More than just nature guides, our naturalists are engaging storytellers, each with their own rich experiences and fascinating tales from the field. They are as different as their specialties—which range from geology to zoology—and their knowledge about the natural world runs wide and deep. And while they are schooled in science, they have a knack for describing species and natural phenomena in relatable ways, whether explaining the behavior of a brown bear to an elementary school student or describing the physics of glacier formation to a Ph.D. holder. They know their destination inside and out and, often, they call it home.
Our naturalists are also inspiring travel companions who participate fully in the expedition, leading excursions and also joining guests at meals or in the lounge over drinks. Each team is made of naturalists with a range of specialties, so you can set out with a botanist on a morning hike and then take an afternoon Zodiac ride with a marine biologist. Or if a naturalist shares a particular passion of yours—say birding or geology—you can choose to join the excursions they lead. Our guests have been known to book another trip just to travel with a particular naturalist again.
More than just nature guides, our naturalists are engaging storytellers, each with their own rich experiences and fascinating tales from the field. They are as different as their specialties—which range from geology to zoology—and their knowledge about the natural world runs wide and deep. And while they are schooled in science, they have a knack for describing species and natural phenomena in relatable ways, whether explaining the behavior of a brown bear to an elementary school student or describing the physics of glacier formation to a Ph.D. holder. They know their destination inside and out and, often, they call it home....
Meet our Naturalists
An ornithologist, photographer, fisherman, climber, and writer, Santiago Imberti was born and raised in southern Patagonia, Argentina. He obtained a degree in tourism and later in ornithology, which allowed him to combine his love for nature and the outdoors with his work as a birdwatcher, naturalist, fly fishing, and mountain guide. He has been guiding trips in Patagonia, the Antarctic, and Arctic for some 25 years. However, his main passion is conservation and research therefore off the ships Santiago does field work on birds, mostly in southern Patagonia and is the President of Asociación Ambiente Sur; an NGO that seeks to protect the environment and educate the new generations on a sustainable way of life in southern Patagonia. From 2009 to 2014 he has coordinated the project to save the now critically endangered Hooded Grebe, which is an endemic bird in Patagonia; and the creation of Patagonia National Park, a massive protected area that aims to save the grebe and some of the least know habitats in South America. His many articles and stories have been published in scientific journals, popular travel magazines, books, and since his singing abilities are rather poor, he has produced a couple CDs of the beautiful bird sounds of South America, Patagonia, and Antarctica. He lives in Punta Arenas, southern Patagonia, Chile, with his wife and son.
Gabriela is a social scientist with an innate curiosity about the world and people’s connections to faraway places. A native of Argentina, she has travelled extensively and worked as a naturalist guide to all corners of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, South Atlantic Islands and Antarctica. Somehow, the Northern Hemisphere has eluded her so far but Gabriela hopes that experience will happen very soon! Gabriela discovered a passion for Antarctica while living in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Her Antarctic experience created opportunities to take on many roles within Argentina’s Antarctic Programme and local government, ranging from assisting policymakers in tourism matters to creating and implementing strategies for the development of gateway cities. To satisfy her academic interests, Dr Roldan pursued a PhD in Antarctic Studies from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Currently, she conducts her Antarctic research at Gateway Antarctica, a Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research based in New Zealand. Her academic work focuses on Antarctic governance and environmental management, geopolitics of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, polar identities, and polar tourism. Antarctic education and community outreach are pillar projects in Gabriela’s career. Over the last 20 years, she has designed and developed education programmes and resources in Argentina, Chile and New Zealand, using traditional learning resources to emerging digital technology. Gabriela is deeply invested with Antarctic education at the international level, serving as a member of the advisory Committee on Capacity Building, Education and Training for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
Jessica is the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network Coordinator and Data Specialist for the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA. In this role she responds to dead, stranded and entangled marine mammals including large whale disentanglement. She manages necropsies, relocation of pinnipeds and transfers of injured or sick animals to rehabilitation facilities. She is also responsible for analyzing stranding data, and researching trends in marine mammal behavior, reproduction, morbidity and mortality in the Salish Sea. She has been involved with marine mammal research for more than 15 years, most recently working for SR3 on projects that monitor the health of the critically endangered southern resident killer whales and populations of killer whales, humpback whales and minke whales on the Antarctic Peninsula. She has also worked on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea and with projects studying marine mammals in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, the Galapagos and Antarctica. Jessica spent four seasons living in a small sea-ice camp near McMurdo station Antarctica, working with Weddell seals as part of the United States Antarctic Program. Jessica has a passion for underwater photography and freediving. She has helped research projects meet their outreach goals by collecting and contributing video and photographic media and has had the privilege of working with the BBC's Natural History Unit filming Frozen Planet in both Antarctica and Alaska. In 2019, Jessica was a winner in the highly competitive Underwater Photographer of the Year competition for an image she took during an expedition on Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Explorer on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Salvador Cazar studied biology at the Universidad Nacional Del Sur, Bahía Blanca, in Argentina and at the Catholic University of Ecuador. Between 1988 and 1994, Salvador worked as a naturalist and tour leader for several national and international tour operators, leading groups of visitors across the Ecuadorian rain forest, Andean forest, and to Galapagos. From 1995 to 2011, he performed a number of functions at the public and private level for national and international organizations. Among others, he acted as the regional coordinator of the Feasibility Study for the Environmental Management Program for the Gal á pagos Islands financed by the Inter-American Development Bank; coordinator of the Ecuadorian Permanent Commission for the Gal á pagos Islands; consultant for the Project "Support to the Global Management Plan for Tourism Development and Ecological Conservation of Gal á pagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve" funded by the UNDP; executive director of the Ecuadorian Association of Ecotourism; instructor of environmental interpretation for the Gal á pagos National Park and KAPAWI Ecolodge & Reserve; coordinator of the Sustainable Tourism Program of Fundación ESQUEL–Ecuador; Conservation International–Ecuador sustainable tourism specialist; and Conservation International–Ecuador socio economic coordinator. At the moment, Salvador is working as a naturalist taking groups of visitors across Gal á pagos and continental Ecuador and providing technical assistance on different aspects of responsible travel to NGO´s, government organizations and businesses.
