Mga Pahina

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Martes, Agosto 16, 2011

Milford Sound

Milford Sound History

Milford Sound and Fiordland were well known to the Maori. Many Maori legends relate to its formation, including the demi-god Tuterakiwhanoa, who is said to have carved the rugged landscape from formless rock.
The Maori named Milford Sound 'Piopiotahi' after a thrush-like bird, the piopio. Piopiotahi literally means a single piopio, which harks back to the legend of Maui trying to win immortality for mankind. When Maui died in the attempt, a piopio was said to have flown to Milford Sound in mourning.
The name Milford Sound was first given to the sound by Captain James Cook. He and his crew were the first Europeans to visit the area. He named it after Milford Haven in Wales. Following Cook's mapping of the sound, sealers and whalers formed the first European settlements there.

Historic Highlights of Milford Sound Area

  • Donald Sutherland and John Mackay find Mackay and Sutherland Falls in 1880.
  • Discovery of the McKinnon Pass in 1888, which later becomes part of the Milford Track.
  • William H. Homer and George Barber discover the Homer Saddle in 1889. Homer suggests that a tunnel through the saddle could provide access to Milford.
  • Homer Tunnel provides road access to Milford Sound in 1954 (almost 20 years since engineering work on the tunnel began).
  • The Milford Track is dubbed 'The finest walk in the world' by poet Blanche Baughan, in The London Spectator in 1908.

Lunes, Agosto 15, 2011

table mountain

Table Mountain is timeless - in terms of the multifaceted human history of Cape Town and South Africa - and in all human memory.

The familiar form of our unique flat topped mountain has always been there. In fact long before the early days when the original inhabitants of the Cape the indigenous Khoi San roamed the coastal plains.

Table Mountain sheltered the original Cape explorers in the 16th century, the first European settlers and the many following generations of slaves, immigrants and travellers who helped to build and develop our special city.

The extraordinary appeal of Cape Town's famous natural attraction is known and appreciated in South Africa and around the world. It is a regular feature on postcards and has been captured in its varied moods, in numerous pictures and films.

Table Mountain in fact stands at the head of a chain of mountains extending South along the backbone of the Cape Peninsula towards Cape Point. It is the direction from where the well known Cape south easterly wind originates, faraway over the Atlantic Ocean, and it is the region now known as the Table Mountain National Park

The Table Mountain range originated some 500 million years ago when Africa was part of the original Gondwanaland continent. The Earth was in a turmoil of earth quakes and volcanic activity. The gigantic tectonic plates within the mantle, many kilometres below the surface of the seas, shifted and molten lava was forced upwards through seabed shale to cool and form granite.

The quartzite/sandstone mountains we know today developed from sediment deposited by rivers, which covered the subsiding granite over millions of years. Rocky remnants of those ancient times can still be seen in the form of huge granite boulders which dot our coastline and flank many Cape beaches.

Today, Table Mountain is a magnet for photographers, tourists and hikers, and a visit to Cape Town is not complete without a cable car ride or hike to the summit. The upper cable station is at 1067 metres and the highest point Maclears Beacon stands at 1085 metres.

Linggo, Agosto 14, 2011


Mount Kilimanjaro History

Mount Kilimanjaro lies on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, just south of the Equator. To the west lies the Great African Rift Valley, created by tremendous tectonic forces which also gave birth to a string of other volcanoes. One of these, Mount Kenya, was originally much higher than Kilimanjaro.
The three summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi are all of very recent origin. Shira and Mawenzi both have suffered considerable erosion and only jagged peaks remain. Kibo, the central, youngest and highest peak has survived as an almost perfect cone.
Although East Africa and nearby Olduvai Gorge is thought to be the cradle of mankind it is unlikely that early man would have been attracted to the steep and cold slopes of Kilimanjaro at a time when it was probably very active and dangerous. A Wachagga legend talks of Mawenzi receiving fire for its pipe from his younger brother Kibo. The Wachagga who live on the fertile volcanic soils around the base of the mountain probably only came to the area about 300 years ago thus this legend suggests very recent activity. Another of their legends talks of demons and evil spirits living on the mountain and guarding immense treasures. Stories are told of a king who decided to go to the top, few of his party survived and those who did had damaged arms and legs.
Arab and Chinese traders and historians make mention of a giant mountain lying inland from Mombasa or Zanzibar but few early traders ventured into the interior of the continent. Slave traders passed below it and sometimes raided the villages of the Wachagga but it was not till the middle of the 19th century that a more serious interest was taken in the mountain and attempts were made to scale it.
In 1848 Johann Rebmann a missionary from Gerlingen in Germany while crossing the plains of Tsavo saw Mount Kilimanjaro. His guide talked of baridi - cold, and of tales how a group of porters were sent up the mountain to bring back the silver or other treasures from the summit.They came back only with water. Rebmann's report stimulated great interest in Germany and in the following years several expeditions were organised; first by Baron von Decken then later by Dr. Hans Meyer who finally stood on the highest point on the 5th of October 1889.

