The video came into focus as the ship’s lounge. Rapt guests were glued to the HD monitors mounted around the room.
“We’re only about 30 feet deep here,” undersea specialist Alyssa Adler’s voice came over the lounges speakers. “Let me turn on my lights so you can see the colors, there’s so much sediment in the water that you lose colors just a few feet below the surface.”
The lights came on and a bright red crab scurried across the seafloor. A yellow sea star that had to be two feet across clung to gray rocks. There were purple corals, swaying kelp, and a sea lion popped into the picture to get a look at Alyssa, or perhaps play in the air bubbles she was exhaling.
This brightly colored, vibrant undersea wasn’t in the tropics—these guests were aboard National Geographic Quest in Alaska.
Lindblad Expeditions is deeply committed to the undersea, which is why nearly every expedition aboard the National Geographic fleet sails with a specialist who dives to capture photos and video of the benthic world to share with guests.
In the tropics, where the water is warm and the undersea wonders are well known, the undersea specialists also serve as a divemasters to help certified guests scuba dive to get a firsthand view. And in the tropics each ship sails with snorkeling gear for all guests aboard. When guests choose not to snorkel or dive, they may join the undersea specialist for a cruise aboard a glass-bottom Zodiac to get a glimpse of the life that lies beneath. In this case the undersea specialist can offer a live voiceover to illuminate all that is seen.
Polar regions are far from a cold, lifeless stretch, the seas of Antarctica and the Arctic are surprisingly rich and colorful environments filled with astonishing life forms. Guests marvel at the unexpected wonders and the thought-provoking talks and conversations they inspire. In these regions the undersea specialist has another tool at their disposal to explore—an ROV capable of diving up to 1,000 feet deep to see places never before seen by humans. In Norway, the undersea specialist even discovered a cold-water coral previously unknown to scientists.
The video came into focus as the ship’s lounge. Rapt guests were glued to the HD monitors mounted around the room. ...
Meet Our Undersea Specialists
Cristian is a Panamanian born in Chile. He grew up in Panama City until the age of 19 when he returned to Chile to go to college where he received a degree in metallurgic civil engineering. Since 1995 he has been working as a freelance naturalist in Panama. Specializing in bird watching and ecology, he also has a passion for indigenous cultures, hiking and trekking. He is a certified scuba diver and is often found exploring coral reefs along the Caribbean coast of Panama. His love for nature started at the age of 10 when he joined the Pathfinder's Club. Receiving several honors in outdoor activities, ecology, camping and others specialties he grew fond of Panama's natural heritage and was soon guiding relatives and friends through the jungles of his country. His experience is based on several years of guiding groups of different ages and interests. As a naturalist guide and expedition leader he has led groups to all corners of Panama and all along its shores.
Paul North is the founder of the educational nonprofit Meet the Ocean and host of its online podcast. As a polar diver with Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, he tours the remote underwater landscapes of Antarctica and other sub-zero destinations to emphasize the importance, diversity, and unexpected color of the invertebrate kingdom. Leading a team of marine educators, North produces educational tours that visit schools and children's hospitals around the world. These tours bring interactive technology and virtual reality penguin encounters that instill wonder as they educate and entertain. Meet the Ocean works to redefine what science communication can be by providing immersive nature experiences and collecting the stories of those who have lived and worked upon the sea.
Colin grew up scuba diving with his family, and fell in love with the ocean at an early age. He has been fortunate to dive in many exotic corners of the world, and to work on a number of undersea research projects studying whale sharks and several deep water fish species. After graduating from the University of Vermont, he began working in various capacities aboard expedition ships. During his travels he photographed and shared his adventures as a way of making remote areas and cultures more accessible. It was in Santa Barbara, California that he learned how to photograph underwater, and combined two of his great passions, photography and the sea. Exploring and documenting the vast richness, diversity, and beauty of the underwater world continues to be a lifelong endeavor. Colin has explored many remote destinations aboard expedition ships and icebreakers. He has lead expeditions throughout both polar regions including excursions to the North Pole. His work has also brought him to South East Asia, the Amazon, Seychelles, the Russian Far East, the South Pacific, Micronesia, the Canadian and Russian Arctic, Svalbard and Greenland. Colin also worked on a small crew filming brown bears in Halo Bay, Katmai National Park. The team spent eight weeks living among the bears, capturing their majestic beauty as they explored, fed, played, fought, and interacted with each other. Colin's thirst for adventure, love of the natural world, and devotion to the sea is evident as he strives to find new ways to bring the natural world into the hearts and minds of those around him.
