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For microplastics and the Guinness World Record "Katharsis II"

On 23 April 2019, a new temporary exhibition entitled ” Plastic Sea “ will be opened in the holds of the ship-museum ” Sołdek “. The exhibition will present the achievements of the Katharsis II yacht crew in the voyage along the coast of Antarctica. This expedition was awarded with, among others, the “Cruise of
Published: April 17, 2019 - 14:40
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:03
For microplastics and the Guinness World Record “Katharsis II”

On 23 April 2019, a new temporary exhibition entitled ” Plastic Sea will be opened in the holds of the ship-museum ” Sołdek . The exhibition will present the achievements of the Katharsis II yacht crew in the voyage along the coast of Antarctica. This expedition was awarded with, among others, the “Cruise of the Year 2018” award, the “Silver Sextant” and an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

The main part of the exhibition, prepared by the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk and the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Sopot, consists of photographs documenting the course of the expedition, the life of the crew and the majestic landscapes of the Antarctic coast. The authors of the photographs are Hanna Leniec and Piotr Kukliński. The exhibition will also showcase equipment used in oceanographic research.

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[blockquote style=”2″]This voyage is an expedition to one of the most desolate corners of the world, and the Polish scientists who took part in it performed research that will be helpful in assessing the scale of microplastic pollution of the oceans. – notes Dr Robert Dom¿ał, director of the National Maritime Museum in Gdañsk. – With the exhibition on “Soldek” we want to honour its participants, but also draw attention to the issues related to the ecology of water bodies. “Sołdek” is our Gdańsk branch with one of the largest attendances and we are sure that visitors will be interested in the exhibition, which addresses the issue of pollution of the seas and oceans.[/blockquote]

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Historic voyage

The purpose of the crew of “Katharsis II”, consisting of: Mariusz Koper – captain, Tomasz Grala, Hanna Leniec, Michał Barasiński, Magdalena Żuchelkowska, Wojciech Małecki, Ireneusz Kamiński, Piotr Kukliński and Robert Kibart was to circumnavigate Antarctica, sailing south of 60° S. Before that no sailing yacht had circumnavigated Antarctica so close to land, and the shortest officially recorded time, but measured from start to finish in Australia was 102 days, 2 hours, 35 minutes and 50 seconds. With the chance of a new record emerging, the sailors decided to carry out the voyage in accordance with the requirements of the World Sailing Record and Performance Council (WSSRC) and the Guinness World Records Directorate (GWR).

The voyage started in Cape Town and ended in Hobart, Australia. It lasted 102 days, 22 hours, 59 minutes and 5 seconds and the loop around Antarctica was completed in 72 days and 6 hours. One of the requirements to break the record was to sail exclusively under sail, which was a great challenge in windy and iceberg-covered waters. In the end, the record was more than beaten, as not even 62 °S was exceeded during the closing of the Antarctic loop.

The feat of Polish sailors was officially entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the “First circumnavigation of Antarctica by a sailing yacht on Antarctic waters south of 60 degrees south latitude”. Captain Mariusz Koper was also honoured with the most important Polish sailing trophy: “Cruise of the Year 2018” Honorary Award and the “Silver Sextant”.

plastic sea-nmm_ poster

Pioneering research

The voyage to the Arctic Circle was not just for record-breaking purposes, but also had scientific value. Sailing along such a southerly route, the Katharsis II crossed the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the largest system of sea currents on earth, which separates the coastal waters of Antarctica from the rest of the ocean. This makes the Antarctic seas the most pristine and unspoilt waters in the world. The crew circumnavigated the continent to test these bodies of water for microplastics. Ten samples taken at various points along the route were handed over to the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences for examination.

Microplastics, i.e. plastic particles measuring no more than 5 mm, are a particular threat to organisms living in seas and oceans. It is eaten by the animals that live there and thus travels up the food chain. The problems associated with plastic in the ocean are a relatively recent phenomenon, so its impact on marine organisms and, through them, on humans is still not fully understood.

Temporary exhibition “Plastic sea” on the museum ship “Sołdek

Deadline: 24.04-31.10.2019.

Source: National Maritime Museum

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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