Europe - Editor - 17 October 2014
The archipelago of Lofoten, situated in North Norway within the Arctic Circle, is renowned for its natural beauty and biodiversity, both on land and in the sea. Lofoten boasts the world’s largest deep water coral reef, Røst Reef, and is home to millions of birds, including the world's largest population of sea eagles. Moose are resident on the archipelago's largest islands, and otters are commonly seen swimming along the shoreline. Tour operators are on hand to help vistors get the most out of their time spent in Lofoten, with one of the more popular options being a trip by boat to view the sea eagles.
While bearing in mind that nature does not run to the timetable of humans, visitors are almost guaranteed to see these enormous birds up close. The boat captain throws fish into the sea and, more often than not, an eagle will swoop down and pluck the fish out of the water with incredible speed and accuracy. Sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), also known as white-tailed eagles, erne, or ørn, are close cousins of North America's bald eagle, but are found in Eurasia, and occupy the same position on the food chain.
Measuring between 66 and 94 cm in length with a wingspan of between 1.78 and 2.45 meters, the white-tailed eagle is among the world's largest flying birds and is a magnificent sight in flight. Although they are very capable birds of prey, sea eagles are opportunistic and are known to pirate food from other birds and otters. They will eat fish, mammals and birds, particularly sea birds, such as cormorants. They nest on coastal cliffs in large untidy structures made of sticks which they reuse and add to year after year. Sea eagle pairs mate for life, only taking another mate if one of the pair dies. They have a fascinating aerial courtships ritual in which they lock talons in mid-air while cartwheeling down to earth, before swooping upwards again.
Between late-May and mid-July, the sun remains above the horizon continually, and does not rise between early-December and early-January each year, phenomena known respectively as the 'midnight sun' and 'polar night'. Lofoten also offers one of the best places to see the colorful 'northern lights'. The weather is surprisingly mild, considering the archipelago's location, and there are many opportunities for outdoor activities such as mountaineering, rock climbing, rafting, cycling and hiking.
Home to New Zealand's oldest university, the University of Otago established in 1869, Dunedin is a vibrant coastal city with students making up more than twenty percent of the population. It has a busy social, sports and cultural calendar and numerous landmarks and attractions to explore. Add to that the spectacular natural treasures beyond the city's outskirts and it easy to see why visitors to Dunedin may have difficulty deciding what to fit into their itinerary.
Situated off the Island of Cozumel in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park forms part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, also known as the Great Mayan Reef. The reef is the second largest in the world, after Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and includes a number of protected areas, including the Belize Barrier Reef, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park and the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, which was declared a National Marine Park of Mexico in July 1996.