International Museum Day is celebrated on 18 May. In 2020 we are celebrating the Sentinels of the South exhibit at Iziko museum in Cape Town that opened in December 2019.
The Ecosystems of Antarctica, and the sub-Antarctic islands, such as South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands, are exceptionally important to understand our planet and its future. The isolation and extreme weather conditions prevailing there, means that they still contain some of the most untouched ecosystems on earth. Yet, they have not remained unaffected by global challenges such as climate change and the introduction of invasive species. Their isolation, however, means that the impact of these environmental changes can be more easily monitored and identified. This makes these places perfect laboratories for scientists studying the impact of global changes.
Antarctica and the Prince Edward islands are in many ways a microcosm of the situation found elsewhere on earth and can therefore be regarded as sentinels, keeping watch over the earth’s health. We know that if there are signs of distress on these islands, we must take notice.
Multidisciplinary research guide the decisions South Africans make about the future of biodiversity on our continent and how to adapt to a changing climate.
The exhibition tells a story of these unique ecosystems, some of the challenges they have faced In the past, and the threats they still face today. It is a story of exploration and discovery and how current explorers our scientists and their crew – continue to keep a dose eye on these sentinels In the Southern Ocean. They are our lookouts, our guardians, our warning lights.
Text: IzikoMuseum Display