Welcome to Aurora Expeditions’ Citizen Science Program

We are truly committed to respectful and responsible travel, and we invite you to join us in helping to protect and preserve our majestic, but fragile, blue planet.

Every voyage of discovery by sea and land is led by experts, scientists, naturalists and researchers who want to share their extensive knowledge, expertise and passion for the natural environment with you.

By travelling with our experts, you will have the unique opportunity to participate in our Citizen Science Program, a hands-on, immersive and transformative experience that will not only fire your imagination but show how you too can help to protect the beauty and majesty of our planet.

Forget any notions of stuffy old classrooms and sedate science lessons! Our Citizen Science Program is designed to be an inspirational forum of like-minded travellers to share new discoveries, ideas and thoughts in a relaxed, informal and fun environment – both on board our ships and on our fascinating shore expeditions.

‘Our goal is literally to inspire a network of hope – one place, one community, one vision at a time – but together around the world.’

Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, marine biologist and explorer
Sylvia Earle, Photo by Michael Aw

What is Citizen Science?

Citizen Science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists around the world.

Why Take Part?

Aurora Expeditions travels to some of the most unique and remote places on the planet. It is challenging for scientists to spend time in these areas, so any observations we contribute can be extremely valuable.

Gathering and sharing data is also a great way to engage and educate ourselves in pressing issues that concern us at a local, regional and global level.

How Does it Work?

Members of our passionate expedition team, together with a Citizen Science Coordinator will be on hand to introduce and assist you with the project or projects being conducted on your voyage.

Aurora Expeditions travels to some of the most unique and remote places on the planet. It is challenging for scientists to spend time in these areas, so any observations we contribute can be extremely valuable. Gathering and sharing data is also a great way to engage and educate ourselves in pressing issues that concern us at a local, regional and global level.

Expert guidance on the collection, storage and sharing of new scientific data will not only greatly enhance your voyage experience, but help you gain more knowledge of our ever-changing natural environment.

Forget any notions of stuffy old classrooms and sedate science lessons! Our Citizen Science Program is designed to be an inspirational forum of like-minded travellers to share new discoveries, ideas, thoughts and viewpoints in a relaxed, informal and fun environment – onboard our ships, on our fascinating shore expeditions and also in the Zodiacs where a lot of the  sampling is done.

Our Projects

Our seven dynamic and diverse Citizen Science Projects – focusing on whales, seabirds, microplastics, weather patterns, phytoplankton, polar fjordlands and marine biodiversity – have been hand-picked for their ground-breaking work and global achievements:

We can participate in this project worldwide by taking good identification photographs of whales – notably humpbacks in Antarctica – and a variety of marine mammals.

Using software that compares unique markings on animals, Happywhale can track individual marine life globally which, over time, helps scientists learn about migratory and home-range movements; population growth and decline, and even an individual whale’s survival rates.

Seabird surveys are done at sea or at landing sites and provide data for long-term monitoring of seabirds in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Peninsula and recorded through eBird.

Guided by our expert ornithologists and naturalists, you can be actively involved spotting birds at sea, counting while ashore, or scribing for those observing differences in bird species, ages and breeding cycles while contributing valuable data to science.

Microplastics are one of the biggest issues facing our oceans, impacting marine animals, ecosystems and even human health. In order to tackle this problem, we need to know where the microplastics are, how much there is, and what type of plastic it is.

Onshore excursions, we will scoop the surface of small sample areas using scientific protocols, place them in a bucket and sieve off any residual microplastics. These are then taken back to the ship for sorting, recording and packaging to be sent for further scientific analysis with The Big Microplastic Survey.

This international science and education program from The Globe Program is an opportunity to participate in cloud data collection and contribute meaningfully to our global understanding of the Earth’s weather systems and environments.

Cloud observations by photographs and written notes are made directly into an app under the guidance of a trained expedition team member.

Researchers are discovering that fjords along the west Antarctic Peninsula are hotspots of biological activity and biodiversity. Monitoring changes within polar regions requires long-term observations. With the help of our polar passengers, FjordPhyto can monitor changes in fjord phytoplankton communities from year to year.

The FjordPhyto project is a very hands-on and engaging fieldwork activity by Zodiac that takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes each time.

Launched in 2013, the Secchi Disk study helps to map phytoplankton in the world’s oceans.

Phytoplankton accounts for over half of all photosynthesis on the planet and underpins the marine food chain. Our own measurements can be done from a Zodiac or from the ship itself when stationary by lowering a Secchi disk (one of the oldest and simplest marine scientific tools) into the water to record the depth at which it disappears amid the phytoplankton with data entered into a monitoring app.

This global online community allows us to share observations about the animals and plants we see on our expedition voyages and to discuss, identify and create research-quality Citizen Science data for the purposes of science and conservation.

iNaturalist’s identification model provides initial suggestions, but other people in the iNaturalist community can help to identify and confirm our own observations.

Please note: As some of our Citizen Science projects are location- and weather-dependent, we cannot operate all of the projects on all voyages. We will endeavour to include as many projects as possible on your voyage with ample time allocated to them on a day-to-day basis.