When planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, it’s important to ensure that each aspect of your trip has the environment’s best interests at heart. Travelling sustainably is even more crucial in the pristine yet fragile Arctic environment, which faces real challenges including wildlife conservation, pollution and sea ice degradation.
Poseidon Expeditions strives to leave a smaller footprint when setting sail and believes that each passenger aboard their ships can make a contribution towards conserving the polar regions too. Here are six great ways that environmentally conscious travellers can minimise their impact when exploring the Arctic…
One of the best things about expedition cruising is the chance to discover remote destinations, but in a fragile ecosystem such as the Arctic, it’s essential that visitors are responsible in order to protect and preserve the natural environment. Follow any biosecurity guidelines given by your cruise operator, and when out and about remember the golden rule: leave no lasting signs of your visit.
During landings and shore excursions, try and watch where you step so as to avoid inadvertently disturbing any local flora and keep your distance when watching wildlife.
Poseidon Expeditions is a member of the AECO (the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) and follow all the AECO recommendations, which advises travellers to clean clothes and boots to prevent accidental introduction of non-native species. Poseidon Expedition makes sure passengers follow that advice, by providing all the necessary cleaning equipment.
Seeds and microorganisms can attach themselves to boots, clothing and bags that have been used previously, so before you leave home be sure to clean them thoroughly using a vacuum cleaner, brushes, and water where necessary. If moving between different geographic regions during your cruise, clean off any organic matter on your gear before leaving a site and wash your boots between visits.
By choosing a smaller ship you automatically leave a smaller footprint – however, it’s also important to pick a vessel that’s as eco-efficient as possible and has proper onboard management in place for water, waste and energy.
For its cruises in the polar regions, Poseidon Expeditions’ ship Sea Spirit uses available high-quality low-sulfur marine gas oil (MGO), and there is no incinerator on board so no garbage or waste is burned. Wastewater produced on board is treated using an internationally certified and approved sewage treatment system, and uses a special reverse osmosis system that converts seawater into freshwater.
The ships’ Energy Efficiency Management Plan is designed to improve energy efficiency and fuel management of shipboard operations, reduce CO2 emissions and minimise energy waste.
This responsible approach even extends to hospitality, with chefs adhering to guidelines recommended by the Marine Stewardship Council for sustainability in regards the types of seafood served.
Guests sailing with Poseidon Expeditions are encouraged to participate in a variety of environmental initiatives – in Spitsbergen, the ‘Clean Up Svalbard’ initiative, coordinated by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, aims to reduce beach waste. Plastic pollution from local shipping and commercial fishing accumulates rapidly, takes decades to break down, and poses a threat to seabirds and other wildlife. Debris is deposited in a dedicated bin in Longyearbyen, where it is processed. The same initiative is now also run on Franz Josef Land landings. Guests can also participate in ‘Citizen Science’ projects. For example, the GLOBE Clouds program allows guests to help report cloud observations which are then sent to NASA, while Happywhale encourages guests to take photos of marine mammals so that scientists can use them as data to study important ecological questions.
When an expedition ship visits, it’s often a happy moment for remote communities in the Arctic, but it’s important to leave a good impression. When meeting and connecting with locals, remember that it’s a privilege to be their guests – respect their right to privacy and ask before taking photographs. The sign of a good operator is one that has profound respect for the local communities it visits and one that is always welcomed with open arms. Expedition companies have a big part to play in the conduct of sustainable tourism, working with and supporting local suppliers, as do their guests who can contribute to the local economy with visits to locally run museums, research stations and souvenir shops.
The Arctic is one of the most incredible places on earth, but it’s also the most under threat due to mankind’s activities around the world, resulting in climate change brought about by global warming. Only by witnessing the pristine wilderness of the polar regions first-hand can you truly understand their beauty and the challenges they face, and you can become their best ambassador by spreading the word when you return home.
Knowledge is power, so take the time to participate in any of the enrichment programmes your cruise operator provides, such as informative talks, lectures and briefings given by experts and expedition leaders. The onboard team often includes polar specialists, conservationists, prominent guest scientists, marine biologists, climate specialists, geologists and sea ice experts who candidly discuss the issues facing Arctic ecosystems and what we can all do to help preserve the wildlife in these fragile environments.
With responsible travel at its core, Poseidon Expeditions’ small-ship polar voyages combine the spirit of adventure with environmental best practices, conservation and preservation.
Onboard, presentations and briefings increase guest awareness of important environmental protection measures. This means by the time you step ashore to observe the wild and frozen landscapes up-close, you can do so in a way that puts the welfare of wildlife first and that minimises any potential environmental impact and disturbance.
Whilst cruising, key pillars including eco-efficiency, wastewater management, freshwater production, energy management, rubbish management, day-to-day initiatives and safe employment practices are all upheld. Active initiatives and working with locals are also at the heart of the company, ensuring that both the environment and indigenous communities are supported and respected throughout your journey.
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