Introducing Polar Guide: Antarctica
The first of December marked Antarctica Day, the celebration of the 1959 signing of the Antarctic Treaty. When that treaty was drafted, phones still used rotary dials and even the brick-sized 80s mobile was decades away from finding its way into every Wall Street broker’s BMW. What better occasion than Antarctica Day, then, to launch an app that provides its users the full range of Antarctic environmental regulations delivered right into their weightless, cracker-sized smartphones? Times have changed indeed, and they’ve changed for the better in the case of the new Polar Guide: Antarctica app.
The purpose and perks of Polar Guide: Antarctica
Polar Guide: Antarctica, developed by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), keeps polar tour operators informed about what they need to do in order to comply with all IAATO, Antarctic Treaty, and International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. The app is free and publicly available for both iOS and Android, and though it was made with polar guides in mind, all travelers embarking on Antarctica trips are encouraged to download the app for its engaging extra features: It details the animals that can be seen at specific locations and provides interesting viewable lectures, citizen science articles, and background on the Antarctic Treaty System.
Why this app is an important conservation resource
The tools offered by Polar Guide: Antarctica help experienced guides and first-time travelers alike enjoy the Antarctic landscape and wildlife responsibly. Included in the app are instructions for the visitation of historic sites, wildlife watching, and preventing non-native species from being introduced into the environment. And because the app was designed to be used off the grid – not signal is required for it to work – it should work as well in McMurdo Sound as on a Weddell Sea cruise.
The Antarctic entities (and inspiration) behind the app
IAATO was formed in 1991 to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. The spirit of this endeavor is closely linked to that of the Antarctic Treaty, which went into effect in 1961 with the purpose of ensuring that Antarctica be used only for peaceful purposes, a refuge for exploration and internationally collaborative science. These intrinsically linked goals are apparent in the planning of the app: Polar tourists will enjoy it as a pleasant enhancement for their Antarctic travels, and polar guides will find it an invaluable resource for their expeditions. And all the while, both parties will be doing their part to help conserve the precious Antarctic wilderness.
Last-minute tips for Polar Guide: Antarctica
Information about the app is publicly available on the websites for IAATO (https://iaato.org/home), the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty (http://www.ats.aq/seleccion.htm), and the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (http://www.gov.gs/). IAATO hosted a web chat about the app after its launch, the Q&A of which will be posted on their website.