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, now attracts many thousands of walkers each year. On the 1st of January 2000 over 1000 people reached the summit to see the sun rise over a new Millennium.

Biyernes, Agosto 12, 2011


Yushan National Park is located in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. With the Yushan Main Peak being the center of the entire park, the park covers an area with a vast expanse. It crosses over the four couties of Nantou, Chiayi, Kaohsiung and Hualien, covering a vast expanse of area of over 105,000 hectares. It is a typical subtropical mountainous nation park.
Within the park, there are spectacular sights of peaks. Being 30 out of the Taiwan Hundred Mountains, they includeYushan Peaks and Siouguluan Mountain, Mabolashi Mountain, Dafenjian Mountain, Sinkang Mountain and Guan Mountain. Some are magnificently elegant with extensive vehemence. Others are bizarre and marvelous peaks, each with their own style. Naturally formed, such landscapes are extremely beautiful. Meannwhile, the park also covers the origin of the hydro system for the central, southern and eastern areas of Taiwan Province, making it a close relationship with the livelihood of the public at the public at the lower reaches of the river.
The ground area of Yushan ranges from the elevation of 300m to 3,952m. It possesses the entire eco-system that bears the breeds luxuriant, different kinds of forest vegetation. From the lowly elevated ground, vegetation that could be seen in the order of ascending elevation are: broad leaf forest, conifer broad mixed forest, spruce fir forest, humlock fir forest, the colossal alpine fir forest, the short entangled shrub and alpine naturally grown vegetation form by the Yushan single seed juniper and Yushan Azalea/rhododendron. On the main ridge of the Central Mountain Range there are numerous spreads of dwarf bamboo plains.
There are about 50 species of mammals in the park. Among therm, Formosan serow, Formosan sambar, Formosan black bear, Formosan wild boar/Sus scrofa taivanus, Formosan Reeve’s muntjac and Fomosan rock-mondy are the most precious large-sized animals within the park. Moreover within the park there is a complex bird kind of different species of about 151 species. This embraces almost all of the resident birds throughout the forests of Taiwan. Among them, the Mikado pheasant, Swinhoe’s pheasant, Formosan barwing, Steere’s Liocichla and Taiwan Yuhina are species endemic to Taiwan, Besides, according to surveying records, the park has approximately 228 species of butterfly, which takes up half of all the butterfly species in Taiwan. Reptilians consist of 18 species. Species endemic to Taiwan such as the Alishan turtle-designed snake, Sauter’s ground snake and Tree lizard are of larger quantities. There are 13 species of amphibians, among which the Formosan Salamander and Sonani’s s Salamander are remnants fauna of the Ice Age that possess an unusually high value of academic research. In the mountain streams are Varicorhinus alticorpus (Taiwan ku fish) and Hemimyzon taitungenisis, two species of the freshwater fish endemic to Taiwan.
In terms of cultural and historical traces, there are the Ching Dynasty Batongguan Historic Trail, the Japnanese Occupation Era Batongguan Traversing Road and the Guanshan Traversing Road near the southern Cross-Island Provincial Highway, all of which are important historical traces. The entire park had once been the region where the Bunun aboriginal tribe lived that left behind many traces of old community sites and heart-touching evetnts of the rebellion against the Japanese government.
These abundant resources of precious nature, people and culture within the park are all of the nation’s appreciation. Most importantly, this is an environment that provides people a site for direct contact with the nature, a place for spiritual leisure and revival of vitality. It is also the most excellent paradisiacal land, pure and clean to be inherited by later generations in future.

