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“We are a team of biologists, research technicians and a professionnal photographer who are committed to document the fragile environment of the Arctic.”

Virginie Wyss

Visual, thermal
and acoustic catalog

We are developping innovative and replicable protocols to create the first combined catalog of Arctic marine mammals.

Acoustic devices will allow noise pollution monitoring and species recognition. The use of drones and thermal cameras are new in cetology and will open new ways in the field.

Encourage open science

We aim to help improve knowledge of Arctic ecosystems and positively influence policies to allow humans and wildlife to coexist harmoniously.

We will share and publish our data online and collaborate with several institutes, communities, universities, NGOs, governments, media and industries to encourage open science.

Issues in the Arctic

The Arctic is an ecosystem that climate change will impact dramatically. Melting sea ice enables anthropogenic changes that will impact marine species. These include noise pollution, boat traffic, hydrocarbon exploration and overfishing. It is important to carefully document the current status so that mitigation strategies can be developed.


Glacialis 2021

Expedition Glacialis will sail from Azores archipellago to the Baffin Sea, covering a distance of over 4500 nautical miles in 5 months.

Providing a precious source of data and experience, this first expedition will open the way for further monitoring on the Northwest Passage in 2022.

and raise awareness

On this ambitious adventure, communication systems will not only be our essential safety line connecting us to daily weather and ice reports. They will allow us to share the venture, the problematics we encounter and our results through several types of media, both on the go and back on land!



A very tough expedition vessel suitable for research efforts in the polar regions.

She was designed in the Netherlands by the famous naval architect Dick Koopmans and built in compliance to the highest standards.

Its stainless steel deck provides an efficient and durable working platform. The pilothouse and its 9 large windows made of thick hardened glass is an ideal, all weather conditions, steering and observation station.

Its S-shaped hull and the choice of a solid ketch rig make her an extremely seaworthy vessel dedicated to sailing in heavy weather.


Safety at sea

Safety and redundance are everywhere onboard the Atlas.

The Atlas is built from 7, 6 and 5 mm thick marine steel plates. The overlapping of the plates over 4cm and the inside/outside weld along the entire length of the hull provides important structural reinforcement.

The bow cabin forms a watertight compartment defended by a steel wall up to deck level and a solid watertight door. A hydraulically driven bilge pump allows the extraction of water at a high flow rate from 4 strategic locations (bow, saloon, engine room, stern).

A very reliable six-cylinder Volvo engine provides the power needed to tackle complex seas.

A research tool

An ideal platform for adventurous scientific teams

Compromises between accommodation and storage capacity have been made on board this unique vessel to make it an efficient working tool.

For short expeditions of about two weeks, the boat can comfortably accommodate up to 5 people. However, for longer and more elaborate missions a crew of up to 4 people is recommended.

In contrast to pleasure yachts, the entire stern is dedicated to technical storage spaces. The pilothouse is the monitoring zone and a key area of the ship’s life from which the crews take their watches.


Atlas expeditions

A swiss non profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Atlas Expeditions was founded in order to link the efforts of the volunteers involved in the adventure and to guarantee the pursuit of objectives benefiting the community. 

The aims of the association are to study, promote, organize and ensure the realization of expeditions of remarkable scientific, cultural or social interest.

Atlas Expeditions is in charge of the preparation and availability of the boat  for the pursuit of these goals in relation to the local authorities and communities.


Photo identification

Allows species and individual recognition. This method enables researchers to learn more about the distribution, social structure, lifespan and migration routes of animals.
We will share our data with relevant collaboraters and online platforms to fill gap knowledge about individuals and species.

Drone footage

Photogrammetry, a new technique to evaluate a whale’s body mass, or even, for certain species, determine the sex, and tell if a female is pregnant.
UAV footage will assess the health status of whales, to show entanglement and ship strike marks and do aerial photo ID.

Thermal imaging

This technology will allow us to combine visual observations with a thermal signature of marine mammals encountered. The objective is to collect as much data as possible to help develop a new system to identify cetacean species. In addition, we will test this new technology to develop a navigational aid to find waterways and avoid collisions with whales and macro-waste.


We will link acoustic data from marine mammals with visual data alongside with noise pollution monitoring. Since cetacean species acoustic identification remains challenging particularly for dolphins, linking acoustic recordings with visual identification will improve our knowledge on acoustic characteristics of some Arctic species.



Wildlife monitoring

Record every marine mammal, bird and fish encountered.
Locate biodiversity hotspots and endangered species.

Macro pollution

Macro pollution will be visually recorded.
Waste monitoring will allow us to learn more about currents, pollution and direct threats to wildlife.

Micro plastics

Regular microplastic sampling will be done in areas where very few data is available.
The manta nets will also permit plankton collection.


Salinity, temperature, pH, chlorophyll-a and further parameter samplings will contribute to monitor the changes in the Arctic Ocean and complement existing data.


Radiophonic piece

Developed by Julie Henoch
Radio & music Producer

Documentary film

By Richard Mardens
Documentary film maker

Large format photography

By Arnaud Conne
Professional photographer

Written, audio and video logbook

En route publications
Blog & social media



You can help GLACIALIS reach its full potential !

The crew, ship, budget, scientific methods, route and itinerary have been determined.

We have documented partnerships and platforms to perform and make public our data and analysis.

We will be very happy to share our datas with you, collect datas for you, test materials or adapt our protocols with your expertise.

Join our partners !

Send us an e-mail: info@glacialis.ch or use the contact form below.

60% of the expedition costs are covered

Our scientific partners will provide a significant part of the gear needed for the survey. Thanks to Atlas Expeditions, we have the adequate platform for the project.

The latest generation research equipment (thermal camera, lidar drone, hydrophone, multiparameter, software) will be used so that the methods developed will be useful for future researchers. Creating innovative visual and acoustic catalogs in a scientific and organized fashion will require significant computer and human resources.

We will upgrade the communication equipment on board, purchase survival gear and engineer solutions to deploy scientific equipment. The communication equipment will not only increase safety but it will also enable us to keep followers updated in real-time.

We need your support to help Expedition Glacialis reach its full potential !

Join our sponsors !

Send us an e-mail: info@glacialis.ch or use the contact form below.


Please mention your contact details and your specific interests in the project! We will get back to you shortly!