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Mesmerizing Map Makes it Easy To Follow Whales

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It may be the tail end of whale watching-season in Hawaii, but with the new interactive map that tracks their migration, you can follow your favorites all year long.

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For more than 20 years, Cascadia Research has been compiling whale data that has, unfortunately, remained inaccessible to the public. Thanks to Scot McQueen at the startup Earth Science-software development team, Smartmine, this rich mine of information can now be tapped. 

“What you see right now,” McQueen says of the interactive map—a hypnotic swirl of ocean and wind currents undulating across the Pacific and speckled with pods of migrating whales—“is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Soon, McQueen and his team of developers hope to incorporate all of Cascadia’s data, giving the map a global spread and providing users new ways to identify with the data.

Instead of an abstract pin, the Smartmine Whale Tracking Map will provide visitors with the actual photographs of each individual whale. “It’s the idea that this is a unique animal—not just data—and you can have a deeper connection with it.”

In addition to Hawaii’s hallmark humpback whales, you can track the migrations of pigmy killer whales around Oahu, sperm whales, beaked whales, and false killer whales as they converge at the tip of Kapaau.

When asked about the potential threat this data could cause to the whales’ safety (noting the recent reports of poachers tracking endangered rhinos with geotagged safari photos in South Africa) McQueen assured us that the Whale Tracker has the animals’ best interests at heart.

“There’s absolutely no live data,” McQueen said. While whale enthusiasts can’t rely on the map for an accurate sighting, the delay in transmission keeps the whales from being harassed.

Ultimately, McQueen and his team are driven by the desire to bridge the enormous gap between the scientific and general communities, and to cultivate the shared desire to explore our planet. 

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites. 

Photo courtesy of GeoEngineers

 

Airbnb's Agreement with New York Attorney General

201405-hd-airbnbjpgAirbnb announced this week that it reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General, after the state office issued a second subpoena demanding data on thousands of Airbnb hosts.

In this latest update to the long saga of New York State vs. Airbnb, the short-term apartment rental website will hand over anonymized data of its hosts, giving the Attorney General's Office one year to review the information.

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Steve Nash Heads to the World Cup with Bespoke Travel Company Beck & Score

steve_nashjpgThe new bespoke travel company Beck & Score—which counts NBA all-star Steve Nash as a partner—is making it possible to travel to this summer’s World Cup in class. Created with the well-heeled sports lover in mind, it offers VIP packages to Brazil that start at $8,000 per person, including tickets to games, stays at stylish properties such as Hotel Fasano, transportation, dinner reservations, and even face time with Nash and pro surfer Garrett McNamara.

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Berkshire Hathaway Launches Affordable, Fixed-Rate Travel Insurance

201405-hd-berkshire-hathaway-aircare-logojpgBerkshire Hathaway is shaking up the travel insurance industry with the launch of AirCare, which offers an inexpensive, fixed-rate plan covering delays, tarmac waits, missed connections, and lost or delayed luggage. But more than its $25 price, the latest from Warren Buffett’s corporation stands out because it streamlines the biggest insurance headache of all: filing claims.

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The World’s Tallest Water Slide Opens May 23

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If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to skip your next visit to the Schlitterbarn Water Park in Kansas City, where the world’s tallest waterslide is set to open Memorial Day weekend.

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National 9/11 Memorial Museum Opens Today

201405-hd-9-11-memorial-museum-steeljpgThe National 9/11 Memorial Museum, located in lower Manhattan, on the site of the World Trade Center, opens to the public today, Wednesday, May 21.

Except for the handsome entry pavilion designed by the Norwegian architects Snøhetta, the greater part of the vast 10,000 square feet of exhibition space is 70 feet below ground level, at the foundations of the original twin towers.  Visitors are drawn into the chasm through a series of ramps, escalators, and viewing platforms that lead to the Manhattan core, its bedrock, where the museum—the thoughtful design the work of Davis Brody Bond, a New York City firm—divides into two, large square aluminum structures with a luminous sheen. 

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T+L's Favorite Hotels for Bike Month

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It's Bike Month, and hotels are getting in on the action. Here, a few of our favorite two-wheeler programs at properties around North America:

All that separates Santa Monica's Shutters on the Beach from the ocean is a bike-path. Luckily, the hotel has a fleet of bright-green cycles designed by Kate Spade available to rent.

On the Atlantic, Miami's James Royal Palm has complimentary Republic bikes for guests to ride along the South Beach boardwalk.

And in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort (pictured above) is a nature preservation unto itself, with secluded paths through a 70-acre bird sanctuary—home to endemic parrots. The hotel provides complimentary bike rentals.

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News Update: World Cup 2014, California's Redwoods, and Airports Impacted by Climate Change

This week's video news round-up includes the latest on preparations in Brazil for World Cup 2014, details on an attack of California’s giant Redwood trees, President Obama's warning for many U.S. airports, and details on a new resource for traveling seniors.

FAA Investigates Near Collision Between Jetliners Over Hawaii

The Federal Aviation Authority is investigating claims of a near collision between two passenger planes over Hawaii last month.

Apparently, on April 25th, a United Airlines flight dropped 600 feet in order to avoid an oncoming U.S. Airways flight. At just two miles apart, the planes could have collided within twelve seconds due to their speeds.

The incident went under the radar until this week, when passenger Kevin Townsend published an essay on the subject. Now, the FAA and both airlines are cooperating to investigate the close call.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Ecuador Declares Environmental Emergency in Galapagos

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A cargo ship that ran aground last week prompted Ecuador's government to declare an environmental emergency yesterday.

Nineteen-thousand gallons of fuel have already been removed from the Galapaface I, stranded off of San Cristobal island, but the environmental ministry's statement highlights the continued threat from the remaining cargo, including chemical products and bilge water.

In effect for 180 days, the declaration opens up federal resources to remove both the dangerous products and the ship itself.

Thankfully, the government's fast response has minimized any potentially disastrous effects, leaving the island's unique ecosystem relatively unscathed. Here's hoping the cleanup process remains so successful.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins

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