All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

All-Female Sailing Team 'eXXpedeition' on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.

The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.

Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.

The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.

eXXpedition ©

eXXpedition ©

Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.

You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!

All images courtesy of eXXpedition 

By Sofi Pickering

 

 

 

Submerging Turkey’s History: The Ilisu Dam

Submerging Turkey's History: The Ilisu Dam

The ancient town of Hasankeyf, Turkey faces submersion in just a few short months following the construction of a new hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river which will harness the flow of the the river to generate electricity at the expense of the areas surrounding the dam upstream.

Hasankeyf is currently inhabited by some 3000 residents, whom have a deadline of October 8th to vacate the town to their new dwellings on higher ground the opposite side of the river in the new development of ‘New Hasankeyf’. This is not an unfamiliar story of displacement; much of the world have trialed and succeeded in generating energy from renewable sources at the expense of people’s settlements. But what makes this case truly remarkable is that Hasankeyf has been continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years and has been home to some of the worlds earliest civilisations.

Study Guide: The Turkish Diaspora

A monument to these civilisations, ancient relics are found scattered across the town; Neolithic caves, Byzantine ruins and Ayyubid mosques among many others. Some of the monuments from the ancient city have been moved to the new town, but the human history that goes along with them will be left to drown. The citizens fear for the loss of their ancestry as it provides a large part of their economy through both tourism and animal husbandry.

The plans for the development of the dam have been in the making for decades, and constriction began in 2006. The Turkish government’s plans to develop the poverty-stricken Kurdish south-eastern region have been undeterred by the national and international protests, and withdrawal of support from key European banks providing funding. The government expects that the dam will contribute a much-needed $412 million to the economy on an annual basis. However, the dam is also something of a diplomatic issue too – the Tigris flows through neighbouring Iran who have expressed concerns that the new, restricted flow of the river downstream could cause water shortages in their country.

The town does not have the special protection of global schemes designed to protect such relics. UNESCO status, for example, can only be achieved if nominated by the national government. Where this national government has already condemned this citadel to extinction, it seems unlikely that protections will be awarded.

Visit Hasankayf with us in our episode Globe Trekker – Turkey 2, available to buy on DVD at the Pilot Guides Store now!

 

India’s Record Breaking Monsoon Season

India's Record Breaking Monsoon Season

India’s monsoon season is finally forecast to come to a close on October 10th this year, marking the end of the longest rainy season the country has ever seen.

Typically, the monsoon season lasts through the months of June to September, and draws in before the end of September. The last time the nation saw such a long monsoon period was in 1964, when the rains did not withdraw until the October 1st.

There has been extensive flooding across the northern regions of India due to this year’s rainfall, and it is estimated that the flooding has caused over 100 deaths. Collapsing homes and drowning are responsible for many of the deaths. The rain was initially forcasted to be no more than average, but India has gone on to experience the highest rainfall in 25 years.

The floods have also damaged some of India’s summer crops such as cotton and soy, but the additional rainfall is expected to be of benefit to the winter crops that the nation grows such as chickpeas, wheat and rice. The additional rainfall will also restore reservoirs and ground water supplies for the coming dry seasons.

India is known for its hot, tropical weather. In general, April to June provides the hottest and most uncomfortable weather. The monsoon rains come shortly after and last through September. The cooler weather lasts from November to mid-March, with fresh mornings or evenings and nice dry, sunny days in-between.

More information:

Read: Destination Guide: India

Read: Trekking in East India

Watch: India’s Independence Railroads

Buy: The Story of Tea DVD

By Sofi Pickering

13,000 Japanese Volunteers Welcome Tourists At The Rugby World Cup

13,000 Japanese Volunteers Welcome Tourists At The Rugby World Cup

13,000 Japanese volunteers from across the nation are this welcoming the arrival of rugby fans from all over the world.

The record-number of volunteers, known as “Team No-Side”, are assisting tourists and fans around the venues as well as at nearby transport points, while some are working for VIPs such as government, business and popular culture figures from around the world.

For the duration of the Rugby World Cup, more than 400,000 visitors will arrive for the games which began on the September 20th and run through until the November 2nd. The games are being held in 12 cities across the nation including Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka.

2011 Rugby World Cup, Jean Francois Fournier Photographe, Flickr Creative Commons

2011 Rugby World Cup, Jean Francois Fournier Photographe, Flickr Creative Commons

In the initial recruitment drive, over 38,000 people applied for the 10,000 positions, attracting applications from people from all over Japan – of all genders and generations. 13,000 candidates were eventually selected for the roles and have been training in the 12 centres around the country since.

The roles are completely unpaid and with no expenses covered, however many view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and of great importance to Japan. The event is the first major rugby tournament to be held in Asia, and the Japanese are bound by a sense of pride and duty to showing off their nation’s best side.

Akira Shimazu, the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee CEO, is banking on Team No-Side to help make the tournament a success.

