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Update Regarding COVID-19 and Oceanic Society Expeditions

By Wayne Sentman

Post updated: July 9, 2020 (originally posted March 19, 2020)

Dear Oceanic Society travelers,

As we have all experienced, COVID-19 has fully disrupted our “normal” patterns of behavior. To date, we still have many unanswered questions. At Oceanic Society, we have been closely following all information related to traveler safety including which destinations are reopening and when/how, how to maximize safety while flying, and how to prepare for and manage risks when we return to seeing and experiencing the natural wonders that we so need to commune with. This has included participation in webinars organized by travel industry groups who have been working with physicians at the Cleveland Clinic to develop guidelines to prepare travelers and tour providers with the accurate and vetted recommendations. Of course, until many areas reopen we will not truly know what to expect and what specific concerns will need to be addressed relative to each location.

One thing we do know is that much of the early advice about resuming travel is that preference should be given for trips that have small group numbers and are primarily conducted outdoors. Fortunately for all of us, those are the types of nature travel experiences that we at Oceanic Society have been leading for decades.

At present, we have postponed all of our expeditions (with a few exceptions: Tonga, Palau, and Galapagos) through the end of 2020. We are currently taking bookings for all expeditions in 2021 and beyond, and fully expect to run those expeditions. We are working with all travelers when they book trips to be extra flexible as it relates to our normal terms and conditions.

We anticipate some locations reopening in the coming months: Belize in mid-August, Palau in early September, and Raja Ampat (Indonesia) in early October. As each location we visit reopens, we will be closely monitoring what safety measures they enact and any problems encountered. We will then evaluate whether there is an opportunity for us to safely resume expeditions before the end of 2020. We will also be requiring specific measures that are based on the most up-to-date medical community guidance as soon as we do begin to operate our expeditions again.

I encourage you to call us with your questions as you contemplate taking a trip. We can answer many questions for you, and many of our expeditions can be customized or offered as private trips for families or groups of friends that may have been quarantining together. In the meantime, you may find the links below helpful as you decide whether to plan a trip in 2021.

We look forward to talking with you and helping to arrange the travel plan that works the best for you and your family. We will be updating this post as often as needed, so please check back here for new information. In the meantime, here are some additional resources that we recommend:

With best regards from all of us,

Rod, Wayne, Pei, Brian, Nicole, Linda Sue, Chris, Ashleigh, Lindsay, Rosie, Amanda, and Huntley

Author

Wayne Sentman is our director of conservation travel programs and an Oceanic Society naturalist since 1998. He is an experienced guide with a diverse background in marine mammal, seabird, and marine debris research. Wayne also co-teaches undergraduate field programs in Kenya on human-wildlife conflict and on the use of social media and art to raise public participation in conservation. He recently received a Master's in Environmental Management from Harvard University.

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