Miyerkules, Agosto 10, 2011

Mount Vesuvius

Today two million people live in the immediate vicinity of Mount Vesuvius. This mountain has erupted more than 50 times since the eruption in 79 A.D., when it buried Pompeii and its sister city, Herculaneum. After Pompeii was buried and lost to history, the volcano continued to erupt every 100 years until about 1037 A.D., when it entered a 600-year period of quiescence. In 1631, the volcano killed an additional 4000 unsuspecting inhabitants. It was during the restoration after this eruption that workers discovered the ruins of Pompeii, buried and forgotten for nearly 1600 years. It would take another 300 years for the excavations to reveal the story of Pompeii and Herculaneum. For excellent coverage of Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the continuing narrative of tragic human involvement with nature, readers may want to locate a copy of Planet Earth: Volcano by Time-Life Books.

Image of Mount Vesuvius as seen from the recently excavated ruins of Pompeii. This image links to a more detailed image.The picture to the left shows Mount Vesuvius as seen from the recently excavated ruins of Pompeii. Vesuvius is about 5 miles away. Try to imagine huge, billowing, gray-black clouds like those at Mount St. Helens rushing toward you at a hundred miles an hour. That is probably what the ancient Romans (whose body casts are shown below) saw just before they were entombed by hot ash.

Image of a satellite radar image taken of Mount Vesuvius and its surroundings. This image links to a more detailed image.The picture to the right is a satellite radar image of Mount Vesuvius and its surroundings. Vesuvius is the purplish cone near the center of the image with a prominent summit crater and radiating greenish lava flows. This is not a true color image. Vesuvius stands in the middle of a much larger and older eroded cone called Mount Somma, about half of which is still visible around the east side of Vesuvius. The rectangular docks of the port of Naples are visible against the dark water to the upper left of Vesuvius. The purplish areas with radiating lines above and below Vesuvius are other modern cities. The locations of Pompeii and Herculaneum may be approximated using the map shown below. This cropped image was taken by the SAR-C/X instrument aboard the Shuttle in 1994. The rest of this image and others taken by the SAR may be viewed by clicking here.

Pliny the Younger The following excerpts are from an account written by Pliny the Younger to the Roman historian Tactitus shortly after the 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius eruption. While it is common for us to think of this date as ancient, students may learn a great deal about volcanoes from this first-person account. In terms of the age of a volcano, Pliny the Younger's writings are really very recent. He wrote to record the events surrounding the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder.

Image of a map showing Mount Vesuvius and where it is located in Italy.

On August 24 of 79 A.D., the area around Mount Vesuvius shook with a huge earthquake. The mountain's top split open and a monstrous cloud raced upward. The inhabitants of Pompeii were showered with ash, stones, and pumice. A river of mud was beginning to bury the city of Herculaneum. The uncle of Pliny the Younger, known as Pliny the Elder, was a commander of a fleet of war ships at Misenum (see map). He decided to use his ships to rescue people close to the volcano. The nephew describes the huge cloud towering over the area (Radice, 1969):

    . . . its general appearance can best be expressed as being like a pine rather than any other tree, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. Sometimes it looked white, sometimes blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.

Pliny the Elder's ship approached the shore near Pompeii.

    Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames . . . Meanwhile on Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night.

But they could not land because the shore was blocked by volcanic debris, so they sailed south and landed at Stabiae. Hoping to quiet the frightened people, the uncle asked to be carried to the bath house. Afterward he lay down and ate. Next, hoping to quiet the inhabitants, he went to bed. The volcano did not do likewise, however.

    By this time the courtyard giving access to his room was full of ashes mixed with pumice-stones, so that its level had risen, and if he had stayed in the room any longer he would never had got out. . . . They debated whether to stay indoors or take their chance in the open, for the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside on the other hand, there was the danger of falling pumice-stones, even though these were light and porous. . . . As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths. (pp. 431, 433)

Finally, the uncle decided to leave. The level of ash and pumice-stone had risen to the point that a hasty departure seemed the best option.