“I want them to present the tournament together as the face of the historic first World Cup held in Asia, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Shimazu.

This is the first of many more important events to come to Japan, with the Summer Olympics and Paralympics returning to Tokyo next year!

More information:

Read: WOW: What’s On Where In September

Buy: Empire Builders – Japan

Download: Adventure Golf – Japan

 

Main Image: Tokyo, Nicholas Cole, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

DNA Evidence Suggests That Nessie Might Be A Very Real Eel!

New scientific research has discovered DNA in the water of Loch Ness that suggests that it may be home to Giant Eels. This kind of discovery isn’t unusual in itself, however in the Scottish Highlands the news has been received with much excitement. You see, since the 6th Century, the whole world has been trying – and failing – to find solid evidence that a ‘monster’ exists in this lake. A monster called Nessie.

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

Loch Ness Monster, rjp, Flickr Creative Commons

The Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’,  is in folklore a large lake-monster which has been allegedly sighted over many years. It is described as being a large creature with a long neck that protrudes from the water in several places. She has also, interestingly, been described as being “serpent-like”.

Generally speaking, the scientific community has always regarded the Loch Ness Monster as a phenomenon without a biological basis and has explained sightings as hoaxes and incorrect identification of other objects.

However, scientist from the University of Otago have this week discovered the DNA of Eels which could explain the both the origin and the subsequent sightings of the Lock Ness Monster. Professor Neil Gemmell, who led the team, has said (of the discovery) that it is not impossible that the lake contains mutant giant Eels which occasionally surface and are sighted as ‘Nessie’.

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Fresh Water Eels, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr Creative Commons

Professor Gemmell explained that: “There is a very significant amount of eel DNA. Eels are very plentiful in Loch Ness. Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Loch Ness is the largest lake by volume in the British Isles, and is 230 metres deep at its deepest point. The Loch Ness legend is big business for the Scottish Highlands, with some estimates suggesting that Nessie is worth $54 million to the Scottish economy each year. Looking out for the infamous lake monster also made it into the top 20 bucket list items of Brits.

Other similar Lake Monster phenomena such as Nessie include the ‘Ogopogo’ in Okanagan Lake, Canada; and ‘Champ’ of Lake Champlain which straddles the border of Vermont and New York State.

More information:

Read: In Search of Nessie: Scotland’s Elusive Loch Ness Monster

Watch: Globe Trekker – Scotland

Download: Adventure Golf – Scotland

Main Image: Loch Ness from Fort Augustus Scotland, Dave Conner, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

Rome Bans Tourists From Sitting On Spanish Steps

It came to public attention last week that the City of Rome is clamping down on tourists yet again, this time by banning visitors from sitting on the ever famous and ‘insta-worthy’ Spanish Steps.

Tourists who decide to stop here and who do not move along when requested – by the new specially employed police task-force – will be faced with a fine of up to €400.

The law came into effect at the beginning of July, however only last week did the police appear with their whistles to start moving people along.

The somewhat controversial move is part of a greater effort to improve Rome’s appearance and protect its heritage. The city is concerned by the amounts of litter left by tourists who stop to enjoy refreshments on the steps, and wished to discourage this kind of anti-social behaviour.

The Spanish Steps themselves are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, and recently underwent a costly restoration project in 2016.

Rome has become one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations and its historical monuments are increasingly at risk from the perils of over-tourism. The city’s officials have become known for introducing rules and regulations such as banning bathing in any of the city’s fountains, and penalising “messy eating” near the monuments.

The move comes amid a greater concerns for many of Italy’s major tourist destinations. Officials have expressed concerns for the welfare of the environment, the important historical landmarks and the future of Italy’s tourism sector.

More information

Article: Important Historical Sites Of The Roman Empire

Article: Italy: Locations In Rome

Article: Ancient Rome

Article:  Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Article: The Past, Present & Future of Alberobello’s Iconic Trulli

 

Main Image: Spanish Steps, Ronald Tagra, Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong’s Space Suit Goes On Display In Washington, D.C.

Neil Armstrong's Space Suit Goes On Display In Washington, D.C.

After an expensive 13-year restoration process and in time for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to step foot on the moon, Mr Armstrong’s spacesuit has gone back on display at the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Neil Armstrong, Kanijoman, Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong, Kanijoman, Flickr Creative Commons

The restoration project, costing around $500,000, was paid for by a Kickstarter fundraising campaign which took just 5 days to reach the funds necessary. The Kickstarter was the first campaign run by the Smithsonian Institution and was supported by over 9000 contributors from around the world.

The unveiling was attended by vice president Mike Pence, NASA’s Jim Bridenstine and Mr. Armstrong’s son Rick. Mr Armstrong himself sadly passed away in 2012.