A self confessed “animal nerd,” Chris falls under many titles: marine biologist, marine interpreter, dive master, science communicator, and naturalist. Chris was lucky enough to grow up on the East Coast of Australia, where there are no shortage of different coastal environments to explore. While growing up, his friends would be surfing while he would be under the waves, snorkel and mask on looking for fish and all the weird and wonderful creatures he couldn’t get enough of. This love of the ocean lead to him completing a Bachelor of Science in 2005. His passion for the ocean and connecting people with its inhabitants landed him in various roles in different zoos and aquariums, but it was the "wild" that was always Chris’s true calling. After working as a whale watching tour guide off the West Coast of Canada and moving back to Australia to work on the Great Barrier Reef, Chris never looked back. Since 2009 Chris’s specialty has been giving presentations on and taking people out to tropical environments, in particular to different parts of the Great Barrier Reef region. In recent years Chris has spent more time living on tropical islands or on ships cruising up and down the reef than on land. Chris’s passion for photography, nature’s creatures, and scuba diving has taken him from diving in the snow in Canada one week to diving in Mexico the next. He has followed his passion to develop his photography and interpretative skills through out Southeast Asia, all along the East Coast of Australia and to the magical Kimberley region off the west coast. The only passions of Chris’s not mentioned are reptiles, birds, insects, dogs, the entire macro world, and of course talking about all of the above over good coffee!
James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf. Then unaware of expedition travel, James longed to blend his love for travel, conservation, and the marine environment. After a tip-off (and a reference from a childhood friend he joined the Lindblad Expeditions' team in 2016 as a Dive Buddy. Working across the fleet as a Naturalist and Expedition Diver, James learned all he could about the ecosystems of the beautiful and remote places our ships visit. Finally becoming an Undersea Specialist, he continues to be fascinated by the Ocean and all that is in it. He hopes to inspire conservation of the beautiful and unusual ecosystems that flourish in protected waters. Additionally, he hopes to further the contributions Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic make to the scientific community by engaging in citizen science projects, monitoring for ocean plastics in remote locations, and being involved with other partnerships from Universities, to Research Institutes, to conservation groups worldwide.
Christine was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest on the shores of the Puget Sound. After graduating from the University of Washington, she decided to pursue her love of the ocean and exploration. Her passion for marine biology has inspired her through over 4,000 scuba dives around the globe in temperate and cold-water conditions, as well as snorkeling and freediving in extraordinary habitats such as in river beds with spawning salmon, in recently de-glaciated bays and lagoons filled with ice and glacial silt and in deep blue water with large marine animals including humpback whales, hammerhead sharks and pilot whales. Christine is now a USCG certified 100-ton Captain and has traveled internationally full-time as a naturalist, underwater videographer and photographer, expedition leader, educator, PADI Scuba Diving Instructor and Divemaster for over a decade. Since 2013, Christine has spent her summers working as a naturalist in several regions in Alaska including the Kenai Peninsula, the Inside Passage, Ketchikan and Denali National Park. Her experiences guiding in remote regions around the state have taken her hiking through lush riparian forests, kayaking alongside orca whales and canoeing through ice chunks near calving glaciers. She has also enjoyed working as an in-water guide educating about echinoderms and other invertebrates in the kelp forests of Southeast Alaska. Christine’s interest in travel and wildlife has taken her to work above and below water in over 30 countries, spending significant amounts of time in Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam and several countries in the Caribbean.
Naturalist, underwater videographer, captain, and historian, Adam Maire is dedicated to exploring around the globe with a goal of researching, documenting, and teaching others about the beauty, the power and the importance of the earth’s wild places. With degrees in animal science, history and a Scuba Diving Instructor certification, he is passionate about finding extraordinary ways to help others understand the links between the worlds that exist both above and below the surface of the ocean. As a temperate and cold-water diver, he is able to capture video and images of rarely seen marine life to create real connections with the underwater world. Growing up working outside on a cattle ranch in Nebraska, Adam’s love for nature started early in life. Through college he continued to learn about the natural world and sought out jobs that aided in his thirst for knowledge. After college, he joined the US Army and afterward began working around the world as a naturalist guide. Adam’s interests have taken him on great adventures in remote locations, spending several years as a backcountry expedition guide in Alaska, leading multi-day whitewater rafting, hiking and kayaking adventures—even scuba diving in glacially-fed lagoons with harbor seals and sea otters. He has enjoyed a vast array of incredible experiences from leading horseback wildlife tours through the jungles of Nicaragua observing howler monkeys and sloths to teaching scuba diving around isolated islands in South East Asia. In 2012, Adam made the Big Island of Hawaii his home, one of his favorite places to observe and photograph marine life such as coastal manta rays, pilot whales, humpback whales and tiger sharks. Pursuing his deep interest in marine biology, Adam earned his US Coast Guard Captain’s license in 2015. Being a Captain has enabled him to spend more time in and on the water, allowing better opportunities to understand and research the marine environment.
