Out and About in La Plagne: Get Busy Off the Snow

Out and About in La Plagne: Get Busy Off the Snow

As any avid ski enthusiast knows, ski holidays are not just about shredding powder each day. After a long day on the slopes and once the sun goes down, there is nothing better than soaking up the atmosphere at the resort and mingling with other powder hounds.
One of the best places for events and après ski is, unquestionably, the famous resort of La Plagne in the Paradiski region. In my humble opinion, it is the best pick of the resorts for a group of lads looking for fun and adventure – this is because it has all kinds of fun activities that you might not normally try at home. Additionally, it boasts fantastic ac-commodation, so you can also spend time unwinding/nursing a hangover in your chalet. La Plagne has plenty of entertainment to choose from each night, but the some of the best events take place in a lively venue named Splitting Feathers.

 

Splitting Feathers is a brand new bar, which is conveniently located at the entrance to Plagne Bellecôte. It has an electric atmosphere every night of the week and a huge se-lection of beers, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and food – everything you could need after an exhilarating day on the mountain! Here are a few of the best ways to let loose in this venue.

Karaoke

Sink a few beers for some courage and then get up on stage and sing your heart out with your mates. The great thing about karaoke on holiday is that you’ll never see your audience again, so there’s no need to hold back. This is a barrel of laughs and most per-formers do not take themselves seriously, but keep in mind that the prize for best singer is a bottle of champagne. So get practising beforehand in your chalet! La Plagne’s greatest karaoke act is just waiting to be found…

Pub Quiz

Put your heads together or perhaps split into different teams for the brilliant pub quiz, which will put your trivia knowledge to the test. This is an excellent way to unwind and soak up the warm and friendly atmosphere inside Splitting Feathers, as everyone gets involved and the excitement can escalate rather quickly. There are also superb prizes from a few of the local businesses, such as a free trip on the Tyrolean Zip Wire. What’s more, this is an opportunity to sample the bar’s “resort-famous” home-made curry or to share a plate of nachos.

Bingo

This is not like the bingo your nan plays! Bingo in Splitting Feathers takes the typically quite sedate game and ramps it up a few levels by offering free shots for lines and house. You are sure to walk/stagger away from the bar, feeling very merry and content. Again, bingo is a great time to order some food from the bar and sample the wide range of booze that’s available (there may even be some ale on draft).

I love Splitting Feathers in La Plagne, as there is such a fun vibe and there are so many activities on offer. Of course, there are also plenty of other options in and around the area, which are easily accessible from your chalet. La Plagne has a lot to offer for young groups, and fun times are easy to find!

Sophisticated Sightseeing in Sliema

Sophisticated Sightseeing in Sliema

Whether it’s art galleries you’re after or strolling around amazing churches, the atmospheric coastal town of Sliema offers a wealth of sights for culture aficionados.
Unwind while our Malta Airport transfer whisks you away on a pleasant 20-minute drive to the heart of Malta’s culture capital, where you will be able to explore the historic town of Sliema at your own pace.

 

Visit Remarkable Churches

Sophisticated travellers will appreciate a wander around one of the many stunning churches that this tiny Catholic country has to offer. The Chapel of Our Lady of Graces is well worth a visit. Dating back to 1802, it is the oldest church on the island and is home to two wonderful paintings by Italian Baroque artist, Mattia Preti.

A few streets away, the stunning neo-gothic façade of the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel cuts an impressive figure from its vantage point overlooking Balluta Bay.

When you’re ready, you can take a quick stroll to the impressive Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which boasts five works of art by the Maltese painter, Giuseppe Calì.

Perhaps the most striking church is the Baroque Stella Maris Church, which houses a statue of the Virgin Mary.

If you’re lucky, you may even get to witness these spectacular churches in all their glory during the village festivals, which are celebrated from July to September.

Christine X Art Gallery

Art lovers will not be disappointed with this glorious gallery. Formerly known as Artitude, this wonderful little gallery boasts a number of avant-garde abstracts, contemporary interpretations of the Maltese landscape and figurative work by local and foreign up-and-coming artists. Occasionally, the gallery hosts temporary exhibitions that feature local and international artists.

