The crew aboard sailing vessel Barba is preparing to set sail again to return to the far north in search of whales.
This summer’s expedition, dubbed Arctic Sense, will see Barba’s owner and captain, Andreas B. Heide, welcoming researchers aboard his Jeanneau 37, this time bound for Svalbard, Jan Mayen, the Faroe and Shetland Islands and London before returning to their homeport of Stavanger, Norway. The goal of the 3,000-mile research voyage—Barba and Heide’s fourth—is to explore the polar Atlantic ecosystem, including its whales and other sea life. They will depart June 1 on the four-month adventure.
Previous Barba voyages have been to Arctic waters as well, including two wintertime trips to far northern Norway when Heide and crew swam with and filmed orcas and other whales. Other voyages have included visits to Svalbard as well as Jan Mayan, and Norway’s wild northwest coast.
The goal, says Heide, will be to document and share valuable information about the fragility and beauty of marine life in the region. They also aim to improve knowledge surrounding urgent ocean health issues.
“The expedition will focus on keystone Arctic and sub-Arctic whale species. By unravelling the mysteries of their lives using scientific research and storytelling, the team will celebrate the importance of our planet’s largest animals in maintaining the health of the Arctic ecosystem,” Heide says in a release.
“In partnership with leading research institutions and led by the collaborative research group Whale Wise, the team will conduct innovative and world-first studies of Arctic whale populations while researching the region’s vulnerability to persistent organic pollutants, plastic pollution and climate change. In this way, the species being researched act as ocean sentinels, with shifts in whale populations reflecting broader marine-ecosystem changes.”
Heide adds, “The impacts of climate change are unfolding far more rapidly and intensely in the Arctic than anywhere else. Soaring temperatures, rapidly melting ice, acidification and rising sea levels, combined with pervasive levels of marine plastic pollution, are all threatening Arctic ecosystems. With the clock ticking, documenting and researching the threats faced by marine life in this highly inaccessible region is more important than ever to inform and inspire effective safeguards for this fragile environment.”
The expedition is being supported in part by TD Veen, a Norwegian venture fund; academic partners include the University of Iceland and Universitetet i Stavanger. Jeanneau and North Sails have also signed on as technical partners, along with several other sailing-gear suppliers.
“We are excited to support Andreas and his team for yet another expedition to the High North. His work with the Orcas and the marine environment in general is in complete alignment with our own values of protecting our natural resources for further generations to enjoy,” Jeanneau’s director of special projects Paul Fenn said.
To get a glimpse of what Heide and crew have been up to of late, he posted a stunning video clip on the newly revamped Barba website, showing Team Barba during the winter of 2019/20 in the water with whales while diving under active fishing vessels.
To watch a conversation Heide had with Cruising World editors last summer during the pandemic lockdown, click here.
The schedule for this summer’s expedition includes:
June 1: Departure Stavanger
June 7: 11 Andenes
June 13-18: Tromsø
June 28: July 21 Longyearbyen
Aug 13 – 17: Longyearbyen
September 5: Faroe Islands
September 14: Shetland Islands
September 17: Edinburgh
September 24: Arrival London (staying 1 week)
October 5: Arrival Stavanger