Can’t Afford Trip To Antarctica? Maybe A Simulated Experience Will Do

trip to antarctica
Sam Howzit/ Flickr

The idea of a trip to Antarctica is a bucket list item that few travelers have checked off. Tourism numbers are rising as Antarctica welcomes more visitors, but the cost to get there can be prohibitive. Now, Cruise ships head south to visit Antarctica more than ever before. But a luxury cruise ship is surely not a cheap ride. Still, a new theme park attraction might just have the fix needed or at least count as research for the eventual expedition.

SeaWorld Orlando’s largest-ever project, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin takes guests on a simulated voyage to Antarctica, complete with a colony of over 200 penguins in their natural habitat. Getting an authentic feel for Antarctica, guests will experience life on the ice through the eyes of a penguin. Via new state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies, visitors get a unique, personal adventure that is said to be different for everyone.

“When our little hero penguin learns to waddle and slide, we’ll feel what it’s like as the car moves and reacts to the storyline,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s creative director, in a TravelPulse article.Like a slow roller coaster, the ride rocks along gently through a re-creation of Antarctica, making a case for environmental education along the way and ending in an icy penguin habitat.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413794/seaworld-introduces-antarctica.html#storylink=c
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413794/seaworld-introduces-antarctica.html#storylink=cpy

“When he takes his first swim or barely escapes danger, our guests will feel as if they’re right there with him. On this adventure, we learn that we’re a lot like penguins. We’ll find we need each other and our families to survive,” added Morrow.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is the coldest theme park attraction in the world with the temperature set to the low 30 degrees to maintain the penguin’s natural habitat. The area is so big that it is considered a “realm” rather than a single attraction. It also includes a gift shop and a restaurant – two venues travelers are not likely to find on an actual visit to Antarctica.

Check this video for more on Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.


Massive New Penguin Colony Discovered In Antarctica

Antarctica penguin colonyIn December, a massive new colony of emperor penguins was discovered in Antarctica when humans visited a remote location on the eastern coast of the continent for the very first time. Scientists estimate that the colony is home to more than 9000 individual birds, which is forcing them to reconsider their previous estimates of overall population numbers found elsewhere in the Antarctic.

According to Discovery News, evidence of the colony’s existence was first spotted via satellite back in 2009 but no one had been able to visit the location to confirm that the birds were actually there. However, in early December of last year, three staff members from Belgium‘s Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station made the 30-mile trek out to the site to take a look for themselves. What they found was nothing short of remarkable.

The trio first had to navigate through a maze of crevasses just to reach the coastline and when they did make their way down to the water, they discovered more penguins than they had ever thought possible. According to their report, there were five distinct groups of emperors with each group numbering in excess of a thousand birds. Perhaps more importantly, they estimated that about 75% of them were young chicks.

Locating this large colony is seen as a good sign for the overall health of penguins in the Antarctic. Previously, scientists had believed that their numbers could be in decline due to shrinking pack ice in and around the continent. Due to global climate change, the birds still face significant challenges in the future, but for not it seems they are in better health than was first suspected.

[Photo Credit: International Polar Foundation]

Perverted Penguins Perplex Polar Pedestrian

penguins
Dr. George Murray Levick was fascinated with penguin sex. Back in 1911 and 1912, he was the first scientist to stay for an entire mating season in Antarctica in order to study penguin procreation.

What he saw, however, confused him and shocked his traditional English morals. Penguin males were having gay sex, raping females, mounting the corpses of dead females and molesting penguin chicks. When he submitted his report to the Natural History Museum in London, the curators decided it was too shocking and cut those passages out of his report. They did publish an uncensored limited edition of 100 copies to circulate among leading scientists whose morals, supposedly, would not be corrupted by penguins.

Bird expert Douglas Russel explained necrophilia among penguins to the BBC, saying that the males don’t realize the females are dead. But what about the other unusual acts? These sexual variations are worthy of study. Why do animals and humans engage in sex acts that don’t lead to the creation of children? There doesn’t seem to be any practical purpose to it. Or perhaps the assumption that everything in nature has to have a practical purpose is a flawed one.

Dr. Levick was part of Robert Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition, an attempt to be the first to trek to the South Pole. The advance party reached their goal but had been beaten by the Norwegian team of Roald Amundsen. Scott and his advance party all died on the journey back. Levick was not in the advance party and survived. Dr. Levick’s notes have just been published in the journal “Polar Record.”

In the age of the Internet, penguin sex just isn’t that shocking anymore.

[Photo courtesy Brocken Inaglory]

Fact vs. Fiction: Penguin Spotting At Boulder Beach, South Africa

Rock hopper African penguin colonies famously criss-cross the Cape of Good Hope south of Cape Town, South Africa, and one of the most popular spots to see the creatures is at Boulder Beach. There’s a bit of wood decking and infrastructure built around this colony, which makes it easier for tourists to access. As such, though you can get a bit closer to the animals you can expect a bit of a crowd. Don’t get to close either, the animals are still quite wild.

Photo of the Day: the greener side of Antarctica

Photo of the day

We see a lot of amazing images from Antarctica, some with jaw-dropping glaciers and icebergs, others with cuddlier subjects like penguins. Seeing the greener side of Antarctica is rarer, as we tend to envision the continent as perennially covered in ice and snow. While no trees and few leafy plants grow there, you can still see green fields like the one above captured by Flickr user SummitVoice1 on some of the sub-Antarctic islands. The almost plush animal-like chinstrap penguins pop against the background of green grass and white feathers.

Add your unusual travel photos to the Gadling Flickr pool and you may see one featured as a future Photo of the Day.