Undersea Specialists

Meet the explorers bringing the wonders of the undersea to the surface

Undersea

Undersea Specialists

Nearly every expedition aboard the fleet sails with an undersea specialist who serves as our eyes and ears below the waves, capturing photos and videos and bringing our guests firsthand perspectives of the marine world. Throughout the voyage, they film their dives and manipulate high-definition underwater imaging equipment such as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to reveal surprises in the ocean deep—from bright purple corals in Alaska to delicate sea stars in the frigid waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. 

Their footage is shown on screens in the lounge during daily recaps, allowing guests to share in the excitement of underwater exploration and get a rare look at marine species in their habitat. In many destinations, they also accompany guests on snorkeling excursions and outings by glass bottom boat to interpret the marine world in real time. 

Nearly every expedition aboard the fleet sails with an undersea specialist who serves as our eyes and ears below the waves, capturing photos and videos and bringing our guests firsthand perspectives of the marine world. Throughout the voyage, they film their dives and manipulate high-definition underwater imaging equipment such as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to reveal surprises in the ocean deep—from bright purple corals in Alaska to delicate sea stars in the frigid waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. ...

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Expedition staff are subject to change.

Meet Our Undersea Specialists

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Chris Cook

A self confessed “animal nerd,” Chris falls under many titles: marine biologist, marine interpreter, dive master, science communicator, and naturalist. Chris was lucky enough to grow up on the East Coast of Australia, where there are no shortage of different coastal environments to explore. While growing up, his friends would be surfing while he would be under the waves, snorkel and mask on looking for fish and all the weird and wonderful creatures he couldn’t get enough of. This love of the ocean lead to him completing a Bachelor of Science in 2005. His passion for the ocean and connecting people with its inhabitants landed him in various roles in different zoos and aquariums, but it was the "wild" that was always Chris’s true calling. After working as a whale watching tour guide off the West Coast of Canada and moving back to Australia to work on the Great Barrier Reef, Chris never looked back. Since 2009 Chris’s specialty has been giving presentations on and taking people out to tropical environments, in particular to different parts of the Great Barrier Reef region. In recent years Chris has spent more time living on tropical islands or on ships cruising up and down the reef than on land. Chris’s passion for photography, nature’s creatures, and scuba diving has taken him from diving in the snow in Canada one week to diving in Mexico the next. He has followed his passion to develop his photography and interpretative skills through out Southeast Asia, all along the East Coast of Australia and to the magical Kimberley region off the west coast. The only passions of Chris’s not mentioned are reptiles, birds, insects, dogs, the entire macro world, and of course talking about all of the above over good coffee!

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James Hyde

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf. Then unaware of expedition travel, James longed to blend his love for travel, conservation, and the marine environment. After a tip-off and a reference from a childhood friend he joined the Lindblad Expeditions' team in 2016 as a Dive Buddy. Working across the fleet as a Naturalist and Expedition Diver, James learned all he could about the ecosystems of the beautiful and remote places our ships visit. Finally becoming an Undersea Specialist, he continues to be fascinated by the Ocean and all that is in it. He hopes to inspire conservation of the beautiful and unusual ecosystems that flourish in protected waters. Additionally, he hopes to further the contributions Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic make to the scientific community by engaging in citizen science projects, monitoring for ocean plastics in remote locations, and being involved with other partnerships from Universities, to Research Institutes, to conservation groups worldwide. 

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Rory Mulloy

Rory’s underwater experiences began while working on a citizen science project in Tobago, conducting surveys of coral reefs with Coral Cay Conservation. After completing a degree in foreign languages, and returning to his hometown London, it wasn’t long before Rory felt the lure of the ocean. Thanks to serendipitous circumstances (and some words from President JFK) he soon quit office life to pursue his dream job of working with great white sharks in Australia. After moving to Australia, he spent several year leading expeditions in the wild Southern Ocean conducting research and making films on great white sharks. He gained a Masters in Marine Science from James Cook University, completing a research project on shark repellent technologies. He then began his career with Lindblad, first to the Arctic, then South America, and eventually to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the South Pacific. Rory has also worked for Reef Check Australia leading reef health monitoring surveys and coordinating volunteer and conservation projects around South East Queensland. In 2020 he commenced a PhD in Ecological Engineering, which involves the building of a ‘Living Seawall’ in the Port of Gladstone, at CQUniversity where he also works as a researcher on coastal ecosystems.

