News Releases

International Women's Day | As with science itself, the role of women in polar sciences has evolved – and we should ensure it continues to do so, writes Glaciologist Evelyn Dowdeswell
Today, being a woman and taking a hands-on approach to research is not the rarity it once was and I am heartened to be joined by increasing numbers of female scientists on polar expeditions with every year that goes by. Read more.

IAATO Joins Polar Partners to Announce Fellowship Opportunities
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have announced opportunities for early-career professionals, including the second IAATO Antarctic Fellowship. Read more.

IAATO statement regarding change of One Ocean Expeditions' status to ‘member not in good standing'

Weds 6 November: It is a difficult time for One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) and our sympathies are with their employees and families, as well as their clients, suppliers, and partners. We have no desire to add to the difficulties, however, in accordance with IAATO bylaws and as a result of non-payment of dues and fees, as of November 1, One Ocean Expeditions is a member of IAATO ‘not in good standing'. Read more

Polar Expedition Experts Descend on Sturbridge, Massachusetts for International Field Guide Conference

Polar field guides are descending on Sturbridge, Massachusetts today for the third bi-annual International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) joint Polar Field Staff Conference. Read more.

Polar Expedition Leaders Gather for Responsible Tourism Conference
They may be literally poles apart, but more than 80 Antarctic and Arctic expedition guides will gather together later this month for a joint conference on responsible polar tourism.
The conference, held in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, US from September 22 to 25, is the third bi-annual joint conference of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). This year's theme focuses on responsible field leadership. Read more.

Meet IAATO's new Antarctic Fellows 
IAATO and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), have announced the recipients of this years IAATO Antarctic Fellowship, funded by IAATO. The fellowships are an investment in the professional development of talented early career researchers and aim to further the understanding of human presence in Antarctica.

Daniela Cajiao Vargas from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain will visit North Carolina State University, USA, for her project titled, Experiential and learning outcomes of tourism in Antarctica: do different trip modalities matter? Daniela's research will focus on two different sectors of Antarctic tourism to explore how visiting Antarctica affects one's experience and understanding of the region. Her answers will inform responsible tourism management, strengthen educational experiences and contribute to policy discussions.


Martina Mascioni from the University of La Plata, Argentina, will visit Scripps Institute of Oceanography, California, USA, for her project titled, Antarctic tourism provides and unprecedented understanding of phytoplankton biodiversity in the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Martina will analyze phytoplankton samples collected from IAATO vessels since 2017 by a citizen science project called FjordPhyto. She will receive training that will enable her work to change our view of phytoplankton diversity in the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Without phytoplankton, life in Antarctica would not exist. Read More


IAATO confirms appointment of Dr. Terry Shaller as Acting Executive Director
Terry will lead the Secretariat and work with the Executive Committe to further IAATO's mission to advocate and promote safe, environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica. Read more. 

IAATO Welcomes New Members into Responsible Antarctic Tourism Fold
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has welcomed ten new members into the responsible tourism fold. Read more.

International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators Announces New Restrictions on Commercial Drone Use by Visitors
The constraints, voted in at IAATO's annual meeting in Cape Town, South Africa (April 30 – May 3), mean those using Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for commercial purposes on IAATO vessels will have new restrictions limiting piloting opportunities. Read more.

World Environment Day | Antarctica Tour Operators Pledge to Turn Tide on Plastics with New Waste-Reduction Guidelines
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has pledged to turn the tide on plastics with new guidelines set to reduce single-use plastic use among visitors to the white continent. Read more.

Busiest Day of the Year for Antarctic Tour Operators as IAATO Ship Scheduler Opens
The Antarctic travel season may still be months away, but responsible Antarctic tour operators from across the globe will experience their busiest day of the year today (June 5) as the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators' (IAATO) Ship Scheduler opens. Read more

Antarctica Tour Operators Redevelop Ship Scheduler Process to Prepare for Tourism Growth
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is redeveloping its ship scheduling process, as part of its commitment to ‘leave only footprints' through the effective self-management of guest activities. Read more

Antarctica Tour Operators Introduce New Measures to Manage for Tourism Growth
IAATO has closed its annual meeting in Cape Town with multiple new measures in support of its mission for safe, environmentally responsible Antarctic travel. Read more

Antarctic Tour Operators Introduce Mandatory Measures to Prevent Whale Strikes
Members of IAATO have unanimously voted in mandatory measures to prevent whale strikes in cetacean-rich Antarctic waters. Read more.

