Landing and wildlife viewing in the Arctic
Aurora Expeditions believes that travel to remote destinations can create lifelong ambassadors for environmental protection. Sensitivity to environmental considerations is a core part of our culture and our staff have a unique ability to share their love and respect of nature with our passengers. We take every opportunity to explain the fragile ecosystems we encounter.
All expeditioners will be briefed on appropriate environmental codes of conduct and the reasons for such guidelines at a compulsory briefing on board before the first outing. You will learn how to enhance your visit to the High Arctic without being intrusive. These skills can be taken back home and planted in your own backyards.
Here are a few guidelines that you will be asked to follow on all our High Arctic expeditions.
Listen to staff instructions.
Keep track of time.
Return to the landing site prior to the appointed time of departure.
Wait for a staff briefing at the landing site before exploring.
Never wander off alone or out of sight of the staff positioned ashore.
If you hear the ship’s horn or a staff member asks, you must return to the landing site immediately.
Do not walk onto glaciers – there may be hidden crevasses
No smoking on shore.
No littering, souvenir collecting, or urinating ashore.
Do not pull up bones or artifacts that are buried in the turf.
Anything you take to a landing should be returned to the ship.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Behaviour near wildlife
Do not touch the wildlife.
Keep a minimum distance of 5 metres from all animals – especially nesting birds.
If an animal’s behaviour changes – you are too close.
If a bird leaves its nest, the eggs or chicks may die.
Land animals in the Arctic can be dangerous, keep a greater distance than 5 metres from them.
Always give wildlife the right of way.
Avoid coming between an animal and the shore.
Be aware of your surroundings
Move slowly and always check behind you before backing up.
Birds flying or calling overhead normally signifies you are too close to a nest. Carefully retrace your steps the way you came.
Do not make any sudden movements.
Keep quiet – do not make loud or sudden noises.
Keep low if possible – you will appear less threatening to animals and it will also create better photographs for you.
Do not try to make an animal react for a photograph.
Patience is the best reward.
Protecting fragile vegetation
In the Arctic, there is vegetation everywhere, but avoid walking on delicate moss beds and small patches of vegetation.
Always wash your boots on the ship before and after each landing.
On our Arctic Voyages we take Polar Bear Safety very seriously
With males growing to 700kg, polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivore and the Arctic’s top predator. Capable of speeds up to 50 km/h, they are known to attack humans. For your safety our expedition staff will always be armed with rifles and carry special 'bear-scaring' devices.
As part of our expedition your safety is our responsibility. We will do our best to give you as much room as possible to move around. However we do have to ask you to stay with the group at all times.
The issue of polar bear safety will be discussed at the compulsory briefing on board before the first outing. It is not the bear we can see that we are worried about; it’s the one we can’t see. We have a few sensible rules to help insure your safety—and in the end, the safety of the bears:
- Listen to and follow instructions. Your cooperation is vital
- Always remain within the safety perimeter of the polar bear guards.
- At no time should you wander off on our own—especially not ahead of the group.
- Please keep your eyes open. A bear can easily be sleeping in a small hollow or behind a rock where we cannot see it.
- We will not go ashore if there is a bear close to the landing site, but we may approach in the Zodiacs to observe the bear.
- We always send our polar bear guards ashore in the first Zodiac to secure our landing area.
- If on shore and we see a bear, don’t panic, remain calm, and listen to the instructions from the staff on shore. The bear guards will keep an eye on the bear and, if necessary, we will return to the Zodiacs.
- If a bear is sighted, gather into a tighter group to get instructions.
- Normally we will start moving as a group back to the Zodiacs.
- Keep together in a close group and walk calmly back to the Zodiacs.
- Make noise, but DO NOT RUN.
- If a bear approaches we will first fire a flare to try to scare it away. If it continues to approach, or charges, we will be forced to shoot it