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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 11:25 GMT
MacArthur's albatross safety bid
Ellen MacArthur
Dame Ellen said the area was a 'wonderful, wild unique place'
Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur plans to switch from racing against the clock to counting albatrosses during an eight-week break in South Georgia.

Record breaker Dame Ellen recently completed a 100-mile crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff in northern France in just over six hours and 20 minutes.

She hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of long line fishing.

The birds get caught on huge lines when trying to take bait from hooks - resulting in 10,000 deaths annually.

This trip into the Southern Ocean is something I have dreamed of since I first sailed there in 1999
Dame Ellen

Dame Ellen, who will conduct a birdlife survey with biologist Sally Poncet, said: "I was inspired not only by Sally's work to raise awareness, but also by her knowledge of the incredible island on which these studies are based - South Georgia."

Research shows two albatross species are critically endangered, seven are endangered and 10 species listed as vulnerable.

The 29-year-old, who sailed non-stop solo around the world earlier this year in 71 days, added: "This trip into the Southern Ocean is something I have dreamed of since I first sailed there in 1999. It is a wonderful, wild unique place, so full of nature and history.

"It is one of the few real isolated places on earth which are left.

"Though one of the closest Southern Ocean islands to civilisation, the island of South Georgia has only two permanent inhabitants, no airport and can only be reached by boat.

'Magnificent birds'

"It is 100 miles long, and has huge mountains which rise dramatically from the sea to over 3000m - just awe-inspiring," she explained.

"My ambition with this journey is to try to capture the magic of this place, and to see for myself what really lies there while spending some time with these magnificent birds."

Naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has also backed the campaign by BirdLife International based on informing long line fishermen about the dangers in a bid to halt the birds' deaths.

Dame Ellen will fly out to the Falkland Islands before taking a boat to the isolated region close to the Antarctic.

MacArthur gives albatross support
27 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature

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