Honouring Sarah Auffret

We are heart-broken to lose our wonderful colleague and dear friend, Sarah Auffret, Environmental Agent for the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). Sarah tragically lost her life in the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET0302 on 10 March as she travelled to the UN Environment Assembly to present IAATO and AECO's work on our Clean Seas project. Sarah was a joy and inspiration to all who knew and loved her, representing the very best of all that we are trying to achieve in protecting the polar regions. 

Sarah was well known and cherished by the IAATO and AECO community. In 2013 she joined the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) to work at Port Lockroy on the Antarctic Peninsiula, returning the following year as Base Leader. She then worked as Expedition Leader for G Expeditions. 

Sarah's family has set up a fundraising page in her name. Donations will be collected for a memorial fund in her name that will be used to advance environmental stewardship.

IAATO is devasted by her loss. Our thoughts and hearts go to her family, friends and colleagues. Please respect the family's need for privacy at this very difficult time. Photo: UKAHT.

IAATO vessels help solve killer whale mystery
Photographs taken aboard IAATO vessels since the 1990s have supported research which,this year, has brought scientists face-to-face with a mysterious and potentially new species of killer whale, the ‘Type D' killer whale, found in sub-Antarctic waters. Is it a new species or not? Read on to find out more or watch incredible footage of these enigmatic whales.

World Whale Day
It's world Whale Day on February 16; a day when we celebrate the giants of the ocean. To mark the occasion, we asked Ted Cheeseman, co-founder, and CEO of HappyWhale, to guest blog about tracking Antarctica's whales.

Save The Date | Polar Field Staff Conference September 22 – 25
IAATO and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) will deliver their third joint Polar Field Staff Conference from September 22 to September 25. The conference gathers guides, expedition leaders and operations managers working for both polar trade associations to support their shared mission of advocating and promoting safe and environmentally responsible polar travel. The three-day event will take place in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, USA.

More information about the program will be shared with AECO and IAATO members in due course.

The Polar Citizen Science Collective Awarded Grant To Develop Polar Science Mobile App
IAATO is delighted to share the news that The Polar Citizen Science Collective has been awarded a €170,000 grant to develop a citizen science mobile app. Read more...

Blog | Don't Hug the Penguins, and Other Rules in Antarctica...
Going to Antarctica is a privilege, not a right, and thanks to the extraordinarily successful intergovernmental agreement that is the Antarctic Treaty, all human activity there is regulated by strict rules which protect the white desert and its wildlife. Here are a few things to think about before you head to the wildest place on Earth.

Blog | Antarctica Day - Celebrating 59 Years of Global Antarctic Ambassadorship
At a time when, for many, the world seems uncertain; with political, environmental and equality struggles in the headlines, it is perhaps heartening to be able to celebrate a unique global collaboration which is as strong today as it was at its inception almost 60 years ago. Read our latest blog from IAATO Head of Operations, Lisa Kelley.

Save The Date | IAATO 2019
Every year, members set aside competitive interests to have open and candid discussions on safety, environmental protection and self-regulation. Decision-making is supported by recommendations developed by IAATO's many dedicated committees and working groups throughout the year. The meetings conclude annually with the voting in of new policies on best practice which support our mission of promoting and advocating safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica are voted in.

IAATO's annual meeting 2019 will be held from April 30 – May 2 in Cape Town, South Africa and is open to IAATO members and invited guests.

HappyWhale Joins Forces With IWC-SORP to Create Whale ID How-To Guide
HappyWhale has joined forces with the International Whaling Commission's Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) to create a how-to guide for photographing identification features for Right, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Blue and Killer whales. Find yours here.

Blog | A Year in The Life of Responsible Tourism
What does a year in the life of responsible tourism look like? We asked our digital media assistant Hayley Court, who joined us a year ago this month, for her reflections on her first 12 months in IAATO. Read her blog here

Blog | Penguins, People & Science - Antarctica Depends on All Three
Penguins were my first love. I used to study gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on a remote Antarctic island to see how their breeding and foraging patterns changed in response to food supply. My work and experiences left me with a lifetime longing to do what I could to protect them. Read our latest blog here - and further reading from our polar partners at UK Antarctic Heritage Trust here