Lars-Eric Lindblad pioneered expedition travel by taking the first "citizen explorers" to the planet’s wild, remote places like Galápagos and Antarctica, where previously only explorers and scientists had ever gone. Today he is regarded as the father of eco-tourism, and his son, Sven Lindblad, maintains the heritage of exhilarating, often groundbreaking, expedition travel. Inspired his entire life by the National Geographic Society, Sven Lindblad forged an unprecedented alliance with National Geographic in 2004. Together they represent 175+ years of collective expedition experience—dedicated to inspiring people to see and care about the planet through expedition travel. By joining forces, Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic are a real force for preserving the world’s beautiful and pristine places. They are committed to working collaboratively through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation to support initiatives around the world, with a special focus on the regions we explore. The LEX-NG Fund has undertaken multiple efforts in the regions in which we operate, raising nearly $10 million in collaboration with our guests since Lindblad began conservation efforts in 1997.
Here are key Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic conservation initiatives arranged by geographic location, followed by additional programs we’ve initiated in the fields of Ocean Conservation, Education, Sustainable & Local Cuisine and Artisan Development.
In Southeast Alaska, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests have contributed nearly $584,000 to the Alaska Whale Foundation (AWF) and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) since 2000. We work directly with AWF to support research projects on humpback whale communication and behavior. Guests who travel with us have the opportunity to meet the AWF research team aboard National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird, and receive knowledgeable commentary about the behavior they’re witnessing from these experts. Our work with SEACC helps to further their goal of protecting the temperate rainforests and productive watersheds that harbor and sustain life in the Tongass National Forest.
In Antarctica, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests have raised nearly $800,000 in support of conservation projects. Our most recent collaborations are with the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the Antarctic Orca (Killer Whale) project.
Killer whale scientists Bob Pitman and John Durban are working to unearth the mysteries of Antarctica’s orcas. These mammals are the top predator of their environment and a deeper understanding of them provides a crucial baseline for understanding one of the earth’s most rapidly changing ecosystems. Using satellite tags, Pitman and Durban are documenting the migration patterns of these animals, and sharing their research with guests while using the National Geographic Explorer as a research platform.
Together with our guests and international partners, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic have contributed more than $2.4 Million to support urgent conservation projects in the Gulf of California since 2004. Every dollar our guests donate is matched by the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN) and the Packard Foundation. Current projects include support for “green” community development in Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, ongoing support for the study of sea bird populations as a tool for fisheries management on Rasa Island, support in Magdalena Bay to reduce sea turtle mortality and improve the livelihoods of fishermen by eliminating nets in exchanges for fishing poles which reduce bycatch and improve the quality of the fish, and others.
Our Central American partner in conservation is MarViva, an organization working to safeguard and create Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in oceanic and coastal areas of Latin America. To date, our guests' donations to MarViva total more than $183,000, and support responsible fisheries, environmental regulation, Marine Protected Area management plan development, educational campaigns, scientific studies, and sustainable enterprise development.
Since 1997, guests traveling with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Galápagos have supported conservation efforts—more than $5.6 million has been raised to date. The Galápagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station oversee all conservation initiatives, and have forged a deep and lasting relationship with us, where they visit the ships to talk with guests about projects being supported by donations from our guests. Funded initiatives to date include: the eradication of feral pigs on Santiago; the support of National Park Marine Reserve patrol boats to monitor illegal fishing; enhancing the capacity for monitoring marine and terrestrial visitor sites; providing scholarships to local students, small grants for locally-initiated conservation projects from small enterprises, among others.
Kicking off aboard our flagship, National Geographic Explorer in 2012 and 2013, the LEX-NG Fund for the Ocean is designed to support efforts to restore ocean health and productivity. The projects we support, often “outside the box” programs that can be difficult to get started, are designed to have big impacts and utilize novel tools, with the potential to be replicated around the globe to foster the ocean’s renewed health. This campaign will target the following three priorities: Pristine Seas; Innovative Local Ocean Conservation Projects; and Understanding and Preserving the Places We Explore Aboard NG Explorer. In 2012, we launched the first phase of this program by working with National Geographic’s Missions Division to install a shipboard photography exhibit that dramatically illustrates the ocean as the heart of the planet, the human impact on marine life, and the need to protect and restore the ocean.
In addition to the conservation programs supported by guest donations, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic also support a few robust educational programs in the regions we travel. We believe exposing adults and children to the wonders of the world will help foster the next generation of committed citizens who care about the future of our planet. Our educational outreach consists of shipboard programs for teachers and students, awareness campaigns, the sponsorship of research on our oceans and our seas, and the provision of scholarships for educators and young people to learn about our world. Current educational initiatives include:
- Grosvenor Teacher Fellow (GTF) Program: The GTF program was established in 2007 to honor National Geographic Education Foundation Chairman Emeritus, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, and his lifetime commitment to geographic education. Lindblad Expeditions founder, Sven Lindblad, committed shipboard cabin space for K-12 teachers in perpetuity to the National Geographic Society. The cabins were donated to mark Grosvenor’s 75th birthday and to honor his service in enhancing and improving geographic education across the United States. Fellows are selected annually from grades K-12 to recognize educators who demonstrate excellence in geographic education. We have hosted 36 fellows since the program’s inception, from more than 20 U.S. states. Working side-by-side with National Geographic Education Programs, we aim to provide Fellows with a professional development opportunity to foster geographic learning and ocean awareness that will enable them to return to their schools and communities with a wealth of knowledge to educate and inspire their students and share with professional colleagues. Current collaborators on this program include Google Education, The Children and Nature Network and a few generous individual donors.
