Sustainability chit-chat with Humboldt Explorer, A Green Fins Livaboard in the Galapagos Islands

Humboldt Explorer was built in 2010 and started operations that year. She is a liveaboard vessel of the Explorer Ventures liveaboard diving fleet and runs 7-night liveaboard trips in the Central and Northern Islands in the Galapagos Islands. Humboldt Explorer is the only boat in the Galapagos that spends 4 days at the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf as a part of the standard itinerary. She recently had a complete refit in Feb 2023 to update safety systems and redo cabins and dive deck.

We spoke to Jennifer Cumming, Galapagos General Manager of the Explorer Ventures liveaboard diving fleet, about their business’ sustainability journey.

Why did you become a Green Fins Digital Member?

We wanted to encourage more operators within the Galapagos National Park to follow our lead. We lead the way on liveaboard safety standards in the Galapagos and feel strongly about the importance of sustainability. Green Fins tools allow us to boost awareness of conservation issues, enhance our vessel’s operations, and encourage others to do the same. 

Can you share some environmental actions that you have implemented on your vessel to promote environmental conservation and what are you most proud of?

We have implemented the use of biodegradable shampoos, conditioners and cleaners as well as significantly reduced single-plastic use. We have educated our captains and crew on safe mooring practices. Our guest education programs spread awareness of the necessity for personal environmental responsibility. 

Have you faced any challenges or obstacles while implementing sustainable practices, and how did you overcome them?

Local regulations make the implementation of mooring buoys very difficult. We’d like to see this changed in the future.

Are there any actions that are more challenging to implement than others?

As with any new program, it can sometimes be met with scepticism and resistance. However, we’ve worked hard to overcome this resistance and will continue to do so.

How have your staff reacted to the practices/changes made?

Staff have reacted in a very positive way. Our instructors have educated the other staff members with what they learned in the course. 

How does Green Fins help you manage and maintain your vessel/business sustainably?

With Green Fins, we have more pronounced guidelines and objectives that we can follow.

Have your sustainable efforts helped you grow your business/attract new customers?

We are not aware if they have helped the business, but they have definitely helped the perception of the boat.

Can you share some details of your action plan that you’ve built on Green Fins Hub and the vessel’s best environmental efforts.

Action point 1: Make sure staff correct guests if they touch or try to touch marine life.
Action taken: We have revised dive briefings to contain a summary of marine park rules. If guests touch marine life, we speak to them apart from other guests and explain why their actions should be modified.

Action point 2: Make sure that most of your dive guides and instructors complete and renew the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course.
Action taken: We require that all guides complete the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and renew yearly.

Action point 3: Use alternatives to single-use plastic items
Action taken: We have large water bottles for the guests to refill water bottles from and we have eliminated plastic soft drink bottles and single-use shampoo / conditioner bottles.

Action point 4: Create and train staff to follow an anchoring policy that minimises impact to marine life.
Action taken: We have educated Captains on the mooring / anchoring standards as per the Green Fins anchoring guidelines

What is your favourite feature on the Green Fins Hub? (eg questionnaire, action plan tracker, community forum etc)

The action plan tracker is easy to use and concise.

What role do you see digital platforms, such as Green Fins Hub, playing in supporting sustainable practices in the diving industry?

We hope Green Fins Hub can provide access to the programs offline so they can be done and used in remote locations like Galapagos. These types of platforms create guidelines / standards for sustainability across all industries. As this has never been done for the liveaboard industry before until the Green Fins Hub!

Are there any new initiatives or projects that you are planning to undertake to further enhance your vessel’s environmental efforts?

To completely eliminate non-biodegradable cleaning products. Availability is always a challenge on a remote island, but we’re working to source environmentally friendly products where possible. 

Green Fins digital membership is a new type of Green Fins membership that provides global access to the guidance, tools and support marine tourism operators need to improve their environmental impact and reach sustainably-minded tourists. Digital Members complete a self-evaluation to personalise their sustainability journey and create positive change.