were rescued by another whaling ship that was nearby.”
Today, the wreckage of the Governoren lies in wait for the occasional Antarctic cruise visitor to Foyn Harbor. The rusting remains, leftover wooden flensing boats, and old whale oil barrels remind us of the ship’s long history. I was happy to be able to get so close to the Governoren.
The Drake Passage
The next day, as we crossed the Drake Passage, I reflected on the many highlights like the polar plunge into the freezing waters, the zodiac rides to see the animals, discussions with amazing people on the trip, and so on. Wikipedia says: The Drake Passage is considered one of the most treacherous voyages for ships to make. Currents at its latitude meet no resistance from any landmass, and wave top 40 feet (12 m), hence its reputation as “the most powerful convergence of seas”.
As the Drake Passage is the narrowest passage around Antarctica, its existence and shape strongly influence the circulation of water around Antarctica and the global oceanic circulation, as well as the global climate. The bathymetry of the Drake Passage plays an important role in the global mixing of oceanic water. The Pacific Ocean is 40 centimeters higher than the Atlantic Ocean. Climate preservation is the key to the survival of our planet.
The last part of our amazing Antarctica adventure was Buenos Aires, where my daughter Madame Gandhi delivered a stellar performance at Casa Brandon culture club. Staying at Palacio Duhau was absolutely stunning with a 5-star vegan restaurant and superb service. Casa Brandon club has live performances by amazing artists every night and has joyful, upbeat, and happy energy.
Antarctica echoes my motto, “We are to the universe only as much as we give back to it.” Antarctica reminds me of the great privilege it is to be born as a divine-human on this truly amazing planet and that each day is such a precious gift. It takes billions and billions of years to be born as a human. Let’s not waste a moment of that. Each of us has a divine purpose and more so after this Antarctica adventure, I bow to the divine light in all.
(The author is a humanitarian, mother, author, and businesswoman. She is also the founder and CEO of The Giving Back Foundation.)