John spent the early years of his life in London, before an inspirational teacher took him to the highlands of Scotland on a school adventure trip. From then on the natural world has been his passion. After teacher training in Bangor, North Wales, John began a thirty-year career in outdoor education centres and schools, teaching and leading children and adults in such pursuits as mountaineering, rock climbing, kayaking, and sailing throughout the U.K. and Europe. During this time John took time out to be part of six polar scientific expeditions, as a field assistant/guide. Two of these were with the British Antarctic Survey; the first a two-month field expedition to the Eklund Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula; the second, eight months as part of a king penguin and elephant seal study on South Georgia. He served as a boat skipper/field guide on a geological expedition to the northwest of Svalbard. More recently, he took part in three expeditions to the Greenland ice cap for the Scott Polar Research Institute of Cambridge, as part of the European Space Agency's “Cryosat” project. John is well aware that his career, and the wonderful experiences it has included, all began with one special teacher. With this in mind, he likes nothing more than to pass on his enthusiasm for nature and all things outdoors, with the intention of promoting an awareness and caring attitude towards the natural environment.
Madalena was born and raised in Portugal. Her childhood was spent in Belem, surrounded by Portuguese maritime history, always dreaming about exploring the oceans. Her love for nature has led her to study biology and later to take a Master’s in management of natural resources, specialized in ecotourism. She has lived on Príncipe Island, off the west coast of Africa, working with local communities on a responsible tourism project. She is inspired by the principles of ecotourism and is always looking for the best ways to contribute and leave a positive footprint everywhere. To travel around the world is her biggest passion, connecting with different cultures, exploring the wilderness and having a taste of local genuine experiences. Following this passion has allowed her to extensively explore Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Arctic. Her knowledge and enthusiastic storyteller talks have taken her to several universities, lecturing about ecotourism, sustainable tourism and nature conservation. When she is not exploring the world, she dedicates her time to Ocean literacy and environmental education working as a marine educator with a variety of audiences raising awareness on ocean conservation.
Martin grew up in Melbourne Australia playing cricket and Australian Rules football. While growing up, to his parents’ dismay, Martin brought home and kept a menagerie of wildlife including frogs, lizards, turtles and even poisonous snakes! After successfully completing a PhD. in tropical biology, Martin has spent much of the last 25 years using various mediums to impart his knowledge and passion about the natural world to people from all walks of life. During this time, he has also conducted numerous wildlife surveys and biodiversity monitoring programs throughout Australia, South-east Asia and the Amazon rainforest, worked with community conservation groups and guided eco-tours all over Australia. Martin has also authored several books (with over 40,000 sold), researched, directed and presented wildlife information on television and radio and written countless popular wildlife articles and interpretive signs. Martin still goes into the field as often as possible, however, much of his time nowadays is spent working as a naturalist for Lindblad – National Geographic to regions all over the world.
Passionate about creating opportunities for explorers of all ages to engage with wild and under-studied places, Deb embraces the power of immersive experiences to inspire curiosity and conservation. Extended backcountry expeditions as a teen jumpstarted this commitment and continue to motivate her travels. No matter the location, she observes the natural environment with a detective’s mindset, seeking to understand how local history, geology, weather, and ecological processes together shape the coastal land- and seascape. Deb studied earth science at Carleton College and holds graduate degrees in ecosystem biology, oceanography, and experiential education. Over the last two decades, she has worked as a sailor, teacher, and research scientist in locations around the world, complemented by professional intervals focused on map-making and wilderness-based leadership development programs. As Associate Professor of Oceanography and Chief Scientist with Sea Education Association (SEA), Deb takes undergraduates on multi-month voyages aboard sailing research vessels, training them in scientific techniques, navigation, leadership, and environmental and cultural stewardship. Her own research efforts include mapping the distribution and abundance of marine plastic pollution and examining its ecological impacts; documenting changes in Pacific Ocean conditions resulting from El Nino events to better inform marine protected area management; and tracking the drifting seaweed Sargassum and the unique community of organisms it hosts throughout the North Atlantic. Deb is science advisor to the Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic microplastics citizen science project.