The Salesian Theatre

Just over a century ago, the Juventutis Domus opened its doors with the intention of giving young people a space to create new ideas. Not much has changed since then, as the Salesian Theatre is still considered the artistic and cultural soul of the country.

Each year, this cosy venue hosts a number of live music events, ranging from classical to jazz music. Theatre and art buffs will not be disappointed either, as a number of plays and contemporary art exhibitions take place in the venue on a regular basis.

Folklore Night at the Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens

Enjoy a sultry Mediterranean night in the open air whilst you relax with a glass of red wine and enjoy an evening of traditional music and dancing in Malta’s most unique venue.

Set in impressively landscaped grounds, the Limestone Heritage Park is perfect for a night under the stars. Enjoy the freshest and most authentic Maltese gastronomy, such as crispy traditional bread that’s been dipped in olive oil, tangy goats’ cheese and tempting beef olives. And why not wash down these delicacies with a glass of local wine? If you’re looking for entertainment, you’ve come to the right place: dancers and musicians will perform local dances such as the Maltese Frejgatina (Fishermen’s Dance) and the Farmer’s Dance. The hospitality and friendliness of the Maltese people ensure that this will be an unforgettable night.

How to Get to Sliema

Valetta is the only airport on this tiny island, ensuring that you are never far away from your destination. The flight time from the UK is around three hours, and Malta is served by a number of carriers, including easyJet, Ryanair and Monarch.

Avoid the hassle of looking for a taxi on arrival and pre-book a Malta Airport transfer online. You’ll be sure to start your holiday in style when one of our expert drivers takes you on a pleasurable 20-minute drive to Sliema.

Savour the Flavours of Sliema

Savour the Flavours of Sliema

Once a tiny fishing village, the town of Sliema has grown to become the veritable gastronomic capital of Malta. From typical Maltese dishes to Asian fusion, you’re sure to find a restaurant to suit your palate and your wallet in this delightful town.
Situated only 20 minutes away from the airport, you can easily travel from terminal to table with one of Shuttle Direct’s transfers from Malta Airport. Our knowledgeable local drivers will be delighted to whisk you away to a restaurant that tickles your taste buds.

 

Our Top Picks

We have hand-picked some of the best restaurants in Sliema for sophisticated travellers and foodies alike. Check them out!

Il Merill

Dine in the tranquillity of this secluded family-run restaurant, which is located near Sliema’s waterfront.

Named after Malta’s national bird, – the blue rock thrush – this intimate restaurant offers a variety of traditional dishes from Malta and from the rest of the Mediterranean. The dishes, which are lovingly prepared by the head chef Patrick, are very generous in size, so only dine here if you’re hungry! The large portion sizes ensure excellent value for money.

L’Artiste

For lovers of fine Italian dining, L’Artiste will not disappoint.

Situated at the beginning of the Tigne Peninsula, this intimate family-run eatery offers the perfect setting for a romantic meal.

At the front of the house, the restaurant manager Gino will make your evening extra special with his witty repartee. He takes genuine pride in advising diners on the best dishes and, as an added bonus, he may even serenade you with his wonderful guitar playing.

In the kitchen, chef Steve Schembri passionately recreates local and Italian dishes with a contemporary twist. There is also something special on offer for wine lovers, who will be spoilt for choice when they behold the restaurant’s exhaustive wine list.

Rocksalt

Serious foodies will love this unique concept café. Situated on the densely packed Tigne seafront, which is where many restaurants jostle for attention, this atmospheric café-cum-wine bar stands out against the crowd.

Rocksalt is famous for its stunning and elaborate dishes, and also boasts a carefully crafted ambience. For those looking to sample the crème de-la crème of cuisine from France, Greece, Italy and Spain, then this restaurant is the place to go.

If you’re impressed by the food, you can also bring some home, as the café boasts a recently opened delicatessen store, where you can buy a selection of high-quality products.

