Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Announce Visiting Scientist Program for 2023 Antarctica and Southern Ocean Season. Focuses ranging from whale health and penguin populations to native kelp and unusual snow algae blooms
With decades of experience exploring this unique geography paired with a long history of combining science and tourism, the brand continues expanding beyond civilian travel, proudly announcing the special Visiting Scientist Program projects for the 2023 Antarctica and Southern Ocean season.
As part of the program, the line’s two newest PC-5 Polar Class vessels, National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution, will serve as homebase for more than 23 Visiting Scientists, in addition to adventure travelers, during 14 of the 19 annual visits to this region.
“Our pioneering heritage and more than 50 years of experience operating responsibly in Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean paired with our world-class expedition ships makes a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic sailing the ideal vessel for researchers to explore this otherwise rather inaccessible part of the world,” said Trey Byus, chief expedition officer at Lindblad Expeditions.
“We are honored to host these incredible research programs, each world-changing in their own right, and thankful for the researchers for working with us. Enabling such important research through onboard programming underscores our dedication to education and conservation of the unique geographies we visit every day.”
To help with project selection, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic formed an Expedition Science Committee composed of experienced natural history staff with extensive field research backgrounds. Eight total projects were selected for the current season, including:
· Antarctic Whale Health: Starting in December 2022, long-time Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund grantee Dr. Holly Fearnbach and whale expert Dr. John Durban returned for their 11th year aboard the Lindblad fleet to continue their study of Killer Whales in Antarctica. During their time on board National Geographic Endurance, they will be capturing drone photographs and collecting biological samples from these unique animals to help monitor the health of whales in the Southern Ocean.
· PenguinWatch: Through January 2023, Oxford University’s Dr. Tom Hart and several colleagues from the organization PenguinWatch will be sailing on board National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution. During these trips, they will perform important maintenance and monitor several timelapse cameras installed overlooking penguin colonies on the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands.
· Southern Ocean Kelps: Duke University PhD student Alyssa Adler will sail aboard National Geographic Endurance collecting samples of kelp unique to the region. Last season, Adler collected kelp along the western edge of South America while sailing on the ship in Patagonia as part of this project.
· Snow Algae: Dr. Alia Khan of Western Washington University and her team will sail aboard National Geographic Resolution, tracking and researching snow algae blooms along the Antarctic Peninsula.
· Baleen Whale Population Surveys: Researchers from the University of Tasmania will sail aboard National Geographic Resolution and National Geographic Endurance to collect structured whale observation surveys from the ship’s bridge.
· Microplastics in Antarctic Limpets: Researchers from Bloomsburg University will journey with National Geographic Resolution to collect limpets in Antarctica and Patagonia. The limpets will be taken back to the United States, where they will be analyzed for ingested microplastics.
· Environmental DNA (eDNA): Dr Peter Thielen and researchers from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab will sail on National Geographic Resolution in early 2023 to oversee the transfer of a new state-of-the-art portable eDNA sequencing lab that was recently established on National Geographic Endurance. The DNA sequenced in this portable lab helps researchers understand which organisms are in the seawater, especially those the human eye cannot see from the ship above.
· Oceanography of the Ross and Amundsen Seas: Alessandro Silvano of the University of Southhampton will sail on board National Geographic Endurance as the ship traverses the Ross and Amunsdson Seas in February. He will collect oceanographic data such as salinity, oxygen, and temperature along the Antarctic Coast. The measurements collected here are incredibly valuable as the changing ice edge has not allowed for extensive scientific sampling to date.