With over 30 years of experience in the educational travel industry our school program “Young Naturalist Expeditions” has been designed to foster cultural interaction and to enhance the natural sciences taught in the classroom with hands-on experience in the field. Imagine students experiencing some of the rarest and most beautiful marine life on Earth while studying the natural history of a marine environment. It’s an amazing way to make the science textbooks come alive!

The cultural component of the Young Naturalists Expeditions recognizes that when people of different cultures connect, there comes an unspoken understanding of our shared humanity. With this said, students will have the opportunity to meet members of remote communities. These communities often live without electricity, with the exception of the odd solar panel or two, and minimal freshwater obtained from wells. Their lives are filled with simplicity and contentment, something we rarely experience in our own lives. But we do share a commonality; family, faith and growth.

In the educational component we have designed into our expeditions two curricular options:

1. The Panterra Expedition Workbook which puts the students to work (prior to and during the trip) exploring, discovering, identifying, recording and researching the marine organisms and environments encountered. High School students can receive credits for completion of the workbook.

2. The Panterra Expedition Logbook which allows students to record their encounters and experiences. It is solely experiential.
Either option is a great way for students to explore career interests in the many fields of natural sciences. The expeditions offer an experience of a lifetime encompassing life skills, education and culture.

Panterra Facebook Photo Album links to past Young Naturalist Expeditions:
Cochrane High
Aurora Academic Charter School
Oak Bay High

Why the Sea of Cortez?

UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Sea of Cortez has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations because of their importance to the world community. Its islands have been called a natural laboratory for the investigation of speciation. Moreover, almost all major oceanographic processes occurring in the planet’s oceans are present, giving it extraordinary importance for study.

The area is one of striking natural beauty in a dramatic setting formed by rugged islands with high cliffs and sandy beaches, which contrast with the brilliant reflection from the desert and the surrounding turquoise waters. It is home to 695 vascular plant species, more than in any marine and insular property on the World Heritage List. Equally exceptional is the number of fish species: 891, 90 of them endemic.

The area, moreover, contains 39% of the world’s total number of species of marine mammals and a third of the world’s marine cetacean species.

Our Young Naturalist Expeditions – Journey to the Sea of Cortez is truly a voyage of discovery. With the birth of the San Andreas fault and the colliding of a land mass originating from southern mainland Mexico into what is known today as southern California, the basin of the Sea of Cortez was created. In the wake of the movement and ultimate collision, deep underwater structures, canyons and troughs were created.

It is the depth of these structures that causes the upwelling of nutrient-rich waters creating the basis for a highly productive marine food chain. Starting with the simplest of oceanic plant life, phytoplankton, to the top of the food chain, sharks and killer whales, this is where the educational component of our Young Naturalist Expeditions begins.

This 8 day, all inclusive, live-aboard adventure departs on the 110 foot MV Adventure, from the beautiful city of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Each day at sea will offer new activities and encounters as we explore the semi-arid desert islands and cruise through the blue waters of the Sea of Cortez studying the natural history of a marine environment.

Activities include snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, beach-combing, low tide exploration and visits to remote communities of fishermen and goat herders. Anticipate encounters with whales, dolphins, sea lions, manta rays, spectacular bird life and an amazing array of undersea life. We might even get into a game of soccer or volleyball with one of the communities visited.

On this expedition we will endeavor to include the Baja Gifts Program and, at least one, of the two Wildlife Conservation Projects.

Our expedition to the Sea of Cortez has been ongoing for over 19 years. Most of the schools that participate in the program have been with us for more than a decade returning with younger siblings of past participants. See below for the Expedition Program Outline.

In addition, join us on our  Summer Cruise for Educators – Professional Development. This gives teachers an opportunity to learn more about the marine environment and to take back to your classroom valuable resource material to assist in your science lesson plans. It also allows teachers to check out Panterra before making a commitment to book a school program. If you do book a school program, we’ll refund you the cost of the Panterra portion of the trip. Teacher participation in our “Young Naturalist Expeditions” program is cost-free.

Testimonial from a student:

In 2005 I participated in the Journey to the Sea of Cortez expedition with my school. My initial thoughts were that it was going to be an amazing trip, where I would see and learn some really cool things. The experience I had rose above and far beyond that. It took me a few years to fully realize the impact that you, your staff and the program had on me, but you have truly blown my mind.

You showed me that humans aren’t the most important things on this earth, and we have a responsibility as creatures with the ability to have the greatest impact on our environment, to go out into the world and make positive changes. We are part of a system far greater than we are, and every living thing deserves the right to quality of life just as we expect it for ourselves.

I’m now studying at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan campus in Kelowna. After two years of being totally uninterested in general arts, I decided to take a year off and look at what really mattered to me. I realized that I want to work in wildlife conservation with a focus on endangered species. For such amazing creatures to be threatened because of human-related factors is not something that I can comfortably sit and see happen. I’m now pursuing a degree in zoology, and afterwards I’m planning on obtaining a degree in conservation as well.

This past summer, I worked for the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on the Sunshine Coast. Orphaned, sick, and injured animals were what we cared for and treated. The dedication and passion these people worked with was absolutely inspiring, and further drove me to pursue a career in the wildlife field.

I guess what I really wanted to say, was thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to the world around me, and the importance in protecting it. You stated in your bio on the Panterra website that “your goal throughout your career has been to make a difference in the lives of students you’ve come in contact with, turn them on to further learning, and instill in them the great importance and responsibility of being the future guardians of our planet”. Mission accomplished. I never thought anyone could ever have such an impact on the course my life would take, but you have become that person. Thank you so much for everything and if there’s any way that I can get involved, please let me know.

Eric Becker – Meadowridge School