From our scuba diving conservation holiday with whale sharks and coral reefs of the Maldives

Hello, my name is Catherine and I’m going to be your expedition leader for this year’s Maldives expedition. I led this expedition in 2014 and 2015, and am looking forward to investigating, with your help, the recovery from last year’s bleaching event (do read the 2016 report in preparation).

Catherine Edsell
Catherine Edsell

I’ll be travelling out in advance with Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, our scientist, to ensure that everything is ready for your arrival, and will be in touch with updates and my local mobile number from Male’.

Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt
Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt

On this expedition we will be training and passing knowledge to our new Maldivian partner NGO Reef Check Maldives, which was formed recently as a direct result of our local placement and capacity-building programme.

During the first slot, we will visit our permanent monitoring sites and re-test our theory that those sites in more exposed waters are faring better than the more sheltered sites.  In the second slot, we have the chance to complete an extensive set of surveys in more isolated locations, well away from most tourist islands. This will provide very interesting data comparison, and give us more information on the impact of last year’s bleaching event.  We will also be recording sightings of rare and spectacular species such as whale sharks and mantas, with a brand new survey site for whale sharks, south of Vaavu reef.

I hope all your preparations are going well, and that you’ve had a chance to study all the Reef Check material and whale shark info available on as this will not only save you revision time on board, but stand you in good stead for a fruitful expedition. For those of you who are already Reef Check qualified, this is also a great resource to refresh your memory!

I look forward to meeting the first team at the assembly point, Coffee Club at Male Airport on 15 July at 11:00.

Best wishes

Catherine Edsell
Expedition Leader

From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan

Group 1 is safely back in Bishkek, after an excellent fortnight in the mountains with a great group. Thank you all!

We found 1.5 snow leopard signs, saw plenty of ibex and other wildlife, amazing wildflowers and landscapes, and were so lucky with the weather too.

But I will let the videos below speak for themselves. These were done by Matthias, so from now on it will be text and pictures only every fortnight when we change over in Bishkek, but I think the videos will last all of us for the expedition’s duration.

Thank you again to group 1 of Adnan, Cate, Gina, Jannis, Lisa, Matthias, Nadia, Neil, Nitin, Shruti, Uli, Urmas, the Grupa Bars members Aman and Shailo, our scientist Volodya and our amazing cook Gulia, as well as Biosphere Expeditions staff Tessa, Amadeus & Matthias.

See you on Monday, group 2! You have big boots to fill 😉

…and here is an updated version of…

Update from our monitoring expedition studying wolves in Lower Saxony, Germany

The second expedition week is over, everyone left NABU Gut Sunder on Friday. Once again, Peter summarized the findings of the week before we left: 12 wolf scat samples sit deep frozen in his fridge by now, thereof 6 fresh samples are also kept in Ehtanol for DNA analysis. For the first time one of the teams spotted, measured and recorded a wolf track of more than 100m of direct register trot (complying with the official wolf monitoring criteria). The finding has cost Peter a crate of beer… 🙂 Overall the survey teams recorded twelve more tracks and nine more scats that couldn’t be classified as wolf signs without a doubt. All findings, datasheets and documentation pictures will be handed over to the Wolfsbuero after the expedition for approval. Thirteen different 10 x 10 km cells were visited in four and a half survey days and the total distance covered on foot and by bike is 322.45 km.

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Thank you very much, team 2! Once more we were a great bunch of people from all over the world learning from each other & working together towards a common goal. Some of you came over for a week from places as far as India & Singapore, others kindly provided their private vehicles for transport. And, of course, all of you contributed a lot to the research by covering hundreds of kilometres on foot and by bike surveying and collecting samples. I hope the week out there around bogs and in the forest was great fun.

Writing this I am at my desk back at home where I will spend the next four days. I hope you’ve all had a safe journey back home, too, or enjoy your onwards travelling. I hope to see some of you again some time. Keep in touch!


From our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan

This by special courier from the mountains (from group 2 onwards, there will only be an update/summary every two weeks as groups change over in Bishkek).

Group 1 has arrived, gone to the mountains, put up the yurt, had its training sessions and conducted its first week of field surveys. Many ibex, marmots, birds and other wildlife have been spotted, but there is no sign of our quarry yet. But then snow leopard research & conservation is a long game. All is well with the team in the mountains.