Durbanites explore SA Agulhas II

Sunday, June 10, 2018

South Africa’s state-of-the-art research vessel, the SA Agulhas II ship, was open to members of the public to explore on Saturday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs hosted the annual SA Agulhas II Open Day at the Port of Durban as part of World Oceans Day.

Visitors enjoyed guided tours of the vessel, from its state of the art laboratories to the lounge area which is dedicated to the late South African music icon Miriam Makeba.

The vessel was dedicated to the icon in recognition of her role in the struggle towards democracy. This also augers well with the research mandate that the South Africa National Antarctic Programme is charged with.

The SA Agulhas II is a polar research and supply vessel acquired by the department in March 2012.

South Africa has for more than half a century maintained a presence in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic by establishing permanent research bases in Marion Island, Gough Island and in Antarctica.

The department said having a year-round presence in these remote locations enables researchers to conduct seasonal data analysis on various research disciplines, thus allowing a better understanding of the ecosystem behaviour and functioning of the Earth system.

‘’The Southern Ocean on the doorstep of South Africa is a key resource in understanding the balance of earth, ocean and atmosphere interactions.

“South Africa, through various institutions of higher learning and international collaboration, has built up an extensive dataset on the Southern Ocean and the resources therein. This can only be enhanced through the world class technological advancements on the SA Agulhas II,’’ the department said.

Voyages to Marion, Gough and Antarctica allow for data such as sea surface temperature, oxygen and carbon measurements to be collected, which are instrumental to further enhance the understanding of present day global climate change.

The vast experience in Southern Ocean research has contributed to making the SA Agulhas II a unique research vessel with facilities that enable modern day Oceanographic research to take place on-board.

Prior to the arrival of the SA Agulhas II, the department said, research in the Southern Ocean was limited to the schedules and transit tracks of the vessel during the resupply of the research bases. –