Sunday, 26 February 2012

Help Save Endangered Wildlife with Heritage Expeditions

Russian Sea Otter and pup
Heritage Expeditions is offering two special voyages in 2012 offering dedicated wildlife lovers the chance to become a part of genuine conservation projects helping to save endangered species from extinction in the remote Kuril Islands and Russian Kamchatka Peninsula.

The 18-day ‘Sea Otter Survey’ voyage will be led by a team of world-renowned professionals, who will undertake much-needed research on the Sea Otters of the region. Participants will join the research teams in Zodiacs and on shore patrols to assist with invaluable research and data collection. There will also be plenty of opportunities for birding, photography and hiking – or to simply enjoy the rugged beauty of these remote volcanic islands north of Japan. Largely uninhabited, their isolation has created a sanctuary for some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on earth. In particular, the secluded islands of Paramushir, Atlasova and Shumshu have the highest numbers of sea otters in the region.

A highlight of the voyage will be a landing at the rarely visited Kurilsky Nature Reserve on Kunashir Island, which is also home to numerous breeding bird species including the endangered White-tailed Eagle.

The second voyage, ‘In Search of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’, run in conjunction with Bird Life International, will conduct vital surveys of one of the world’s most critically endangered birds, travelling to places very few people have visited.

The warmer Pacific Ocean climate creates ideal conditions for seabirds and the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species and their sheer abundance.

Heritage Expeditions is a Bird Life Species Champion and is committed to helping Bird Life International’s work in protecting the world’s most threatened species from extinction.

A previous expedition in 2011 made ornithological history by finding a previously unknown breeding site of these rare birds. While the search for Spoon-billed Sandpipers are the central focus of the voyage, there are countless other wildlife highlights including Steller’s Sea Eagles, Brown Bears, and a high diversity of whale species including Blue, Killer, Grey, Humpback and Sperm Whales.

Both expeditions will take place on board the 50-passenger Spirit of Enderby, a former Russian research vessel, purpose-built for polar and oceanographic research and refurbished to provide comfortable accommodation for travellers.

Prices for the 18-day ‘Sea Otter Survey’ voyage departing on 9 May 2012 start from US$4900 per person. Prices for the 14-day ‘Search for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’ voyage, departing on 24 June 2012 start from US$8400 per person. Prices include all on board ship accommodation, meals, transfers, all shore excursions, landing fees and onboard lectures by experienced naturalists.Heritage Expeditions is also able to arrange competitively priced airfares, as well as additional pre and post voyage touring in the Russian Far East.

For further information phone 1800 143 585 (Australia) or 0800 262 8873 (NZ) or visit www.heritage-expeditions.com