PHOTOS: Waimanalo teacher explores Antarctica with National Geographic

Blade Shepherd-Jones returns from another epic journey with National Geographic and Lindblad Expedition

Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School teacher Blade Shepherd-Jones is adding world traveler to his resume!

In February, he spent 10 days exploring the wonders of Antarctica with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Shepherd-Jones first boarded the National Geographic Explorer last June on a journey to Svalbard, where he worked with experts to study and document Arctic wildlife, geology and culture.

This latest trip to the opposite end of the globe, he explains, was graciously sponsored by a family he met in Svalbard.

In this digital diary, he documents his journey and explains how he plans to bring these experiences back to his classroom.

Within eight months, I was able to complete a journey of a lifetime traveling from pole to pole with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

In June 2019, under the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, I was able to travel to Svalbard, land of the ice bears. This February, with a generous sponsorship, I joined the National Geographic Explorer on an expedition to the southern continent: Antarctica. I was guided by National Geographic and Lindblad naturists about penguins, seals, whales, sea birds, and climate change. This adventure is a unique opportunity for my students in Waimanalo to explore the mysteries of the White Continent.

The interaction of wildlife in Antarctica is insane.  Having no natural land predators, I was able to get an up close appreciation of Antarctic animals.

Antarctica is a feeding ground for numerous wildlife, large and small.  We encountered Type B2 killer whales and humpback whales. I was lucky to meet with Dr. Holly Fearnbach, who is researching the importance of killer whales as top predators in Antarctica’s rapidly warming environment.

Part of my reason to journey to the White Continent is to share the effects of climate change on this pristine place with my class.

With the former whaling boat in the background of this chinstrap penguin colony, I hope to inspire my students the importance of safeguarding our planet. It is never too late to act.  

The star attraction of the expedition are penguins.  The Antarctic Peninsula is an important place for gentoo penguins to reproduce and raise their chicks.  National Geographic and Lindblad naturalists educated us on their breeding cycle, adaptions to the cold, and feeding strategies. 

No matter where I go, I always have a piece of Hawaii with me. Meet my travel buddy, Shaka-chan. His goal is to share the meaning of aloha to the world. When using these photos for lessons in my class, I hope Shaka-chan can help the students connect to Antarctica and add a little humor.

Antarctica is a living classroom to share how unique polar animals adapt and survive in this harsh environment.

Advice from a penguin: Dive into life, find warmth among friends, appreciate snow days, take long walks, stand together, go the extra mile, and keep your cool. From left to right: gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins.

Global temperatures have increased by 1°C/1.8°F. As a teacher, it is my duty to education my students on the effects of these changes on our planet. This will allow my students to make informed decisions about the future.

There is always time for fun on the far side of the world. The Polar Plunge is a tradition of Antarctica. The water temperature here is 0.04°C/32°F (psst, water freezes at 0°C).

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