Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)

Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)

Expedition scientist Jenny Kraushaar leaving for the snow leopard expedition to the Altai.

Continue reading “Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)”

Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)

It’s a hot, sunny day here in Novosibirsk today. Oleg and I are still in shopping and preparation mode and we are already looking forward to leaving this urban jungle (see picture) for the golden mountains of Altai! Anectodal news from the field is that snow leopards have been spotted on both Chikacheva and Talduair ridges earlier this year. Since Chikacheva is one of our traget areas, this is great news. Chikacheva is inaccessible and hard work for everyone (including us and poachers), which I guess is why snow leopards still cling on there!

Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk

Whilst I was fiddling with equipment in the hotel car park the day before yesterday, I was approached by two men in suits, asking me what I was doing. I don’t think they liked what they saw. Maps, binoculars, laptop, GPS units, short wave radios. I must admit it did look a little suspicious. They then radioed someone and before I knew what was happening, I had two large German shepards sniffing around. I had to open up the Land Rovers and storage boxes for them and when they were done, I was rudely told to pack up and produce all my documents. Luckily the hotel manager showed up and explained to me that the Russian PM is coming shortly to have a lunch in the hotel, hence the increased security. Dmitriy Medvedev then arrived ten minutes later and his entourage stayed for most of the day, preventing me doing anything at all. Russia 1 : Biosphere 0.

On that theme, all of Russia went nuts yesterday after beating the Czech Republich in their first EURO 2012 match. Celebrations lasted for most of the night. Being Czech originally myself, I kept a very low profile telling everyone I am from Australia, which is where I live now 😉

Oleg and I have done a lot of shopping and I have discovered completely new parts of Novosibirsk, further to East, city fringes dotted with megastores and supermarkets. Oleg insisted we had lunch in IKEA, which was a bit odd, but it seemed that’s what everyone else was doing. The store itself was empty, but the restaurant was literally besieged by hungry locals.

Jenny is boarding a plane later today and has uploaded two presentations that she will give at base camp for you to swat up on before you arrive (see www.slideshare.net/BiosphereExpeditions/snow-leopard-background and www.slideshare.net/BiosphereExpeditions/snow-leopard-datasheets). There’s also a slideshow with pictures of past Altai expeditions on https://biosphereexpeditions.wordpress.com/ to get you in the mood.
Update from our snow leopard conservation expedition to the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia

Update from our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)

The blog for this expedition will start soon.  In the meantime, have a look at the expedition website or the slideshow from previous expeditions below.

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Continue reading “Update from our snow leopard volunteering expedition in the high mountains of the Altai Republic in Central Asia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/altai)”

Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores):

Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores):

Greetings from the Azores! Malika Fettak and I have been busy preparing for everyone’s arrival here in Horta, on the island of Faial. Working from Banana Manor, which will serve as our base camp for all three expeditions, we have been busy unpacking the expedition kit and preparing for your arrival. Today we are working with Lisa Steiner, our scientist, preparing the data sheets for the information we will be collecting in the field.

As you can see in the video (see below) it can be quite cool and wet (Lisa, who lives here, made fun of me today because I am wearing my hat!). While we expect to see some sunshine, be sure to pack your cool and wet weather gear as well as there is still a definite chill in the air!

Looking forward to meeting you

Alisa Clickenger
Expedition leader

PS: The whales and dolphins are here! Lisa Steiner was out on the water yesterday collecting data, and she spotted one blue whale, one fin whale, and several groups of common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins.

Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago

Update from our SCUBA volunteer vacation / diving conservation holiday protecting the coral reefs of Tioman, Malaysia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/malaysia):

Finally, after a day of challenging currents bravely fought, reef valiantly surveyed and seas almost too big for the RIB, we are under full sail with Maarten at the helm (see picture below). We’re heading to a remote island west of Tioman to survey sites that our expedition scientist Katie herself has not dived. We’ll attempt a night dive here, the first of the expedition thus far. Although the wind has been either nonexistent or too erratic to be of use, it’s been smooth sailing so far.

Maarten at the helm ;)
Maarten at the helm 😉

Update from our SCUBA volunteer vacation / diving conservation holiday protecting the coral reefs of Tioman, Malaysia

Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores):

Hello my Name is Alisa and I will  be your expedition leader on this year’s Azores expedition – Fascinating creatures of the deep: Studying whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

I am writing this from the airport, where I am waiting for my flight to Lisbon and then to Horta. The gear is all packed up and organised, and I am very excited. This will be my first time on this particular expedition and there to show me the ropes for the first group will be “old” hand Malika Fettak.

If you are worried about seasickness, you are not alone, as we both suffer from it too, so I look forward to sharing space on the side of the research vessel with you 😉

I look forward to seeing the first team next week.

See you soon

Alisa Clickenger
Expedition leader

Sperm whale fluking
Sperm whale fluking

Update from our volunteer vacation / conservation holiday protecting whales, dolphins and turtles around the Azores archipelago

Update from our SCUBA volunteer vacation / diving conservation holiday protecting the coral reefs of Tioman, Malaysia (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/malaysia)

Today we surveyed the reef around a spectacular forested rock a few kilometers out to sea off Tioman Island. From there we our yacht Araliya down the wild and convoluted eastern coast of Tioman to the settlement of Juara, the only inhabited point on this coast. The sea turtle project at the far end of Juara beach is a real outpost of conservation run by a team of passionate volunteers. We went on a turtle survey tonight after dinner and learned some sobering statistics in the process.

Update from our SCUBA volunteer vacation / diving conservation holiday protecting the coral reefs of Tioman, Malaysia

Update from our Malaysia coral reef expedition (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/malaysia)

The team has now completed their three days of Reef Check training and are ready to begin their surveys. The first one is today and tomorrow we board the yacht “Araliya” to begin the real work. The diving skills in the team are all quite good. The identification skills have developed nicely and although there are distinct preferences within the team for the various ID tasks we’ll be set, some are “fish people” while others have their strength in invertebrates or substrate ID, between us we are in good shape to Check this Reef (and the beach – see below 😉

Update from our Malaysia coral reef expedition (www.biosphere-expeditions.org/malaysia)

Team 1 has spent the morning in briefings and doing the paperwork that precedes the meat and potatoes of the expedition. They have just geared up and trotted (well, humped their gear at least) down the beach for their first training dive with Katie, who will assess and develop the all-important buoyancy skills, which will play a vital role in their effectiveness as research divers. Frank, who hasn’t dived in some time, did a refresher with one of the instructors yesterday, whom I overheard talking to his colleagues in very positive terms about Frank’s competence as a diver. If that’s the tone of our team, then we’re in good shape for the real work.