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PONANT’S Deb Corbett tells a whale of a tale

January 23, 2021 Cruise News No Comments

Back in early 2020, before the world went COVID crazy, Deb Corbett, PONANT’s General Manager Sales & Marketing Asia Pacific was a very fortunate passenger onboard PONANT’s Le Boréal which we are sure was  an amazing experience in itself.

What made it an even more amazing experience though was that she was able to experience first-hand an example of the PONANT Foundation’s commitment to sustainability, witnessing an NGO Conservation International research group studying the behaviour of humpback whales in Antarctica and even better telling us a whale of a tale when she arrived back in Australia

Deb explained, “It was both a privilege and inspiring to have been onboard with the Conservation International research team comprising six scientists from Australia and New Zealand, who spent three weeks in the Antarctic collecting and analysing humpback whale information for the scientific community.”

She added, “Far from being segregated, being on a small ship like Le Boréal, we met and talked with them whether on deck, in the bar or at regular daily expedition team updates.”

“Everyone was really interested in what they had done during the day and friendly and approachable, they were all genuinely excited to share their knowledge with us, with our questions including…how many whales did you see?…Did you get any recordings worth noting for the research?…Tell us all about what you do and why you do it and how this is going to affect your understanding of these amazing creatures and their changing environment…and many more”!

The research effort resulted in 60 whales being listed and 16 hours of underwater recordings made in order to help develop a better understanding of their songs and the significance to their feeding behaviour, with an inspiring 6-minute mush watch video by renowned conservation filmmaker Richard Sidey captureing the essence of Antarctica, the whales and the research undertaking:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JITYw4BOisY

Deb also said, “Being onboard and talking with the researchers created an educated environmental perspective and insight, deepened our understanding and really did enrich us all.”

“We had discussions about the oceans, the land, government policies – it was an intellectual connection which stimulated you in a completely different way – looking at these people thinking they have dedicated their life to research and we are now a part of it.”

The goal of the research was to assess the impact of climate change and tourism on humpback whale feeding and migratory patterns in the Antarctic, with key questions included the effect of sea ice variability on whales, the state of whale population distribution and connectivity in the region, and the impact of ship noise on whales in the Antarctic.

The results obtained will be analysed and will inform follow-up research during future voyages aboard the PONANT fleet in 2021 and 2022.

Another key goal of the mission will be to raise awareness among PONANT guests and the general public about threats to whales in Antarctica and the work PONANT is supporting to address these threats. (Extract reference from Conservation International’s Report to the PONANT Foundation.)

Conservation International’s Antarctic research undertaking is just one example from more than 20 projects supported by the PONANT Foundation, including community based conservation of coastal ecosystems in New Caledonia and a forest restoration initiative in Amazonia with transparent environmental responsibility core to PONANT’s global operations and CLICK HERE to see PONANT’s commitments and objectives,

A report by John Alwyn-Jones

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