Give Back and Get Involved in Citizen Science

Travel is always the best educator and we offer the chance to enrich your curiosity and expand your knowledge and understanding of the places we travel to. There is no better learning opportunity than being in the field with subject matter experts. 

Our Citizen Science Program is designed to be an interactive forum of like-minded travellers to share new discoveries and deepen their connection to the natural world in a relaxed, informal and fun environment – both on board our ships, on our fascinating shore expeditions and in our zodiacs. 

You can make a difference as we can provide invaluable data to the scientific community through you taking part. You too can become an ambassador for the protection of our majestic but fragile blue planet when you return home by sharing what you have learned. 

AECO Logo
IAATO Logo
Sylvia Earle, Photo by Michael Aw

‘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

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.

Citizen Science, Antarctica, Tyson Mayr
Bird Watching for Citizen Science, Antarctica, Massimo Bassano

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 projects being conducted on your voyage. 

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. 

From the biggest mammals to the smallest marine creatures, the important part you play in our Citizen Science projects will help protect and preserve the planet for generations to come. 

Citizen Science, Cuverville Island, Antarctica, Massimo Bassano

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:

Whales

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.

Seabirds

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

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.

Weather Patterns

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.

Polar Fjordlands

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.

Phytoplankton

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.

Marine Biodiversity

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.

Ready to get involved?