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Conservation

Environment, Travel

In Search of a Polar Bear – Part 2

Whose Paw Prints are these?

Just about everyone we were with on our Hurtigruten’s ‘Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the Realm of the Polar Bear’ trip with wanted to see a polar bear. Well, of course, thats one of the main things you visit for.

But it’s definitely not as easy as you think! You can say that about most wildlife of course, it plays to its own tune and if you spot anything in the Arctic, especially in the ocean, then you are very privileged.

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Environment, Travel

In Search of a Polar Bear – Part 1

Choosing a trip

What’s the first thing you think about when planning a trip to the Arctic? Most probably, will I see a Polar Bear?

What’s the second thing you think about? Which of the many trips should I go on and which am I and my party best suited to?

Both are very good questions.

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Environment, Travel

When Having Clean Boots Is Actually Important

Bio Security and the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project

Onboard our Polar Latitudes trip to Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica full focus was on the precious environment we were in and minimising our impact such as we could. Onboard the ship many things were already in place. No plastics, water stations and refillable bottles, bio-digester for food waste and pre-shore visit lectures with IAATO guidelines to adhere to. No food to be taken ashore and critical to ensure everything you went with came back with you. Humour is a great way to deliver these messages, and our team of guides were excellent on this score!

But for South Georgia and Antarctica there was much more, and here is why….

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Environment, Travel

Antarctic Ambassadors

This is quite an introduction from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO):

‘Antarctica is a unique and one of the most perfectly preserved regions on the planet…. see how we work to keep it that way’.

IAATO

Since the first mainland Antarctic landing, thought to be by the sealer Captain John Davis on 7th February 1821 to the first tourist expedition in mid-1900’s there have and always will be, people who want to experience Antarctica. Initially it was the science, pursuit of knowledge and of course geographic claim that were the key reasons for making the treacherous journey to this remote land. With the Artic being more accessible and cheaper to reach, Antarctica escaped mass tourism until the 1900’s then this is what happened…

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Environment, Travel

When a Gift to Yourself is a Gift to the Planet

Remember the very successful Charity Auction in July for both South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and the UK Antarctica Heritage Trust (UKAHT)? There were some fabulous donations and some surprising ones – Four Seasons Maldives kindly donated 5 large Coral Frames to the auction! What’s the link? It’s kind of like connecting the dots – except with oceans instead! The Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean to be precise, they are joined – get out a map and check it out. But still the SGHT Team and Four Seasons ‘ummed and ahhed’ over whether the ‘ocean restoration and conservation’ association between these two distant places would result in auction bids for the frames. It did!

Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know the stories behind the like-minded people who successfully bid on the coral frames. Fortunately, they both agreed to let me share some insights….

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Environment, Travel

We’ve Lost Five Times the British Isles worth of Sea-Ice from Antarctica! 

Scientists are trying to unravel the cause of the shrinking sea-ice, or ice that floats, on the surface of Antarctica’s Oceans. Currently its much lower than has previously been measured as a September ‘average’.  In fact the area of ice that is missing is about five times the size of the British Isles. 

I can’t imagine how you go about measuring the sea-ice around Antarctica, but whatever way you look at it, we are missing A LOT!

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Environment

Seriously Royal Mail – you have to ‘Opt Out’ of receiving junk mail that you never asked for?

Worst still, you have to register EVERY TWO YEARS to stop it!

Does anyone these days really need a physical piece of paper to order a pizza delivery? Well apparently Papa Johns thinks so. Along with the local estate agent Robsons and Anglian Windows!

We have lovely postmen in Chorleywood, friendly, chatty and helpful. My last conversation though was about about the physical ‘junk’ mailers that he wanted to give me, along with my package! This is how it went….

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Environment, Travel

Has Anyone Asked the Penguins What They Think?

Protecting the Waters Around South Georgia – The Marine Protection Area Five Year Review is Underway

I’m currently reading Mensun Bound’s book, The Ship Beneath the Ice – his journal of the search and discovery of Shackleton’s sunken ship Endurance. He talks about Shackleton’s Men having to kill and eat penguins. Twenty-eight men and numerous dogs needed to be fed – with Emperor penguins mainly plus some Adelies. I liked what Bound said next:

‘We might wish to shield our eyes from the horrors of what Shackleton’s men did to those birds a hundred years ago, but what the modern world has visited upon them is infinitely worse. The way in which we have blighted and befouled their environment has disrupted their feeding patterns and breeding cycles to the extent that many of their nesting grounds on the west side of the Peninsula are now ghost rookeries. Were Shackleton alive today I have no doubt he would be a fervent environmentalist.’

It led me to ponder on the balancing act of ensuring the waters around South Georgia can sustain the teeming wildlife in it while fulfilling some of human kind’s seemingly insatiable appetite for fish!

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Environment, Travel

What a Juxtaposition!

South Georgia Heritage Trust’s Whale Conservation – Versus – Iceland Begins Whale Hunting as of 1st September 2023!!

This week marks the safe return of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Quest crow’s nest, to its home in the crypt of All Hallows by the Tower of London, following its exhibition travels to Athy, Ireland and Grytviken, South Georgia.

While we celebrate that return along with many of man’s GREATEST qualities that are to be found in the Shackleton endeavours, with an event that supports the continued conservation work of SGHT largely including whales, I can’t help but contemplate the juxtaposition of the Icelandic governments decision to go forward with the whale hunting this season, eliminating Fin whales in a most barbaric and cruel way. The WORST of man’s qualities around this decision!

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