Video of the Day – Underwater in the Galapagos


I’m not one to shy away from a good adventure. I’ve bungee jumped Victoria Gorge, plummeted from a plane at 15,000 ft, and stood atop the summit of Kilimanjaro.

But the thought of strapping a cylinder to my back and descending into the depths of the ocean mildly terrifies me.

If there was one video that could change that and make me reconsider my fear, it would be today’s Video of the Day from underwater videographer Darek Sepiolo. Captured along the coast of the Galapágos Islands with a Sony EX1, this 7 minute adventure displays some of the incredible sea life that the Galapágos is famous for. From sea lions and exotic schools of fish, to hammerhead and whale sharks; it’s a stunning glimpse into an entire world that all too often goes unnoticed.

Do you have underwater pictures or video that we should see? Have you faced your fears while traveling? Leave a comment below and it could be tomorrow’s Video/Photo of the Day!

Travel to Sri Lanka grows, along with obstacles for tourism

Travel to Sri LankaSince the end of the Tamil Tiger confilct in May 2009, travel to Sri Lanka has been increasing, with the country celebrating their 600,000th foreign tourist last month. This year, 700,000 are expected with tourism growing to 2.5 million a year within 5 years, reports the BBC. “The nature has blessed us with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, exotic wildlife and historic places. We as a nation have a reputation for our hospitality,” says Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka‘s Minister of Economic Development. While the increase in visitors is welcome, Sri Lanka is experiencing some growing pains and challenges as a tourist destination.

India and the United Kingdom are currently the largest sources of tourists, though now it is claimed that the Eastern European tourists who came during the confict are being ignored in favore of Western travelers. Russian-speaking tourists are being turned away in the tourist boom, hotel prices have soared, and Russian guides complain of lost income. A proposed change in the visa process could discourage more visitors, though the government claims the new system is designed to help travelers.The visa can currently be obtained for free on arrival for citizens of 78 countries including the United States. Similar to the Australia electronic visa, the new visa process would be done from your home country online. Approval would take 24-72 hours and “special facilities” would be provided on arrival for tourists with the online visa. An added fee could potentially dissuade visitors who could instead spend their vacation dollars at a free visa destination.

The government hopes to allow tourism to develop naturally without direct intervention, though some small businesses feel they are struggling while larger-scale projects are planned. In northwest Sri Lanka, an adventure tourism zone is being developed with whale watching, scuba daving, and an underwater vistor center. A similar Tourism Promotion Zone is in the works near the country’s international airport to capture a similar transit market as Dubai, and increasing Sri Lanka’s flights as a major Asian hub.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? Planning to travel there now that warnings have ceased? Leave us your experiences in the comments.

[Photo of Sri Lanka’s Pinewala Elephant Orphanage by Flickr user Adametrnal.]

Anthony Bourdain enjoys Sri Lankan street food in the below video.

Photo of the Day – Sea turtle in action

Snorkeling is one of my favorite travel activities, especially because it’s such a visual feast. Simply grab a mask and some fins, stick your head underwater and suddenly you’re staring at an alien world: bright neon-striped fish, strange wispy corals and of course, the graceful sea turtle. Flickr user kumukulanui snapped this beautiful specimen in action just off the coast of the Big Island in Hawaii. Of all the spots I’ve been snorkeling, the Big Island has to be one of the best, particularly to get up close with these amazing, beautiful creatures.

Taken any great travel photos recently? Why not share them with us by adding them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Underwater explorers seek lost New Zealand wonders

New Zealand's Pink and White Terraces were the countries greatest wondersA team of underwater explorers has begun a search of Lake Rotomohana in New Zealand to discover the fate of a natural wonder that has been missing for nearly 125 years. The group will use high tech equipment, including submersible vehicles, to map the bottom of the lake to determine what has become of the fabled Pink and White Terraces, which were popular tourist attractions until they were destroyed during an eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886.

The recently got under way when scientists first began the mapping process and the torpedo shaped submersibles were dropped into the water to aid in that process. They hope to discover if any portion of the Pink and White Terraces, which have been described as the “8th Wonder of the World,” remain intact under the surface of the lake.

Until they were destroyed in the volcanic eruption, the Terraces were New Zealand’s number one tourist attraction. Many visitors from Europe made the journey to the country in the 1880’s just to gaze upon the amazing site. The Terraces were created by geothermally heated water, containing high amounts of silica, spouting out of geysers. As that water flowed down the slopes, the silica was left behind, giving the terraces their pink and white color.

On June 10, 1886, Mt. Tarawa violently erupted, spewing ash into the sky and sending hot mud into Lake Rotomohana. That mud covered the terraces and altered the surrounding landscape, causing the water in the lake to rise and changing the geothermal activity in the region forever.

New Zealand tourist officials, as well as local Maori leaders, are interested in knowing if any portion of the terraces still stand. They’ll have to wait for up to 12 months however, as that’s how long the scientists on the research team believe it’ll take to complete their survey.

Night at the Valencia Aquarium – Videos and More

Oceanografic, the Valencia Aquarium
It was a dark and stormy night when I visited the Valencia Aquarium, The Oceanografic in the outlandish City of Arts and Sciences complex. No really, it was dark and stormy. When I arrived at around 6 PM, the sun had set, and it was raining intermittently. I was cold and worn out and definitely ready for a couple of hours of underwater magic.

The Oceanografic closes at 8, but I had a 9 PM reservation at L’Oceanografic Submarino Restaurant, a suprising gem hidden beneath the strange, intriguing building above at the right (designed by Felix Candela to resemble a water lily). I figured I’d arrive at 6 and kill the hour in between, not realizing that meant I’d be visiting an aquarium in the dark. Had I known that many of the exhibits are outdoors, or that natural light illuminates some of the enclosures, I’m not sure I would have chosen to visit at night, but I did — and I’m glad. There was an esoteric thrill to the ambience. As people poured out of the last dolphin show holding jackets over their heads to stay dry, I couldn’t help but feel like I was participating in some kind of secret aquarium lock-in. And, the other-worldly atmosphere of the restaurant at the end of the evening felt all the more exclusive.

The Oceanografic has to be one of the finest aquariums I’ve seen anywhere. It’s beautifully, artistically designed, and I never felt like I was in a preschool, which is what aquariums often feel like to me. Let’s start with a video of one of the most wonderful sights at the Oceanografic: the jellyfish (be sure and select the HD option!).

I’m partial to the jellyfish, but wouldn’t want to underrepresent the aquarium’s other precious marine inhabitants (of which there are over 45,000). Here’s a quick tour of some of the highlights:

The Valencia Oceanografic, which opened in 2002, is the largest aquarium in Europe at 360,892 square feet. It is a center both for education and for research, and has already been privy to over 100 animal births. The aquarium is divided into 10 sections, with 80 percent of the exhibits underground.

There are several restaurants at the aquarium, and one opens up for dinner at 9 PM: Submarino. That’s where I headed, slightly drenched, after killing the in-between hour in the nearby mall, for what turned into a lavish, decadent dinner of inspired modern cuisine on my final night in Valencia. The decor was stunning and the circular underground dining area was surrounded by wall-to-wall windows into an enormous tank of palometa, swimming counter-clockwise all around.

Check out the gallery for images of the amazing Submarino restaurant, and some more of the terrific marine animals the Oceanografic has to offer.

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Read more about Valencia here!

[Photos and video by Annie Scott.]

This trip was sponsored by Cool Capitals and Tourismo Valencia, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.