Thanks to the generosity of friends like you, Earthwatch continues to recover from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty expeditions returned in 2022, and our dedicated scientists welcomed back 640 volunteers throughout the year. This is marked progress over last year, when just 260 volunteers participated on a handful of teams, but still far short of our pre-pandemic levels of 39 expeditions and over 2,100 volunteers. The road ahead to a full recovery is long, but with ongoing support from our global community of donors, volunteers, corporate partners, foundations, scientists, teachers, students, and concerned individuals, we are confident that Earthwatch will get there in the next few years.
Earthwatch’s Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas returned this year for its 7th season following a two-year pause. Dr. Brooks and her staff welcomed 47 volunteers on eight teams between February and July, including four teams of eager high schoolers who got to experience what life as a field scientist could be like should they choose that career path. While the majority of research was conducted on Eleuthera, two teams of volunteers returned to the Abaco Islands for the first time following the devastation that Hurricane Dorian wreaked on the region in September 2019.
We look forward to seeing Dr. Brooks’ comparison of the data collected both pre- and post-hurricane, as well as pre- and post-pandemic, to determine what if any impacts either event had on the endangered green, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles that spend a critical part of their life cycles foraging in the warm, shallow waters of The Bahamas. In the meantime, Earthwatch will finish wrapping up its marine conservation efforts at nine other locations around the world, from Costa Rica to South Africa, from Indonesia to Australia and the United States. As the health of our oceans remains under threat from overfishing, pollution, coastal development, and climate change, every year’s worth of data collected is vital to our complete understanding of the challenges at hand, and our ability to identify the most effective protection and remediation strategies.
Although Earthwatch volunteers do contribute financially to the expeditions they participate on, the cost of scientific equipment, permits and licenses, group accommodations, and 24/7 support staff quickly exceeds what we can reasonably ask volunteers to contribute beyond their significant donations of time and labor. Earthwatch must raise over $500,000 annually in order to fully fund our year-round conservation efforts. This is why donors like YOU are so critical to Earthwatch’s success. Thank you for your steadfast commitment to protecting endangered sea turtles and preserving the health of our oceans.
Your Friends at Earthwatch
Thanks to steadfast supporters like you, Earthwatch made significant progress in 2021 towards recovering from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Last spring and summer, we were able to resume five U.S.-based research expeditions, and in the fall, we began welcoming back volunteers onto several expeditions overseas.
All returning expeditions feature modifications and new protocols to comply with the latest COVID safety guidance and standards established by trusted health and travel authorities such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as our independent security advisor, On Call International. Additionally, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is now required for all Earthwatch volunteers and participants.
Nations in which we are conducting our conservation efforts continue to impose varying travel, quarantine and vaccination requirements that can be confusing, change suddenly with little notice, and are at times difficult to obey. Earthwatch’s enhanced safety requirements will give our volunteers the best opportunity to safely and easily enter and exit countries where our research is located, and as a result, has expanded the number of suspended programs that we can bring back. Despite ongoing policy and now many economic challenges, roughly 2/3rds of Earthwatch expeditions are actively recruiting volunteers for 2022 teams, and we are working diligently to have the remainder re-opened by the end of the year.
We are thrilled to report that Tracking Sea Turtles in the Bahamas is one of the expeditions that has fully re-opened! On February 19th, a group of 11 very excited high school students travelled to Eleuthera for 10 days to collect important species and habitat data for endangered green, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles. The next team of volunteers will head to Eleuthera on March 22nd, followed by five more teams who will split their time between Eleuthera and Abaco through the end of July. Altogether, we expect over 60 volunteers to help with important data collection and community education and outreach efforts in 2022, and we can't wait to be able to send you research updates at the end of the season!
We know that there are many worthy charities that you can support, and we are honored that you chose to invest in Earthwatch scientists and volunteers as they collect data and search for solutions to our most pressing environmental problems. Your support over the last two years has made all the difference for Earthwatch and more than 30 critical conservation efforts around the world. We look forward to updating you on the impact of your gifts later this year, and with any luck, finally putting the pandemic behind us!
Stay well! We are almost there!
Your Friends at Earthwatch
On September 30th, Earthwatch will finish its second fiscal year operating within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the ongoing restrictions and uncertainty, however, we continue to make slow but steady progress towards getting back to “normal.”
