- Owner - Superyachts facilitate conservation and scientific research


Superyachts facilitate conservation and scientific research

The Pelorus Foundation pairs yachts with marine scientists and conservation groups to conduct vital research…

Pelorus is known in the industry for designing bespoke experiential expeditions to superyacht clients that seek to transform their perspective of the world and impact on the planet. The team behind the company has recently announced the launch of The Pelorus Foundation – a new conservation charity with a mission to protect, preserve and promote at-risk wildlife and environments, a mission in which its superyacht clients can play a significant role.

Working in partnership with scientists and conservation groups, The Pelorus Foundation wants to tackle core sustainability issues around the world. Recognising the unique opportunity that superyachts have to enable the advancement of ocean access, marine research and global knowledge to enhance the ocean’s prosperity, the foundation is pairing marine scientists and conservation experts with private yachts to conduct vital research.

Geordie Mackay-Lewis, co-founder of Pelorus and director and trustee of The Pelorus Foundation, explains that Pelorus has been encouraging its superyacht clients to include a conservation element in their expeditions for some time now. “Three years ago, we decided to make it a mandatory obligation for all our clients to see if there was any push back, and the result was that basically everyone wanted to take part in conservation in some way,” he explains. “Most recognised that these initiatives increase the experiential value and make the whole trip that much more interesting and purposeful.”

“We found it was a reoccurring theme that scientists are trying to get to remote places, but don’t have the platforms to conduct their work or even get there...”

As a result of the positive response from its clients, the Pelorus team started speaking to more scientists and conservation groups around the world to work out who needed what and what the priorities were. “We created two heat maps of where support needs to be given and where all the yachts are going, which didn’t marry up too much,” Mackay-Lewis adds. “But that is perfect for Pelorus because we are always trying to pioneer new cruising grounds for our clients.”

One of Pelorus’ first yacht conservation initiatives began when a superyacht client commissioned an expedition to the Red Sea, to Eritrea and Sudan, where very few superyachts have ever been. With an abundance of marine life, but a lack scientific data surrounding it, the trip provided the perfect opportunity for Pelorus and the client to provide much-needed conservation support. Working with research group Coastal Oceans Research and Development (CORDIO), Pelorus was able to create a new ocean check system to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the health of the sea’s ecosystems, the data from which will be used to influence policy and management systems throughout the region.

“We found it was a reoccurring theme that scientists are trying to get to remote places, but don’t have the platforms to conduct their work or even get there,” continues Mackay-Lewis. “With Pelorus providing the logistics to enable yachts to visit remote destinations, we have the unique opportunity to link that up with the scientists and conservation groups that need to go there. These initiatives were something that we were already doing, but now we are formulating it into a registered charity where we can promote it properly and raise funds so that, even if an owner or charter client doesn’t want to pay for a project, we’ve got the funds to step in and facilitate it so that the opportunity is never missed.”

The yacht conservation initiatives supported by The Pelorus Foundation will be chosen based on a balance of what projects are most urgent and what is achievable from a yachting perspective. Next year, for example, Pelorus has organised for some clients to charter two iconic explorer yachts in the Antarctic and take part in an whale conservation programme during the charter. Working with Dr. Ari Friedlander, the project will aim to understand whale biology, ecology, and the impacts of climate change and human disturbance around the Antarctic Peninsula.

“The brief for the trip was to deliver the quintessential Antarctic itinerary, but with their own ‘Blue Planet’ experience, which includes some groundbreaking scientific research...”

“The brief for the trip was to deliver the quintessential Antarctic itinerary, but with their own ‘Blue Planet’ experience, which includes some groundbreaking scientific research, with scientists on board the support vessel and a camera team to capture the research as well as the extraordinary wildlife and scenery,” Mackay-Lewis explains. “We chose to work with Dr. Ari Friedlander because his goals aligned with what the client wanted to experience and see.”

Mackay-Lewis admits, however, there is a certain frustration at seeing how much more research needs to be done in the Antarctic and believes that the superyacht industry needs to play a bigger role in helping to support this. “There are a dozen capable superyachts visiting the region every season that could carry out all of the required research if they all took part,” he says. “We would like to try and gently persuade the rest of the industry, as well as the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, to make it a mandatory obligation for yachts cruising in the area to do some form of scientific research during their time there.”

The foundation has identified many more opportunities for yacht conservation initiatives around the world, from shark nursery research in the Galapagos Islands, to scientific marine data collection in the Mozambique Channel – essentially anywhere that marine scientists and conservation groups want to go but don’t have the resources to do so. “Hopefully, The Pelorus Foundation will help set an example to the industry that yachts should be more involved in conservation, and others will follow suit,” concludes Mackay-Lewis. “It’s a tall order but, if more get involved, yachting might even start to create a better reputation for itself.”

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The Pelorus Foundation

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