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Interview with Jonathan Green

Jonathan Green was our expedition leader to Antarctica on the G Expedition. He is an expert regarding the conditions in the unpredictable Antarctica. Besides going to Antarctica every season, he also leads the largest research project to whale sharks on the Galapagos. You might have seen this in the legendary documentary starring David Attenborough in BBC’s Blue Planet II. Jonathan is next to a very knowledgeable man a very charming en fun man to hang around with. He is definitely one of the most inspiring people we both have ever met in our lives. No wonder we got super curious about him and wanted to know more….

 

Who is Jonathan Green? 

A native of the UK, since I can remember I wanted to explore, travel and dive. The Polar Regions and the oceans were always my main fascination. After graduating from university in London I began to travel and eventually ended up in the Galapagos Islands. I joined the naturalist course with the Galapagos National Park and Darwin Station and as a qualified dive master began working as a diver in the Galapagos. The experience was life changing and when I saw my first whale shark I began asking questions about their natural history. My original goal was to work as a scientist but no work was really available at that time, so realizing that whale sharks were almost an unknown species, in 1990, I started a small project to record basic details. Languages were also an interest of mine having grown up with English and French as a child, I learned Spanish to add to the German I had studied at school.

 

What is your role on the expeditions to Antarctica and for how long have you been doing this?

I have been leading expedition trips to the Antarctic since 2005, both on larger expedition vessels and yachts. In 2009 I led a dive expedition and we carried out a number of dives around and under sea ice and icebergs, with a variety of wildlife, including Leopard seals. In recent years, I have worked as the Expedition Leader on vessels of around 100 passengers where my role is to plan, coordinate and manage all the activities off the ship, with the Captain and shipboard teams.

 

What are the things an expedition leader (EL) needs to be keen on during a trip to Antarctica?

I believe that an EL must try to make the most of every single opportunity to make an operation whenever conditions allow. This is a once in a lifetime visit for most guests and with harsh weather conditions we never know when the next operation might go. Many are cancelled due to bad weather, dangerous ice and winds and big swells. Planning and safety are the two key elements of a successful landing or excursion in zodiac.

Why is a trip to Antarctica never the same?

Antarctica is an ever-changing panorama throughout the seasons. Snow and ice conditions are never the same, nor is the wildlife as they have a small window of opportunity and the reproductive cycles tend to be very short. Not only do we see massive seasonal change, but the weather might change every few minutes. Due to these changing conditions, we are never sure where we might be able to land so we do not follow a fixed itinerary.

What has been your most dangerous experience on an expedition to Antarctica so far?

When fast moving ice has trapped guests on shore, zodiacs and even the ship on a couple of occasions. Katabatic, (hurricane force) winds can pick up without warning and we have to evacuate the landings. Antarctica is inherently a dangerous environment so safety is always paramount.

What fascinates you most about Antarctica?
It is one of the wildest places on earth. Ever changing, a high energy environment that is both breathtakingly beautiful and potentially lethal.

What would you like to share with people who might never have the chance to visit the 7th continent?
Because you can’t see it or don’t truly understand it, fight for its conservation. The whole planet needs all of us whether we have visited these remote areas or not.

Besides being expedition leader for G-adventures in Antarctica, you are also the founder of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project. What fascinates you about Whale Sharks?
They are dinosaurs that roam the earth of today. A species from another time period and we know almost nothing about them. Their entire life cycle is a mystery. The biggest shark that ever lived and we have the privilege to dive with them.

What would you like people to know about Whale Sharks?

They are gentle giants, curious about divers but completely inoffensive. Like all sharks they play a vital role in the ecosystem and desperately need our protection.
 

What is this project about?

We are studying the local and regional movements using satellite technology and carrying out blood analysis and ultrasound tests to better understand the role of the Galapagos in the reproductive cycle of the whale shark.
To see detailed results of 2019 please see the pdf below. Next to this document results are also published via their Facebook page.



 



Is there a way people can contribute from home?
Lobbying for the protection of our Oceans. The oceans are the cradle of all life that now exists on Earth. Now more than ever we need to protect them from overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. The health of terrestrial life is directly linked to the health of the Oceans.

In a year you spend a good amount of time in Antarctica and the Galapagos; where is home for you?
The Andes of Ecuador are currently home.

When are you home?
Only about 3 months of the year :)

 

And what do you enjoy most of being at home?

Being fairly sure that I know where I am when I wake up and being able to sleep late once in a while.

Thank you for sharing all of the above. Final question; What is your favourite table game to play?

Cuarenta, which is an Ecuadorian card game, lots of strategy and lightning fast game. Only played in Ecuador.
 

BONUS INFO!
Is responsible diving on the Galapagos with whale sharks high on your wish list? Than you might find the information below very useful 
Recently Jonathan and his team began to organise dive expeditions for divers that wish to give back to the Oceans or “Dive with a Purpose”. Although they do not carry out tagging or any hands-on science they show how divers can assist with Photo ID of whale sharks and other species and give talks on board about science in the Galapagos and the Project. These trips run during the whale shark season from July to September each year.

www.galapagossharkdiving.com

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