Through this grant, Oceanites will provide longitudinal data on environmental changes in Antarctica over a 20-year period. In the past Oceanites has collected important inventory data on the flora and fauna in the Antarctic which is utilized to assist the implementation of the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. This inventory has, for many years included a population count of penguin nesting areas. Since 1994, this inventory data has primarily been gathered opportunistically by placing researchers on vessels working in the Antarctic, chiefly tour ships. However, in recent seasons, with economics forcing the tourism industry to move to larger vessels, itineraries have shifted from an expedition cruising mode that visits rarely visited sites to a milk run mode that visits only tried and true sites that are easily reached. The shift has made it increasingly difficult to census less heavily visited, remote penguin colonies.
Beginning with the next season, Oceanites will continue broadening its survey efforts by placing researchers on additional smaller platforms. These vessels will enable Oceanites to reach key data gap penguin sites. This has been a time of dramatic change in Antarctica and comparisons of the various nesting sites over a 20-year span should offer valuable insights into these changes.