Maggots Make Home In Woman’s Ear After Peru Trip

John Kucharski, Wikimedia Commons

At one point on her trip-of-a-lifetime to Peru, Rochelle Harris swatted a fly out of her ear and thought little of it. On the flight home, however, she began to hear “scratching sounds” and feel excruciating pain on the side of her face. Then, the next day, fluid leaked out of her ear onto her pillow. After tests at the doctor, it was revealed that maggots had chewed nearly a half-inch hole in her ear canal (ew!). Turns out that pesky fly that laid eggs in her ear was a New World screwworm fly, a species whose larvae feeds on the tissue of its host.

Harris’ story will be featured on Discovery Channel’s upcoming series Bugs, Bites and Parasites. To make sure you don’t end up on the show (seriously, you don’t want to earn your five minutes of fame this way), make sure you study which animals and insects to be aware of before setting off on a trip. From yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria (all transmitted by mosquitos) to the pneumonic plague (transferred person-to-person), don’t let an experience like Harris’ ruin your vacation. Be prepared by getting the appropriate shots and by keeping antibiotics in your first aid kit. And please, watch out for those flies.

[via news.com.au]

Discovery Adventures Announces New Tours For 2013

Discovery Adventures offers new options for 2013The calendar may still say 2012, and I know we all have a busy holiday season to navigate yet, but it is never too early to start planning our trips for the new year ahead. To help us out with that process, Discovery Adventures has announced a host of new tours and destinations, adding even more depth to an existing line-up of stellar itineraries.

For 2013, Discovery has unveiled 13 new tours to 11 new countries, offering diverse and unique experiences in some of the most amazing places on the planet. Those new destinations include Malaysia, Bhutan, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, Chile, Israel and Singapore. The trips are designed to immerse travelers in the local culture and provide opportunities that aren’t easily found anywhere else. For instance, on the new Moroccan Dreams itinerary, visitors will camp in the desert and explore remote mountain villages, while the Malaysia & Borneo Adventure will provide contrasts between the bustling urban settings of Kuala Lumpur with the tranquil and serene rainforest. Other options include a visit to Iceland‘s lava fields, learning to cook in India and searching for the Big Five on safari in Kenya and Tanzania.

As the travel arm for the very popular Discovery Channel, Discovery Adventures feels that it has an outstanding reputation to live up to. That’s why the company is so selective about the destinations and tours that it offers. These new additions to their catalog bring the total number of trips to just 34, which is in sharp contrast to some other companies that offer dozens of options.

Their commitment to providing high quality tours for their guests doesn’t end there, however, as the company has also announced a new policy that guarantees that 100% of its trips will depart as scheduled. The new policy begins in January of next year and ensures that clients will be able to both book, and travel, with confidence.

[Photo Credit: Discovery Adventures]

Shark Week 2012 Comes To South Africa

South Africa celebrates Shark Week!The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is always amongst the most highly anticipated annual events on cable television. For one week out of the year, the network is pretty much all sharks all the time. This year’s edition of Shark Week, which is now in its 25th year, begins on Sunday (August 12) and takes viewers to South Africa where they’ll get an up close and personal look at these awesome predators as they’ve never seen them before.

Shark Week 2012 begins with a visit to South Africa’s Seal Island where researchers go in search of a massive great white known as Colossus. Spanning 14 feet in length and dominating all other sharks in the water, Colossus is a legendary monster that required the development of a new camera to safely capture him on film. The crew reportedly took some amazing footage of this giant fish, but not before he nearly ate their expensive new toy.

To celebrate South Africa’s prominent role in Shark Week 2012, the Visit South Africa Facebook page has taken on a special shark theme. Not only are there plenty of frightening images of the aquatic beasts, but the page is also hosting a “Shark Smarts” quiz that rewards one winner with a trip for two to visit South Africa for themselves. That trip includes airfare, three nights stay in Cape Town at the luxurious Table Bay Hotel and a shark cage diving experience with Marine Dynamics.

If you’re a fan of Discovery’s Shark Week then set your DVR’s to capture all the action starting on Sunday, then head over to the Visit South Africa page to test your knowledge of the big fish. Who knows, it could just earn you a face-to-face encounter with a great white.


Search For Amelia Earhart Turns Up Few Clues

Amelia Earhart boards her planeA much vaunted and highly publicized search for the remains of Amelia Earhart has apparently turned up little in the way of new evidence to help solve the puzzle of the famous aviator’s ultimate fate. A team of researchers, armed with an array of high-tech gear, spent the past week searching a remote island in the South Pacific, but appear to have come up short in their quest to solve one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century.

