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Hurtigruten Group

Citizen Science Projects

We are proud to support many vital citizen science projects on board our ships as we venture to off-the-beaten-track locations.

In this modern, digital-savvy, and well-traveled age, researchers and scientists are turning to everyday travelers and communities to help build and develop their understanding of the world's most biodiverse habitats. Every year, thousands of people become Citizen Scientists by participating in a range of global projects that contribute to long-term research.

We are proud to aid the scientific community by hosting researchers and supporting many vital citizen science projects on board our ships as they venture to off-the-beaten-track locations like the Northwest Passage, Svalbard, Antarctica, and beyond. On each voyage, we engage guests in at least two citizen science projects as part of our on-board Science & Education program, which aims to increase guest knowledge and interest in the areas guests are sailing to.

The Polar Citizen Science Collective

The Polar Citizen Science Collective is leading the way in bringing the science community and polar expedition operators together by providing support to run Citizen Science projects.

Founded in 2018, the Polar Collective is empowering the polar tourism industry to participate in vital scientific projects taking place in some of the world's most remote and coldest locations. Polar tourism organisations such as Hurtigruten Expeditions are in a unique place to help bridge the logistical gap many of these projects face to ensure projects and research can take place.

In addition, these projects offer unique opportunities for our guests providing a hands-on educational experience and turning them into true polar Citizen Scientists. Supporting operators across both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, the Polar Collective currently oversees third-party Citizen Science projects covering animal population surveys, seaweed biodiversity, studies into Phytoplankton communities, and many more.

Just Some of the Projects You Can Get Involved With.


Destination | Norway

Aurorasaurus is the first Citizen Science project that collates sightings of the Northern and Southern Lights to improve real-time tracking and understanding of the beautiful phenomenon.

As Citizen Scientists, you can enter your observations of the aurora, helping to improve our understanding of their frequency, location, and visual characteristics. The site also collects related tweets, maps them, and asks users to help verify the data being collected - helping to alert users in real time.


Destination(s) | All

Aimed at growing and developing our understanding of whales and dolphins, Happywhale uses images submitted by guests to map the movement of marine mammals around the world.

The image recognition software reviews the images, matching them against previous encounters with the same animal, building a unique profile, and markings on the tail or dorsal fin. All the profiles are available for scientists and animal lovers to review and use across all research projects.


Destination(s) | Antarctica

Phytoplankton is the foundation of the marine food web, and the team at Fjordphyto aims to better understand the impact of climate change and melting sea ice. You can help us to collect water samples, undertake Secchi Disk studies, and record environmental conditions like seawater temperatures and salinity to submit to this project.

This research helps build a long-term picture of the changes in fjord Phytoplankton communities in the polar regions - adding to the global insights on climate change.


Destination(s) | All

The concept that every birdwatcher has unique knowledge, experience, and interest has turned a hobby into active science in the world's largest birding community. With over 100 million bird sightings contributed annually, eBird is using the information collected to power data-driven approaches to science, conservation, and education.

Aimed at making bird-watching more rewarding, the platform allows users to manage lists, photos, and audio recordings or see real-time maps of species distribution and sighting alerts for specific species. By working closely with hundreds of partner organisations and regional experts around the world, eBird is able to ensure data is both current and useful. Available worldwide and as we encounter some breathtaking birdlife on our expeditions, you are encouraged to share your sightings.

Southern Ocean Seabird Surveys

Destination(s) | Antarctica

The Southern Ocean Seabird Surveys were launched in 2015 to study the distribution of birds across the sea.

So far, hundreds of observations from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica have been gathered to add to the existing collection of bird data from around the world in the eBird database.

The project is building a long-term ecological monitoring programme of seabirds in the Southern Ocean and along the Antarctic Peninsula. These recordings help researchers understand how birds use oceanic habitat, to discover new details about the lives of these remote species, and ultimately how their behaviour and populations might be changing because of climate change.

Penguin Watch

Destination(s) | Antarctica

Responding to a global decline in penguin populations – Penguin Watch investigates the impact of climate change, fisheries, disease, and pollution on colonies and identifies ways to mitigate them.

