In December 2017, I flew down to Ushuaia, Argentina: the gateway city to Antarctica. I boarded the MS Hebridean Sky, a 296-foot cruise ship, and was warmly welcomed by FjordPhyto champions Bob Gilmore and Annette Bombosch.
Antarctica21 had invited me to come on board as Guest Scientist to oversee the FjordPhyto citizen science project, and to give mini science lectures with the Expedition Staff each evening. Check out the short mini documentary to see what we were up to!
We spent a memorable 29-days traveling the Antarctic Peninsula sharing the wonders of this wild place with over 400 passengers in total.
During the month I was on board, we launched twelve FjordPhyto citizen science zodiac cruises visiting seven different fjords.
With the quick five-day turnaround schedule, this allowed us to sample some of the same fjords repeatedly during the month, capturing changes from week to week. Each science zodiac ride included six to nine passengers eager to participate. For the month that I was on board, that means 72–108 passengers directly assisted in gathering data with FjordPhyto. Those who were not on the citizen science zodiac trips were still able to learn about the project through the evening recap presentations. We were excited to receive extremely positive feedback from the people who participated.
Having the opportunity to see the project in action provided extremely valuable perspective on what tour operators, staff, and passengers experience while in the field.
We want to thank the National Science Foundation for providing travel support to Ushuaia, and Antarctica21 for inviting me onboard as Guest Scientist. We also want to thank all of the citizen scientists for their enthusiasm and participation in FjordPhyto! Opportunitites like these allow us to greatly improve the project for our partners in future seasons.