In Spitsbergen, we take part in the “Clean Up Svalbard” initiative, reducing beach waste on each of our landings. This program is coordinated by AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. Most of the waste is plastic pollution from local shipping and commercial fishing. It accumulates rapidly, taking decades to break down, and posing a great threat to seabirds and other wildlife. And, needless to say, it does not belong in the picturesque landscapes of the wild islands. Joined by our passengers, we pick up the debris from the beach and later deposit it in a dedicated bin in Longyearbyen, where it will be properly processed.
Inspired by Clean Up Svalbard, we’ve spread these best practices and now run essentially the same initiative on our Franz Josef Land landings.
We encourage our guests to participate in “Citizen Science” projects. On our North Pole voyages, passengers join the scientists on board to observe and record ice thickness, age, topography, and the degree of melt. These data are collected in the Ice Watch program supported by the International Arctic Research Center and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth.
GLOBE Clouds is an international science and education program in which Poseidon guests can help gauge and report cloud observations in remote polar regions of the world. Historically, few observations have been made in Antarctica. By recording cloud cover, height and type – timed to NASA satellite flyovers – we help scientists fill this gap to better understand how clouds respond to a changing climate. Observations are sent to NASA for comparison to similar information obtained from satellites.
Happywhale is a platform for gathering marine mammal photos from citizen scientists from all over the world, serving the research community as a data source for photo identification studies of many whale and seal species. These photographs become high-value data if the image is of good quality and has a verifiably correct date and location. The data helps scientists study important ecological questions, such as lifespan and survival, population health, migration patterns, and even social dynamics like family structure.
Poseidon guests are encouraged to focus on characteristic markings of marine mammal species, such as the underside of humpback whale tails, the dorsal fins and saddle patches of killer whales, the dorsal fins of blue/fin/sei whales, and so forth.
While enjoying the trip of a lifetime, passengers have the chance to contribute to important and exciting research in an area very few are fortunate to see.