We have taken the decision to defer all 2021 expeditions to 2022 and to concentrate on restarting in 2022.
Here are our reasons:
- We, as an organisation, want to be a responsible global citizen. We do not want to contribute to spreading the virus and prolonging the pandemic.
- When we conducted a straw poll amongst some of our 2021 expeditioners, the results were clear. A majority did not feel comfortable with going on expedition in 2021 and were keen to defer to 2022.
- Keeping expeditioners and local partners guessing and hoping about 2021 is neither a good, nor a fair, nor a professional strategy. Our partners and many expeditioners agree that concentrating on 2022 instead is preferable.
- Many expeditioners and staff from around the world are unlikely to be vaccinated until mid to late 2021 or even (much) later and we do not want to expose them to unnecessary risk. In addition, more research needs to be done on whether those vaccinated can still pass on the virus. Early research suggests that virus transmission is much reduced, but we want to be sure before exposing local people to international expedition teams and vice versa.
- Social distancing within an expedition setting is very difficult and sometimes simply impossible (for example on research boats, in 4×4 vehicles, mess tents, expedition base accommodation, etc.).
- Even if expedition teams could be vaccinated, large and unpredictable vagaries around travel remain. Participants could be required to quarantine on arrival in the expedition country as well as on their return back home. This makes travelling to/from an expedition an unreasonable proposition for most.
- If only one person tested positive on expedition, quarantine regulations of the host country would apply, which is likely to result in missed flights and significant extra costs for all participants, let alone health implications.
- Finally – and entirely unsurprisingly – there has been next to zero interest in 2021 expeditions this January/February, a period which usually sees a peak in interest and signups. Any interest there has been, was in expeditions in early 2022, already on our portfolio. With no new signups and those already signed up for 2021 deferring to 2022 in large numbers, 2021 expeditions are becoming increasingly unviable, whatever the pandemic will do over the next few months.
- Our conclusion is therefore that expeditions with involvement of international citizen scientists are well-nigh impossible in 2021. Our local conservation partners and a large majority of our expeditioners agree.
- Therefore, we have deferred all expeditions to 2022 with immediate effect. Dates for all 2022 expeditions are now online. Please join us now and support our work!
Having said all this, no expeditions in 2021 – and therefore next to no income – means that our survival is at stake. At the time of writing, we still have €5,165 to raise for our survival appeal to ensure we make it to 2022.
Please contribute, if you can!