Our staff – many of whom were fully furloughed for most of 2020- are back to working full time. In May, we were thrilled to be able to resume four domestic expeditions, in Maine, Utah, California, and Washington, and starting this month, two projects in Andorra and Italy have re-opened, with several more international teams expected to join them by the end of the year. All of these expeditions are “COVID Ready”, which means that they feature modifications and new protocols to comply with COVID safety guidance and standards established by trusted health and travel authorities such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as our independent security advisor, On Call International.
Earthwatch will also begin requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for participation on all expeditions beginning September 1st. This important safety measure will give our volunteers the best opportunity to enter countries where our research is located, and as a result, gives Earthwatch the ability to bring back the majority of our suspended expeditions. In 2022, we plan to have 32 projects returning across 21 countries, including Dr. Brooks' study which is set to welcome volunteers back into the field in March!
Donors like you have helped Earthwatch to survive the worst of the pandemic, and we look forward to the day when we can announce that all expeditions have safely returned to help give endangered species and habitats the protection they deserve. In the meantime, please visit our website to follow our re-opening progress, explore our other expeditions working to protect ocean health, and learn more about our upcoming 50th anniversary celebration!
Director of Annual Giving & Planned Giving
When news of the coronavirus pandemic first broke, we knew that Earthwatch would be severely impacted, but I doubt that any of us expected to go more than a year without operating any of our conservation programs. Yet, that’s where we are today, with all research expeditions through April 2021 cancelled.
As you can imagine, this was a crippling blow to a medium-sized non-profit like Earthwatch. However, we have fabulous news to share! After many months of planning and preparation, we are thrilled to announce that Earthwatch will begin welcoming volunteers back into the field on three expeditions starting next month! Each expedition will feature new prevention measures put into place in accordance with the latest health and safety recommendations in an effort to reduce the risks of COVID.
Unfortunately, Dr. Brooks' sea turtle study in The Bahamas is not one of the expeditions that we are ready to bring back yet, but we will continue to work with our many scientists and field staff around the world to increase our risk management protocols in hopes of being able to add more expeditions to the re-opening list in the coming weeks and months ahead, just as soon as we can do so safely.
Although we still have a very long way to go before we return to full capacity, Earthwatch would not have made it even this far without the amazing outpouring of support we received from our donors and volunteers. Your generosity over the last year helped to save Earthwatch from having to close its doors indefinitely and provided the resources we needed to hunker down and outlast the pandemic.
Thank you again for your thoughtful donation that helped Earthwatch to survive this unprecedented crisis. Earthwatch will get to celebrate our "golden" 50th anniversary later this year only because of caring and committed friends like you!
In our 50 year history, Earthwatch has weathered countless major storms: economic downturns, political uprisings, catastrophic weather events, even other disease outbreaks… but this pandemic is on track to be the most devastating of them all.
When news of the coronavirus broke at the beginning of the year, we knew that Earthwatch would be impacted, but I doubt any of us expected to go more than a year without fielding a single volunteer. Yet, that’s where we are today, with hundreds of expeditions cancelled through February 2021. This has not only impacted the organization financially, but has also impacted our ability to fulfill our mission as we lose hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer service and even more in critical research funding for our scientists, student and teacher fellows, and community partners.
The toll this has taken on Earthwatch is unthinkable, but thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program grant, tremendous personal sacrifices from our staff, a history of prudent fiscal management that had us on solid footing heading into the year, and our generous donors, we’re still standing. Indeed, donors like you have made all the difference between Earthwatch potentially having to close its doors indefinitely and where we stand today—operating at strategically reduced capacity, but still fulfilling our mission the best we can through several new virtual programs.
And now that effective vaccines are on the horizon, we can say with confidence that we WILL make it through this. Earthwatch is one of the lucky ones. However, there are still many uncertainties as we prepare for a variety of reopening scenarios. What is certain though is that Earthwatch’s road to a full recovery will be long and rocky, and that we’ll be relying on donor and volunteer support more than ever in the months ahead to help get us there.
As we get ready to turn the page on 2020, we look forward to a new year filled with renewed hope and possibilities. Thank you for your support that turns scientific discoveries into lasting conservation victories around the world. If you are able to make a special year-end gift now towards Earthwatch’s reopening efforts, please do. We cannot wait until our volunteers are able to safely return to the field and our scientists can resume their research, and your gift today will be a huge help in getting us there!
With best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season,
Your Friends at Earthwatch
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser