Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Department 56 North Pole Village Penguin Visitor Center

For over a decade my brother has had a growing collection of building and accessories in Department 56's North Pole Series. Every Christmas he gets a new building. This year we got him the Penguin Visitor Center. I never expected or even wanted penguins to be in his village until I heard about this building. The main thing is that penguins do not naturally live in the Northern Hemisphere it really bugs me to see Christmas decorations even suggest that they do or even represent them with polar bears. So, why do I think this is okay?

First off, of course, the village is fictional. The real thing, though, is that it is rooted in truth that penguins do not live at the North Pole because it presents them as visitors. Sure, it makes them antropomorphic tourists, but that is a line I am okay with, as long as it is not trying to continue the lie too many believe about penguins living in the same place as polar bears. Besides they are still so cute.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Airfare Deals from my Friend in Paradise!

This is a sponsored guest post written by Ali Kendall on behalf of Post powered by Sponzai.

Just wanted to send a quick "shout-out" across the Pacific to my friend Ali in sunny Honolulu, Hawaii!

Ali runs the website with all kinds of tips, coupons, strategies, etc. for findng holiday airfare deals. Now airfare comparison travel sites have come a long way in the past few years but there are still literally thousands of them to choose from. So here's a big aloha and mahalo to Ali for keeping it simple on a pretty nifty little travel website!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Television Shows With Penguins: Merry Madagascar

Merry Madagascar is a new holiday special that premiered last night on NBC and then was released on DVD today (I think it is only available at Wal-Mart currently). The 30 minutes special (little less as there are commercials) with the characters from Madagascar. It is set between the story line of Madagascar 2 and The Penguins of Madagascar series that is on Nickelodeon, as the animals including the penguins are still in Madagascar.

Overall it is a pretty entertaining plot. King Julian is in it, but he is not as annoying as in The Penguins of Madagascar series. The penguins are somewhat minor characters more like in the movies than the show, but they are still part of the main characters. In the episode the penguins end up serving in place of the reindeer as the animals deliver the presents for Santa after he crash lands in Madagascar and loses his memory. Julian is left behind and tries to create a holiday that honors him and is all about him getting presents, but he then learns that it is not any fun if you do not give as well as receive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whisky to be Salvaged from Antarctica

Part of the items that were left behind by Shackleton during his Nimrod expedition in 1909 was some whiskey. The whiskey is an old brand of McKinlay and Co whiskey that is rare and extinct. The whiskey is to be recovered by a team of New Zealanders for the Whyte and Mackay company that owns McKinlay and Co. They want the whiskey to have samples for an experiment. They want to try to replicate the whiskey. The crates of the whiskey was discovered back in January 2006 under the floorboards of the Cape Royd's hut, but the could not be retrieved because they were too deep in the ice.

Source: NZ team to drill for whisky in Antarctica

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Japan's New Icebreaker and Plans for the Old One

Earlier this week Japan's newest icebreaker left Japan for Antarctica. The ship is stopping in Australia where most of the observation team will board it before it heads to Antarctica. It is expected to reach Japan's Showa Base around mid-December. The new ship is Japan's fourth icebreaker. It named Shirase, which is the same name the third one had. The third one has been taken out of active use and plans are in place to turn it into a tourist attraction that teaches about the environment and climate change.

Source: New icebreaker begins voyage to Antarctica

Friday, November 6, 2009

Illegal Fishing Activity in Antarctica

Recently a gillnet was found in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, by the Australian authorities in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources protected area. The gillnet was set to capture Antarctic toothfish and had 29 tonnes of the fish in it. Since 2004 the use of such nets has been illegal in the area in part due to the Antarctic toothfish being a threatened species. Read more about this news in this article.

Rare Whale Species Spotted Near Antarctica

Here is an interesting article about a rare whale species being spotted earlier this year near Antarctica. Very little is known about the Armoux's beaked whales. They are rarely spotted and even rarer is to see them in large groups, but they were spotted twice in groups of 60 and 25 about a month apart in May and June of 2009.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Television Shows With Penguins: "Now with Feathers!/A Frill a Minute" episode of Dinosaur Train

Dinosaur Train is a great new PBS show. The "Now with Feathers!" part of the episode is about why Velociraptors have feathers, but cannot fly. As part of the educational segment after that part of the episode, animals with feathers that cannot fly are named including the penguin.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Movies with Penguins: The Pebble and the Penguin

The Pebble and the Penguin is sort of an educational animated movie with an Adelie Penguin named Hubie as the star. It is not a horrible movie, but the whole musical aspect seems too forced and really detracts from not only the educational value, but the entertainment value. I was quite disappointed in the movie, as it not only was not all the educational with the whole plot of the penguin being able to escape capture from a zoo ship and then making the journey back to Antarctica successful being a major stretch of reality, but it was not even that entertaining.

