Following the disastrous eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai in the Kingdom of Tonga last weekend, the full extent of the disaster is only beginning to surface now, and the risk of further eruptions remains. Scientists estimated the eruption exerted a force equivalent to 1’000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs that was heard more than 750km away in Fiji to be the largest worldwide over the last 30 years. A thick layer of ash remains across Tonga, poisoning drinking water supplies and killing crops, whilst the world’s highest concentration of toxic sulfur dioxide gas currently measured over the Pacific Ocean looms. Unusual currents, acid rain, and volcanic smog are feared to add short-term hazards to the neighboring islands after a tsunami has swept away homes on what is considered one of the lowest-lying groups of islands in the Pacific. The main undersea communications cable has also been damaged, which has led to a lack of power and communication throughout the islands which is hindering aid and support.
We are following what is happening with deep concern as communication has been lost with the scattered low-lying islands, since the communication cable was damaged in the blast. Please join us in reaching out helping hands and much-needed funds by supporting the fundraiser of Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan Olympic Flag Bearer, for recovery efforts in the island kingdom. Or you can donate to the International Red Cross, who organize humanitarian disaster relief, care, and aid in situ with the Tongan Red Cross chapter.
It was through a huge volcanic eruption more than a decade ago that Hunga Tonga emerged from the depths of the Ocean. TBA21–Academy visited the island in 2018 on a voyage led by the Danish artist group SUPERFLEX with Dr. Dayne Buddo (Director of External Engagement at the Georgia Aquarium, former CEO of Alligator Head Foundation), Ricardo Gomes (Urban Sea Institute), Dr. Barbara Imhof (LIQUIFER Systems Group), Dr. Alex Jordan (Max Planck Institute), Jun Kamei (Amphibio Ltd), Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation), Markus Reymann (TBA21–Academy), and Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza (TBA21).
The lunar landscape, a porous interface between land and sea, shaped our sensations while human and non-human encounters influenced our thinking and broadened our sensual register. SUPERFLEX’s voyage aboard the research vessel Dardanella contributed to a larger research project, “Deep Sea Minding,” commissioned by TBA21–Academy under the program The Current. In the upcoming days, we are sharing SUPERFLEX’s film “Hunga Tonga,” as well as an extensive amount of footage and research collected through the program that is made available online as open-source material via TBA21 on st_age and TBA21–Academy’s Ocean-Archive.org.
“The Tongan people are some of the kindest and warmest people in the world and are already struggling with the effects of climate change. What concerns me immensely apart from the loss of so many homes and livelihoods, Tonga is also home to one of the world’s most important calving and mating grounds for the Humpback whales, which is the main source for their tourist economy. What we need now is aid as well as scientific evaluation of the fertile ocean that surrounds this wonderful country. TBA21 is pulling together all the research, resources, and contacts to come up with an efficient aid package to support the Tongan people.”
Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Chair of TBA21.
Please care, share, support, and help to regenerate. Thank you!