Around-the-Tropic World Expedition was organized under
the auspices of the Institute of Ecotechnics, and
led by Capt. Robert “Rio” Hahn, FRGS,
The purpose of the expedition was to explore and learn
how cultures of the tropic world have maintained themselves
in ecological harmony with their local environment
for hundreds, and in some instances, thousands of
major accomplishments of the expedition included the
production of a 12 part cultural documentary film
series, Journeys To Other Worlds; carrying out studies
of medicinal and economic plants; studies of traditional
tropical architecture; performing the first collections
of marine microorganisms from the Indian Ocean, which
were used in research for the Biosphere 2 Project;
and training of candidates for the Biosphere 2 Project.
expedition accomplished the first, and to date only,
circumnavigation voyage of the R/V Heraclitus, sailing
from San Juan, Puerto Rico to San Juan, Puerto Rico,
in a westerly direction.
the course of the 40-month expedition, the Heraclitus
sailed over 30,000 miles and called into 25 ports.
The crew which numbered from a minimum of seven to
a maximum of 19, included over 100 different people
from a dozen nations.
Guided by a reef pilot, the expedition re-surveyed
the Spanish route through the northern Australian
Great Barrier Reef.
Amazon River Expedition
Amazon River Expedition was born out of the Institute
of Ecotechnics 1979 “Jungle Conference: Man,
Jungles, and Survival,” held in Penang, Malaysia.
One of the speakers at the conference, the late Prof.
Richard Evans Schultes of Harvard University, widely
considered to be the father of modern ethnobotany,
suggested the Institute undertake the expedition utilizing
its research vessel, the R/V Heraclitus, in order
to continue research he began on his Alpha Helix (Scripps
Oceanographic Institution) expedition.
main purpose of the expedition, organized and managed
by Scientific Chief, Capt. Robert “Rio”
Hahn, FRGS, FN86, was to collect and document plants
of economic and medicinal interest used by native
peoples of the NW Peruvian Amazon.
The expedition discovered that the knowledge of how
to utilize the plants, traditionally passed on by
the shaman to their apprentices, was disappearing
more rapidly than the plants themselves, since when
a shaman died, they often no longer had students to
carry on their work.
The expedition collected approximately 350 plant species
of ethnobotanical interest, and made approximately
1500 voucher specimens under the direction of Expedition
Botanist, Robyn Tredwell. These botanical specimens
were distributed to herbaria in Iquitos and Lima Peru,
the Missouri Botanical Garden, the New York Botanical
Garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Institute
of Ecotechnics Herbarium.
In the ship’s phytochemical laboratory, to preserve
them for later research, approximately 120 rotovapor
extractions were made of the most active and promising
The R/V Heraclitus, utilized as the expedition vehicle
and base, sailed from Penang, Malaysia to Belem, Brazil,
and then, after converting its sails to a rain catchment
device, motored 2,200 miles up the Amazon to Iquitos,
Peru, where the expedition carried out research under
an agreement with the Peruvian government.
expedition crew was composed of persons from Canada,
the United States, Australia, Cyprus, Great Britain,
and eventually included native Amazonian Indians.