I do not mind penguin movies that are not realistic, as I do love the penguins in the Madagascar movies and Mary Poppins, but then it has to be a fun movie to watch. I will be honest that I did not even pay much attention to it after the first half, as it was rather boring. Also, disappointing was I ended up with the plain DVD with no special features. That is what Netflix mails out, but there is a Family Fun version that has two featurettes and 8 games that might be more enjoyable, however the special features cannot make up for the boring movie entirely.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chinese and Taiwanese to Work Together in Antarctica

Here is an interesting article about the Chinese and Taiwanese working together in Antarctica. Collaboration between countries happens a lot in Antarctic research along with the sharing of bases and such, but it certainly is unique to hear about two such rival countries (well, actually China still sort thinks Taiwan is part of their country) working together in the Antarctic. The working together is mainly having 3 Taiwanese biologists on the latest Chinese mission to the Antarctic. More on the 26th Chinese expedition in this article.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

South African Dies in Antarctica Climbing Accident

Another sad news story related to Antarctica today. This article is about a South African that died in Antarctica on Sunday, October 4, 2009, in a climbing accident. The man was a 25-year-old meteorologist working at the South African Antarctic Station. The accident occurred during crevasse rescue training. Due to the base being inaccessible at this time the body will not be returned home to South Africa until November at the earliest.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Korean Base Cook to Sue Govenment

Sure, Antarctica may be the most crime safe continent, but that does not mean no violent crimes ever occur down there. No I am not talking about the crazy recent movie Whiteout. This article is about a woman who was a cook at Kejong Station of Korea. She is suing the Korean government for the cover up of her being beat by men at the base and supposedly others at the base have also been assaulted including a case several years ago that was known yet they tried to cover up the new incident as well.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Should the bodies of 3 Navy Personel that died in plane crash in Antarctica in 1946 be brought home?

This is an interesting debate that I read about in this article. Back in 1946 three men were put to rest under the wing of their crashed plane by the six survivors of the plane crash. Now that that part of the glacier might break off the families want to bring them home. However, the Navy does not agree, as they see it as a proper resting place similar to how those that died on the U.S.S. Arizona remain there. Sounds like they are looking for Obama's support and also government money to bring them home. I got nothing wrong with them wanting to bring them home, but I do think it is a waste of time and money, especially if they want public and not private funds to do it.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Laser for Atmosphere Research in Antarctica

Australia's Davis Station is getting a new laser for researching the atmosphere. The current laser has been in use since 2001, but it is now being replaced by a new high powered laser. The laser is used to research changes in the atmosphere with a main focus on the particles destroying the ozone hole.

Read more about the new laser and it use in Antarctica in this article.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Qantas A380 New Year's Eve Antarctic Flyover

Qantas is offering its first sightseeing flyover of Antarctica on a A380 plane as a special New Year's Eve flight. Seems like a different way to see the continent, but really is not anywhere near a way of actually experiencing the continent. Sure it might be cheaper with economy seats starting at $999, but that is for only 11.5 hours of a airplane flight and not a several day cruise where you actually step on the continent. Basically it sounds interesting and all, but I sure would rather save up for a cruise than a flyover. Read more about it here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hollywood Movie Whiteout Based in Antarctica and on Reality, but Overall Fiction

I just read an interesting article about the new upcoming movie Whiteout, which I comes to theaters tomorrow, September 11, 2009. The article talks about how the Antarctic aspect is actually based in the real science/facts of Antarctica with less fiction license than some might think. Of course, to me it seem obvious that it was, but I guess those unfamiliar with Antarctica would think they are exaggerating in the trailer about 200 MPH winds and the cold temperatures. It is mostly a fictional plot, though, in regards to the murder and their even being a US Marshal stationed there, although it seems the station manager is actually deputized by the Marshal service.

Monday, August 24, 2009

TV Shows with Penguins: Wizards of Waverly Place "Wizards & Vampires & Zombies"

The "Wizards & Vampires & Zombies" episode of Wizards of Waverly Place only has penguins in it for like 30 seconds, but it is not subtle. The penguin reference in this episode is related to Harper wearing an outfit with the theme of penguins and carrying a penguin as part of her wacky outfit, which of course for her is totally the norm. Alex refers to her outfit as having chickens on it and relates to Harper being too chicken to ask a guy to prom, but her joke fails miserable when Harper points out they are penguins.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Online Games with Penguins: Penguins of Madagascar Operation Ice Fish

Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Ice Fish is an online game on The game is based on the penguin characters in the Penguins of Madagascar animated show on Nickelodeon. The game is kind of just a simplistic one of clicking to try to capture fish in the net. It is kind of interesting and the penguins are Antarctic ones despite being zoo guys. However, they are rather anthropomorphic characters and use a net to catch the fish, but I like the personalities of these secret agent like penguins and their missions. This game, though, is too simplistic and rather lacking of any real objective to make it interesting enough to want to play again.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Penguins of Madagascar Nickelodeon Magazine Cover

I did not subscribe to Nickelodeon Magazine, but I guess over the summer Nick Jr. Magazine, which I did subscribe to stopped printing and they just decided to send me the Nickelodeon Magazine instead. I was not happy when the first issue was a Spongebob one, but I was out of town and soon ended up with the next month's issue because I did not know about having to cancel my subscription. The next one, though, was kind of nice because it has the Penguins of Madagascar show characters on it. I might not be much into the show because of King Julien ruining it, but I still like the penguins and without having to listen to King Julien it is way better.

The only thing inside the issue that features the penguins is on page 22 of this issue (September 2009 by the way). It is an article made to be like the front page of the Zoo York Times with articles about the happenings at the zoo. I was kind of disappointed that there was not anything else with the penguins in the issue. At least I now have a cool cover to add to my crazy collection of random penguin images in my Antarctic bathroom.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pine Island Glacier Melting Much Faster Than 15 Years Ago

The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is melting much faster than it was 15 years ago. Back in 1994, the melt rate led to the estimate that it would not melt for another 600 years. Now the melt rate suggests it will be gone in less than 100 years. It is believed that if this glacier melts then it will lead to a quick disintegration of the rest of West Antarctica's ice sheet. Read more about the recent research about it melting and the possible sea rise implications in the article here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Whiteout: Upcoming Thriller Set in Antarctica

Below is the trailer to an upcoming movie that is set in Antarctica. It is not often that a fictional movie/show is based in Antarctica, but that is where Whiteout is set. The movie is based on a 1999 comic book by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. It is a thriller about a lone U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica having to try to solve a murder before the Antarctic winter arrives in a few days. It certainly seems action packed, but it does not look based in enough reality to be that great. Whiteout will be in theaters starting September 11, 2009.

Monday, July 27, 2009

India to Build New Antarctic Base in January 2010

Here is a news story about India announcing that they will build their third Antarctic Base. They plan to begin building it in January 2010 (Antarctic summer). They hope to get it finished and operating within two years. The base is to be located in the Larsemann Hills region, which the article says broke is part of Antarctica that broke off from the Indian Peninsula 120 million years ago.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Antarctic Documentary: The Endurance Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

I just finished watching The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, which I rented through Netflix. I found the documentary pretty interesting. The documentary tells the story of Shackleton's Endurance expedition using original video footage, original photos from the expedition, new footage of similar scenes related to the expedition, and on screen recollections of the crew from some of their descendants . It is all blended together quite well, but it is a sort of dry version much like every other version of the Endurance (i.e. many of the books say pretty much the same things). It is definitely great for learning about the expedition if you have not already read a lot about it. The most interesting parts, though are the special features.

The special features include an audio commentary version done by Director George Butler, which is actually extremely boring and I usually enjoy all sorts of audio commentaries. Basically he is just reiterating the story and things said in the other special features with the movie playing behind, which really is not amazing enough to want to see more than once in many years. Anyways the Beyond the Endurance section of the special features does have some good featurettes.

One of the featurettes is called The Tale of the Endurance and is a telling of the story by Caroline Alexander, who has photo book about the expedition that this movie seems to follow very closely and I have read, which makes both the movie and this special features not all that unique seeming. This, though, is at least way more brief than the movie.

The second featurette is called In the Wake of Shackleton. This is actually a pretty good one about the filming the new footage for the documentary by going to South Georgia Island and the Antarctic.

The third featurette is called Iconic Images and is my favorite part of this DVD. It is mostly the twin daughters of Frank Hurley talking about their father, who documented the trip with photos and film. It is interesting to learn that his kids did not really know about the expedition until they were much older and that they used to play with their fathers film making it into smoke bombs.

The fourth and final featurette is called Past and Present. It is not as good as the third, but it is better than the actual movie. It is mostly footage of the descendants of the crew going through an exhibit on the Endurance for the first time in New York.

Overall I do recommend checking out this movie if you want to learn about the expedition and have not yet really familiar with the expedition, as it does offer a great in depth look at the expedition. However, only the special features add much new if you very familiar with the expedition. They almost make it worthwhile, though, and definitely help make it a worthwhile DVD for those only vaguely familiar with the expedition.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

DVD Review: Encounters at the End of the World

I saw Encounters at the End of the World at a theater back in September 2008. For a while the DVD has been sitting in my Netflix Queue to rent and I finally got to renting it. The documentary really is not all that special, as the second time around I really began to realize how all over the place Werner Herzog is in this documentary with him covering so many topics. He sort of connects it all, but really there is no real main point that kind of does make it hard to enjoy unless you really have an interest in Antarctica already.

Another thing I noticed is how much Werner Herzog annoys me. He makes some pretty off putting comments in the documentary and kind of rude seeming, such as when he summarizes peoples stories, but what really got me is the stuff in the audio commentary version. The audio commentary is overall interesting with them talking about the making of the documentary and honestly this is better than the actual documentary. Anyways the point is that Werner Herzog comments in the documentary make it seem like he carelessly does not care if his documentary not only does not have a point, but if there are inaccuracies. I do not think they actually admit to any inaccuracies, but the commentary comments include him saying things and then the others correcting him sort of and him just totally brushing it off as it does not matter. It just is a type of attitude that makes it seem like there could be inaccuracies, but at least it is not actually an educational documentary because I certainly would not trust any educational attempt of a documentary from him.

While I no longer feel so strongly about this being a worthwhile Antarctic documentary in terms of good quality, it does still show some interesting aspects of humans in Antarctica. At least the DVD release has some good special features, too. This includes stuff on the first disc with the movie, as well as a bonus disc (note if you rent through Netflix like me that the bonus disc has to be manually added and it does not get added as a set like some multi disc releases do).

The first disc's extras include the audio commentary discussed above, as well as some extra footage that did not make the cut into the final version of the movie. The extra footage includes "Under the Ice," "Over the Ice," and "Seals & Men" that are simply just video footage set to music. It is not that the footage is bad, but the "Under the Ice" one in particular does seem to drag on for a long time (30 minutes, I think). The other two extras are "Dive Locker Interview" and "South Pole Exorcism." These are both good extra footage of Antarctic people interviews that just did not make it into the final cut of the movie.

The bonus disc was a little bit of a disappointing rental. I kind of expected it to have a good amount of content, but it just has an interview with Werner Herzog. The interview is not bad, but if you have already watched the audio commentary most of what Werner Herzog says in the interview has already been heard. The interview also includes a lot of general talking about himself totally unrelated to this specific movie. Basically it just does not fit as being released with this movie and I now see why it is not (or at least why it is a good thing that it is not) automatically included when you add the movie to your Netflix Queue.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Unique Micrometeorite Found in Antarctica

Here is an article about a micrometeorite that is like no other one found on Earth before was found in Antarctica. The micrometeorite is achondritic basaltic. They are unsure of where this micrometeorite originated, as it has an unique composition.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

National Geographic Expedition Antarctica Documentary to Air in June 2009

Here is an article about a new Antarctic documentary that is set to first air in June 2009. It is an hour long show (probably around 40 minutes minus commercials). It is to be called Expedition Antarctica when airing on the National Geographic Channel. It is also being aired by the Smithsonian Networks under the name Into the Frozen Abyss. The documentary is about the Tangaroa research ship conducting a scientific census in the marine life.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