Karina López was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador where she received her bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality, a second technical degree as a Professional Guide of Ecuador, and a third diploma in French language at the Alliance Francaise. She moved to San Cristóbal Island in 1996 and has divided her time between there and the mainland for nearly two decades. Her deep passion for nature, birdwatching, and marine life led her to become a certified national park naturalist in 1999, and since then she has guided in the Galápagos Islands and also led trips in the Amazon rain forest and throughout the Sacred Valley in Peru. Equal to her passion for guiding on land is her love for guiding underwater, and in 2001 she became certified as a dive master naturalist for the Marine Reserve of Galápagos. She loves to help her guests have the magical experience of swimming with sea turtles, frolicking with playful sea lions, and searching for the elusive but adorable Galápagos penguins. When not leading groups in her beloved islands, she can be found exploring her other passions of international travel, photography, creative writing, cooking traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, and playing soccer.
Conor Ryan is a congenital ecologist. His career began in the late 1980s, when he developed a keen interest in intertidal ecology, undertaking almost daily field trips to the seashore across from his home in Cobh, Ireland. Though he logged significant hours searching beneath barnacle-studded rocks for eels, his publication record on this seminal research was sorely lacking because he was five years old. As he grew, so too did the size of the marine creatures that he was preoccupied with. He completed his PhD in Galway on the ecology and population structure of baleen whales in the Celtic Sea and West Africa, using stable isotope analysis, molecular genetics and organochlorine contaminants. During this time, he realized that the lab was not his natural habitat, so he now works as a research scientist primarily in the field, using passive acoustics and line transect surveys to map whale distribution and estimate population sizes. Conor is a Research Associate on the research vessel Song of the Whale and has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers and several book chapters. His whereabouts mirrors that of an arctic tern, although he has a much more placid temperament. Although he calls the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides “home”, he is scarcely found there. Conor is a keen swimmer, surfer, kayaker and mushroom forager.
Julia grew up skiing, camping, and climbing in the mountains of Wyoming and sailing, sea kayaking, and tide pooling along the coast of Maine. She studied biology and environmental studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. As an undergraduate, she studied fungal ecology and soil chemistry in the Pacific Northwest old growth forests. Her work focused on how symbiotic relationships between trees, mushrooms, and soil bacteria drive ecosystem-level processes. This research in microbial ecology has brought her to remote corners of the world, including the rainforests of New Zealand, Patagonia, Ecuador, and Alaska. Julia is now working on her PhD in biogeochemistry at the University of British Columbia where she studies how chemical processes carried out by tiny microorganisms shape the global environment. Though her background is in forest ecology, she enjoys masquerading as an oceanographer in her current role as chief scientist on marine research expeditions in the Pacific Northwest. Julia is inspired by the complexity of interactions between microorganisms. She believes they hold the key to addressing many global challenges, such as adapting to climate change and cleaning up environmental contaminants. She loves whales, bears, and bald eagles, but she will probably be most excited about the rare variety of Usnea lichen on the tree branch next to the charismatic megafauna. Throughout her research career, Julia has combined her love of the outdoors with her work as an educator and naturalist. Julia was an intern with a program that teaches college-level biology courses on backcountry kayaking expeditions through Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. She has also worked as a naturalist on backpacking trips in Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, and she is a co-founder of a non-profit that supports outdoor education for underprivileged youth. She believes deeply in the power of place-based education; sharing the things that inspire her about the natural world is the root of her motivation for research and science outreach.
Javier 's passion for birds and nature began as a child exploring the Pyrenees mountains with his father. The mystery that surrounds the Lammergeier silhouette triggered his curiosity and interest towards wildlife. Javier studied biology in Spain and Norway, and was awarded his PhD at the University of Barcelona in 2012, titled “Birds as bioindicators of pollution in terrestrial and aquatic environments”. Within it he mainly studied the trophic ecology and pollution levels of land and waterbirds, with a particular focus on how human activities affect bird populations and dynamics. His work provided important information for conservation management of wetlands and terrestrial habitats and the species that utilize them. Through research and conservation, Javier has followed his interest in birds and nature by participating in several projects, which have taken him to isolated islands and remote archipelagos across the globe. Columbretes islands and their Eleonoras Falcons in the heart of the Mediterranean, Tasmania, Heligoland in the North Sea, Tromsø in Norway, the Seychelles archipelago and their graceful White-tailed tropicbirds in the Indian Ocean, Costa Rica or the Galápagos islands and their impressive landscapes and fauna are just some examples where Javier had the chance to learn, research and protect wildlife. One of his latest projects was with the University of Hawaii in Oahu, trying to unravel the mysteries of the Pueo or the Hawaiian Short-eared Owl. Currently, he is back in Spain, living in the heart of the Pyrenees with his loyal border collie, Orion. Javier, as a keen ornithologist and world traveler, is always up to new adventures or new places to explore, the more remote, the better! His enthusiasm for the natural world will undoubtedly help you enhance your once in a lifetime experience with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.
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