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The two Manuels with one of their dogs.
The two Manuels with one of their dogs. / Francis Silva

Teenage polar explorer to make history

  • Manuel Calvo Ariza, 16, is about to set off on an expedition north of the Arctic Circle

Malaga teenager Manuel Calvo Ariza will become the youngest polar explorer in Spanish history when he takes part in the 'Desafío Ártico' (Arctic Challenge) expedition next week to Qaanaaq in the north-east of Greenland.

He will be going on the expedition with his father, Manuel Calvo Villena, who, at 50 years of age, has spent half his life as a dog breeder.

The expedition is organised by the non-governmental organisation Maratón Dog, which runs this type of polar expeditions to promote education from a young age of how to care responsibly for dogs by emphasising the strong bond between humans and the animals.

Climate change

The other objective of the expedition is to demonstrate the detrimental effect that climate change is having on these dogs, with the disappearance of more and more of the oldest breed of dog in the world becoming more and more frequent.

Although there are currently more dogs than humans in that part of the world, the gap is slowly reducing due to shorter winters and seas freezing over as a result of climate change.

The father and son team will cover a distance of 400 kilometres through one of the most northern populations in the world accompanied by two Inuits and 32 dogs.

The expedition will also contribute to the development of scientific research in Malaga and Barcelona, with biological samples due to be sent to the main universities in the respective two cities.

The young Manuel Calvo stated that he knows that it will be difficult, but "it'll be worth it".

"I'm not afraid, I am going with the best guide possible," he added.

His father, who is now the director of institutional relations at Tiendanimal, the pet store that is sponsoring the challenge, preferred to think of the objectives of the expedition.

"On the one hand, it involves teaching people about the history and culture of these dogs as well as how to care for them responsibly, but there is also a climate-related purpose as well".

Both participants will be facing temperatures around -20ºC on a daily basis during their time in Greenland.