To say that Isabella was exploring before, or at the same time as, she began walking is no exaggeration. When your father is Sven Lindblad, you go places—early and often. Isabella, like her father, has probably lost count of the number of times she’s been to Galápagos. Suffice it to say, she went to Galápagos the way other kids went to summer camp, and then some. She learned to snorkel there. And she returned to the islands to do a pre-college internship at the Thomas de Berlanga School, an open-air school on Santa Cruz island in Galápagos, focused on teaching and grooming a new generation of environmental stewards.
In addition to having all manner of experiences with the remarkable Galápagos wildlife and habitats, Isabella has observed bubble-net feeding behavior in Alaska; said an up-close hello to a friendly gray whale calf in Baja; cuddled an orphan orangutan at Dr. Birute Galdikas’ orangutan rehabilitation center in Borneo; and more.
Isabella demonstrated her explorer bona fides on a recent assignment: her father, trusting her judgement and curious about what she’d observe and report, sent her on a recon to Canada. With her younger brother, Eric Lindblad, along as co-pilot and assistant expedition leader, she explored a sizeable region, logging 1,000 miles by car and checking out maritime areas on a succession of boats. Her presentation to the Lindblad team upon return evidenced total professionalism, clear understanding of what conducting a recon assessment entails, and a remarkable passion for wildlife and wonder. The photos were great, too. She’s clearly the real deal.
Just graduated from Colgate University, she’s headed to graduate school. But first, she’s working a stint at Lindblad, exploring possibilities as she learns how the expedition sausage gets made. Then she’s headed to D.C. for a pre-grad-school fellowship with GETF, the Global Environment and Technology Foundation.
We celebrate Isabella for her personal passion for exploring. And we salute her as a representative of her generation of women explorers, ready and able to make their mark.
Why do you explore?
For me, exploring is an important exercise in humility. Exposure to new geographies, animals, cultures, etc. is a reminder of how much beauty there is in the world that operates outside your daily routine—like watching women weave impossibly intricate textiles, listening to the nuances of whale songs, or walking through forests with ecosystems far more complicated than any man-made system. Exploring is exhilarating, but it also provides a broader perspective. You walk away humbled by the astonishingly impressive people and things that exist on our planet, which is something everyone can benefit from.
What is your favorite Lindblad destination?
Baja California. I have had the incredible fortune of being able to visit Baja California at various point in my life. The peninsula and surrounding waters have never failed to absolutely amaze me. My earliest memories of friendly whales, jumping mobulas, bow riding dolphins, and feeding frenzies truly sparked my unending love for marine life which I carry with me to this day.
What’s a dream exploration you haven’t done….yet?
I have yet to make it to Antarctica, which will be my last continent. I’ve been wanting to go for as long as I can remember, and from what I’ve been told it will exceed my admittedly high expectations.
What advice would you give the next generation of women explorers?
Lean into what might make you uncomfortable. Part of the beauty of exploring is being in situations or places outside your comfort zone. Learning on the fly is, at least in my experience, the fastest and most fulfilling way to absorb knowledge. A couple hours shopping in a local market will teach you more of a language than a year-long course and seeing natural phenomena firsthand will stick with you more than anything you can read in a textbook. Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know or understand but see it as an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. Oh, and ask questions whenever possible.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am terrified of heights. Which is probably why I prefer to stay on, or as close to, the water as possible.
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