As soon as we saw March of the Penguins, a few of us began charting a course to the nearest coast of Antarctica to see the lil' waddlers. Having shed more than several tears over the baby penguins, you’d have thought we’d be organizing a new protection agency. Instead, we looked at cruise routes that offered ice walks and penguin peeping.
Good thing we wised up.
Tourism to the polar regions has grown significantly over the last decade. Some say that these folks aren't just visiting to dance with Mumble and Ramon from Happy Feet, but rather to witness the effects of global warming.
In "Tourism Threatens Antarctica," The London Times writer Oliver Tickell explains:
This year 33,000 people will visit the Antarctic region, up from about 7,400 a decade ago, according to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, which promotes responsible tourism practices.
Scientists worry that this almost morbid curiosity with seeing the Earth's last great frontier before it melts away will only hasten the regions' deterioration.
"The growth in tourism has the potential to affect national research programs and to increase the risk to the marine environment and terrestrial ecosystems," says a report by the United Nations Environment Program. But despite these concerns, it forecasts that visitor numbers will continue to climb as the sea ice in the region continues to retreat—opening up new passages for cruise ships.
Yikes! IT's in a bind. We really want to go, but certainly don't want to disrupt to the already delicate conditions. Luckily, IT's NGS friends have joined with Lindblad Expeditions to create an ecotourism alliance. And, what do ya know? Chilly adventures to Antarctica and Alaska are on the top of their list! Or, try Cruise North Expeditions, who also offers green cruises to the icy Arctic.