By Anne Kalosh.
Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is a major attraction for travelers to the Arctic, where a growing number of small ships venture. New Arctic wildlife guidelines from the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) help nature-lovers experience the fauna safely, without disturbing the birds and animals.
The guidelines translate expert knowledge about animal behavior into practical know-how for travelers to use in the field. For example, say you’re walking along a beach and suddenly an Arctic tern attacks. What should you do?
The guidelines explain the bird is probably trying to protect a nearby nest so you should retreat, moving away in the direction you came from. If you hold up a hand or your hat, the bird will aim for that instead of dive-bombing your head. Read about Ted’s close brush with a skua bird in Antarctica.
Besides advising about birds, theArctic wildlife guidelines tell travelers how to act around animals like walrus, seals, reindeer, Arctic fox, polar bears and cetaceans, including whales.
They’re great reading. Almost like a field guide, delve into 17 pages of informative notes and photos, with facts about each animal, its behavior, how to distinguish male from female, predators, recommended distances to keep from different species and signs that an animal is being disturbed.
“The goal of expedition cruising is to bring passengers close to nature, and it is important that we are responsible visitors,” said Frigg Jørgensen, executive director, AECO. “Our members have decades of experience in Arctic cruise tourism, and spotting birds and animals is often the highlight of the voyage. These wildlife guidelines are a way of systematizing the best practices of our members when it comes to responsible and considerate wildlife observations.”
The guidelines are mandatory for AECO members, including companies like Aurora Expeditions, Hurtigruten, Noble Caledonia, Lindblad Expeditions, Poseidon Expeditions, Quark Expeditions, Seabourn and Silversea, among many others.
The Arctic wildlife guidelines are available here.
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