Costa Cruises has announced partnerships with the World Wildlife Fund and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) to study whale movements and monitor climate change.

New technology has been installed on Costa Pacifica to chart whale activity and measure levels of pollution in the air.

The cruise ship is thought to be the first in the world to install the Repcet system, which is designed to track the movements of whales and consequently prevent vessels from coming into contact with the mammals.

Costa Cruises' work with the JRC will involve the use of weather balloons on Costa Pacifica to measure variations in ozone concentration at different heights above sea level in the Mediterranean.

The company has been collaborating with the research group since 2005 and has installed automatic air pollution monitoring stations on three of its ships.

Costa Pacifica will operate a series of seven-day western Mediterranean cruises throughout the summer season, calling at Civitavecchia, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malta and other ports.