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Fancy a cruise to the Antarctic?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fancy a cruise to the Antarctic?  Many do, and according to Dr Geoffrey Carter, guest speaker at the January general meeting of Todmorden U3A,  some pay £28,000 for the pleasure. This is at the luxury end, you understand.  As described by Dr. Carter, it must need a considerable degree of luxury to make up for the experience of the voyage, traversing some of the roughest seas in the world with waves up to 13 metres high. Dining the conventional way, Dr Carter told his audience, was not always an option.  Sometimes the condition of the sea necessitates passengers being fed while strapped in their bunks.

Antarctica is the highest, windiest, coldest and driest – despite all that snow and ice – of the continents.  The mean elevation is 7,000 feet, due to the ice cap. The average wind speed is 44 mph and the katabatic winds at the edge of the continent average 150 mph and can reach as high as 200 mph.  The coldest natural temperature on earth was recorded in Antarctica, minus 89.2°C.  Antarctica is considered a desert, as it receives little precipitation, an average of 4 inches at the South Pole, less nearer the coast. 

What draws visitors to such a hostile place, and compensates for the kinds of journeys described above?  For Dr. Carter, it was the bird life, more varied than many may think - 7 species of penguins; 5 of albatrosses and 33 others besides.  A number of species breed in Antarctica, three of them exclusively there. Mammals make their homes there also – 5 species of seals, and whales.  Krill are found in the sea and are critical in the food chain as without them the other species couldn't exist there.

Above all these attractions though, one must cite the magnificent scenery, which, as well as the birds and the mammals, featured in the slides with which Dr Carter illustrated his fascinating and much appreciated talk, and which were prompts for his wit and humour.

If you'd like to find out if Todmorden U3A could keep your mind ticking over, call 01706 839176 or find them on the web. All meetings are accessible to people with disabilities - and your first visit is free.


Previous U3A reports on the HebWeb

HebWeb News - Gail Allaby, U3A's Queen of the Underworld (Dec 2011)

HebWeb News - September meeting report - Report of meeting about Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

HebWeb News - August meeting report - Bolton Abbey

HebWeb News - May and June meeting report - Keep Learning: Live long and prosper and the role of the Lord-Lieutenant

HebWeb News - April meeting report - Belt and Braces - An Everyday Guide to Risk and Chance

HebWeb News - March meeting report - Growing Old in the Twenty-First Century

University of Third Age, Todmorden website

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