HX Expands Scientific Program in Antarctica

Snowhill Island in Antarctica

Hurtigruten Expeditions (HX) has established new sustainability benchmarks in Antarctica for the 2023-2024 season, according to a press release. The company has donated over 1,100 cruise nights to researchers and will support over 20 research projects.

HX said that it projects that guests will contribute more than 16,000 data submissions through its Science & Education Program.

“It’s been almost 130 years since HX pioneered expedition cruising,” said HX Chief Scientist Dr. Verena Meraldi.  “With this history, we have a profound responsibility to safeguard the places we explore. Beyond minimizing our footprint, it is our duty to leave these places better than we found them.”

HX’s Science & Education Program, founded in 2018, is the first such initiative in the cruise industry. The program has established partnerships with leading science institutions, the company said.

This season, with 1,158 cruise nights reserved for third-party researchers in Antarctica, HX has marked the highest number of cabins donated by the expedition cruise line.

“Scientists spend weeks onboard conducting research, often alongside our curious guests who are eager to understand the ecosystems they’re exploring,” Meraldi said.

By the end of the year, HX will have offered more than 1,500 cabins to researchers participating in its global itineraries, which encompass over 30 countries.

The cruise company will also support more than 20 research projects and as many as eight Citizen Science Initiatives. Researchers collaborate with HX’s expedition team to support guest education through lectures, demonstrations, and real-time data analysis.

The 2023-2024 Antarctica Science Program will include projects such as drone-based whale research, penguin colony monitoring, and baleen whale population studies. A newly introduced project in partnership with the California Ocean Alliance will research Humpback whale bubble net feeding behavior.

The University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is set to continue its social science study, which focuses on investigating the impact of Citizen Science activities on guest behavior both during and after their travel experiences. Participating institutions in this research initiative include the University of California Santa Cruz, Oxford Brookes University, ORCA, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the Norwegian Polar Institute, and Western Washington University.

In 2013, HX began contributing data to the Citizen Science project Happywhale. In 2023, guests submitted 15,500 observations to different scientific projects through the company’s program. Since 2019, the  Science & Education Program has aided the publication of 17 scientific reports and papers.

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