Involvement of cruise tourism in protection of nature: BirdsRussia experience in the Far East and the Arctic

Involvement of cruise tourism in protection of nature: BirdsRussia experience in the Far East and the Arctic

In the spring of 2013 the Arctic Council named involvement of cruise tourism in biodiversity conservation in the Arctic among the seven strategic priorities. One of the Arctic leaders said: "... science and tourism share a common goal — conservation of nature that surrounds us and it can be protected only by knowing its laws and the problems that prevent it from safe and balanced coexistence of people and nature..." All over the world cruise tourism is trying to show commitment to ideals of nature conservation. But often it's just words. In our case, however, it is a real fruitful cooperation.

Heritage Expeditions (New Zealand) under the leadership of its owner Rodney Russ, one of the most experienced tour operators of expedition cruise tourism, rents two Russian research vessels: the Professor Khromov and the Akademik Shokalskiy. This is the only travel company in the world that has been sailing from extreme southern to extreme northern latitudes for 15 years.

Cooperation of BirdsRussia and Heritage Expeditions began in 2011 at the suggestion of Birdlife International, when the company carried out the first cruise focusing attention on the spoon-billed sandpiper and started to support its study and conservation. Every year since then the company has been providing free places for BirdsRussia researchers and sponsors of spoon-billed sandpiper conservation projects, and has helped in search of its nesting sites. In seven years upon request of BirdsRussia nearly thirty landings on the hard-to-reach shores of the Koryak Highlands and the Chukchi peninsula were carried out. Most of these sites had never been visited by ornithologists before. Not only ornithologists, but also tourists, qualified bird-watchers, participated in the short but intensive research. In 2011 Heritage Expeditions assisted in transportation of incubators with chicks from Meinypil’gyno to Anadyr for the Project to create artificial population of spoon-billed sandpiper in captivity (Slimbridge, the UK), and in 2012 supported the creation of exhibition Spoon-billed Sandpiper — saved life at the cultural centre on Anadyr. Vessels delivered tons of cargo, including a seven-metre motor boat, two ATVs and building materials to the BirdsRussia field camp. That allowed a lot of fauna discoveries, monitoring of less studied territories and water areas, specifying areas of species, identifying a new nesting site of spoon-billed sandpiper, two new nesting sites of red knot, areas of concentration of Kittlitz's murrelet, fork-tailed storm petrel, ancient murrelet and other marine bird species, specify the spread of tundra swan in Chukotka among other things. 

 Ecological education program including lectures and talks with BirdsRussia members on board of the vessel involved dozens of people into the preservation of spoon-billed sandpiper, who became volunteers and sponsors of BirdsRussia projects and spoon-billed sandpiper working group in Russia and countries of East Asia.

 In 2017 BirdsRussia participated in the pioneering double pass of Heritage Expeditions along the Northern sea route, during which ornithological monitoring was conducted. We take this opportunity to thank Rodney, his sons, all employees of Heritage expeditions and all tourists who care about conservation of birds of the Arctic and far-eastern seas of Russia. Cooperation is underway.

 Project manager: Elena Georgievna Lappo (ellappo @ 

Круиз на Дальнем Востоке, сфокусированный на кулике-лопатне.jpg

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