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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Penguins from Space

Counting emperor penguins cannot be easy. They spend much of their time in the Southern Ocean and when they do come on land it’s to winter in the coldest and windiest place on Earth. Recently, a team from the British Antarctic Survey have found an easier way to keep tabs on the penguins – satellite images. Using these images the team found much higher numbers than previously thought about 595,000 birds – the previous estimate was 350,000. The satellite images also helped the researchers to find seven previously unknown colonies. This is the first comprehensive census of a species taken from space. As an animal that relies on floating sea ice for its breeding and nesting grounds, emperor penguins are thought to be particularly vulnerable to any warming of ocean temperatures from climate change. The census will help monitor more accurately the impacts of future change on this iconic species. On one of our Antarctic cruises we have a ‘penguinlogist’, Tom Hart, who has an extensive career working with remote penguin rookeries.  Tom’s project involves monitoring breeding by use of remote terrestrial cameras.  Tom will join voyages on the Ocean Diamond from November 22, 2012 to January 14, 2013.

RELATED: Watch this mesmerising penguin colony timelapse

Off-beat Destinations, Lençois Maranhenses Brazil

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in Maranhão state, in north-eastern Brazil. Composed of large, white, sweeping dunes, at first glance Lençóis Maranhenses looks like a desert, but receives regular rainfall that causes freshwater to collect between the dunes; the translucent pools are home to a variety of fish (their eggs are brought from the sea by birds). The park was created in 1981 and is in the state of Maranhão, south of the mouth of the Amazon River. The blue and green lagoons reach their fullest between May and September to the delight of visitors. The best period to visit is the months of June and July. The water of the lagoons is warm and great for a swim. The landscape is a surreal Daliesque landscape where, despite the rain, supports almost no vegetation. It can be seen on a tailor-made tour combined with the historic city of San Luis, and the unspoilt beaches of Brazil’s NE coast.

RELATED: Discovering the treasures of Brazil’s ‘Plateau of Diamonds’


Makes 10 shooters: 20 medium shrimp, ½ mango, peeled and diced, 1 cup fresh Orange Juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons Lime Juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 small red bell pepper, diced, 1/2 medium cucumber, diced, 1/2 small bell pepper, diced, 1/2 medium red onion, diced, 1/2 small Serrano chili, diced, 1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped, Salt and pepper

Cook or grill the shrimp, Dice 10 shrimp, and set aside the other 10. If you prefer, the shooters can be made with lobster, or a combination of shrimp and lobster. In a blender, puree the mango, orange juice, lime juice and olive oil. In a bowl, combine the mango puree with the cucumber, onion, chili, garlic, bell pepper and coriander, and add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 6 hours for the most intense flavour. Stir the diced shrimp into the gazpacho and pour into shot glasses. Garnish each shooter with one shrimp and a cilantro or mint sprig.  Courtesy of Las Alamandas Boutique hotel, Mexico. Buen Provecho!

RELATED: Peruvian Causa Rellena Recipe

Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge & Turtle Inn

Blancaneaux Lodge is regularly featured in the ‘top ten’ lists reader polls. This is one of three exclusive Inns created by the film director in Belize and Guatemala. The lodges are also known for their proximity to wildlife and research projects such as the jaguar, raptor and amphibian research projects and a range of natural history and adventure activities. Hawksbill turtles will be arriving on the beach at Turtle Inn from the end of June. They lay their eggs amongst the cottages and the staff will protect the nesting sites ready for the hatching and controlled release in August and early September. La Lancha is a mecca for archaeology buffs, with optional tours to Tikal, Uaxactun, Seibal, Aguateca, Yaxha, Nakum and Ixcun. Helicopter charter tours from La Lancha to El Mirador, El Peru Waka, Dos Pilas and Cancuen are available. Both Tikal and Yaxha can be enjoyed at Sunset accompanied by a bottle of wine from Coppola’s own Rosso & Bianco estate.

RELATED: Luxury boltholes you won’t want to miss in Belize

Google’s Street View goes into the Amazon

Google’s next Street View project will capture 360-degree images of the Amazon to share the area’s environment and culture with the world. Armchair travellers will soon be able to explore the ecological treasures of the Amazon. Street View in the Amazon will give an insight into remote villages and their inhabitants, tucked along river fronts and hidden far-off the beaten track. Google’s surveyors will travel along rivers, with 360-degree cameras, to collect panoramic images of the lush ecosystem and local communities, which few will get to experience for themselves. Local people have also been asked to help with the project, by pedalling a camera equipped tricycle around their communities to give further insight into their little-known lifestyles. This isn’t the first time Google Street View has ventured into hard-to-reach places to raise awareness of the planet’s most important ecosystems.

RELATED: Is Google Street View in Galapagos a Good Thing?