Denver Penguin Researcher selected to join Antarctic Expedition
Expedition tour operator sponsors scientist to study mercury pollution in the Southern Ocean
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2017
Ushuaia, Argentina. David Schutt, a master’s student at the University of Colorado Denver, has been selected to join the expedition sailing vessel Ocean Tramp in Antarctica next year. Schutt will collect Gentoo penguin feathers and blood samples to examine mercury accumulation in the birds. The expedition tour operator, Quixote Expeditions, supports scientists through their Guest Science program, which sponsors researchers to join their expeditions in the Southern Ocean. Quixote Expeditions selected Schutt out of a competitive pool of over 30 applicants.
Mercury, a pollutant from fossil fuels and many industrial processes, accumulates in Gentoo penguin feathers. Schutt’s data, when combined with other Southern Ocean studies, will help track the extent of mercury pollution in the Southern Ocean areas. According to Schutt, “Our research will compare mercury levels in penguins near industrialized areas versus penguins in Antarctica to shed some light on how much pollution is reaching isolated regions of the planet.”
“Supporting science in these remote regions is important, as it’s incredibly expensive for an individual scientist to get down to Antarctica, but yet a very sensitive and important place to research” says Laura K.O. Smith, co-founder of Quixote Expeditions. “It’s a win-win situation. The scientist gets access to research area and our guests get to learn about and participate in real research.”
Quixote Expeditions brings an active researcher on the trips they offer – -to Antarctica and to Isla de los Estados. Scientists get room and board, in return for explaining their science to guests. In the past, Quixote Expeditions has supported scientists who have studied penguin populations and whether whales can smell. Guests participate in the data collection enhancing their experience in Antarctica. This next season Quixote Expeditions will also offer trips for passengers to fly to Antarctica to join the vessel and the scientist for a 12-day trip.
Schutt is a lab member of Associate Professor Mike Wunder in the Department of Integrative Biology at University of Colorado, Denver, previously spent two seasons at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where he first interacted with polar wildlife. He has also spent two seasons in the Falkland Islands doing fieldwork for a project with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University where he learned many of the techniques he will use on his upcoming expedition to Antarctica.
About Quixote Expeditions:
Quixote Expeditions is an adventure tour operator offering trips on the expedition sailing vessel, Ocean Tramp. They run trips to Antarctica and to the remote Argentine Island of Isla de los Estados. Each trip has a maximum of eight passengers and always includes a guest scientist who conducts active research on the trip and includes passengers in the data collection. This coming season Quixote Expeditions will partner with DAP Airlines to offer flights to join the yacht in Antarctica, so passengers can avoid crossing the Drake Passage. They are also the only tour operator to offer regularly scheduled trips to Isla de los Estados.
Additional information can be found at www.quixote-expeditions.com and www.flyantarctica.com.