- Teachers on Board: Lindblad Expeditions initiated the Teachers on Board program in 1999 to provide local Galápagos teachers with opportunities to explore their archipelago. The program’s goal is to take all Galapagos teachers on a full-week’s journey through the remote and pristine parts of the islands––the uninhabited areas that are difficult, if not impossible, to get to without a certified naturalist. The voyages enhance the teachers’ environmental knowledge, which they in turn share with students. To date, more than 275 local teachers have participated from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands, expanding later to include Floreana and Isabela Island, too.
- Kids on Board: This program is an extension of Teachers on Board launched in 2007, in cooperation with the Charles Darwin Station and the Galápagos National Park. More than 400 students from schools on Santa Cruz Island in Galápagos are invited to visit our ship for a glass-bottomed boat or Zodiac ride, a natural history lesson from a Lindblad naturalist, and a ship’s tour. This program is currently hosted by naturalists, crew, and officers aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.
- Tomas De Berlanga School, Education For Sustainable Development: The Tomas de Berlanga School has a powerful philosophy aimed at creating enlightened and capable future leaders of the islands. Together with the Helmsley Foundation, we provided a large multi-year grant to the school, located in the highlands on Santa Cruz Island. A prime example of the integration of the natural environment into an education setting, it offers a curriculum and methodology that matches the reality of students who live in a World Natural Heritage Site. Its primary educational goals include the creation of well-rounded individuals who have a strong sense of values and who will understand, respect and appreciate the diversity and culture of Galápagos and Ecuador. The initial phase included scholarships. The grant also supports improved salaries to recruit and retain better teachers, as well as increased staff for student development and operational support.
Sustainable & Local Cuisine
Our shipboard chefs use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, including locally-grown produce, sustainably-caught fish, and indigenous products. By adding regional ingredients and flavors to a menu that also includes traditional favorites, we aim to provide our guests with a greater sense of the cuisine and culture in the regions being explored. Sourcing sustainable seafood is a continual and ever-changing process which requires consistent monitoring and diligence. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic collaborates with national and international non-profit organizations on the topic, including Blue Ocean Institute, Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium (particularly their “Seafood Watch” program) and SeaWeb.The company was named a Seafood Champion in 2007. Here’s a look at some of the choices we make, and groups with whom we collaborate:
- Shrimp Policy: One of our earliest commitments to marine conservation was to remove shrimp from our fleet menus in August of 2001. After spending a considerable amount of time searching, we reached the unfortunate conclusion that almost all shrimp available on the world market today is caught in environmentally destructive ways. And because no suppliers’ claims of sustainability have been credibly verified, we could no longer serve it in good conscience.
- Seafood for Thought: This is our initiative designed to provide both information and inspiration when it comes to helping preserve wild fish stocks worldwide and making informed choices about seafood purchasing. We are working to ensure that seafood served on our vessels is carefully selected for flavor and also the best fishing practices possible. We research our fish supply to learn where and by what method the catch is obtained. We strive to purchase and serve locally-caught species not considered over-fished, or caught in environmentally damaging ways. And we seek to reward and support responsible fisheries whenever possible. The final result is delicious food for our guests that helps restore living abundance to the world’s oceans. We provide information to guests about the types of seafood they’re eating, as well as information on more sustainable choices that might be available to them once they return home. In 2011, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic became the first buyer of seafood sourced from the artisanal fishermen in Costa Rica’s Pallito Responsible Fishing Area. In partnership with MarViva, the fishermen provided over $7,500 worth of artisanally caught seafood for the National Geographic Sea Lion.
- Sustainable Nothwest: With guidance from Sustainable Northwest, we have altered our food purchasing for our Pacific Northwest expeditions, added guest speakers from their organization, and brought our guests ever-closer to the region and its values. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic support of Sustainable Northwest has in turn helped them raise funds to support their regionally-based projects.
Since Lindblad Expeditions was founded, the company has believed in the importance of supporting the local communities we visit with our guests. Our Artisan Fund is designed to promote traditional craft production in the regions we explore, and to generate economic growth at the local level. A few examples of our work in this realm follow here:
- Development of skilled artisans: Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic initiated a project in the Galápagos Islands designed to encourage more local artisans to make and sell artisanal products to the tourism sector. Our program provides assistance with product creation and design, as well as training seminars that teach the skills necessary to run a successful craft-based enterprise.
- Recycling program: Focused on the conservation of resources, cultivation of sustainable art and livelihood training, this program develops skill sets and teaches techniques to use waste material to create art.
- Phase I: Glass. The program began with the Glass Recycling Project and received mentoring from Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon, New York. Galápagos artisans trained with Hudson Beach’s master glassmaker to transform a portion of the never-ending supply of discarded bottles and glass waste into jewelry, glassware and art objects which are sold to the local tourist market, restaurants and hotels, and on our two ships permanently based in Galápagos: National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Islander.
- Phase II: Paper took on paper waste and is teaching students and artists to create beautiful jewelry by hand-rolling beads from recycled paper. The products are then sold to benefit the artists and the islands through income, training and waste removal. Profits are funneled back into the community to support additional training and development of local artisans.
For more details about any of the programs described on this page, please contact Amy Berquist, Director of Conservation & Strategic Initiatives.
Thank you for the conservation efforts and help of local communities which clearly speaks much about the company's principles.