    . . . the flames and smell of sulphur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight and roused him to stand up . . . then [he] suddenly collapsed, I imagine because the dense fumes choked his breathing by blocking his windpipe which was constitutionally weak and narrow and often inflamed . . . his body was found intact and uninjured, still fully clothed and looking more like sleep than death.

Later, Pliny the Younger and his mother leave Misenam to escape from the approaching volcanic conflagration. They travel across country to avoid being trampled by the crowds of people on the road.

    We also saw the sea sucked away and apparently forced back by the earthquake: at any rate it receded from the shore so that quantities of sea creatures were left stranded on dry sand. On the landward side a fearful black cloud was rent by forked and quivering bursts of flame, and parted to reveal great tongues of fire, like flashes of lightning magnified in size. . . . We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room. You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying.

Martes, Agosto 9, 2011

Jeju Island

Jeju-do which stands for the Jeju Province as per the South Korean dialect, are even referred to as the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. Jeju is the sole self-governing province of South Korea, positioned solely within the area’s largest island. Jeju is cozily settled along the South Korea Strait lying towards the southwestern area of Jeollanam-do Province. Later on it got separated and was established as an individual identity in the year 1946.
As stated in the historical legend of Samseonghyeol, Jeju was desolate till three devout men appeared from the earth at Moheunghyeol, which is presently located close to the northern base of Hallasan. Jeju was previously an independent country and was referred to as Tamna. But later on by the place became a colonial province of the Goryeo district during in Ad. 662. But quite later Tamna lost its independence and King Uijong of Goryeo renamed the place from Tamna to Jeju. It was by 1271, Jeju was a pedestal to Sambyeolcho revolt against the Mongols. In the war, Mongols gained its victory in the year 1273 and in process took Jeju within its direct control and soon and it happened to be a part of the Goryeo territory in 1367.
As the history of Jeju claims, it was occupied by Japan in 1910 besides taking over the entire South Korea. It was in World War II, Japanese got defeated and Jeju was taken as an administrative division of the new Republic of South Korea. Jeju stands as an individual province, which became a unique part of the South Jeolla till1946. The year of 1948–1954, witnessed the period of Jeju massacre when about thousands of people were slaughtered. The cause of the massacre still remains uncertain. Though a whole lot of prejudice took place on the natives of Jeju due to its position and seclusion. It was by 1st of July 2006, Jeju was declared as the special self-governing province of South Korea.

Lunes, Agosto 8, 2011

Masurian Lake District

The lake region of Masuria in Poland with over 2.000 lakes as well as large forests and historic towns. It is a paradise for sailing, windsurfing and outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, bicycling and horseback riding during the warm summer months, and also offers a range of winter activities. Many of the lakes in Masuria are connected with each other by rivers and canals, so it is possible to sail or kayak hundreds of kilometers in the region.
Masurian Lake District (Mazury in Polish) is located in northeastern Poland close to the border with Lithuania. The sparsely inhabited region has a great number of lakes, including the biggest ones in Poland. The area is the most famous lake district in Central Europe and has become a popular vacation destination for Polish people, who visit Masuria in summer. Especially the central Great Masurian Lakes region around the towns of Gizycko and Mikolajki attracts a lot of visitors.
Masuria is famous for its thousands of lakes and nearby forests, offering a wide range of outdoor activities, including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, kite surfing, swimming, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, hunting and wildlife watching. The region includes the largest lake in Poland, Sniardwy (or Spirdingsee in German), as well as small lake resort towns of Gizycko, Mikolajki, Elk, Wegorzewo, Ryn, Pisz, and Ilawa.
Nature attractions. In addition to lakes, Masurian region also has many rivers good for fishing and forest areas that offer many trails for trekking and biking in Masuria. There is also a nice variety of wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and large protected areas, including the Masurian Landscape Park that includes 11 nature reserves such as the Luknajo Lake that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or the Borecka Pushcha forest with a breeding station for European Bisons. The wide variety of lakes connected with rivers and canals offers great possibilities for kayaking in Masuria.

