The Power of Photography

It feels like everyone is a photographer now. With smart phones and tablets, people are taking pictures everywhere – many public places have disclaimers warning that you may be photographed by entering their premises. Never has it been so hard for a recluse to retain their privacy!

But, never has there been so many people adding photography to trip activities or making it the purpose of their travels. If you are one of those people caught up in the photography craze, there is an exciting way you can use your hobby on vacation to help save wildlife. Dr. Tom Hart, a penguinologist with the London Zoological Society, created Penguin Lifelines, hoping new photographic technology and camera-toting tourists will revolutionize conservation.

Dr. Hart and his co-founder, Dr. Ben Collen have been putting up cameras around Antarctica to film penguin colonies. Cheaper and hardier than a human, the cameras photograph penguin activity year-round. The data has been used to monitor population trends and shape conservation policy.

Tom and Ben hitched a ride this Antarctic summer on Quark Expedition’s Ocean Diamond ship to do their Penguin Lifelines work and on a December voyage I had the chance to see first-hand how they are involving tourists in their research. “Tourists have much better cameras than scientists can afford!” Tom says. He hopes to have tourists take photos at signature spots that scientists can then compare to historical shots for evidence of climate change. Tom would also like to see people work with facial recognition software to help distinguish between penguins on the photos gathered on Antarctica. I love the idea!

If you are tourism professional, is there a way you could include photography to enhance experiences? The Ellis Bird Farm in Lacombe, Alberta installed a beaver cam to capture the underwater antics in their beaver pond and quickly developed a large following. Can you find a way to get your visitors involved in citizen science?

And if you are a curious traveler, does the idea of helping scientists excite you? Perhaps your hobby can provide a new reinventure® in the future.


If you are a curious traveler, does the idea of helping scientists excite you? Click to Tweet.

When snapping your next travel picture think about whether it can help scientists with their research. Click to Tweet.

Could your travel photo help scientists compare historical shots for evidence of climate change & other studies? Click to Tweet.

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