Mike Pence, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

Mike Pence, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

“It is a honor to be here at the National Air and Space Museum to help unveil one of the most important artifacts of what President Kennedy called, correctly, ‘the most hazardous and dangerous and bravest adventure upon which mankind has ever embarked,’ said Pence. “On this day 50 years ago, Apollo 11 launched from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center to begin its historic 4-million-mile journey to the moon. Just three days later, commander Neil Armstrong would wear the spacesuit that we will unveil in just a few moments when he took that ‘one giant leap’ for mankind.”

The suit will be on display on the National Mall on the second floor of the Air and Space Museum until 2022, where it will then be moved to its permanent home in the newly built “Destination Moon” gallery.

 

Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit, airandspace.si.edu

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit, airandspace.si.edu

More information:

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Watch: Globe Trekker – East Texas

Read: 50 Years Since Man First Stepped On The Moon

Read: Aurora Station: World’s first luxury space hotel to debut in 2022

 

 

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

Tectonic: Italian Volcanic Island Of Stromboli is Erupting

A volcano has erupted on the Italian island of Stromboli, killing one hiker and injuring a second. Lava streams and rocks have been slowly making their way down the volcano’s slopes following the eruption yesterday afternoon.

WATCH ON DVD: Volcanoes & Extreme Landscapes

Stromboli has a population of around 500, and its volcano is very active with frequent minor eruptions, making for an adrenaline junky’s paradise. As many as 7000 tourists flock to the island every summer to take in its incredible natural beauty, challenging landscape and Italian Island charm.

READ: Fireworks Night: Trekking Mount Stromboli

Yesterday’s eruption is described as a ‘major eruption’ with two major explosive events occurring. Tourist’s and locals alike have described scenes of people fleeing hotels and restaurants and jumping into the sea in a state of panic.

READ: Study Guide: Volcanoes

The Aeolian Islands, where Stromboli is situated, are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for providing “an outstanding record of volcanic island building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena”. Stromboli has been in a state of almost continuous eruption for the past 2000 years, its eruptions characterised as short and mild blasts of lava and rock and a slow and viscous flow of lava.

WATCH ON DVD: Globe Trekker – Cosica, Sicily & Sardinia where traveller Ian Wright visits the spitting summit of stromboli

 

Main Image: Flrnt, Stromboli, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

Decommissioned Turkish Plane Becomes A Diving Attraction

A decommissioned Airbus A330 has been sunk in the Gulf of Saros, Erdine, Turkey in order to attract diving tourism.

The operation, which involved slowly submerging the 90 Ton aircraft with deflatable flotation devices, took 4 hours to complete, and saw the plane reach the Aegean seabed at a depth of 30m.

The Gulf of Saros is located in northern Turkey close to the border with Bulgaria and provides a great location for a new diving attraction due to its close proximity to Istanbul. The plane was sunk by a local tourism board and under the sponsorship of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project in a bid to promote tourism to the area.

The plane at 65m long is the worlds largest object yet to be sunk on purpose. Local officials believe that the site will not only bring tourism, but that it will also be of great benefit to local aquatic life.

This monumental effort is part of a greater artificial reef project which hopes to boost Turkey’s aquatic population, and has already seen very positive results.

Don’t miss our episode on Istanbul, where we travel to Erdine, and discover some of the other great tourism that Turkey has to offer!

Main Image: Caleb Maclennan, The Aegean, Flickr Creative Commons

 

The Queen’s Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

The Queen's Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

Despite the fact that she has travelled the world extensively during her reign, one fact little known about Queen Elizabeth II is that before she became Queen, she actually lived overseas. Her and her husband, Prince Phillip, lived on the Mediterranean island of Malta while he dutifully served in the Royal Navy from 1949-1951 .

The grand neoclassical Villa Guardamangia is the only place outside of the UK that a British Monarch has ever called ‘home’. Excitingly, it is currently privately owned and up for sale!

Currently listed for just under €6 Million by Maltese luxury estate agents Homes Of Quality, the listing describes the property as “an amazing grand Palazzo style property (…) with documented great historical value (…) complimented with sea views over Marsamxett Harbour (…) crying out for a great conversion and will make a superb residence or possibly a commercial venue.”

Located in Pieta, just outside the capital city of Malta, Valetta, the Maltese government have previously displayed interest in buying the property to renovate it as a tourist attraction. It is currently in a state of disrepair. It is reported that the Queen asked to visit the house, of which she holds fond memories, when on a state visit in 2012 but that the current owners refused.

Malta has a long and colourful history, gaining independence from British Rule in only 1964, and declaring itself a Republic in 1974. Prior to then, due to its desirable central Mediterranean location it had also been ruled by the French, Knights of St. John, Greeks, Arabs, Romans and more! The marks left by these ancient rulers make for a wonderful culture filled visit!

To learn more about the history of Malta, why not order our 6 part series Ottomans vs Christians Battle For The Mediterranean, or watch part 3 of the series on Vimeo!

By Sofi Pickering