Martes, Agosto 2, 2011

jeita grotto

Torn between war and the calmness of nature, Lebanon strives hard to establish tourism in their country. As they solve issues against the ranged parties, the country never fail to be a home for their tourists. One of which is Jeita Grotto, a subterranean river located at the Valley of Nahral-Kalb north of Beirut. Being in the run to be one of New Seven Wonders of the World, Jeita Grotto shows various rock formations, stone curtains and vaults of stalactites and stalagmites. The grotto has two parts, the upper cave where the gallery is located and the lower cave where the underground river is found.

Discovered by Reverend William Thomson in 1836, this asian tourist spot was maintained by Mapas, a German company that renovate and maintains the cave. The cave was closed when the Lebanese civil war arise in 1978 leading the use of both upper and lower galleries to store ammunitions and the building outside the cave served as the office for military. It is opened again for public in 1995 and became one of Lebanon's treasured destinations.

One of the cave's attraction includes the Pantheon where you can write your name and your experience in touring the cave on a piece of paper, put it in a bottle, seal it then place it on top of the stalagmite. This stalagmite is found at the lower cave together with other stalagmites such as the Grand Chaos and the Shangri-la. In the upper cave, you will find the White Chamber where you can see the longest stalagmite in the world that measures 8.2 metres (27 ft) along with other formations such as columns, mushrooms, ponds, curtains and draperies. Once you get here, you will wonder how nature sculpted this one of a kind masterpiece.

