Collecting the data

Theoretically identifying potential threats to Antarctica is one thing, but hard data is what’s needed. We aim to identify the main threats of alien invasions to the Antarctic regions. We have been climbing over cargo, crawling through stores and wharves and combing and vacuuming expeditioners’ clothing and personal effects. We also asked embarking tourists and Australian expedition members where they had travelled in the previous six months before travelling south. The long list included Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Spitzbergen, Sweden, and South American mountains.

Last year we found live spiders, snails and European wasps, seeds, fruits, eucalyptus leaves and a piece of blackberry stem in Macquarie Island cargo. Peoples’ clothing and effects contained grass seeds in equipment boxes and tool kits, and plant and soil debris in packs, pockets and a flute case! We found a sprig of moss on an expeditioner’s favourite beanie.