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Kayvon Malek

Kayvon Malek is an underwater videographer whose work as an expedition guide and in the wildlife documentary industry have taken him pole to pole. After taking a scuba course on a whim in college, Kayvon’s newfound obsession led him to working as a research diver and then to the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a diver and presenter. It was there that he found his love of sharing the oceans with visitors and began documenting his local subtidal world for any and all to see. Now this passion has taken him across the world to some of the most productive cold water environments on the planet. From Alaska to Norway, and down to the Antarctic Peninsula, Kayvon documents these hidden marine worlds to show to guests aboard polar expedition ships. When not working in the expedition industry Kayvon also works in the wildlife documentary filmmaking world- having worked TV series such as Our Great National Parks for Netflix and Incredible Animal Journeys for Disney+. He cherishes the opportunity to bring the natural world into the homes of people everywhere, so they too can fall in love with the oceans and discover a beautiful world that is more threatened than ever. When not traveling for work, Kayvon can often be found in the kelp forests of his home in the Monterey Bay, perhaps making new pinniped friends, having staring competitions with rockfish, or out on an easter egg hunt for colorful nudibranchs.

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Amy Malkoski

Amy was raised near Cape Cod in coastal Marion, Massachusetts, and her relationship with the ocean and nature has always been an active one. Her parents, avid divers and marine biologists, introduced her to the underwater world when she was very young and she grew up participating in as many water-related activities as possible. Amy spent her summers sailing and exploring intertidal areas of Buzzards Bay. At age 12 she became a certified diver and is now a divemaster with the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). In high school her passion for nature and art developed into a love of photography, using the medium to share her explorations with others.  Amy studied visual arts with a concentration in photography, as well as studying anthropology and sociology at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. While studying, she worked as a lab assistant at a shellfish hatchery in Rhode Island where she gained experience in the husbandry, reproduction, and planting of shellfish, with a focus on oysters. Her interests in the undersea, photography, and the study of cultures have allowed her some wonderful experiences, including developing and leading a land tour and diving trip to the Azorean Islands of Portugal. She has dived and worked in Roatán, Honduras, throughout the U.K., and in the cold waters of Arctic Svalbard, Greenland, the Norwegian fjords and Iceland. Since joining Lindblad Expeditions, Amy has pursued her love for cold water diving and exploring unique regions. Her appreciation for the diversity of life, culture, and art means she’s always looking forward to the next adventure. Quite at home on the sea, she hopes to share her passion with others and inspire in them a love for nature and all of its inhabitants.  

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Maya Santangelo

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry. In 2016, Maya was awarded the Rolex Scholarship for Australasia by the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. Diving around the world for a year to work alongside leaders in dive expeditions, marine research and conservation, her experiences as a Rolex Scholar proved to be formative in cementing her passions and future career directions to make a difference for our blue planet. With an underlying drive to explore and understand life in the ocean, Maya’s aquatic endeavors have seen her diving and working on projects in a variety of marine environments across all seven continents. Whether counting the arms of giant sea stars in Antarctica, or identifying manta rays in French Polynesia, Maya is happiest when underwater. As part of the Lindblad Expeditions team, Maya looks forward to each dive as a new opportunity to share what would otherwise be out of sight-out of mind, and contribute to conservation through science, communication and education.

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Christine West

Christine is an Explorer's Club Fellow, Polar Expedition Diver, Expedition Leader and conservation photographer and videographer. She has worked as a professional diver around the world for over 18 years dedicated to ocean education, exploration and safety. Christine proudly became a USCG certified 100-ton Captain in 2017. She now spends over six months per year in the field documenting and sharing stories about places that are rarely seen and yet are rapidly changing due to the warming of the Earth such as the High Canadian Arctic and Antarctica. Christine uses a variety of tools such as underwater cameras, drones and ROVs to create imagery that serve as voices for ecosystems that need immediate protection. It is important to her to not only document species presence and abundance, but to share their stories and behaviors in a memorable way that drives wider audiences, including inland communities, to care about places that may not be in their backyard but to which they influence and are connected. Christine's passion to share the lesser-known stories continually pushes her to dive the coldest, sometimes murkiest, most remote areas on the planet. Christine was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest along the shores of the Puget Sound. However, she has called the Big Island of Hawaii home since 2014 and plans to continue building her future with her husband there.

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Brett Garner

Brett is a photographer, marine biologist, and educator from California. He is happiest underwater with camera in hand working to inspire marine conservation. He has worked and traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. His underwater work has taken him under the ice in Alaska and also through some of the world’s warmest seas.  He earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA in marine biology and his master’s from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology and conservation. While at Scripps, Brett received a Rapid Ocean Conservation Grant from the Waitt Foundation to produce the multimedia project, Kia Over There , which follows a group of Fijian spear-fishermen and exposes the challenges they face to protect their reef. He followed this work with projects featuring traditional landowners in the Peruvian Amazon and nomadic fishermen in Malaysian Borneo. During the 2017 bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, Brett was on site documenting the changes daily. His work has been featured in publications including the New York Times , the BBC , the Sydney Morning Herald , and the Outdoor Journal. He lives on the coast in Western Australia where he can enjoy the ocean even when he isn’t working. 