Lunes, Hulyo 25, 2011

Galápagos Islands

Island history
The Galápagos Islands were officially discovered by Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama, in 1535, when his ship was becalmed in the Pacific
and then swept off course. They appear to have been first namedIsolas de Galápagos by a Flemish cartographer named Orteliu, in the 1570's. The name Galápagos originates from a Spanish word for saddle, after the saddleback tortoises. The islands also became known as Las Encantadas (the Enchanted Isles), not for their beauty but for the peril of their strong currents, and frequent disappearance in the mist.
Pirates & buccaneers
By the late 1500s, pirates and buccaneers were regularly hiding out in the archipelago. By the 1680s, such famous buccaneers as William Dampier, Ambrose Cowley and Edward Davis, used the Galápagos as a base from which they attacked the Spanish. Cowley first crudely charted the islands in 1684.
Whalers & scientists
In 1790, Alessandro Malaspina led the first scientific visit to the islands from Spain. Soon after began the arrival of the whalers. In 1793, the whaler James Colnett arrived from Britain in HMS Rattler. Thus began the heyday of whaling, the period which certainly had the most biological impact on the islands. There were so many whales that Colnett reported seeing lines of them passing from dawn to dusk. At about this time a post office barrel was established on Floreana Island, in which sailors would leave mail to be collected by ships that were homeward bound.
In 1813, Captain David Porter was sent from the United States in the warship Essex to destroy the British whaling fleet, which he duly did. In 1905–6, an expedition from the California Academy of Sciences collected the skins of 6,000 land birds and 266 tortoises, among other prizes.
An unkempt and fearsome Irishman called Patrick Watkins was marooned on Floreana in 1807 for several years. In 1859, oil was discovered in the United States and the whaling industry declined. In 1832, the Galápagos Islands were annexed by Ecuador and colonised. Official Spanish names were given. Attempts were made to harvest the lichen Roccella babingtonii, which was used as a dye in the textile industry. A small settlement established on Floreana quickly became a penal colony, as did another on San Cristóbal, and stories of subsequent tyranny, slavery and murder on the islands abounded.
Darwin, FitzRoy & the Beagle
In 1835, a young naturalist named Charles Darwin arrived as the naturalist on HMS Beagle, captained by Robert FitzRoy. FitzRoy mapped the coastline of the Galápagos with such accuracy that his charts were used by all ships until World War II; Darwin's findings inspired his thoughts on evolution.
Later scientists and europeans
During the 20th century, settlers and scientists converged on the islands from all corners of the globe. In 1924, Norwegian immigrants landed on Floreana, then on Santa Cruz where they set up a fish-canning plant.
The growth of towns
Over the years five islands were settled by various nations. Then, in 1959, the Government of Ecuador declared all areas without a human population to be a national park. In the same year, the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands was set up in Brussels. This led directly to the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz (Ecuador), officially inaugurated in 1964. In 1968, the Ecuador government sent out the first two park wardens and so began the administration of the national park.
Large-scale tourism started in 1970 with the arrival of a 58-passenger vessel. The human population has continued to swell and, with tourism, places increasing pressures on natural resources. Today towns such as Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz are busy centres of commerce and trade, a far cry from the natural beauty beyond. Over 60 vessels are carrying tourists.
The need for conservation
Since man discovered the 'Enchanted Islands', humans have exploited the wildlife and damaged the ecology. Pirates killed tortoises and left behind rats, which crept ashore when they careened their ships. Later the whalers took a greater toll of tortoises for food and oil, reducing several subspecies to virtual extinction. Hunters nearly exterminated the fur seals by the 1930s. The islands were regarded as a resource for the taking. Not even the great whales were safe.
Settlers cleared the vegetation for cultivation and pasture, and brought goats, donkeys and cattle that rapidly stripped the plants on which the reptiles depended. Putting goats ashore to breed was probably even more destructive than the hunting had been. Introduced cats, dogs and pigs turned feral and caused havoc with the native fauna, especially ground-nesting birds such as the dark-rumped petrel. These feral animals still threaten the penguins and cormorants today.
Islands are extremely vulnerable to organisms introduced from elsewhere. The native creatures are specialised and unused to predators, so they cannot compete with aggressive intruders. Even scientists contributed to the decimation, with their passion for 'collecting' ; they removed some of the last remaining tortoises from islands where they later became extinct. Fortunately the adverse effect of humans has now been recognised and attempts are being made to reverse this situation.
The Galapagos National Park
In 1934, the Ecuadorian government passed the first laws protecting fauna in the archipelago; making it necessary to get permits to land and collect specimens. The idea to set aside certain islands as a reserve was put forward in 1936, but nothing practical was done until two decades later. Ecuador was a 'developing' country with limited resources, and during World War II it had other priorities. In 1957, a UNESCO fact-finding mission was invited in by Ecuador to assess the status of the wildlife and advise on the creation of reserves.
In 1959, 100 years after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, a special body, the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) for the Galápagos Islands, was created. The CDF headquarters was based in Brussels. It was an international foundation, but recognised by the Ecuadorian government. The authorities recognised that the islands possessed a unique flora and fauna of outstanding importance and that there was a great potential for tourism. That same year, the Ecuadorian government declared all areas of the archipelago to be a national park, except those parts already colonised.
In the early 1960s, the first objective of the foundation was to build a research station on one of the islands. In 1964, this was completed at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz. Inevitably it was called the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS). In the early days, the scientists spent much of their time trying to eradicate introduced species. The other roles of the staff were scientific research and education.
In 1968 the Galápagos National Park Service (GNPS) was set up, to administer the day-to-day running of the park, and take over much of the conservation and eradication programmes. The two organisations have worked together ever since. In 1974, a 'master plan' laid down the strategy with zones of different usage, together with the rules and regulations to enforce and protect the zones. The rules for visitors and tourist boats were implemented.
