HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions) is setting new sustainability benchmarks in Antarctica for the 2023-2024 season, donating over 1,100 cruise nights to researchers and supporting more than 20 projects. Transforming the travel experience into one of learning and participation, HX anticipates guests will contribute over 16,000 data submissions through its Science & Education Program across the current season.
“It’s been almost 130 years since HX pioneered expedition cruising. With this history, we have a profound responsibility to safeguard the places we explore,” says HX Chief Scientist, Dr Verena Meraldi, the cruise industry’s first on-staff Chief Scientist. Since 2018, HX’s Science & Education Program, a first in the cruise industry, has forged partnerships with some of the world’s leading science institutions. “Beyond minimizing our footprint, it is our duty to leave these places better than we found them,” adds Dr Meraldi.
More Cabins, More Research
This season, HX has booked 1,158 cruise nights for third-party researchers in Antarctica, marking 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,” adds Dr Meraldi.
By year’s-end, HX will have provided over 1,500 cabins to researchers across its global itineraries spanning 30+ countries.
Record Support for 20+ Projects
HX will also achieve a milestone in mindful adventure by providing support for more than 20 research projects and as many as eight Citizen Science initiatives. Researchers collaborate closely with HX’s industry-leading expedition team, fostering guest education through lectures, demonstrations, and real-time data analysis in HX’s cutting-edge Science Centres.
In the 2023-2024 Antarctica Science Program, projects span drone-based whale research, penguin colony monitoring, and baleen whale population studies. A new project, part of HX’s ongoing collaboration with the California Ocean Alliance, will study Humpback whale bubble net feeding behaviour.
The University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies will also continue its social science study, examining the effects of Citizen Science activities on guest behaviour during and after the travel experience. Participating institutions include University of California Santa Cruz, Oxford Brookes University, ORCA, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Norwegian Polar Institute and Western Washington University.
Doing it for the Data
In 2013, HX started contributing data to the Citizen Science project Happywhale. A decade later, in 2023 alone, curious guests have submitted 15,500 observations to projects including iNaturalist, eBird, Secchi Disk Study, HappyWhale, and Cloud Observer through HX’s Science & Education Program. This collaborative effort has significantly increased data collection in remote regions, particularly in projects focusing on animal populations – including whales, penguins, seabirds, and seals – and the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems. Dr Meraldi’s team anticipates even higher engagement in the coming season, with submissions expected to exceed 16,000.
Since 2019, HX’s Science & Education Program has facilitated the publication of 17 scientific reports and papers. These invaluable findings have contributed critical data to the scientific community and supported research at institutions such as UNIS, SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, Oceanites, Institute for Marine Research, University in Tromsø, California Ocean Alliance, and more.
To learn more about HX’s 2023 -2024 Antarctica Science Program, please visit:
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