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Adam Maire

Naturalist, underwater videographer, captain, and historian, Adam Maire is dedicated to exploring around the globe with a goal of researching, documenting, and teaching others about the beauty, the power and the importance of the earth’s wild places. With degrees in animal science, history and a Scuba Diving Instructor certification, he is passionate about finding extraordinary ways to help others understand the links between the worlds that exist both above and below the surface of the ocean. As a temperate and cold-water diver, he is able to capture video and images of rarely seen marine life to create real connections with the underwater world. Growing up working outside on a cattle ranch in Nebraska, Adam’s love for nature started early in life. Through college he continued to learn about the natural world and sought out jobs that aided in his thirst for knowledge. After college, he joined the US Army and afterward began working around the world as a naturalist guide. Adam’s interests have taken him on great adventures in remote locations, spending several years as a backcountry expedition guide in Alaska, leading multi-day whitewater rafting, hiking and kayaking adventures—even scuba diving in glacially-fed lagoons with harbor seals and sea otters. He has enjoyed a vast array of incredible experiences from leading horseback wildlife tours through the jungles of Nicaragua observing howler monkeys and sloths to teaching scuba diving around isolated islands in South East Asia. In 2012, Adam made the Big Island of Hawaii his home, one of his favorite places to observe and photograph marine life such as coastal manta rays, pilot whales, humpback whales and tiger sharks. Pursuing his deep interest in marine biology, Adam earned his US Coast Guard Captain’s license in 2015. Being a Captain has enabled him to spend more time in and on the water, allowing better opportunities to understand and research the marine environment.  

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Gail Ashton

With a bachelor’s degree from Wales and a Ph.D. from Scotland, Gail has used her skills in marine biology to pursue her passion: investigating marine biodiversity all over the world. As a research scientist based in San Francisco, she has led projects in coastal marine communities from Alaska to Panama. A cold-water diver at heart, Gail jumped at the opportunity to lead a research project on the impacts of climate change that involved spending two years diving under the ice in Antarctica. Other projects have taken her to Florida, Guam and Indonesia. Although the types of critters (invertebrates) she studies are found in oceans throughout the world, it’s the unique balance of species that makes each location exciting. An accomplished researcher, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for marine communities from the tropics to the poles.

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Kim Nesbitt

Kim is a marine biologist, fine art photographer, and avid fisherman. Based in Juneau, Alaska, Lingít Aaní, she spends her time between the mountains and the ocean. Academically, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Denver, and her MBA through a joint program between the University of Denver and Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. After deciding that a career in neurobiology wasn’t her correct path, she had an opportunity to head to Zanzibar where she worked at Chumbe Island Coral Park, the world’s first private Marine Protected Area (MPA), researching habitat preferences of groupers and performing outreach with the local fishing villages. She has since visited all 7 (or now 8!) continents, lived in a tent for weeks at a time in the Himalayas, and was fully nomadic for 6 years. Her varied background has found her working on research projects from humpback whale intelligence to penguin counts to international management styles. She has since become a stereotypical Alaskan woman, living off the road system, backcountry kayaking, finding bears in her backyard, and foraging in the Alaskan wilderness. While not on expedition ships, she works in the blossoming field of kelp mariculture, helping to establish growth protocols and find new sites for kelp farms. She also embarks on commercial fisheries research throughout Alaska. Kim understands that not just her health, but the health of the planet is dependent on the ocean and utilizes her above and below water photography to showcase the beauty of these environments and inspire others to become ocean advocates. Her scientific work has been published in the Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science and numerous field guides. Her imagery has been published by various conservation nonprofits, Alaska Magazine, NOAA, National Geographic, and the Alaska State Museum.

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Rachel Crane

Rachel is a Marine Ecologist, Master Scuba Instructor, and USCG 100-ton licensed Captain. She grew up homeschooled on an alpaca farm in Upstate NY, where her passion for the outdoors was initially cultivated. After attending a marine science summer camp in her teenage years, she fell in love with the ocean, and went on to earn degrees in Ecology and Marine Biology at Unity College in Maine. She spent time in Florida at MOTE Marine Laboratory researching coral disease ecology but found herself drawn into Eco Tourism as a way to more directly be involved in educating the public about our marine resources. Working with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic has provided her the perfect balance between exploring, science, oceans, and mountains, while seamlessly allowing her to share her knowledge and passions in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She is often as excited, and smiling as widely, as those experiencing expeditions for the first time! She is just as happy camping and hiking as she is snorkeling and diving. This has instilled a desire to explore, live, and work in places all over the globe. She has backpacked her way through the jungles and beaches of Central America, spent several seasons exploring wild places in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, snorkeled with humpback whales in Newfoundland, Canada, planted corals in the Florida Keys, and taken adaptive divers on trips to Cozumel, Mexico. When she is not on a Lindblad Expedition, she can be found in the Florida Keys at ocean orientated nonprofits that promote coral conservation, adaptive scuba diving, and citizen science.

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