Between 1973 and 1978, the number of tourists rose from 8,000 to 10,000 annually. The steady increase each year reflected the growing global interest in ecotourism. In 1979, UNESCO declared the Galápagos Islands a World Heritage Site. This meant that international aid in the form of funds and expertise would be made available to help protect the islands. Today more than 60,000 visitors come each year.
Repairing the damage
The park service had an early success with the eradication of goats from small but in those days resources and money were limited. The task of controlling goats on islands such as Santiago, which has over 100,000 of them, was daunting for a handful of men equipped with antiquated rifles.
The next task was to captive-breed the endangered tortoises and land iguanas. A breeding programme. By 1985, 151 young tortoises were repatriated to Española, and land iguanas were returned to parts of Santa Cruz where dogs had wiped them out. On the island of Pinta, sadly there remained only one male tortoise, 'Lonesome George'. In the decade that followed, over 1,000 young tortoises were repatriated to their original 'roots'. Several hundred are being raised for the next generation.
Scientists from all over the world came to do research in a variety of subjects ranging from oceanic insects to vulcanology. Visiting scientists tended to do 'pure' research, whilst those resident at the CDRS worked on long-term conservation projects. A team of ornithologists made probably the most detailed long-term observations of the Darwin's finches, and showed that evolution is still going on in a remarkably short timescale.
Tourism and education
The other function of the park service and research station was to educate both locals and visitors about the fragile ecology of the archipelago. Tourist numbers increased annually from 45,000 in the late 1980s to an estimated 60,000 in 1997. The airstrip was extended on Baltra so jets could arrive daily and a new airport was constructed on San Cristóbal. The research staion became an important site for tourists to visit and see the tortoises in the breeding corrals. The approach was to make the Galápagos a 'living laboratory', not a zoo.
An educational visitor centre was built within the research station. Recently the park has opened another 'interpretation centre' on San Cristóbal. The naturalist guides, are all trained by the park with help from station personnel. They not only inform and 'entertain' tour boat passengers but also act as unofficial park wardens, keeping an eye on tourists to make sure the park rules are obeyed. Tourists have to keep close to their guide and walk only on specially designated trails. They must not interfere with the wildlife. Despite the increasing visitor numbers it is a system that works, and most studies assessing the impact on the fauna by tourists conclude that the islands and animals are not seriously affected.
Now conservation features in the Galápagos school curriculum, for that is where the future lies.
Marine conservation
There is no point in protecting the land of Galápagos if the sea is pillaged. The ocean is the lifeblood of the archipelago; the park would cease to exist without the rich up-welled waters, with their plankton, fish, seabirds and mammals. The total coastline of the islands is greater than mainland Ecuador.
Surprisingly, it was not until 1986 that a presidential decree was issued establishing a Galápagos Marine Resources Reserve. This included the entire water surrounding the islands to a distance of 15 nautical miles (about 70,000km2). This was quite a victory for conservation but management of such an area proved difficult for the GNPS on a limited budget.
The late 1980s saw a boom in tourism and numbers of yachts operating. This attracted migrants from poorer parts of Ecuador, not all of them enlightened by the conservation ethic that most Galapagueños had. There was a localised population explosion, for the national park was not giving away any more land to colonists.
The Sea Cucumber Wars
In the early 1990s a market opened in the orient for sea cucumbers (a relative of sea urchins). These ugly invertebrates are thought to be aphrodisiacs and can fetch high prices in Asia. Industrial fishing companies from mainland Ecuador were used to recruit labour to collect the pepinos del mar as they are called in Spanish.
Sea cucumbers need to be processed within hours of collection, so vast illegal camps were set up clandestinely on the beaches of Isabela and the pristine jewel of Galápagos, Fernandina. Eventually Pepino collection was outlawed. However, due to the enormous sums of money involved, the fishermen used the press and campaigned for their rights to collect pepinos. Having over-fished lobsters in previous decades, they wanted an alternative livelihood. The situation degenerated into a war between pepino fishermen and the tourism lobby who were portrayed as misguided 'greens'.
The authorities relented and issued fishing quotas to the pepino-collectors but these were soon exceeded by the million and the disputes continued. On several occasions the Darwin Station and National Park offices were besieged by demonstrators, and the personnel subjected to threats. Tortoises were even killed on Isabela. Now the world's press became interested in the story. UNESCO has threatened to put the archipelago on its list of sites in peril.
Fishing on a local basis has always been a part of the human side of the islands. It was done by locals on small craft and could be called sustainable. At the same time as the sea cucumber dispute, the rapacious international fishing industry was moving closer to the islands' supposedly protected waters. Japanese and Taiwanese long-line fishing boats and tuna boats were coming as close as they dared. Even when caught, they paid a derisory fine and then carried on. It seemed that after years of loving care, the Galápagos was being sold out by the government.
The new law
In 1997 a dramatic change occurred. Concerned local residents from all walks of life, together with mainland organisations, petitioned their local senators and the president. Conflict became consensus over the issue of the marine reserve. In 1998, a new special law for the Galápagos was passed by presidential decree and ratified by Congress.
The law addressed three big issues: immigration restriction, quarantine of introduced organisms, and fisheries. Two main points of legislation resulted. Firstly, the marine reserve became a legally protected area, managed by the Galápagos National Park Service (together with local institutions). Secondly, the marine reserve area was extended (from 15 to 40 nautical miles), around the whole archipelago, with only tourism and local artisanal fishing permitted within this area. This outlawed industrial fishing of all types. Now the Galápagos are second only to the Great Barrier Reef National Park of Australia in terms of the size of marine area protected (130,000km2). This is great news for seabirds, marine mammals, fish and sharks (who were also being killed for their fins).
Revenues from visitor park fees ($100 per person) are now re-allocated between the National Park and the local councils (to use to improve the environment and tourist facilities), with smaller portions going to the quarantine of introduced species, to Ecuador's national reserves and to the navy. The quarantine aspect is crucial, for the biggest threat to the native organisms is introduced pests and plants.

