Days 12-13: Ushuaia and the Return Home


Ushuaia: End of the World

December 29-30, 2016

There were lots of folks to say goodbye to yesterday morning as we left the ship for the last time.  I couldn’t be more thankful to National Geographic, Lindblad Expeditions, and the staff and crew of the National Geographic Explorer for this incredible experience.  Deserving of special thanks for their invaluable help throughout the trip are Sue Perin (Expedition Leader), Maartje Ruijgt (Assistant Expedition Leader), Ian Strachan (Naturalist, Photographer), Doug Gualtieri (Naturalist), Dr. Conor Ryan (Naturalist), Dierdre Mitchell (Naturalist), Jennifer Kingsley (Naturalist), Pete Puleston (Naturalist), Captain Oliver Kruess, Chief Officer Aaron Wood, Peter Mitchell (Undersea Specialist), Alyssa Adler (Undersea Specialist), Peter Webster (Undersea Specialist), Steve Morello (Naturalist, Photographer), Ken Garrett (Photographer), Dexter Sear (Videographer), and Mike Libecki (Climber, 2013 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year).  The vast knowledge of these individuals helped make this trip profoundly educational for me.

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After disembarking from the Explorer, I took the morning to walk along the Ushuaia waterfront.  It was a great time for reflection, but I also ended up seeing two new species of gull – Dolphin Gull and Brown-hooded Gull – as well as Rock Shag and Crested Duck.

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Before I knew it, though, we were loading onto a bus for the airport, and in a seemingly short 24 hours, I was back in the U.S.A.  I had traveled from Ushuaia (42°F), to Buenos Aires (90°F), to Austin, Texas (50°F).  These changes in climate allowed me to literally feel the distance that I was traveling.

Back in Austin now, it is my goal to bring my experiences over the past twelve days to my students through classroom activities on biodiversity, biogeography, and species interactions.  I will be developing these activities over the next couple of months, and I plan to continue to post here as I do.

In the words of T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time


David Walker
Grosvenor Teacher Fellow

Antarctica Expedition
National Geographic Society
Lindblad Expeditions


2 thoughts on “Days 12-13: Ushuaia and the Return Home

  1. Hello, Mr. Walker,

    What a fantastic trip, thank you for sharing with us back here in Austin.

    Can you please take a few moments to explain to some of us how you were selected for the Expedition and how you were equipped and supported.

    Kevin Manzke
    Parent, Class of ’16 and ’19

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Mr. Manzke!

      The National Geographic / Lindblad GTF program, currently in its 10th year, is a professional development program for K-12 classroom teachers in the U.S. and Canada. Through the program, educators are allowed to participate in expeditions to unique areas around the world aboard National Geographic / Lindblad ships and bring these experiences back to their schools and communities through unique place-based activities. The end goal of both the program and its teachers is to increase the geographic knowledge and global awareness of the next generation.

      I applied for a Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship in the fall of 2015. The application mainly focused on how I currently promote geographic literacy in my classroom and my ideas for the creation of activities based on the expedition experiences; I was one of 35 educators from the US and Canada to be selected. In the spring of 2016, National Geographic graciously paid for us all to attend an orientation at the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington D.C. At this orientation, I was able to meet the other 34 educators in the program, many alumni of the program, and quite a few of the naturalists from Lindblad Expeditions that would be on my expedition. Over the course of the weekend, we participated in workshops on education, outreach, and expedition photography, to better prepare us for our upcoming expeditions.

      My expedition to Antarctica (in December 2016) was completely paid for by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. Support on the trip came from Lindblad Expeditions naturalists and National Geographic photographers and video journalists who were on the journey with us. During the trip, I received a great deal of content knowledge about the different locations and wildlife from these individuals, as well as from the crew on the ship. I was also equipped with a wide variety of other supplies, including Antarctica expedition gear and clothing, 360 degree VR cameras (Ricoh Thetas), GoPro cameras, DSLR digital cameras, high-quality binoculars, etc. They made it extremely easy for us to collect various forms of media to bring back to our students.

      Back at LASA, it is my goal to create activities for my students based on my expedition. My plan (which I will be working on this semester) is to use Antarctica as a model system for introducing allopatric speciation in my Planet Earth class. The activity I envision will utilize my expedition map and media in an attempt to really give the students a sense of what it is like to be on the continent.

      I hope this helps to answer the questions you had. Definitely let me know if you would like more information.


      David Walker


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