Hurtigruten auctions raise cash to stop rats

Passengers bid for captain’s jacket and the ship’s flag

Auctions on board Hurtigruten’s expedition ship MS Fram are helping seabirds on the remote island of South Georgia, in an effort to stop an infestation of rats. The Norwegian cruise company has so far collected over NOK 1.5 million (€185,000) for this charitable cause.

Top bids are being called for on every sailing. Passengers are invited to bid in the popular auctions, which are part of the on-board program, for a range of unique souvenirs that include the captain’s uniform jacket, the ship’s flag and the original chart which shows the route of the ship, signed by the navigation officer.

The auctions started in 2005, contributing money for charitable organisations in Antarctica and Greenland. Now the company is turning its attention to South Georgia, one of the most important breeding and nesting grounds in the Antarctic region.

In recent decades, the island’s seabird population has been increasingly threatened by rats, introduced by sealing and whaler ships in the last century.

“Over the years, they have spread across much of the island, feeding on seabird eggs and in the process destroying the birds’ entire nesting areas,” explains Hurtigruten’s Jørn Henriksen.

The growing rat infestation was in danger of having a catastrophic impact on the seabird population. Storm petrels, prions, blue and diving petrels and other seabird species that used to nest here in their thousands were as good as gone.

Led by the conservation organisation South Georgia Heritage Trust, a rescue mission started in 2007. So far, the campaign has been a great success, thanks to donations from all over the world, including the MS Fram auctions.

TTG Nordic

[pictured: South Georgia; courtesy NASA]