Undersea Specialist icon Undersea Specialist

Ayla Townsend

A true animal enthusiast from a young age, Ayla grew up in landlocked Kentucky amidst rolling hills of farmland, backwoods, and immense cave systems. Fortunate enough to grow up near many freshwater sources; lakes, rivers, creeks, and ponds were her first introduction to aquatic ecosystems. As an avid traveler and water enthusiast she had many opportunities to visit the ocean. Her fixation on such vibrant marine life forms piqued an interest in marine coastal ecosystems. In 2016 while living in Cartagena, Colombia she began scuba diving and never stopped. Pursuing a professional diving career Ayla moved to Mexico in 2018 where she trained to become a Dive Master and later, Scuba instructor. There she was introduced to Cenotes, openings to the underworld of flooded freshwater cave systems, scattered across the Yucatan Peninsula. Struck by their majestic stillness and the spirit of exploration, she completed training as a cave diver and hopes to continue to engage in scientific exploration and studies in the cave systems of Mexico.

In 2021, working for Lindblad brought her full circle back to her birth state of Alaska. The magnitude and diversity of wildlife in Alaska left her in awe. That interest led her to explore opportunities in marine sciences at the University of Alaska Southeast in Sitka where she completed a scientific diving program. As an expedition diver she strives to continuously expand her diving horizon and gather and share as much useful information as possible to preserve and support the marine ecosystems that she is so passionate about.