Our expert field staff is getting psyched to set sail on our much-anticipated—and brand-new!—expedition to the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan. Here are a few reasons why they're so excited about visiting these isolated islands.
Mark Brazil, Expedition Leader & Ornithologist
Looking Forward To: “The Ryukyu Islands of Japan, which I refer to as 'Japan’s string of pearls' and 'Japan’s answer to the Galápagos.'”
Why It's Exciting: “I love the southwest islands of Japan; they are such a contrast to Hokkaido where I live; and with Amami we have a real biodiversity hotspot.”
Added Cool Factor: Amami-Ōshima—the main island in the Amami Island group—is home to the primeval Kinsakubaru Virgin Forest. During a hike, Mark will point out the many rare bird species among the giant ferns, cycads, and broadleaf trees.
Shirley Campbell, Social Anthropologist
Looking Forward To: "Taiwan. It will be humbling to visit this little island and its cultural complexity.”
Why It's Exciting: “Taiwan was the jump-off point for all the peoples of the South Pacific, apart from the Melanesians. It was from this little island that social scientists have pinpointed the origins of people who now live in the Philippines, Indonesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.”
Added Cool Factor: Taiwan's complex culture makes its capital, Taipei, one of the best food destinations on the planet. A full day in the city offers ample opportunity to try beef noodle soup, stinky tofu fries, and other xiaochi (little snacks) along some 20 streets devoted just to food.
Brad Climpson, Marine Biologist
Looking Forward To: “Visiting some of the most remote islands in Asia to experience their incredible beauty and … not one, not two, but three different cultures in one trip!”
Why It's Exciting: “As a marine biologist, I’m extremely excited to see the amazing underwater landscape on offer. We'll be in some incredibly remote locations, so there should be a fair amount of endemics and pristine untouched areas that not many people get the privilege to see.”
Added Cool Factor: Ishigaki, the hub of Japan's Yaeyama Islands, boasts some of the best diving in the region. Guests will have the chance to search for migrating humpback whales while exploring the Kerama Island chain.
Mike Messick, Cofounder & Expedition Leader
Looking Forward To: “Visiting the Philippines.”
Why It's Exciting: “The Filipinos are the friendliest people on earth.”
Added Cool Factor: Filipinos are known to be so polite, they may not be completely forthcoming if they believe it would hurt someone's feelings. On the streets of Manila, you'll likely hear a few conversations in Taglish or Mix-Mix, a combination of Tagalog and English.
Rich Pagen, Biologist
Looking Forward To: “Traveling from the remote islands in the western Pacific, from the Philippines to Taiwan and all the way to central Japan, there is a stunning array of wildlife—and I can't wait to see them all!"
Why It's Exciting: “As a naturalist, I am thrilled when a rare opportunity arises to compare and contrast habitats and wildlife across a gradient; on this particular trip, the changes in the terrestrial wildlife community, as well as the fish and marine invertebrates, will prove fascinating. And we get to witness these changes firsthand!”
Added Cool Factor: The Calayan rail is endemic to the Philippines and inhabits the Babuyan archipelago, specifically Calayan Island. The bird is small and dark brown, with a bright red-orange beak. There are believed to be less than 200 pairs living the island.
For more information on our upcoming expedition, visit Asia's Subtropical Isles: Philippines, Taiwan & Japan.