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Icewhale Expeditions

The Icewhale

Huge animals, of which we hardly know anything, live with the sea ice of the North Pole: Icewhales that can live over two hundred years  and can weigh a wopping 100.000 kilo’s. In the middle of the dark polar winter, they sing their beautiful whale songs.

Especially now that the North Pole is changing in a rapid speed, our goal is to get to know more about the Icewhales.

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The Icewhale

‘Icewhale’ is the popular name for the Greenland whale or Bowhead whale Balaena mysticetus. Just starting to recover from centuries of industrial whaling, this second largest animal of the planet now faces melting of its habitat and interference with new Arctic shipping lanes.
Why do Icewhales stay close to the sea-ice on the Northern Hemisphere? Why do they sing their songs 24/7 throughout the polar night in the Fram Strait? What threat does Arctic melting and subsequent exploration and shipping hold for the Icewhale and its environment? 
Otherwise, as current research suggests, could restoration of the Icewhale population help fight climate change, thus preserving their own Arctic habitat?
Such questions are paramount for the entire Arctic ecosystem. Answers can only be provided with a dedicated series of research expeditions.

Polar Winter Expeditions

The Icewhale Foundation (IWF), based in The Netherlands, has initiated the realisation of the Icewhale Research Expeditions. For the first time ever, these expeditions will study the magnificent Icewhale during the dark Arctic winter in its natural habitat in the Fram Strait between Spitsbergen and Greenland.
Expeditions consist of a four to five month drift in the marginal ice-zone with a specially built innovative ship. The six crewmembers – icenauts – navigate the ship and perform research as if they were astronauts on a spaceship. Real-time satellite coverage, associated media programming and a continually operating ground station connect the general public to the expeditions, creating unparalleled Arctic ecosystem awareness. Together with international outreach, including scientific, political and private sector, the Icewhale Research Expeditions have the powerful potential to mitigate the consequences of Arctic warming in the broadest possible sense in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Icewhale Foundation

The first aim of the Icewhale Foundation is to gather knowledge of the population dynamics and reproduction of the Icewhale and the associated impact of climate change and increasing transarctic shipping and exploration. The potential counter- vailing measure of a dynamic Marine Protected Area in the Arcticmarginal ice zone urgently needs to be assessed. The secondary aim is to involve the public at large in the Icewhale Research Expeditions, with the ultimate goal to engage people in the challenges posed by the warming of the Arctic. The scientific and sustainable objectives of the expeditions in combination with large media attention and the direct involvement of the public constitute the sound and rational basis for private-public funding of the Icewhale Research Expeditions.

CONTACT: info@icewhale.nl

Comité van Aanbeveling

Louise Vet

Recommendation Committee:
Prof. dr. Louise Vet is a leading ecologist. In 2019 she hit number one on the Dutch Sustainability List.