British Adventurers to Follow in Scott's Footsteps

Two British adventurers will attempt to reach the South Pole and trek back in the same fashion as Scott. Of course, they plan to be better prepared and avoid Scott's ill fate of dying on the way back from the South Pole. No one has successfully done it since 1912 (when Admundsen's and Scott's teams reached the pole). The trip is planned as a 100th anniversary of the event.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sir Edmund Hillary Footage Found

Recently some rare footage of Sir Edmund Hillary's time in Antarctica has been rediscovered. He is most remembered for climbing Mount Everest, but he also helped establish the Scott Antarctic Base. 16mm black and white film of him getting a hair cut, preparing for his Antarctic expedition, and departing New Zealand on the ship to Antarctica in 1957 was found in a loft of a farm machinery company that supplied the tractors for the expedition. The footage was "donated to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at Aoraki/Mt Cook."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Russian Novolazarevskaya Antarctic Base Celebrates 50 Years

Russia's Novolazarevskaya (nee Lazarev) base celebrates 50 years of operation today, March 15, 2009. The base was named after Mikhail Lazarev, who was a co-lead the first Russian Antarctic expedition from 1819-1821. It sounds like the original base was quickly mothballed and the Novolazarevskaya station nearby was built. Read more about the base and its 50th anniversary here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Movies with Penguins: Mary Poppins

Growing up Mary Poppins was my favorite movie. I used to watch it all the time until my mom took it away when I was 7 because she was annoyed by it. I may be a penguin lover now, but back then it was the whole Mary Poppins character that I liked. Nowadays it remains a favorite and partly because of the fun scene with the animated penguin waiters dancing with Bert. I recently got the new 45th anniversary DVD release version and really enjoyed watching it on DVD for the first time, especially since it is loaded with special features including an audio commentary.

This penguin scene also appears in the Sing-Along Songs: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous video. The DVD release of this is not all that great, as it is simply the same as the VHS release with no special features.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

British Team to Drill Looking for Life Under Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica

This article is about a team of British scientists drilling through the ice sheet above Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica. They are looking for signs of life under the ice sheet. If they do find life it will provide more evidence that life could exist on distant worlds without a sun's light and heat. In the article they compare the lake to Jupiter's moon, Europa. The team is expected to do the research with a special drill probe in 2012.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scott Expedition Explorer's Daughter Dies on Way to Antarctica

Here is a sad story about the daughter of one of the support team for Scott's ill-fated 1912 expedition to the South Pole dying on her way to her father's field laboratory in Antarctica. Her father was Edward Nelson, who traveled to Antarctica with Scott, but was not one of the ones that went to the pole and thus was among one of the survivors of that expedition. Barbara Johns, 93, died on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, on a cruise ship to the Antarctic after falling and hitting her head on board the ship during a storm. Her son, Andrew Hays, 65, was on the trip with her. The ship is continuing as planned and a moment of silence will be observed in her honor when they get there.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Encounters At the End of the World Nominated for Oscar

Encounters at the End of the World, which is a documentary about Antarctica and the people that work down there, is one of the five movies nominated in the Documentary Feature category for the 81st Annual Academy Awards. The Awards/Oscars are being given out tomorrow night, February 21, 2009. The show will be shown during prime time on ABC. I do not tend to pay much attention to this award, but this year if I am not busy when it is on I might just check it out to find out if this movie wins. Of course, I can just as easily wait until the info is online, so if I have something more interesting to do/watch at that time I will probably do that instead. Anyways I am still totally rooting for the Antarctic documentary to win, especially since it is a great one that shows that there is way more to Antarctica than penguins.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Germany's Neumayer III Antarctic Station to be Deicated Tomorrow

Here is an article about Germany's latest Neumayer station. It seems pretty common for stations to have numbers after them, as they do not always last long and then are replaced by new buildings that are named the same with a new number after them. The latest one is expected to last longer, though, because it is built on hydraulic to help keep it from being buried in snow for a longer period of time than the previous ones. It will be dedicated tomorrow, February 20, 2009, by phone from Berlin by the German Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Video Games with Penguins: Endless Ocean for Nintendo Wii

Endless Ocean is a sort of relaxing diving simulation game. You basically just go scuba diving and interact with different ocean life. This is a make believe ocean that combines a variety of real life creatures. The creatures included in the game include several penguin species.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Whale Wars 2008-2009 Ends

