Why we travel: Felicity Aston on the power of polar regions to teach vital conservation lessons - National Geographic UK

Why we travel: Felicity Aston on the power of polar regions to teach vital conservation lessons - National Geographic UK


Why we travel: Felicity Aston on the power of polar regions to teach vital conservation lessons - National Geographic UK

Posted: 02 Jul 2020 12:00 AM PDT

On each expedition, I learn something vital about myself. Everyone is a different person year to year, so while expeditions may be on similar terrain, they throw up different challenges. That's why they're so addictive. The 2018 trip was probably the first time I thought I'd perhaps pushed things too far. I took a large team — 11 women plus guides and camera crew; 16 in all, which is a lot of people to co-ordinate anywhere in the world. We got dropped on the ice by helicopter, not having had any sleep for 24 hours. Everyone was quite intimated to be out there in the open Arctic, and I wanted to keep moral up, not have us hiding in tents trying to sleep. So, we set off for a couple of hours' skiing. Of course, it was an absolute shambles: kit failures, no coherence, and everyone's confidence plummeted. It took me the rest of the day to dig us out of that, but at one point we managed an hour-and-a-half moving together, as we'd trained to do, navigating, checking on each other. Everyone was, in the end, elated but, by god, did we work hard. It was not my intention to beast everyone on the first day.

We're a tiny speck in the universe, but we punch above our weight. Humans achieve incredible things — far more than we should. These expeditions have made me realise how ingenious we are as a species; we make our way across all sorts of dangerous environments, like the poles. It gives me hope for our planet. Humans have sorted out all manner of critical situations, such as the hole in the ozone layer, by figuring out and eliminating its causes. We have the ability to come up with solutions to really big problems, and I believe we'll help ourselves through science and human spirit. We're clever enough, and we should be smart enough.

Sometimes it's all about wonder, not science. I'm well versed in the science of the Northern Lights, but when you're beneath them, it's hard to believe they're anything other than magic. All those folktales you hear about them being created by a celestial fox brushing the sky with its tail, or the souls of the dead playing football with the skull of a walrus — out there under the endless sky, these make so much more sense than particles coming down through a magnetic field. 

Felicity Aston MBE is a polar explorer. She'll be concluding her Royal Geographical Society speaking tour, Polar Exposure: The Women's Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition, in November and December 2020. felicityaston.co.uk

Read more tales from our Why We Travel cover story

Published in the Jul/Aug 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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'SharkFest' Is Lurking on National Geographic, 5-Week Marathon Starts July 19 - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Posted: 13 Jul 2020 10:19 AM PDT

It's that time of year, time for sunscreen, swimsuits, sandals, and . . . SharkFest!

National Geographic is airing the popular network's eighth annual nod to one of the most intimidating creatures on the planet with Sharkfest.

The five-week marathon starts July 19.

Nat Geo's SharkFest, at Comic-Con International in 2019
Nat Geo's SharkFest, at Comic-Con International in 2019 |
Matt Winkelmeyer Getty Images North America

'SharkFest' is a five-week shark-a-thon on National Geographic

Nat Geo's eighth annual SharkFest starts on Sunday, July 19 with three weeks of shark-ified programming, followed by two weeks of content on Nat Geo Wild, beginning Sunday, August 9.

The popular programs highlight innovative shows featuring shark research and conservation. Each summer, SharkFest also entertains and informs with thrilling programming that goes way beyond a week of shark content.

SharkFest on National Georgaphic starts July 19, 2020
SharkFest on National Georgaphic starts July 19, 2020 | via National Geographic

"For the past eight years, Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild have been THE destination for viewers to get up close and personal with one of the world's most awe-inspiring creatures, and this summer we're eating up the competition again with an unprecedented line-up of action-packed shark shows," Geoff Daniels, executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment at National Geographic said in a statement.

"Over five full weeks, our viewers will get the ultimate home field advantage to witness the ocean's super stars in their prime, so pull up your beach chairs and get ready for some SharkFest!"

Sink your teeth into wall-to-wall shark programming

Over the next five weeks, this shark-infested programming will include:

· World's Biggest Tiger Shark? – Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Andy Casagrande and marine biologist Kori Garza journey to a remote lagoon in French Polynesia to dive with the "tigers of Tahiti" in search of the world's largest living tiger shark, Kamakai.

· Most Wanted Sharks – Marine biologist and shark-suit inventor Jeremiah Sullivan goes in search of celebrity sharks with fans galore.

SharkFest - a herd of silky sharks
SharkFest – a herd of silky sharks | via National Geographic

· Sharkcano – For some reason, sharks are attracted to volcanoes around the world. Celebrated shark scientist Dr. Michael Heithaus takes you through the globe to uncover the real-life connection between these two forces of nature.

· Sharks vs. Dolphins: Blood Battle – While sharks and dolphins have shared the ocean for all time, their complicated relationship is only starting to be understood by scientists. This special takes viewers to Shark Bay, Australia – to explore shark and dolphin combat.

· Shark vs. Surfer – In Shark vs. Surfer, you'll travel to the most shark-infested surf areas on earth, where surfers share their incredible stories of survival. Two of the world's leading marine biologists, Ryan Johnson and Dr. Steven Kajuira, will offer their insights.

That's just scratching the surface of the shark fin

Tune into Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild this summer for the ultimate in shark programming.

Featuring the ocean's greatest competitors in their natural habitat, this mammoth programming begins Sunday, July 19, on National Geographic, followed by two weeks of content on Nat Geo Wild, beginning Sunday, Aug 9. 

This exciting shark marathon shows off the best of Nat Geo's shark library content – with hundreds of hours of programming that will leave your hunger for all things shark – fully satisfied.

RELATED: Why Do Shark Attacks Happen? Here's What You Need to Know

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