The exhibition, entitled Sentinels of the South, examines the history, discoveries and current role of South Africa’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean exploration. It takes visitors through the history and challenges of early Antarctic exploration, and South Africa’s role in this. The rich and unique biodiversity found on these islands, and the role these islands play in helping us understand some of the global issues affecting everyday South Africans, are highlighted. The exhibition showcases South Africa’s multidisciplinary Antarctic scientific endeavours, our state-of-the-art research facilities, and our flagship research vessel, the S.A. Agulhas II.
Antarctic ecosystems, including South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands, are exceptionally important in understanding our planet and its future. The isolation and the extreme weather conditions prevailing there means that they still contain some of the most untouched ecosystems on earth, making them exceptional natural ‘laboratories’. Yet, they have not remained unaffected by global changes such as climate change and the introduction of invasive species. Because of their isolation and the long-term research conducted in these areas, global effects can be more easily monitored and identified, making them an ideal early warning system for scientists studying the impact of environmental changes.