Medasia Fusion Lounge

Situated bang in the middle of Sliema’s coastal road is the unlikely location for this chic gastro-lounge.

As its name suggests, this bold eatery offers an exotic combination of Mediterranean and European cuisine. If you want to sample the culinary delights from Japan, Thailand and China, which are all prepared with a distinctly European flair, this is the place for you!

Charles Grech Bistro

Highly reputed in Malta, the Charles Grech brand took the country by storm with the opening of its first café in Valletta.

The restaurant in Sliema continues to wow diners with its sophisticated French cuisine. This eatery boasts a menu consisting of everything you’d expect from a Parisian bistro, including foie gras and beef tartare that has been cooked to perfection.

African Safari – Kenya Safari Tour has Received Huge International Attention!

African Safari – Kenya Safari Tour has Received Huge International Attention!

There are many reasons why visiting the African safari has appeared as a top choice these days for many tourists. This continent is now receiving a good flow of tourist population. Especially the east African regions and the safaris located there are receiving a good flow of tourists. People coming to South Africa and Kenya like countries cannot even resist paying a visit to the Kenya safari. There are so many things to see, explore and feel when you are opting for an African safari tour. Your tour planner can arrange everything for you. And this is where the tourists are enjoying maximum convenience during the Kenya safari tour. Some time the question may rise in mind is that what are the reasons that drive so many people to explore Kenya safari?
Well, the contrasting wilderness you find at the Kenya safari is what you are surely not going to feel while exploring the wildlife at other parts of the world. If you are looking for a breathtaking leisure or holiday in the African region, then a tour to the Kenya safari can make it happen for you. Kenya is surely the land in Africa where every expectation can exceed! This is the place where you can explore the savannah planes and can find the zebras and the wildebeest dwelling and thundering. And when you are looking for more, then Masai Mara is the place that can really draw your attention at the first instance.

 

If you are keen enough to move for the sandy beaches, then Kenya is having places like Malindi, Watamu, Galu and Diani to display before you. These places are best for beach vacation. At these places, you can see the palm trees that use to sway in a gentle manner due to the gentle breeze coming from the ocean side. As far as Kenya is concerned, this part of the world is often considered as the land of beauty and diversity. And once you are at the spectacular Kenya safari during the yearly migration time, you are surely going to receive a mesmerizing experience.

The abundance of wildlife at the Kenya safari can really make you feel great about your presence at this place. You might have ever imagined for such a tour to a safari where you can see so many things happening around you. The landscapes and the animals here are well protected. There are agencies which are working very seriously to safeguard these natural treasures. Even for the discerning guests, Kenya safari can bring so many things to cheer about!

Due to the constant management efforts, a proper balance has been established between the wildlife preservation and humans. Due to these efforts Laikipia and Lewa like conservancies have come into existence. The local conservation efforts have really made it possible! This type of success has surely managed to bring international attention towards Africa safari. And now the time has come for you to explore the real charm of Kenya safari simply by being there.

Athletic and Après Ski Adventures in La Tania

Athletic and Après Ski Adventures in La Tania

If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re after, then La Tania is the perfect place for you. Nestled in the prestigious Three Valleys ski area and only two lift rides away from the swanky resorts of Mèribel and Courchevel, you’re sure to have plenty of fun both on and off the piste!
With a variety of pistes to choose from, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice here. For a double dose of excitement and adventure, you could try the piste which runs through the gorgeous woodland. Just make sure that you don’t forget to pack your winter sports travel insurance, and you’ll really be ready for anything.

 

After a long day of skiing, you’re going to need some fun downtime. We’ve put together a list of the most stylish places to see – and to be seen in – for the wildest après ski events.

The Drop Inn Bar

This is the newest and funkiest place in Courchevel. With a friendly, chilled-out vibe and a pool table, this is a great place to relax. Check out Wine Wednesdays, on which each glass will only set you back three Euros… oh, and you’re sure to be pleased with the fantastic selection of wines from all over the world.

