Categorized | Environment, Featured

National Geographic finalist needs your vote

(Photo courtesy of Dash Masland)


National Geographic Channel announced the launch of the April 2011 Expedition Granted online voting contest, in which two National Geographic Young Explorers go head-to-head to win $10,000 toward their expedition of choice.

Leading up to NGC’s signature event Expedition Week – which features seven straight nights of TV premieres on groundbreaking expeditions – Dashiell “Dash” Masland, 27, and Trevor Frost, 25, will make on-air appeals and provide updates to solicit votes.

Viewers have nine more days to vote for their favorite explorer online at

As part of the initiative, voters are automatically registered for a four-person, 10-day adventure to the Galapagos Islands, courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions.

Dash’s proposed expedition is to study the dietary habits of Hawaiian monk seals, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Trevor plans to work with scientists and park rangers in three parks in Indonesia ─ where the illegal wildlife trade is rampant ─ to better protect its endangered creatures and habitats.

Winners will be announced Thursday, April 7, during Expedition Week. The runner-up receives $2,500.


* Dash, “the Poopologist”

A Maine native, Dash fell in love with seals that lived on her state’s coast but found her true calling to be a marine biologist after multiple international expeditions to fragile marine ecosystems as a teenager.

For her master’s degree research, she studied the diet of grey seals by analyzing DNA in seal scat, aka poop. And thanks to her father, her nickname “the Poopologist” was born!

For her expedition, Dash proposes to go to Hawaii and study the Hawaiian monk seal, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, to try to help save this species from extinction.

She will study a small group of seals whose population is increasing, despite the overall population’s rapid decrease. This decrease is thought to be caused primarily by high rates of juvenile starvation.

Dash will collect seal scat and use DNA analysis to determine prey items of the Hawaiian monk seal, gaining insight into their biology and ecology and allowing for more effective conservation strategies.

Dash has explored more than 20 countries on four continents. Her background ranges from researching a devastated stretch of coral reef in Honduras to spending weeks on islands without electricity or running water studying grey seals in the middle of the New England winter to working at the Bigelow Laboratory studying marine bacterial genetics.

* Trevor, the Park Protector

On the James River in Richmond, Va., Trevor grew up exploring the James Rivers Park System’s rapids and islands as well as observing its abundant wildlife. It was here that he met his hero, local park ranger Ralph White, and was first inspired to help better protect parks around the world.

For the last five years, Trevor has worked to save endangered wildlife and wild places, leading eight international conservation expeditions to four continents.

Now, Trevor proposes to embark on an expedition to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia to investigate three parks — all UNESCO World Heritage Sites — to find ways to help them protect the environment and wildlife.

First, he will work with scientists to pinpoint conservation strategies that help save critically endangered animals like the orangutan and sun bear; second, he will document the work of the park rangers, who dedicate their lives to protecting the parks.

In his background, Trevor is most proud of his work with the International League of Conservation Photographers and a number of Canadian conservation organizations that together helped secure a permanent ban on mining in the Flathead River Valley of British Columbia.

National Geographic Channel

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN).

Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition.

NGC has carriage with all of the nation’s major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in nearly 70 million homes.

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