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Dr. Emily Baxter | Head of Guest Learning

From a childhood passion to a career at the forefront of science and conservation: Dr. Emily Baxter is dedicated to ensuring that you (our guests) have an immersive and hands-on experience.

Exploration, Education, and Engagement

Like many who come to work at Hurtigruten Expeditions, Dr. Emily Baxter has had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors from an early age. Despite growing up miles from the nearest beach, Emily has a real fascination for marine life that developed from a childhood interest into a professional career. This passion and wanderlust for our blue planet were confirmed during her gap year in Australia, where despite a fear of water, she learned to surf and dive, experiencing a world above and below the waves. Upon returning to the UK, Emily knew she wanted to take this passion for marine life and oceans further, so she studied marine biology and oceanography at the University of Plymouth before completing a PhD on the ecology and socio-economic impacts of jellyfish at University College Cork.

Her academic research and interest in marine ecology and conservation have taken Emily right across the world, from the rugged isles of Scotland and Wales to the deep canyons of Monterey Bay, California and the Porcupine Seabight in the wild Atlantic. Wanting to bring this knowledge and expertise back to the UK, she started working for the North West Wildlife Trusts, building their marine conservation program, which covers everything from marine policy to community engagement and citizen science research projects. After 10 years at the Trusts, Emily was looking for a new challenge, and it was an ex-colleague who had traveled with Hurtigruten Expeditions as a Guest Scientist who spotted the role and thought it would be a perfect fit for her, combining her expertise in science and education with her passion for the natural world, exploration, and travel.

"I wanted to be part of a company with one foot in the here and now, and one foot in the future, helping to inspire people about the natural world, challenge their perspectives, and encourage them to want to protect it through their own experience of exploration and learning."

Why did you want to work for Hurtigruten?

Having spent many years traveling the world conducting scientific research, giving talks, and attending conferences, it became clear to Emily that citizen science provides a fantastic platform to raise awareness of the places we visit and allows guests the chance to explore and see the world differently. Our expedition ships also provide a unique opportunity to help organizations reach the remote areas we explore. This enables the scientific community to capture data and do research to better understand the changes faced by the world around us. For Emily, the diversity of the job is what, in her eyes, makes this the best job in the world! As the Head of Guest Learning, it falls to Emily to oversee the delivery of our on-board Science & Education program. By supporting our Science & Education Coordinators and Expedition Teams on board our ships, Emily ensures that Hurtigruten Expeditions is providing an engaging educational experience for our guests, while conducting world-class science for the partners and scientific collaborators we work alongside.

Since joining Hurtigruten Expeditions, Emily has been fortunate to continue exploring the world, visiting Norway, Svalbard, Alaska, and more recently Antarctica. However, it is her home, the British Isles that is her favorite destination to explore; it offers a wealth of wildlife and history, cultural diversity, dramatic landscapes, and interesting geology, all of which are often underappreciated. Since working for Hurtigruten Expeditions, Emily has been able to experience some truly iconic wildlife encounters, and one of the standout moments is being surrounded by a super aggregation of humpback whales in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. On one occasion, there were close to 200 whales feeding in the area around the ship. The ship stayed there for an hour while there were whale blows and tale flukes popping up everywhere. Emily described how the sound and sight of the whales at such close proximity was just amazing, with some whales even fully breaching the surface on the horizon, and all of this while being surrounded by stunning Alaskan scenery. During this amazing encounter, Emily's inner scientist came out and she encouraged the guests and Expedition Team to capture as many fluke photos as possible to help support the Happywhale photo ID platform, with identified individuals having been last spotted in Hawaii, California, Mexico, and Japan.

Over the coming years, Emily wants to continue the legacy set by Verena and Tudor in ensuring we deliver an industry-leading Science & Education program. From developing and expanding the on-board research capabilities to new digital platforms, there is a lot to look forward to over the coming years. As we look to extend the reach of our ships into exciting new destinations across the polar and tropical waters, Emily is eagerly looking forward to the possibility of engaging with new collaborators and partners to develop the reach and impact of the Science & Education program.

Other stories

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

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