This year's Whale Wars between the Japanese and the Sea Shepherds has ended. The Sea Shepherds are returning to port because they have used up their fuel and resources for this year. They hope to return next year and stop whaling for a longer part of the season with a bigger and faster vessel. Read more about this news here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Activists and Japanese Collide

The latest news related to the Whale Wars in the ocean around Antarctica is that things have heated up some more. The Sea Shepherds' ship, the Steve Irwin, collided into one of the Japanese harpoon ships. It sounds worse than it actually was (i.e. it is not as aggressive as it may sound). They were following one of the harpoon ships when another harpoon ship got in their way and they could not maneuver the Steve Irwin in a way to avoid the collision. The Japanese were preventing the Sea Shepherds from getting in the way of them bringing a dead whale aboard the other ship (the one not hit). Neither of the boats were seriously damaged.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TV Shows with Penguins: The Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar is a new Nickelodeon animated cartoon based on the characters from the Madagascar movies with a particular emphasis on the penguins and their missions. The sneak peak of this show first aired back in November. I watched it then, but never got around to posting about it on here. I noticed the sneak peak is airing again this Saturday, February 7, 20009, on Nickelodeon and Sunday, February 15, 2009. The show really starts airing with new episodes starting March 28, 2009. I am kind of excited for the show to start with some new episodes, but not as expectantly as before I saw the preview. The preview kind of took the hopes of a fun show because it has too much of the annoying Julien character. I thought it would be more like the penguins Christmas Caper short that came with the first Madagascar movie. Now that short was great and the show could have been great if they had just kept the annoying Julien out of it or at least made him a very very minor recurring character.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Japanese Deny Using Weapons

Here is an article about the Japanese saying they did not use weapons against the anti-whaling activists. The activists have claimed that the Japanese injured two of their crew by using a "water cannon, concussion grenades, acoustic weapons and threw brass and lead balls." The Japanese only admit to using hoses on the activists after issuing a warning. The Japanese claim that the activists threw dye and strong smelling liquid at the boats and that is the only thing I am sure is true, as that is a known tactic of the activists.

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Activists Closing in on Japanese

Here is a recent news article about the anti-whaling activists having spotted the Japanese fleet, including two harpoon vessels. They just recently returned to the Whale Wars after having to stop in Tasmania to refuel. Now that they have spotted the fleet they are on their tails and probably going to end up with some confrontations.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Possible Agreement to Allow Japan to Whale Closer to Home

This is an interesting article relating to the whaling issue in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. It talks a possible agreement that would decrease the amount of whaling the Japanese do in the Southern Ocean while at the same time opening up coastal whaling in Japan. This agreement is being promoted by the International Whaling Commission. It sounds like it might be something the Japanese would go along with, but I do not imagine the anti whalers going for it. Coastal whaling seems like the lesser of the evils, but I got to imagine it is not much more environmentally responsible than whaling in the Antarctic.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 26, 2009 Partial Solar Eclipse can be seen in Antarctica

There will be a partial solar eclipse on January 26, 2009. The regions that will be able to see this partial solar eclipse include southern Africa, northwestern Antarctica, Australia and Southeast Asia. The eclipse will last between 90 minutes to two hours depending on the location it is being viewed from.

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Sea Shepherds Offer to Back Off

The Sea Shepherds recently offered to back off of the Japanese whalers if the Australian government initiates court action against the Japanese. This comes with the other recent news encouraging the Australian government to take on the whalers for environment reason. It does seem like the Australian government will go for legal action at this time. The Sea Shepherds are expected to be heading back out to try to stop the whalers from whaling after refueling in Hobart.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Australian Government

Usually I post about the Japanese whalers and the environmental activists when talking about the Whale Wars in the Antarctic. Today I was reminded that the Australian government has also at least somewhat taken a stance against the Japanese whaling, although they have not done much in terms in trying to stop them. This article, however, gives an interesting take on what the Australian government should do to stop the whaling. It suggests that the government should go after the Japanese on environmental concerns and not just the fact they are killing whales for sketchy scientific reasons. It talks about challenging the Japanese in the Antarctic Forum (I think this is something set up under the Antarctic treaty or the challenging at least somehow relates to the treaty) on environmental grounds, such as the increased risk of oil spills due to the whaling fleet being in Antarctic waters. The big concern for oil spills is due to the fact that the fleet refuels at sea using a refueling vessel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prince of Monaco Reaches South Pole

The Prince of Monaco reached the South Pole today after a two day cross country ski trip across Antarctica. I find it really amazing that a prince actually has some adventure spirit in him and he did not try the easy way of flying in like the news people did a few years ago as part of the special Today show thing that tried to promote global warming awareness. By the way the Prince of Monaco is doing his whole Antarctic trip, which ends January 22, to increase the awareness of climate change. Read more about this news item here.

