Earthwatch Unveils Nine New Expeditions
Earthwatch is thrilled to announce five of nine new expedition opportunities for volunteers in 2014. From swimming after turtles in the Bahamas to wine-tasting for science in Chile, the array of new expeditions covers the interests of all volunteers.
Read on to see how you can save lions in Kenya.
This week, we’re featuring five of the nine expeditions we're unveiling for 2014. The other four will be featured in our newsletter, so if you’re not already — sign up today!
Take a peek at our new expeditions below:
Swim alongside endangered turtles in the Bahamas.
The green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle are in trouble. Even though the Bahamian government has made it illegal to catch them in the country’s waters, to save these endangered species from further decline, researchers need to ensure their habitats are protected from coastal development and climate change.
Help scientists find out exactly where these habitats are by snorkeling (or boating, if you prefer) in clear coastal waters alongside hawksbill and green sea turtles. Immerse yourself in the tidal mangrove creeks, sea grass beds, and coral reefs where these turtles forage during their juvenile years, before they reach full adulthood. Although scientists know that these habitats are critical for young turtles, they don’t know exactly how turtles choose them and move between them. By determining where turtles are most abundant and measuring physical characteristics of the water like depth and temperature, you'll help uncover the qualities that make for preferred foraging grounds.
Discovering which habitats are most important to these turtles will help researchers and the government create plans that protect the right habitats from development. By taking this rare opportunity to share the water with these ancient creatures, you’ll help ensure their futures.
Want to help in the Bahamas? Book today!
Volunteers will study German beavers throughout the Rhine Valley.
These expert builders were reintroduced in the neighboring Netherlands in the 1980s and have since made their way into the densely populated Lower Rhine. But researchers lack information on how many beavers live there, where they range, and how much they’re interfering with human activities like farming, fishing, and waterway maintenance.
From boats or the shore, search peaceful ponds and streams for signs of beaver life, like lodges, dams, burrows in riverbanks, and gnaw marks—and, of course, for beavers themselves. You’ll count those you see and observe their behavior. You’ll also find out about the world they live in by sampling the soil and water and counting other species in the area.
No one has taken a systematic look at the beaver population in this area yet, so you’ll contribute to critical baseline data that will shape plans to manage beavers. Beavers are skillful manipulators of their environment. Their dams can cause floods, divert waterways, change the composition of the soil, and even help bolster fish populations. They nibble on crops and fences. Help make sure the inevitable management plans that are developed work for the beavers, too.
Help beavers in Germany by securing your spot today.
Volunteers will input data after tasting wine in the Colchagua and Maipo Valleys.
Join us in the vineyards of the Colchagua and and Maipo Valleys, an agricultural region in the center of Chile that produces famed cabernets, carménères, syrahs, and malbecs. These vineyards also occupy a rare habitat that desperately needs the protection of conservationists. This region, known as the Chilean Mediterranean ecoregion, provides a home to a diverse array of species, many of which live nowhere else. As grazing, farming, and urbanization chip away at this special place, you can help scientists learn how one major industry can help preserve it while still producing its prized wine.
You’ll work in the vineyards and forests of these valleys, which provide critical habitat for migratory birds, butterflies, and a wide variety of native plants and animals. Help scientists understand the health of this landscape by identifying and gauging the abundance of butterfly and bird species. And help calculate the habitat’s value by setting up plots for studying vegetation and estimating the amount of carbon (a greenhouse gas) they’re keeping out of the atmosphere.
You’ll also get a chance to meet with local wine producers to get their view of valuable perspective on the issues facing the future of the habitat on which they depend—and to try some of their world-renowned product.
Book today for the opportunity to sample some of the best wines Chile has to offer!
Track lions and their prey across the Kenyan savannah.
Lions have begun to return to the Kenyan savanna after decades of human persecution. But they could become victims of their own success: their return seems linked to declines in rare large herbivores, including many iconic antelope species that tourists in Kenya want to see. So landowners who depend on tourism are considering lethal methods to manage predators once again.
But what if both predators and their fragile prey could thrive? Lions most commonly eat zebras, which have a robust population in the area. And zebras seem to prefer areas where cattle have grazed. By carefully managing the relationships between these species, researchers think it’s possible to influence where the lions seek their meals.
Contribute to this innovative look at how cattle ranching could transform African landscapes. You’ll live and work in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to six prides of lions. Using radio collars on some of the lions, you’ll track their movements. You’ll also check camera trap images for spotted hyenas, leopards, and other predators. And you’ll survey zebras and other herbivores like hartebeest and eland to learn how their populations shift with cattle ranching. Take this rare opportunity to witness how interconnected all species really are.
Help conserve lions, hyenas, and leopards in Kenya.
Track tapirs, foxes, and monkeys through Costa Rica.
In many places, agriculture is intertwined with forest health—people clear trees to grow crops, or use pesticides that can harm nearby forests. So any meaningful efforts to protect these delicate landscapes and sustain livelihoods require the involvement of farmers.
Make a lasting contribution to one such effort. Costa Rica’s government encourages farmers to preserve forests by, for example, paying them to plant trees among their crops. Help scientists understand how well this plan is strengthening forest habitats by exploring the biological corridors where some of these farmers live: stretches of land that connect national parks and protected areas so that animals can move freely between them.
By tracking the presence and activity of tapirs, foxes, monkeys, and other mammals, researchers can get a sense of how well biological corridors are fostering a diversity of species, which is what they’re designed to do. Help monitor camera traps and hair traps for evidence of mammalian life, perhaps glimpsing a bright quetzal or hummingbird as you work. You’ll also interview farmers (often using pictures, so non-Spanish-speakers can participate). Your work will make a concrete impact on all who depend on forests in Costa Rica—plants, animals, and people.
Book your spot to Costa Rica today!
Earthwatch is excited to announce nine new expeditions for 2014. We’ve introduced you to the first five this week, the other four will be featured in our newsletter on October 12th, so if you’re not already – sign up today!