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World Nature Conservation Day – Explore. Respect. Protect.

World Nature Conservation Day – Explore. Respect. Protect.

The People behind Secret Atlas

At Secret Atlas, we are passionate about nature, the outdoors, and exploration. Our love for the natural world is the driving force behind our company’s foundation, and it motivates us to continue our efforts to conserve and protect nature as well as share its many gifts with you.

So, as we move forward, we will continue to develop new ways to promote environmental awareness and conservation and to share our love for nature with the world. We stand by our motto, ‘Explore. Respect. Protect’ and as part of World Nature Conservation Day, we’d like to share with you some of our team’s thoughts at Secret Atlas.

Mariano Curiel

Head of Operations and Sustainability

Mariano Curiel Head of Operations and Sustainability Secret Atlas

When I came across Secret Atlas, it reminded me of the roots and values that I hold dear. It reminded me of how I fell in love with the polar regions, Antarctica and the Arctic. Secret Atlas represents small-scale operations with a strong sense of consciousness behind every decision, focused on doing things right without rushing. We strive to offer an exceptional experience to clients while also making a positive impact along the way. For me, it was an opportunity to slow down and go back to doing things the way I believe is best and makes me feel fulfilled. It really takes me back to when I fell in love with Antarctica and the Arctic in those early days.

Reminiscing about times when I felt a strong connection with animals, or moments when I truly immersed myself in the present and felt the awe of the environment, is like being in a movie. Everything goes quiet as the wind blows. There have been instances where I’ve made eye contact with a whale, creating a powerful and profound experience. The whale looked at me with big eyes and I looked back, our eyes meeting. I felt something indescribable, and the moment had a strong impact on me. I don’t know how long it lasted, but it was a truly unforgettable experience.

Rayann Elzein

Secret Atlas Guide & Photographer

Conservation is a crucial aspect of my work, and I believe a beautiful picture should evoke thoughts and discussions about the plight of endangered and vulnerable species. Understanding the reasons behind their situation and finding ways to help is essential. Though I don’t claim to be a conservationist, I seek knowledge from specialists in the field and gather stories to share with my guests. Through my guiding, I aim to convey a powerful message about wildlife conservation and the urgent need to protect these incredible creatures.

I hope that through photography and storytelling, we can create a deeper connection between people and the polar regions, fostering a sense of responsibility for their preservation.

At the moment, all small ships operating in the Arctic use the same fuel, but some are undergoing refurbishments to improve their engines and reduce emissions. There’s progress, but we’re not yet emissions-free. The challenge lies in finding cleaner fuels and implementing suitable technology for smaller ships. However, I believe we will get there eventually. Being pioneers in emissions-free or near-zero emissions expedition cruises would be a positive step. I’ve been working on a project focused on decarbonizing the shipping industry, where we explore options like hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen sounds promising, but there are still safety concerns regarding its transport and storage. Additionally, building new facilities in places like Svalbard to fuel these ships would be necessary. While it may not happen overnight, we must work towards more sustainable solutions. Actively protecting the environment and minimizing our impact is crucial.

Mette Eliseussen

Secret Atlas Guide

Marine life and the political aspects in conjunction with this topic are one of my main interests. I’m trained in sociology and political science, which fuels my fascination with Svalbard’s geopolitics and ongoing developments and part of my interest lies in polar bears, the primary marine mammals of the North. 

We meet people with different mindsets about climate change during our trips. Some are concerned about the changes taking place and I use my experiences to raise awareness about this. In the 17 years I’ve spent in the Arctic, I’ve seen significant changes, and it’s crucial to connect with scientific knowledge about climate change and the impact human actions have on nature.

While I may not always convince someone to change their mindset, we encourage people to think about their impact on the environment and take a stand to make positive changes. As humans, we all affect nature, but we have the power to make a positive impact through our actions. That’s what I believe in. Our only hope is to try and change for the better. In my personal experience, when you see it with your own eyes, it becomes more real. 

People who come on our trips are often deeply touched by the experiences, and many of them are passionate about taking action. If we seize that opportunity, we can achieve amazing things together. It only takes a few people to make a significant impact, and we should never underestimate the power of our guests, the organisation, and the guides working together.

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