Top Antarctic Predator is a Bug

I read a really interesting article today about a bug being the top predator in Antarctica. The bug is a Rhagidia mite, which is a reddish colored bug. It is also the biggest land animal on the continent, as it is a flightless midge and penguins do not count because they spend time in the ocean.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dutch Royalty to Visit Antarctica

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima plan to visit Antarctica for three days next month (February 6-9, 2009 to be exact). The Dutch do not have an Antarctic research station, so they will be staying at the British Rothera Station. The visit is to correspond with the International Polar Year. Read more about the visit and Dutch status related to Antarctica here.

British Adventurer to Row Around Antarctica

British adventurer, Oliver Hicks, plans to leave from Tasmania (originally planned to go from New Zealand, but they denied him permission) to row around Antarctica. He plans to row in the furious 50s (degrees latitude) in his boat called the Flying Carrot. It sounds like New Zealand denied his request because of safety concerns with other adventures in recent times having problems, but they fail to realize that some have been successful lately as well, such as Fedor who sailed around it on his own last year. The Tasmanian government also said it was dangerous, but they do not have the power to stop him like the New Zealand government does. Sure, I think it is dangerous, but there has to be adventurers out there taking risks for any progress to ever be made.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Exploration of Hot Water Vents in Antarctica

Here is a story about some UK scientists that are leaving today to begin their journey to Antarctic to be the first to explore and study the life around hot water vents in Antarctica. They are also going to be looking at the life around cold seeps in the waters around Antarctica. The article goes into a lot more scientific details, so be sure to check it out at the link above if it sounds interesting to you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Canadiens Break Speed Record to the South Pole

Today Ray Zahab, Kevin Valley and Richard Weber reached the South Pole after almost 34 days of trekking across Antarctica. To be exact it took them 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes. The previous record was set last month by American, Todd Carmichael, with a time of 39 days and seven hours. Read more about this news item here.

Yellow Robot Submarine to Probe Pine Island Glacier

Here is an article about a yellow robot submarine that is going to be used to probe the underside of the Pine Island Glacier. The Pine Island Glacier is the fastest moving glacier in the Antarctic.

Monaco's Prince Visits Antarctica

Here is an article about the Prince of Monaco visiting Antarctica. Prince Albert II started his month long visit to the Antarctic area by spending two days visiting bases on King George's Island. He returned to Chile today and is expected to go to the South Pole on January 14. His trip to the Antarctic is a global warming awareness expedition.

Chinese Expedition Reaches Site for New Base

Here is an article about the Chinese reaching the Dome Argus zone, where they will soon begin to build the third Chinese base in Antarctica. The new base will be China's first inland Antarctic base.

Whale Wars 2008-2009: Japanese Claim Activists Disrupted Search for Sailor

Yesterday I posted about the news of a Japanese whaler drowning. Today I noticed an article about the Japanese claiming the activists hurt the search efforts, which is something I thought was entirely impossible because the activists had recently reported that they were returning to port for refueling. The Japanese say that the Sea Shepherd took advantage of the distress signal and approached with lights off. According to the Sea Shepherd they only offered to help including offering the services of their helicopter, but the Japanese refused the help.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Penguin Christmas Decorations Spotted 2008

Over the holidays I spotted a variety of penguin related Christmas decorations. Most were in good Antarctic taste, but a few in people's yards annoyed me because they displayed penguins with polar bears or even worse one specifically had penguins at the North Pole. Either way it is still fun to spot penguin decorations beyond my bathroom collection.

The above ones are of different yards in the Winterhaven neighborhood of Tucson. Every year they close down the streets and people can walk around viewing the mostly well decorated homes or take a hay ride through the neighborhood.

These photos are of the penguins my dad put in his yard. Two of them are mine, but I did not have a place to put them in my yard. The igloo one is my dad's.

These are photos of penguins under the big Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Lastly here are some photos of a tree decorated with penguin ornaments at the Winter Fest at Navy Pier in Chicago.