Video of the Day: Antarctic baby seals

Antarctica has been the subject of several Photo and Video of the Day posts in the last few months, but it’s hard to resist adorable penguins and jaw-dropping icebergs. So sharing a video of baby fur seals frolicking in the sub-Antarctic was a no-brainer. National Geographic nomad and past Gadling contributor Andrew Evans is currently crossing oceans on a Cape (Horn) to Cape (Good Hope) trip and caught up with these cuties on the island of South Georgia, home to 95% of the world’s population of fur seals. Andrew explains in the video how the female seals will spend much of their lives breeding and the little ones will have to quickly demonstrate how “fierce” they are to survive. You can even catch a glimpse of a rare “blondie” fur seal as your jealousy of Andrew’s fabulous travels mounts.

Tell us about your fiercest travel videos and leave us a link in the comments, or add your photos to the Gadling Flickr pool.

German woman attempting to paddle around South America

Earlier this week, long distance kayaker Freya Hoffmeister set off on another epic journey. The German woman, who once spent 332 days kayaking around Australia, has set her sights on an even bigger challenge – a solo circumnavigation of South America.

On Tuesday, Hoffmeister set out from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she immediately started paddling south, down the Atlantic Coast. Her first few days went fairly well, as she knocked off more than 30 miles per day, but high winds appeared late in the week, slowing progress to a crawl.

For the next two years, Freya’s days will mostly be spent in the cockpit of her kayak, while nights will be passed camping on shore. She’ll take occasional breaks along the way of course, enough time to recharge her batteries and enjoy some creature comforts, but for the most part, Hoffmeister will be focused on making progress – rain or shine.

The voyage is expected to take upwards of 24 months and cover 15,000 miles before Hoffmeister completes her journey around South America and returns to Buenos Aires. Before she does that however, she’ll need to brave the turbulent waters off Cape Horn, turn north along the Pacific Coast, and face thousands of miles of remote, empty coastlines. After months of travel, she’ll then navigate through the Panama Canal, back to the Atlantic Ocean, and turn south once again. A daunting task to say the least.

You can follow Freya’s progress on her daily blog and trip map, which is automatically updated as she moves along.

Spending two years in a kayak will require a lot of dedication and hard work. But considering her track record, I think Freya may be up to the task.

First ever circumnavigation of the Americas ends tomorrow

The Ocean Watch, a 64-foot long rugged sailing ship, is scheduled to arrive back home in Seattle tomorrow after spending nearly 13 months at sea. The yacht, and her four person crew, are about to complete the first circumnavigation of North and South America, a journey of more than 25,000 miles, and in the process, perhaps help us to better understand the health of the oceans as well.

The project is known as the Around the Americas expedition, and until a few years ago, it wouldn’t have even been possible. But, thanks to global climate change, the Northwest Passage has become a navigable waterway, at least for a few weeks each year, and the crew of the Ocean Watch took advantage of that fact last year to complete the first stage of the voyage. After leaving Seattle, the ship sailed north to Alaska, and then proceeded even further north to cross the legendary passage that sits above Canada in the Arctic Ocean.

After making their way through the icy waters of the Northwest Passage the crew turned the ship south, running down the east coast of Canada and the U.S. From there, it was on to the Caribbean, then along the coast of Mexico and on towards South America. The voyage continued all the way to Cape Horn, where the Ocean Watch braved some of the most dangerous waters on the planet as they sailed across the Drake Passage, before turning north once again. The return trip saw the ship hugging the western coastlines of both North and South America. Now, they stand one day away from completing the first ever circumnavigation of those two continents, which will be complete upon their return to Seattle.

The journey wasn’t undertaken just for the pure adventure, although there was plenty of that too. Along the way, the crew, which consists of Captain Mark Schrader, First Mate David Logan, and watch captains David Thoreson and Herb McCormick, have taken a variety of scientific readings about the waters they’ve passed through. The team, which was joined in various stages by guest scientists and educators, hopes to use the data they’ve recorded to examine the impact of climate change on the polar ice caps and coral reefs, as well as the level of acidification in the oceans and the impact of pollution and debris.

This has been an amazing voyage to follow, and the crew is about to earn a well deserved break after months at sea.

[Photo credit: Around the Americas]

Photo of the Day (5.11.10)

If someone asked you to pick out Ushuaia on a map, would you know where to look? That’s the location of today’s Photo of the Day, taken by Flickr user pancha!.

Ushuaia (hear the pronunciation here) is the capital of Argentine province Tierra del Fuego and regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Tourists flock to Ushuaia for skiiing, wildlife, Antarctica-bound cruises, and apparently the beautiful sunsets. Light is key in any great photo, and this is certainly a great example of capturing a photo at just the right moment.

If you’ve been to a remote destination and snapped a great photo of it – share it with us! Drop it in our Gadling Flickr Pool and it could be tomorrow’s Photo of the Day!