Penguins pop up across the globe in march for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary

Press release - 14 January, 2018
Sydney, 15 January 2018 – As a groundbreaking expedition begins in the Antarctic, pop-up penguins have been spotted from London to Seoul, Buenos Aires to Sydney, and Johannesburg to Washington DC, marching for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. [1]

The striking geometric sculptures have appeared by national landmarks across the globe, on local transport, and travelling to the Antarctic with suitcases in hand, including by the White House, Buenos Aires’ colourful Boca district, Sydney Opera House, and the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. [See here for images.]

The penguins are part of a new Greenpeace campaign calling for the creation of the largest protected area on earth: a 1.8 million square kilometre ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic. “This sanctuary would put the Weddell Sea off limits to destructive human activities such as industrial fishing and provide a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Antarctic Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

A few days ago Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, set sail for the Antarctic, where the crew will undertake pioneering scientific research in submarines, document the area’s unique wildlife, which is facing pressures from climate change, overfishing and pollution, and gather evidence of the urgent need for governments to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

“The expedition will see a submersible dive to locations on the Antarctic seabed never previously visited by humans.  Remotely operated vehicles and dropcams will also be deployed to capture footage of the unique home of whales, penguins, seals and thousands more creatures,” Foster Vander Elst said.

“These activities will bring our supporters closer to the Antarctic than ever before as the crew documents the impacts of climate change and collects the scientific evidence to further build the case to protect the Weddell Sea and the marine life who call it home.”

The expedition will mark the first occasion that humans visit the seafloor in the Weddell Sea, which is the subject of an EU proposal for an ocean sanctuary to be considered by the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR) in October 2018. Antarctic scientists will conduct research to identify Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and new species on the seabed, including rare corals and sponges. This would provide further evidence of the need for comprehensive protection of the area. The crew will also undertake water sampling to identify the presence of any plastic pollution in this remote region.

Dr Susanne Lockhart, a renowned Antarctic specialist with the California Academy of Sciences is joining the expedition’s dives to the seafloor:

“The first steps have finally been taken by those entrusted to govern the Antarctic Ocean to protect one of the world's last pristine marine ecosystems; an ocean that connects all oceans. I'm excited to partner with Greenpeace and provide the science that will help determine areas which should be a priority for protection as countries work together to create the world's largest ocean sanctuary.”

Frida Bengtsson, head of Greenpeace’s new Protect The Antarctic campaign said:

“There are 35 of us on this ship - scientists, campaigners, submarine pilots, deck hands - but when we return in three month’s time, we want to come back with a global movement calling for governments to protect the Antarctic.

“The bottom of our blue planet may seem far away to many of us, but what happens there is crucial to all of our futures. An Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary would not only safeguard the unique penguins, whales and seals in this incredible area, but it will ensure the ocean is healthy enough to help mitigate against the worst effects of climate change. When governments meet in October, they have the opportunity to  create the largest protected area on Earth. Let’s make it happen.”





[1] The pop-up penguins have appeared in the following cities: Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hamburg, Johannesburg, London, New Delhi, Stockholm, Sydney and Washington DC.

For images of the penguin sculptures, see:  

For images of Greenpeace’s ship the Arctic Sunrise, which has just commenced its three-month Antarctic expedition, see:

The penguin sculptures were made by Wolfram Kampffmeyer of German-based 3D design company Paperwolf.


Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary:

Greenpeace is campaigning for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary covering 1.8 million square kilometres in the Weddell Sea. The proposal has been submitted by the EU and backed by the German Government. It will be considered when CCAMLR next convenes, in October 2018.

Greenpeace’s Antarctic expedition will run for three months from January to early April 2018.



Martin Zavan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Media Campaigner, , 0424 295 422

Luke Massey, Antarctic Global Communications Lead, , +44 (0) 7973 873 155

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)