SEEtheWILD: Empowering travelers to become wildlife heroes

EEtheWILD – Protect Endangered Wildlife Through Conservation Travel

SEEtheWILD offers meaningful adventure vacations that help protect endangered species across the globe. After three years of successful conservation tourism projects focused on protecting sea turtles through, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and Brad Nahill formed SEEtheWILD to support a wider variety of destinations and endangered species. Since 2008, SEE Turtles has generated more than $200,000 for local turtle conservation programs in Costa Rica, Baja Mexico and Trinidad.

SEEtheWild currently offers various adventures featuring opportunities to view and help protect Wild Cats, Bears, Birds, Turtles, Sharks, and Whales. SEEtheWILD and SEE Turtles are non-profit projects of the Ocean Foundation.

Interview with Brad Nahill, Co-Founder & Director

What makes SEEtheWILD unique?

SEEtheWILD is the world’s first wildlife conservation travel website. It’s the only place travelers can go to find wildlife tours and volunteer expeditions that have been evaluated by conservationists and contribute directly towards the protection of wild animals. For every trip booked through the site, at least 5 percent of the trip cost will go towards local conservation organizations, which is five times higher than the standard set by organizations like 1% For the Planet.

Tell us about what you aim to achieve through SEEtheWILD.

Our primary goal is to increase the amount of funding from tourism that goes to wildlife conservation efforts. Nature tourism generates billions of dollars for companies and governments around the world while species go extinct and non-profits struggle for funding. We also want to encourage travelers to become ambassadors for conservation when they return home by using their voice, buying habits, and spare time to advocate and volunteer for animals.

How do you think wildlife conservation travel benefits the traveler?

Seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat can be one of the most inspiring experiences in life. Hearing the shrill call of the elephant or watching an enormous whale glide by inspire emotions that no zoo or aquarium can recreate. This type of travel can help to assure travelers that their favorite animals will be there the next time they visit and that their grandchildren can have the same opportunity. Wildlife conservation travel also aims to educate people on the threats that animals face and empowers them to contribute towards ending those threats.

How are the SEEtheWILD operators selected?

We developed a list of criteria that we use to determine which tour operators truly support wildlife conservation, including strong financial support, carbon reduction, emphasis on local businesses and guides, and low impact lodging. Every operator listed on has gone through a comprehensive application process. We started with five US-based operators and non-profits who have demonstrated industry leading practices: Earthwatch Institute, Wildland Adventures, Maple Leaf Adventures, Reefs to Rockies, and Geographic Expeditions. Eventually we will expand to include operators and non-profits based outside of the US. You can learn more about our partnerships with travel organizations here.

How are the ‘benefiting organizations’ – or the conservation projects to which 5% of the tour price is donated – selected?

All of the benefiting organizations are connected with specific wildlife tours or volunteer programs. These organizations must be conducting conservation work on the focus species of the tour in the destination. In many cases, we work with our operator partners to support organizations that they trust. Where there aren’t any current established relationships, we search out the most effective local organizations with the help of our colleagues in the conservation community.

Brad Nahill has worked in sea turtle conservation and ecotourism for over 10 years. While living in Costa Rica, he worked with four sea turtle nesting beaches and worked with or consulted for several ecotourism companies, including EcoTeach and Costa Rican Adventures. He helped to found the EcoTeach Foundation and worked with Rare on a project building community-based ecotourism enterprises in World Heritage sites. As co-founder of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD, he leads marketing efforts, including working with tour operators, giving educational presentations, fundraising,and developing promotional materials.