Martes, Hulyo 19, 2011

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea has been legendary for thousands of years and has much biblical and historical significance. The fact that it's the lowest point on the face of the earth - 400 meters below sea level - and the abundance of health enhancing minerals in the water, made The Dead Sea a famous and exhilarating destination throughout history. King David, Jesus, King Herod and Cleopatra - queen of ancient Egypt all were closely linked to The Dead Sea. The beautifying abilities of the minerals present in the sea were also stuff of legends and many people traveled to the sea through the ages to find out that it is indeed true - Dead Sea salt and minerals do enhance skin beauty, skin youth as well as help numerous skin and joint ailments, including psoriasis, eczema and acne.
The Dead Sea is most famous for the powerful beautifying and rejuvenating effect that products made with it's minerals provide for people seeking to improve their skin look and health. The most popular products are bath salts and Dead Sea mud which not only make some of the best, dead sea products in the world, but have also been clinically proven to relieve such skin ailments as psoriasis, acne, eczema and other problems such as joint inflammation, arthritis and skin blemishes. Dead Sea cosmetics are also very legendary for their anti aging effects, helping clear up and smooth out wrinkles and facial lines.
But the rejuvenating minerals present in the Dead Sea is not the only thing the area is widely known for. In 1947 a couple of young shepherds climbed into a cave on the shores of the sea to find a runaway goat. Inside they found sealed tubes with what became known as The Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls contained psalms and testaments that were not present in the Bible and with some believed to be written by legendary Biblical kings and prophets. To this day some people dispute the authenticity of the Scrolls while others consider them to be a true extension of the Old Testament.
The town of Jericho, Israel, which is based north of the Dead Sea is the oldest continuous know human city still occupied today. Other towns on the shores of the sea are very popular among tourists who come to relax and improve skin health at the many spas and mud baths located around The Dead Sea.

Lunes, Hulyo 18, 2011

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This 277 mile long (446 km) gorge (Beginning at Lees Ferry and ending at Grand Wash Cliffs) is more than 5,000 feet deep (1500 m) and 1/2 mile wide at its narrowest point and a maximum width of 18 miles (29 km). On the bottom the Colorado River weaves around the beautiful buttes, mesas and valleys that stand within this magnificent canyon. (Picture to the right shows in 1902 Dr. Lippencott, the first person to drive a car to the Grand Canyon, is in front of the Grandview Hotel.
The first known Native Americans to occupy the canyon were the Pueblo people from about 200 B. C. to 1200 A. D. They farmed corn, squash and beans for food and used Yucca plant leaves for sandals. It is believed that due to a long draught these people left the canyon. The Cerbat people, known to be the Havasupai people's ancestors, moved into the south canyon and the Pauite people seasonally hunted on the canyon's north side.
The first exploration to the canyon was the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. In 1540 he led an expedition from New Spain. (Today, we know this country to be Mexico.) Due to the harshness of this land, it wasn’t until over three hundred years later the next expedition team came to the canyon.
John Wesley Powell, known for his geological surveys of the Rocky Mountains and the first person to classify Native American languages, in 1867 – 1868 explored the Colorado River canyons. He did extensive studies of Native American languages that enabled him to publish the first classification and distribution maps of the American Indians.
Today, at the bottom of the canyon lives one of the most isolated and smallest Native American tribe, the Havasupai Indians. (Their name means “people of the blue green water.”) At the present with only about 547 tribe’s people, they have been able to preserve their culture – basket weaving, language and customs.
The Grand Canyon – one of the greatest geological features that makes the world seem larger with sunrises, sunsets and storms making a fascinating perspective against the grandeur of the canyon.