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Cool Things from the Arctic Ice

Posted September 2, 2011 @ 6:47pm | by TravelWild

TravelWild’s southern destination has been a vortex of news lately, with an abundance of new discoveries cropping up around the Southern Ocean.

News from the world of geophysics:

It was hard to miss this mind blowing news: Antarctica meteorites found to contain DNA believed to have originated in space.

If NASA’s findings hold up under scrutiny, it opens up the intriguing possibility that meteorites could have “seeded” other planets, and that these worlds may contain some kind of life form. “It certainly changes our picture of life in the universe,” says Clay Dillow at Popsci.

A new interesting animation shows the motion of ice melt throughout Antarctica and how ice is transported from the interior regions to the coast. Kudos to the scientists for collaborating on a truly international endeavor between Europe, Japan, Canada and the US!

Note: The embedded video doesn’t play in Firefox. Switch to Chrome or IE, or simply click on the YouTube icon at the lower right of the video.

And for an eerie yet beautiful perspective of the ice, take a three-minute vacation to Antarctica’s ice caves!

From the animal world come some unusual developments:

Among an elephant seal colony on Marion Island, some of the more cunning females say no to the harem and polygyny by mating at sea and avoiding the aggressive beachmaster. Perhaps sex at sea with an underdog may be more appealing than being one of tens or hundreds of females destined for this forceful romp.

The lost emperor penguin “Happy Feet” has left for home, thanks to international fundraising and the penguin experts in Wellington, New Zealand. Veterinarians, zookeepers and researchers were uncertain what the fate of Happy Feet should be, as revealed in this recount of events from the emperor penguin’s surprising arrival to his departure this week.

One penguin’s poor sense of direction was about to spark debates about animal welfare, arguments over the ethics of mankind intervening with nature, and broader questions about the funding of conservation in New Zealand.

…’(An) option was to leave it. If it dies, it dies.’ It was carefully considered. Internal DOC (Department of Conservation) emails released to The Dominion Post reveal that staff were already copping abuse from members of the public with their own views about what should happen to Happy Feet. While expert advice was that non-intervention had been the correct policy, staff feared he would die on the beach—in view of a fired-up public.

The situation with Happy Feet recalls the confounding dilemma of charity work for any cause, whether it’s a species on the brink of extinction or an earthquake that has devastated a country: When you talk about an issue in terms of the multitudes, people feel overwhelmed and quickly give up any hope for making change. Present the challenges of just one person or animal, and people are motivated to do all they can to make a difference. In this way, the outlook for Happy Feet is more hopeful than that of the species as a whole.

Follow Happy Feet: OurFarSouth tracks our friend’s journey.

Want to experience stellar wildlife and jaw-dropping landscapes yourself?

The 2011-2012 Antarctic travel season begins soon and TravelWild is busy booking clients on expediti0n-style cruises to see elephant seals, emperor penguins, and a plethora of other wildlife, as well as breathtaking icy landscapes. Call today for information on different types of trips, including those that include kayaking, diving, skiing, hiking and photography options!

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