Oceanographer and marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle will lead a world-first Antarctic climate expedition in 2023 aboard the Aurora Experditions ship named in her honor.
Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, a leading name in sustainable maritime travel, has announced the launch of its newest carbon-neutral cruise ship, the Sylvia Earle, named in honor of the esteemed marine biologist and ocean conservationist and the first female chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The ship will lead the first climate expedition to the Antarctic of its kind, aimed at delivering 23 climate action outcomes.
“February 2023 will be a moment in time of a gathering of great minds for commitments to resolve what it takes, to move from where we are now to get to a better future,” Dr. Earle, 86, said in a statement. “This can be Your Legacy; you can help change the current course from a catastrophic outcome to a healthy, habitable planet. Please do this for the next generation, for the future of humanity.”
The expedition has invited thought leaders across disciplines including science, art, education, and economics, as well as young explorers to join Dr. Earle on the expedition. According to Aurora Explorations, the principle team for the expedition will include conservations, celebrities, and “ocean luminaries.”
“The master plan of the Antarctic Climate Expedition is to bring about public and government awareness of the importance and the splendour of the Antarctic and to address the warming climate and loss of ice in the southern polar region as a direct threat to the future of human life on this planet,” Aurora Expeditions says. “The purpose of this expedition is to confront the consequences and develop creative strategies for everyone to radically reduce carbon emissions. Expedition members are expected to help formulate 23 resolutions to inspire transformative changes for global net-zero emissions by 2050.”
The expedition will produce exhibitions, a book, and a feature documentary as well as 23 resolutions aimed at stimulating “transformative change” for net-zero emissions by 2050. The Antarctic is experiencing the impact of climate change at about three times the rest of the world.
The Sylvia Earle
In addition to honoring Dr. Earle’s contributions to ocean conservation, the ship pays tribute to six other leading female conservationists: Dr. Carden Wallace AM, Joanna Ruxton, Sharon Kwok, Bernadette Demientieff, Hanli Prinsloo and Dr. Asha de Vos. Each has a decks named in their honor.
The Sylvia Earle joins the Greg Mortimer on the expedition. That ship, named after Aurora Expeditions’ founder, who founded the company in 1991, launched in 2019 and marked the company’s first purpose-built cruise ship aimed at taking passengers to the most remote places on the planet. Like the Sylvia Earle, the Greg Mortimer features a revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW—an energy efficient inverted bow that’s broad at the top and pointed at the bottom that reduces the ship’s waves and vibration, decreasing fuel consumption by up to 60 percent.
“Attaining a sustainable future has never been more important,” Aurora Expeditions CEO, Monique Ponfoort said in a statement, “and we see expedition travel as a force for good.”
Aurora Expeditions is a fully eco-friendly cruise ship line; it has achieved 100 per cent carbon neutrality, and is certified by the leading environmental network, South Pole.
Sustainable cruise ships
Aurora Expeditions says its sustainable cruise ships are a means to offer passengers a way to visit “the edges of human exploration” while still prioritizing conservation. A number of cruise lines have made sustainability efforts in recent years including big names in the industry such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. But those commitments are mainly in the way of carbon offsets, net-zero targets, and sustainable fuel purchases. Private yachts and ships are also going eco with innovative techs to reduce impact and protect biodiversity.
Conscious travel extends on and off the ship for Aurora, where the staff guide its expeditioners on specific trails to reduce damaging the local soil and ecosystems, even going so far as to ensure boots are washed thoroughly after expeditions. It also has a strict policy about not taking plants, rocks, or animals from locales in order to protect species.
It’s all part of the cruise ship company’s commitment to biodiversity, something it addresses too with its Comprehensive Citizen Science Program, which offers passengers seven projects to learn about the environment and wildlife they encounter during the expeditions.
“As one of the world’s leading polar expedition operators, we are always seeking ways to innovate and educate with an array of sustainability programs that create a positive impact for our planet,” said Ponfoort, “and we will continue our sustained efforts to help preserve the beauty and majesty that nature possesses.”