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Conservation Guidelines

SVA Sl Svalbard David Yarrow Polar Bear

Svalbard Conservation Guidelines

On your expedition you visit places that have been off-limits up until recently. Now, thanks to modern technology and vehicles, we can visit these remote places. This also means that we have a great responsibility to ensure that the natural environments we visit are not disturbed by our presence. While you are on board our ships, you will find that the principles of conservation are a central theme.

By sharing our environmental concerns as we explore the wonders of nature, we look forward to guiding our travellers towards becoming ambassadors for these remote corners of the world. In our experience most travellers return from their adventures with the strongest dedication to natural preservation.

Graemepurdy Svalbard23

Wilderness Etiquette

  • In order not to introduce new species in Svalbard please wash your boots on board and make sure that no seeds are included in the packaging or clothing (pockets, Velcro, etc.).
  • Do not litter! Respect the wilderness, its wildlife and the enjoyment of future visitors. Return all litter to the ship for proper disposal. This includes litter of all types, such as film containers, wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic bags and tissues. Leave no evidence of your visit.
  • Do not collect natural souvenirs such as shells, rocks, feathers, bones or fossils. This is illegal!
  • Keep noise level to a minimum.

Respect Archaeological & Historical Remains

Many of the areas we visit have been occupied by people. They have left many signs of their passing and sites of previous occupation are often easily accessible and unprotected. Their value to science, and as part of the heritage, can very easily be diminished. Do not disturb archaeological or historic sites or collect souvenirs. This is imperative! Even moving objects can destroy their contextual information, erasing much of their scientific significance. This ethic extends to modern structures and cemeteries as well.

Respecting Wildlife

One of the main focuses on this trip is wildlife viewing. Life in the North is harsh. The brief summer, when most people visit, is the only time the animals and plants have to reproduce and prepare for the long winter. Consequently, they have little energy to waste on recovery from human impact. The goal of wildlife viewing should be to perceive the presence of animals in the context of their habitats. It is not in the animal’s interest to force close encounters.

  • Watch your step. Keep to established paths when possible. Exercise extreme care among breeding colonies of seabirds. Be aware of the periphery of a bird colony, and remain outside it. Follow the instructions given by your guides.
  • Approach wildlife very slowly when taking photographs. It is important to remember that your photography is not over when the shutter clicks. Make your retreat from the subject in the same way you approach. The key point to remember is to not cause the animals any distress. Never harass wildlife for the sake of a photograph.
  • Take care not to startle or chase any bird from its nest. Your attention to a nesting or molting bird should never be prolonged when a predator is in the vicinity. Foxes, gulls and skuas are especially adept at exploiting disruption by raiding exposed nests and the young.
  • Monitor your surroundings and be sensitive to any disruption you may be causing. If an animal shows signs of distress or avoidance, move away.
  • Look but never touch. These are wild animals going about their daily business of their lives. We wish to observe natural behaviour in its natural state.
  • Avoid repeated trampling of plants. Disruption of the plant cover in wet environments can cause underlying permafrost to melt, leading to a perennial and spreading wound. In cold and dry habitats the recovery of plants is very slow. When ashore, stay with the group and/or one of the ship’s guides. For your safety, never wander off on your own.
  • Listen to the expedition leader and guides. Do not hesitate to ask your leaders and guides if you are not sure about something.
  • Emphasise reading animal signs. The meaning of an animal’s track can be as interesting as seeing the animal itself and avoids stressing the animal.
  • Avoid disturbing marine mammals’ haul outs, seabird colonies, and goose molting areas.