Hurtigruten Expeditions Partners with California Ocean Alliance to Study and Protect Whales in Antarctica


Hurtigruten Expeditions, the world leader in exploration travel and advocate for sustainable travel, is strengthening its partnership with the California Ocean Alliance (COA), a research, conservation, and education organization, to better understand and protect whales and other marine mammals in Antarctica.

Offering small-ship adventures to some of the most spectacular and fragile destinations on earth, Hurtigruten Expeditions has longstanding partnerships and relationships with some of the world’s leading science institutions to ensure more sustainable exploration – and contribute to science and research.


MS. Roald Amundsen, Crew, Guests, And Explorers

Dan Avila

A pilot trial was launched in late 2019 but was paused due to the pandemic. As Hurtigruten Expedition’s restarts the 2021/2022 Antarctica season, California Ocean Alliance scientists will partake of several Antarctica sailings onboard the MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition cruise ship.

The team will collect acoustic data to study ambient noise conditions, including myriad marine sounds, and influences of human presence on the marine soundscape. The research will also involve behavioral relationships between different whales toward humans, thus allowing Hurtigruten and also other cruise vessels to ensure the minimization of whale/human interference.

Dan Avila

 “Our research will be some of the most challenging we have ever conducted, in one of the most difficult parts of the world. So to have a partner like Hurtigruten that supports us is a huge gift to us. With this research, we can create programs that are tailored so guests can have close encounters with whales while ensuring minimal impact on the different whale populations in Antarctica,” said Dr. Ari Friedlaender, Associate Researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Director of Research for California Ocean Alliance.

“Ninety percent of the oceans remain unexplored, so we hope to change that by creating a deeper understanding of the areas we explore. The data collected during our research partnership with California Ocean Alliance, and with many others also, will be used for executive decision making on future environmental issues, so it is a win-win for all of us,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen

Hurtigruten - MS Roald Amundsen Landing Antractica

Guests onboard have access to scientists onboard all Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises. All Hurtigruten Expeditions ships feature a state-of-the-art science center, overseen by the cruise industry’s only Chief Scientist, Dr Verena Meraldi.

“Ambient sound research has not been properly conducted in Antarctica before, so we are incredibly enthusiastic about this partnership and that we have the right tools for the scientist to carry out their research by already offering the quietest ships in Antarctica. We hope this will be a long-term partnership that will benefit all parties, but most importantly, the Antarctic whale and wildlife populations,“ said Dr. Meraldi, Chief Scientist, Hurtigruten Expeditions. 

The team from California Ocean Alliance will work alongside Hurtigruten’s expedition teams to provide unique educational opportunities for passengers through lectures, demonstrations, and real-time analysis of scientific data. As part of the research, the scientists will also collect skin and blubber biopsy samples from whales to evaluate individual animal health, population growth rates, and stress levels. 

“Our scientists will also share their findings with the guests onboard, allowing them to partake in real-time science, and during our presentations, they will educate as we go, which will be a truly unique experience,“ added Dr. Friedlaender.

California Ocean Alliance’s scientists will be onboard the MS Roald Amundsen sailings departing January 11, January 27, and February 12, 2022.

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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