While serving as a Global Perspectives guest speaker on board a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Antarctic tour in December, our founder and executive director, Gregg Treinish joined a shipful of thrilled travelers when the crew spotted a pod of extremely rare Type D killer whales.
Filmmakers on board recorded the first-known underwater footage of these hunters who have only recently been scientifically described, and have only been encountered by chance in far southern waters. (See full coverage from National Geographic.)
The killer whales were first identified as a distinct type in a review of archival reports from carcasses. Earlier generations had believed their small size, round heads, and thin, horizontal eye patches were simply individual flukes (so to speak) within a standard population. With so few encounters with them in the wild, there was little to challenge that view in the popular mindset until careful description and DNA analysis made the distinction clear.
While this wasn't an Adventure Scientists expedition, the experience struck Gregg as indicative of the power of the Adventure Scientists model and mindset. Because Type D killer whales live in such remote and inhospitable regions and have been observed so few times, no scientific expedition has yet studied them in the wild. That means every chance encounter poses the opportunity to learn more about their population dynamics, hunting behavior, preferred locations, and more.
Travelers and adventurers are often in these areas though. Even when they are outfitted with nothing more than cameras and a scientific mindset, they can contribute meaningfully to scientific research.
And not only can travel and adventure contribute to science, the connection to the larger story of nature and the way the world works can enrich even the most already-satisfying experience abroad.
Want to have that experience yourself? Take a look at our current projects and become an Adventure Scientists volunteer this summer!
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