Whilst on board you can help scientists monitor populations by counting penguins across various images and videos on the Zooniverse platform. This research helps to inform global policies in the polar region as well as educate the public on the impact of climate change.


Destination(s) | Svalbard

In partnership with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), we aim to understand the value Citizen Science projects can bring to both research projects and expedition cruise operators.

As a result of hands-on experiences engaging with 'ordinary people', we have significantly helped to bridge the gap between science and the public. The research helps to increase knowledge and awareness of Svalbard and the climate debate while also reducing the potential for mistrust in scientific knowledge.


Destination(s) | Antarctica

The leopard seal is one of Antarctica's least understood animals. Existing research into these animals has only scratched the surface of what is known about current population levels, and how they behave and breed.

To aid conservation efforts and promote safe human-seal interactions, the project is looking to guests share images or videos of leopard seals around Antarctica. By matching sightings across Antarctica, the team aims to build a better picture of the biology of these animals.


Destination(s) | All 

iNaturalist is a joint initiative between the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, a social network where naturalists, Citizen Scientists, and biologists map and share observations of biodiversity across the globe.

An iNaturalist observation records a person's encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and place. Users have created and contributed to tens of thousands of different projects on iNaturalist, recording data from bioblitzes, biological surveying events that attempt to record all the species that occur within a designated area.

As of 21 September 2022, iNaturalist users had contributed approximately 115,651,000 observations of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms worldwide, and around 3.2 million registered users, and more than 2,000 research results have been published that cite the iNaturalist research-grade observations hosted on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), often in the fields of ecology, conservation, and climate change.

South Georgia Big Seaweed Search

Destination(s) | South Georgia 

Seaweed is a vital part of marine ecosystems providing food and shelter for many species whilst contributing to inshore nutrient and carbon cycling. Marine biodiversity around South Georgia is far from human impacts, its marine biodiversity faces threats from rapid climate change (ocean warming and acidification) and invasive species (including seaweeds).

Led by the Natural History Museum, London, and with support from the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the South Georgia Big Seaweed Search is focused on studying the biodiversity and distribution of seaweed around the islands. By establishing a long-term monitoring programme, it's possible to support the future management and conservation of the island’s unique and important marine environment.


Destination(s) | Antarctica, Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland

Every year, thousands of animals around the world are tagged and released. PolarTag was created as an online portal specifically for those visiting the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctica) to share images of wildlife sightings. If you are lucky enough to spot a tagged animal whilst on board we encourage you to get involved and share your pictures.

All sightings and images are shared with collaborating scientists to offer a visual update of the individuals that have been tagged.

Secchi Disk Study

Destination(s) | All

Climate change is impacting global Phytoplankton communities around the world, a vital oxygen producer and an important part of the marine food chain.

A cornerstone of our Science & Education program is conducting Secchi Disk studies around the world. By lowering a disk into the ocean, we map the concentration of Phytoplankton at the sea surface. This essential data is then used by scientists around the world to understand the impact of climate change.

Globe Cloud Observer

Destination(s) | All

Working in collaboration with NASA, observations captured on the ground help to develop the understanding of clouds from below and above. These simple formations play an important role in transferring energy from the sun to different parts of planet Earth.

Since cloud forms change so quickly, getting regular updates and observations from the Citizen Scientists on board, and comparing them to images obtained from satellites, can help build the complete scientific picture of what is happening in the atmosphere.

Active Feedback

Regardless of their scientific background, many guests come on board and are excited to get involved with our Science & Education program, from learning about the effect of the climate on phytoplankton levels to getting a better understanding of the northern lights in Norway.

Active Engagement

A key part of our Expedition Team, the Science Coordinators are given time to ensure citizen science projects are a key feature while they are on board. To ensure we have consistency and quality, we usually incorporate a specific project across multiple sailings so that we can gather enough data to support the research.

Active Collaboration

When we first embarked on our on-board Science & Education program, we worked closely with various organizations to help fine-tune our selection of projects and ensure their aid in the overall guest experience. We have been proud to support them ever since.

Other stories

Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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