Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Our Sale Starts Today

Monday, October 25th, 2010

We’re having a sale! Our CALL and SAVE two-day sale starts today and goes through Tuesday, October 26th. We’re featuring a savings of $100 per person or $200 per couple on ten of our most popular tours. Call 877-338-8687 between 9:00am and 5:00pm and mention the CALL and SAVE sale to get your savings. Tours on sale include:

Ancient Civilizations of the Red Sea
Amazon River Voyage
Antarctica

Christmas in Canterbury
Egyptian Odyssey
Egyptian Family Odyssey

Exploring Australia and New Zealand
Grand African Voyage Part I – Madagasacar to Mozambique
, and
Grand African Voyage Part II – South Africa and Namibia by Sea
Guatemala: Land of Eternal Spring

Winter Wildlife in Yellowstone

As a bonus, we’re also featuring a 10% discount on apparel from TravelSmith. Just click to save!

 

Like saving money? Click here to sign up for our e-newsletter which features secret sales, online-only specials, and new destinations.

Where would you like to go next? Let us know!

From Our Newsdesk: Smithsonian researchers find differences between Galapagos and mainland frigatebirds

Monday, October 4th, 2010

A frigatebird in the Galapagos Islands

Although the magnificent frigatebird may be the least likely animal on the Galápagos Islands to be unique to the area, it turns out the Galápagos population of this tropical seabird may be its own genetically distinct species warranting a new conservation status, according to a paper by researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the University of Missouri-St. Louis published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The Galápagos Islands, which once served as a scientific laboratory for Charles Darwin, boast a number of unique plant and animal species, from tortoises to iguanas to penguins. Magnificent frigatebirds, however, can fly hundreds of kilometers across open ocean, suggesting that their gene flow should be widespread and their genetic make-up should be identical to those of the magnificent frigatebirds on the mainland coast of the Americas. Even Darwin predicted that most Galápagos seabirds would not be very different from their mainland counterparts. But researchers at SCBI conducted three different kinds of genetics tests and all yielded the same result—the Galápagos seabirds have been genetically different from the magnificent frigatebirds elsewhere for more than half a million years.

“This was such a surprise,” said Frank Hailer, a postdoctoral research associate at SCBI and lead author of the paper. “It’s a great testimony to just how unique the fauna and flora of the Galapagos are. Even something that is so well-adapted to flying over open oceans is isolated there.”

Scientists began the research to determine whether the magnificent frigatebird on the Galápagos was more similar genetically to the magnificent frigatebirds on the Caribbean side or the Pacific side of the islands. Using frigatebird samples from Betty Anne Schreiber at the National Museum of Natural History, Iris Levin and Patricia Parker at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and those they collected in the field, SCBI researchers determined that the Galapagos version differ not only genetically, but also morphologically.

Now scientists are left with a number of questions: Are the genetics of the magnificent frigatebird on the Galápagos different enough to classify it as a distinct species? And what, exactly, accounts for the genetic and morphological differences when the seabirds can travel far and wide and therefore should not be isolated to one area to reproduce? SCBI and National Museum of Natural History researchers plan to collaborate with others in the field to find the answers.

What is clear, however, is that this small population of genetically unique magnificent frigatebirds is a vulnerable population. Any catastrophic event or threats by humans could wipe out the approximate 2,000 magnificent frigatebirds that nest on the Galápagos Islands.

“The magnificent frigatebirds on the Galápagos are a unique evolutionarily significant unit, and if the Galápagos population did go extinct, the area will not likely be recolonized rapidly by mainland birds,” said Robert Fleischer, head of SCBI’s Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics and one of the paper’s co-authors. “This emphasizes the importance of protecting this small population of birds there.”

Magnificent frigatebirds are currently considered of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but the Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper recommends that, because of the genetic uniqueness of those on the Galápagos, this status be revisited.

For more information, please contact Lindsay Renick Mayer at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park at renickmayerl@si.edu.

To see the frigatebirds for your self, click here to see our tours to Galápagos.

The Ocean Portal is Here!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The Ocean Portal is here – a unique, interactive online experience that inspires awareness, understanding, and stewardship of the world’s Ocean, developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and more than 20 collaborating organizations.

Children play by the Ocean

Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal helps us all to ensure that the world’s Ocean is here for us to enjoy for years to come.

 

 

Click here to be among the first wave of visitors to the Portal, an experience which we hope will empower you to shape and share your personal Ocean experiences, knowledge, and perspectives. The Portal supports the Smithsonian’s mission to increase the public’s Ocean understanding and stewardship.

Whether you live near the Ocean or live far away, you can take positive actions to preserve and protect our world’s Ocean. There are opportunities to help posted throughout the Portal, as well as opportunities to share your feedback on the experience.

Thanks for diving in!

What will you do to help the world’s Ocean? Please share.

If you haven’t seen the Ocean for a while, click here to learn more about cruise travel with Smithsonian.

Update on Eyjafjallajökull

Monday, April 26th, 2010
Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland. Photo: NASA/Goddard

Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program has been following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Elizabeth Cottrell, a geologist at the National Museum of Natural History, spoke with Smithsonian about the nature of the volcano and the possible consequences of its eruption.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/91838474.html#ixzz0mDB0LMaA

Video: Photographing Black Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

February is Black History Month, a great time to explore programs, exhibits, and resources at the Smithsonian. Here are a few ways to celebrate black history this month, and all year round:

  1. Learn about The National Museum of African American History and Culture by exploring their website.
  2. Visit the exhibit Indivisible: African- Native American Lives in the Americas at the National Museum of the American Indian.
  3. Explore the Smithsonian African American Heritage Tour that combine objects from our collections with timelines, music, and quizzes.
  4. From Thursdays-Sundays on February 1-14 participate in the award-winning Historic Theater and learn about Student Sit-Ins during the Civil Rights Era at the National Museum of American History.

One native Washingtonian family special to our hearts here in our nation’s capital is the Scurlock family. Their photography studio captured iconic images of notable African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, as well as many of D.C.’s everyday people.

Want to explore more about African American History up close and in person? Check out Word, Shout, and Song: Experiencing South Carolina’s Gullah Traditions presented by The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

How do you celebrate Black History Month? Share Below