MSC Cruises and MSC Foundation have partnered with NatureMetrics, a nature intelligence and environmental DNA specialist, to advance understanding of endangered marine species.
The objective of the project, called "eBioAtlas: Biodiversity Sampling from Cruise Liners using eDNA," is to gather comprehensive biodiversity data for marine species using DNA sampling techniques. By collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) from seawater while on board and analyzing it through NatureMetrics, the team aims to identify and document the marine wildlife found along MSC Cruises' routes.
This initiative has a global scope and the data collected will contribute to the eBioAtlas program, a collaboration between NatureMetrics and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The eBioAtlas aims to create a harmonized biodiversity data layer by leveraging the global community, including MSC Cruises and MSC Foundation, to drive informed decision-making for the benefit of both people and nature.
“Collaboration is crucial in our quest to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by the end of the decade. MSC Cruises’ pioneering work to collect and share biodiversity data with our eBioAtlas program will unlock nature insights that allow us to make informed decisions on marine conservation globally. The time for decisive action is now, and with organizations like MSC Cruises leading the way in the travel industry, we can create a world where businesses and nature can make meaningful progress in harmony,” said Dr. Kat Bruce, Founder at NatureMetrics.
The eBioAtlas program will acquire biodiversity data from three different MSC Cruises itineraries, providing accurate information for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This valuable data will be made accessible to third parties free of charge through the eBioAtlas partnership between NatureMetrics and IUCN, fostering conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Northern Atlantic.
“The MSC Foundation is committed to advancing ocean conservation through science," said Daniela Picco, Executive Director of the MSC Foundation. "It was therefore only natural for us to join forces with NatureMetrics to support vital biodiversity mapping, assisting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to perform the assessments that are critical indicators of global biodiversity health.”
Seawater samples will be collected from the vessels' seawater intakes using specially designed eDNA collection kits. These samples will then be sealed and sent to NatureMetrics for DNA analysis. The results, along with location details, will be shared with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to enhance their understanding of global ocean biodiversity.
The maiden ship to participate in the sampling initiative will be MSC Euribia, followed by MSC Poesia and MSC Preziosa. The sampling will take place in the Nordic region, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, and Svalbard.
"Our innovative partnership with NatureMetrics is more than just a strategic alliance. It's a commitment to harnessing advanced eDNA technologies and global collaboration to drive our sustainability and conservation efforts. It's about utilizing our resources wisely and optimizing processes to make the best possible decisions for our planet's future. We are proud to be supporting this vital work by taking samples on four ships over 11 cruises, for a total of 114 sampling days this year," said Coppell Linden, VP of Sustainability and ESG at MSC Cruises.