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Antarctic cruises get academic boost

Passengers on Hurtigruten Expeditions Antarctic cruises will be able to observe an participate in real academic experiments and surveys following a partnership announced between the travel company and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania (UTAS)

And the “comprehensive mutually supportive partnership” for Antarctic research will extend into the next decade, until July 2031.

Internationally recognised centre of excellence for Marine and Antarctic research at the University of Tasmania, IMAS is dedicated to enhancing environmental understanding and facilitating thoughtful and sustainable development for the benefit of Australia and the world, says a press release from the expedition travel company.

With Sustainability, Education and Knowledge Sharing at its core, Hurtigruten says it is “committed to supporting onboard science centres, citizen science programs and researchers, with an aim to protect pristine areas for the next generation.”

The company regards the partnership as an ideal opportunity to provide IMAS and its students, researchers, educators, and laureates with ongoing support for critical research.  

The new partnership will not only guarantee IMAS access and support for onsite study into scientific and social scientific programs, researchers onboard Antarctica and South America Hurtigruten Expedition ships will also be involved in client engagement. This will create exciting opportunities for curious travellers to participate in ground-breaking experiments, delivering a raft of unique experiences that will undoubtedly enrich their onboard journeys.

Dr Verena Meraldi, Chief Scientist, Hurtigruten Expeditions, confirms there are already 3 projects being planned for the coming Antarctic Season.

“We’re scheduled to have Marine Mammal Observers on board our 2022 – 2023 Antarctic Season as a follow up of the project we supported during the 2019-2020 Season,” she says.

“Plus, we’ll welcome two researchers on three departures on MS Fridtjof Nansen, who will be studying the impact of Citizen Science participation on our guests’ travel experience and attitude towards Antarctica. Lastly, we’re looking at what departures would be ideal for a pilot study on the behaviour and habitat of ice seals in the Antarctic Peninsula.”

Says Damian Perry, Managing Director, VP Sales & Marketing, Asia-Pacific, “We’re very excited to announce our long-term collaboration with the University of Tasmania to support social and natural science research projects on board our ships. Our science projects with IMAS will not only provide contributing data to the scientific community, but they will also enhance our guests’ experiences through face-to-face interaction with the scientists and their work”.

Terry Bailey, Executive Dean of the UTAS College of Sciences and Engineering, agrees. “The Antarctic is one of the world’s most pristine and fragile ecosystems – and one definitely worth protecting. 

“Not only does our partnership with Hurtigruten provide much needed funding for ongoing research, but it also offers Hurtigruten’s guests a unique insight into the challenges facing the region and will allow them to directly participate in research activities so we can respond more effectively to a changing climate.”

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