We first told you about the expedition, which was spurred on by intriguing new evidence, at the beginning of the month. At that time the research team was just setting out for Nikumaroro, the tiny island that some believe may have been the final resting place for Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan. The duo went missing back in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world, leaving many to ponder their fate for the next 75 years.

This most recent search for their whereabouts cost $2.2 million and employed the use of high-definition underwater cameras and sensitive sonar in an attempt to locate Earhart’s Lockheed Electra aircraft. According to Reuters, those efforts were stymied by equipment failures and steep, rocky terrain just off the coast of Nikumaroro. The coral reefs that surround the atoll feature craggy outcroppings and severe drops, with depths ranging from 110 to 250 feet. Those natural obstructions slowed down the search process and ultimately led the search team to cut short the expedition and return to Hawaii.

The researchers say that the expedition wasn’t for nothing, however, and that they are returning home with hours of video and sonar data to pore over. While they weren’t able to identify the wreckage from what they’ve seen so far, they hope that when they get the opportunity to analyze it later they’ll be able to find some hidden clues. They’ll have to search quickly, however, as a television show about the expedition is set to air on the Discovery Channel on August 19.

US Government Denies Existence Of Mermaids


The U.S. National Ocean Service has released a statement confirming there is no scientific evidence for mermaids.

Interesting – I didn’t realize this was a subject of debate.

Apparently it wasn’t until Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet network ran a spoof documentary titled “Mermaids: The Body Found.” The channel’s own press release labels the show “science fiction.” This wasn’t enough for some viewers and according to the BBC, the National Ocean Service received a couple of inquiries about the fishy folk. To keep the public from reviving the superstitions of illiterate 19th century sailors, they made a public denial of something they never thought they’d have to deny.

When I read this I went through the predictable range of reactions. First I laughed, then I felt smugly superior, then I said, “Hey, I need to write this up for Gadling!” Then I did something I didn’t expect.

I got very, very afraid.

The public dialogue is awash with ridiculous assertions: Obama is a Muslim, the Moon landings were faked, all foreigners hate America, aliens regularly visit Earth to anally probe drunk farmers, etc., etc. Last week we even learned that some radical ultra-Orthodox Jews believe Hitler and top Zionists plotted to create the Holocaust so the Jews could create Israel. I’m still shaking my head over that one.

This level of ignorance is the result of many factors, but one cause rules over them all: a complete lack of context. Our schools teach us so little about the world that it’s easy to believe anything. Even the most basic knowledge of history, biology, evolution, oceanography, or folklore would guarantee that someone wouldn’t believe in mermaids, yet some people who went through the educational system of the most powerful country in the world lack this knowledge.It’s easy to laugh this off when it’s about mermaids. It’s not so funny when educated people seriously ask me if I had to pack a two-month supply of food to live in Ethiopia, or if Spain still has roving gangs of bandidos.

And if you think nobody is encouraging and profiting off this rampant ignorance, think again. The Republican Party of Texas included as part of its 2012 platform that it opposes the teaching of critical thinking in schools. And no, I’m not picking on the GOP. All politicians manipulate public ignorance to further their own ends. With elections coming up, it’s time to get educated.

This is why I love travel. It gets rid of my ignorance and teaches me that I’m ignorant about things I didn’t even know I was clueless about. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, it changes unknown unknowns into known knowns. Example: five years ago I thought all of Somalia was in chaos – then I learned about Somaliland. OK, I thought, it’s safe for Somalis. I still assumed that it was too dangerous for foreigners. Then I actually went there and checked. Guess what? I’m still alive!

Knowledge is the great weapon of national freedom and personal liberation. If more people got out of their comfort zones and investigated their assumptions, maybe the American public would never have been convinced that one group of people were ignorant savages and needed to be pushed off their land, or another group of people were too stupid to take care of themselves and needed to be enslaved, or that another group of people had more loyalty to the old country than America and needed to be forced into internment camps for the duration of World War II.

This ignorance of “the other” is still rampant today and can turn ugly at any time. It’s in our own best interest to get out of our comfort zones. We don’t have to leave the country to travel. Our comfort zone ends at the other side of the tracks.

Always question, always be suspicious of an authority’s motives, and keep exploring.

Photo of the Sip ‘n Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana, courtesy Flickr user vsmoothe. That woman is a human actress in a mermaid suit, in case you’re wondering. And yes, I totally want to go swimming with her.