We will travel on public roads in a quiet area with few traffic issues, but risks inherent in road travel still apply. We’ll take some gravel roads, generally in good condition. Vehicles are maintained to Texas standards. All volunteers will have a seat belt and must use it whenever the vehicle is in motion. A roadside assistance service will be called if a vehicle breaks down.
We will also use boats to travel across open water to study sites. The vessel is large (18 ft.), fully equipped with safety equipment (life jackets, flares, first-aid kit), navigation, and communication items. However, there is always potential for the ride to become bumpy for some portion of the trip. During rougher conditions there is the potential for sea spray to be present which will get volunteers wet—a set of rain gear is required to avoid issues with cold temperatures.
You will be walking along transects and the terrain will be uneven and soggy/mucky. You may take your time with any sections of challenging terrain. Take particular care to avoid stepping on any plants/animals that may be present; the Earthwatch scientists will highlight this hazard and show how to walk with appropriate caution when introducing you to the field site.
Staff will count team members at frequent intervals, and will caution you against going off alone. Please inform project staff if you need a moment away from the team. Volunteers will work in groups of at least two at all times. We will have cell phones, and reception is good in inland regions. The scientists take great care of knowing, at all times, which area each volunteer is working in, so that lost volunteers can be located quickly and expediently by project staff.
We will cover appropriate responses to wildlife encounters in the introductory briefing. Do not approach or handle any wildlife. Though spotting dangerous animals such as alligators and venomous snakes is uncommon, always pay attention to your surroundings.
Ticks are present in Texas and can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Relapsing Fever. Black flies and mosquitoes can cause irritation in the summer. To avoid insect bites, cover exposed skin and use tick/insect repellant or a mosquito head net. If mosquitoes are bad, full mosquito clothing will be provided.
Texas is a generally safe region for travelers; however, do not leave valuables unattended in public areas.
Although the accommodations are close to tempting white-sand beaches, we do NOT permit swimming and other water sports during this expedition for safety reasons.
Distance from Medical Care
Due to the relative remoteness of the site, it can take up to thirty minutes to reach the nearest hospital. Those with severe or chronic conditions that may require immediate medical care (e.g., heart problems, severe allergies that can result in anaphylactic shock, etc.) should carefully consider their participation in this project and discuss with their doctors the implications of the distance of the hospital from the project site.
Please see the Health Information section for immunization recommendations. Most diseases are prevented with basic safety cautions. Please see the CDC (cdc.gov) or WHO (who.int) websites for more information.
Diseases present in this region of the US include, but are not limited to, Lyme disease, rabies, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, pertussis, West Nile Fever, and traveler’s diarrhea.
Traveler’s diarrhea affects 20–50% of all international travelers. Always wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer before eating. You should also carry an over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication in your personal first aid kit. Speak to your doctor about other options for treating traveler’s diarrhea.