Rachel is a Marine Ecologist, Master Scuba Instructor, and USCG 100-ton licensed Captain. She grew up homeschooled on an alpaca farm in Upstate NY, where her passion for the outdoors was initially cultivated. After attending a marine science summer camp in her teenage years, she fell in love with the ocean, and went on to earn degrees in Ecology and Marine Biology at Unity College in Maine. She spent time in Florida at MOTE Marine Laboratory researching coral disease ecology but found herself drawn into Eco Tourism as a way to more directly be involved in educating the public about our marine resources. Working with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic has provided her the perfect balance between exploring, science, oceans, and mountains, while seamlessly allowing her to share her knowledge and passions in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She is often as excited, and smiling as widely, as those experiencing expeditions for the first time! She is just as happy camping and hiking as she is snorkeling and diving. This has instilled a desire to explore, live, and work in places all over the globe. She has backpacked her way through the jungles and beaches of Central America, spent several seasons exploring wild places in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, snorkeled with humpback whales in Newfoundland, Canada, planted corals in the Florida Keys, and taken adaptive divers on trips to Cozumel, Mexico. When she is not on a Lindblad Expedition, she can be found in the Florida Keys at ocean orientated nonprofits that promote coral conservation, adaptive scuba diving, and citizen science.
Being lucky enough to have two homes—Australia and the U.S.A.—has given Tanish (who goes by Tani) a deep love for diversity among ecosystems and cultures and a desire to learn about them. For decades, she could be found both at work and play climbing and skiing in the Andes or Rockies; running rivers in the U.S., New Zealand, or Central America; sailing across oceans; sweltering in deserts in the American Southwest or Middle East; diving among reefs; struggling through rainforests (once, memorably, on a transcontinental trek with a steep learning curve); or teaching in the wilds of a high school classroom. Nowadays, Tani can more often be found on mini-expeditions with her young daughter to explore tiny ecosystems around San Francisco. She still sneaks in some bigger adventures, though, especially scuba diving (something she began at age 11). She firmly believes that education and exploration are inextricably linked and that the opportunity for wonder is everywhere. Tani is an award-winning photographer, an angler for the California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP), and a yoga teacher—but her fundamental mission is to teach communication and environmental sustainability. In her recent work for the California Academy of Sciences, Tani developed Citizen Science programs for underserved youth, providing them support to explore and understand nature and helping foster the next generation of stewards.
Sævör Dagný Erlendsdóttir was born and raised in the small harbour town of Akureyri, in the north of Iceland. She grew up around the ocean and the nature and it has always played a big part in her life and has led her to her field of work and studies. When she was fourteen, she did her scuba diving licence in France, and when she was 16, she started working with her father during summers at his scuba diving centre in Iceland. In 2016, after she graduated from high school, she moved for the winter to the island Fuerteventura in the Canaries, where she did her PADI and SSI Scuba Instructor. Since then, she’s been working as an instructor in Iceland, Cambodia, and the Canaries. In 2018 she started studying in the University of Akureyri, where she does Fishery Sciences along with Business Administration, currently participating in an exchange program in California State Monterey Bay University, where she wanted further to study Marine Sciences and discover the Pacific Ocean. For the next fall, she’ll head back to Iceland to finish her studies.
Patrick Webster is a marine media monkey politely pushing pixels as an underwater photographer and marine science communicator based out of Monterey Bay, California. Raised in the foothills of the French Alps and on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden, Patrick fell in love with the ocean from a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California when he was five years old. Awestruck by the rescued sea otters diving and blowing bubbles just behind the glass, he knew that whatever *this* is, *that* is what he was going to do—and so began his quest to become some form of marine mammal himself. After successfully sliming his way through marine biology and scientific diving classes as a UC Santa Cruz SCUBA Slug, Patrick has spent the last decade combining subtidal storytelling and his word asso-sea-ocean syndrome to entertain and educate about the wonders of our water world—with the kelp cathedral and its tasteful nudibranchs as his muse. Patrick’s passion to see the sea shared from the seashore has now grown into an award-winning science communication career at Monterey Bay Aquarium and as “@underwaterpat” online, with creations featured by National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, The New York Times, BBC, TEDx and more. Patrick hopes that his work can joyfully bring his fellow “Earthlings” closer to the wonders of the Inner Space of Planet Ocean, to help inspire conservation of our pale blue dot on its storied journey around the sunfish.
Kelly spent her childhood and adolescence in Maryland, exploring the wonders of the natural world wherever she could. This innate curiosity about the environment around her led Kelly to question why people and animals were driven to live their lives the way they do. To help satiate that curiosity while attending Eckerd College, Kelly focused her studies in Psychology on animal behavior. After a few years of post-college studying, specifically marine mammals and their behaviors, Kelly moved 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles to Catalina Island. At the Catalina Island Marine Institute, Kelly taught Marine Science to large groups of students from all over the country. Every day was filled with education in the outdoors by way of snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking. Working on Catalina provided Kelly the opportunity to meet thousands of students, teachers, and chaperones. It was there that she was able to instill a passion for marine conservation in the next wave of environmental stewards. In her off time from Catalina, Kelly took up traveling to all corners of the world to learn as much as possible about other cultures. From the beautiful diving in Southeast Asia to the architecture of South America all the way to the history and traditions of Europe, Kelly has soaked up every moment of travel she has been lucky enough to experience. When she is not out on expeditions you can find Kelly capturing the world both above and below the water through videography and photography. The role of naturalist has informed Kelly’s videography and travels by giving her the knowledge and skills base of how to interact with the world around her without disturbing the natural wonders it has to offer.
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