Shannon Lynch | Monday, December 03, 2018
This review is coming a little late as I went on my Earthwatch expedition this past summer (June 2018). First and foremost, I had an amazing time! If anyone is contemplating signing up for this expedition, DO IT! (I recommend signing up for the wait list if it's full) The researchers on this expedition are incredibly nice and passionate about their work. Truly some of the friendliest people I have ever met and I hope to one day cross paths with them again.
Now, for the research. Weather in Iceland plays a big role in whether or not you can do research. There are three different types of research you can do while on this expedition. Land observation, boat observation and office work. I will be honest that for most of my trip we were unable to do boat observation because of the weather. This being said, I would 100% do this expedition again.
On days that the weather was poor, the team spent their time doing dorsal fin photo identification with orcas that had been photographed a couple weeks prior. We also helped with classifying orca vocalizations. I found both of these tasks to be challenging (in a good way) and very informative.
On days with good weather, we would either do land or boat observation, sometimes both. My most memorable land observation experience is when I was able to track a pod of orcas for two hours using the big binoculars (with the help of other volunteers) while researchers were pinpointing their exact location using a theodolite. And my most memorable boat observation experience was when we encountered a pod of 20 orcas. Volunteers kept eyes on the orcas, communicating to the note taker how many we saw and communicating to the boat captain of their location in proximity to the boat while the photographer took photos.
-Definitely bring rain gear! (rain pants and rain jacket, plus waterproof shoes) *Hat and gloves also recommended
-If you get seasick, bring something to counteract it. You will not want to miss out on any boat observations
-If light bothers you while you sleep, bring an eye mask. The sun only sets for a couple hours at night and even then it doesn't get completely dark
-Come with an open mind and ready to do anything! You may not get to do land/boat observation every day, but there is still much to learn and help out with
This expedition is one of the top experiences of my life that I will never forget. Hope all researchers, volunteers and whales are doing well, and thanks for an amazing time :)