Maldives: Opener

Hi everyone, my name is An Bollen and I will be your expedition leader on this year’s expedition in the Maldives. We will be accompanied by our local scientist and marine biologist Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, who has been the Reef Check coordinator in the Maldives since 2005 and who joined nearly all previous expeditions.

An
Jean-Luc

On this ninth annual Reef Check survey expedition, you will be trained to become citizen scientist divers and help collect data on coral reefs, while also recording sightings of marine megafauna, such as whale sharks and rays. We will be visiting sites on the South Male and Vaavu atolls to survey the health of the coral reefs and their recovery following bleaching events.

I just had my expedition briefing outside Brussels and I’ll be travelling out in advance with Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt on Thursday, to ensure that everything is ready for your arrival, and will be in touch with updates and my local mobile number from Male’.

Looking forward to meeting you all on Saturday at the Coffee Club in the main airport’ hall in Male.

Safe travels to you all and see you soon for an adventure out in the blue!

Romania: Training, training, training

It is the end of day two here in the Carpathian mountains and the team have completed their main training to help scientist Ruben with his work studying bears, wolves and red deer. We ended the day listening to three different tawny owls calling around are base and looking at the stars in the clear night sky. Over the last two days we have heard about the project here to restore the ecology of the forest and to work to assess scientifically the numbers of large carnivore and their main prey that are resident in the study area.

The team have worked hard learning how to use the GPSs and radios that we use as part of our safety procedures, and have spent time looking at genetic sampling kits that they will use to collect biological samples for Ruben’s work.
The sun has shone and the weather has been warm for our first two days, with the afternoon of the second day seeing the first of many survey hikes in the hills.

Group planning with map
Team on alpine meadow

Romania: All set up at base

The expedition base is now all set up for you. We have an excellent main room for training and storing equipment and have found that eating outside has been lovely, even in the evenings. Our host at base, Aurel, is very hospitable and the rooms are clean and good for a mountain hut, although you may find them a little rustic. Showers are hot, the food is great and the wine is locally made. Ruben, our expedition scientist, arrives Sunday morning and we are looking forward to welcoming the first team later in the day. See you later.

Assistant expedition leader Robin (Johnson)
The equipment room
Expedition leader Kathy (Gill)
Expedition base