One of the best parts about a cruise vacation is getting up close and personal with one of the most important resources on Earth; our oceans. Cruise lines have made changes in the past few years to help mitigate their impact on the environment but one cruise line is going one step further thanks to a revamped partnership.
Hurtigruten Expeditions first partnered with the California Ocean Alliance (COA), a research, conservation, and education organization, in 2019 but the pandemic limited what could be done to help protect whales and other marine mammals in Antarctica. With cruising on its way back, Hurtigruten announced that the two organizations would collaborate on several Antarctica sailings onboard the MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first battery hybrid powered expedition cruise ship.
“90 percent of the oceans remain unexplored. We are determined to change that by creating a deeper understanding of the areas we explore. The data collected during our research partnership with California Ocean Alliance, and the many others we carry out with other partners, will be used for executive decision making on future environmental issues, so it is a win-win for all of us”, said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.
Whales and Marine Soundscapes
The team will collect acoustic data to study ambient noise conditions, the myriad sounds that marine animals make, and the influence of human presence on the soundscape. The research of how different whales behave near humans will allow Hurtigruten Expeditions – and also other cruise lines – to adapt to ensure they minimize interference with whales.
“Our research will be some of the most challenging we have ever conducted, in one of the most difficult parts of the world. So to have a partner like Hurtigruten Expeditions that supports us is a huge gift to us. With this research, we can create programs that are tailored so guests can have close encounters with whales while ensuring minimal impact on the different whale populations in Antarctica,” said Dr. Ari Friedlaender, Associate Researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Director of Research for COA.
As the cruise industry’s only Chief Scientist, Dr. Verena Meraldi oversees the science center on board Hurtigruten ships. She explained that the research they’re doing is one of a kind.
“Ambient sound research has not been properly conducted in Antarctica before, so we are incredibly enthusiastic about this partnership and that we have the right tools for the scientist to carry out their research by already offering the quietest ships in Antarctica. We hope this will be a long-term partnership that will benefit all parties, but most importantly, the Antarctic whale and wildlife populations,“ said Dr. Meraldi.
While on board, the scientists from the California Ocean Alliance will conduct lectures and demonstrations to better help guests understand the world they’re exploring.