La Taïga Lounge

If it’s excellent food you’re after, La Taïga doesn’t disappoint. This alpine-style restaurant and cocktail bar is located in La Tania, and boasts the most tantalising Savoyard cuisine. This place attracts a more sophisticated crowd, and is bound to get packed when live bands play at the weekends.

Pub Le Ski Lodge

If you’re looking for down-to-earth food, you’ll love this pub with an alpine twist. Pub Le Ski offers a range of favourites, such as speciality burgers, ribs, chilli, pasta, salads and sandwiches in a relaxed atmosphere. Thanks to its daily happy hours and après ski events on its heated terrace, this venue is very popular among young adults who are looking to let loose on their holiday. What’s more, there are themed nights, 4 big-screen TVs and regular live music performances.

Bouc Blanc

This huge restaurant has an open air sun deck, which can accommodate up to 400 people. On cold days, there is indoor seating on two levels. The service here is surprisingly quick – you can even get a cooked-to-perfection steak in only three minutes! This is a great place to chill out for lunch, and a favourite among tourists and locals alike.

Don’t Forget…

If you’re a real thrill seeker who loves nothing more than death-defying snowboarding, adrenaline-raising cross country skiing or gravity-busting tobogganing, make sure you stay safe with winter sports travel insurance. If you take the necessary precautions before jetting off on your athletic getaway, you can be sure that your winter sports travel insurance won’t let you down – and you’ll enjoy your adventures all the more!

Family Ski Rentals Done Right

Family Ski Rentals Done Right

Skiing can be expensive, especially for families. The option to rent skiing equipment is often much cheaper and more flexible then buying it outright for the whole family, and is even more useful for the young ones who grow out of things so fast. It is often tempting for holidaymakers to look for the cheapest ski rental available – while this is necessary for many families, if you do not know what you are buying it can lead to problems on the slopes. Here are some tips of things for you and your family can look out for in order to get the best kit for your money.
Age and Quality

 

Just because you are renting and not buying does not mean that you should put up with old skis that are not fit for purpose. When you are renting skis always ask how long they have been in service for, and if it is longer than 10 years then ask for a different pair. Don’t worry about the surface scratches and scrapes, all skis pick these up very quickly. What matters more is how they feel in your hands – are they firm but flexible or are they sluggish and hard? All skis should have a bit of give and bounce back into shape easily.

Boot fittings

Making sure your boots fit properly is the most important part of ski rental. Get this bit right and you will be zipping along in happy comfort. It sounds obvious, but make sure that your ski boots are not too big or too small. The best way to ensure that they fit is to try them on properly first as shoe size does not always ensure well-fitting footwear. If they don’t fit, don’t sign.

Choosing Skis

These days, couples and families are bombarded with a hundred different options for skis, all with their own buzzword like ‘performance’ or ‘elite’. These range in price and scared tourists usually take a stab at skis in the middle range, whether they are suitable for them or not. To avoid this, have a good chat with your ski rental or tour operator to find out exactly which ones fit the slopes and experience you have in mind for that holiday. Then you can be sure that you’re renting the right skis for you – and maybe even save some money too.

Terms and Conditions

On a ski holiday, circumstances can change quickly and you may wish to return or change your equipment. In these instances – they happen to all skiers, beginners and pros – the small print of your rental contract is very important. Does it allow you to swap out equipment straight away? Are there exorbitant prices for breaking or losing things? All should be discovered before signing for anything, and if you are not sure don’t be scared to ask. Remember, the customer is king!

Get Your Family Covered

As well as taking care to get the right ski rental, it is also worth making sure your family has comprehensive winter sports insurance. At InsureMore we understand that holidays are expensive and having great protection for your family against accidents shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. After all, you will need them for the skiing! We offer great low-cost family winter sports insurance that will keep everyone protected and give you piece of mind while the kids are shooting down the mountainsides.

Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos Islands wildlife has fascinated us ever since the naturalist Charles Darwin brought them to the attention of the world through his remarkable journey of discovery in the early 1800s. His research in the archipelago forms the basis of what has become his revolutionary theory of natural election.
In subsequent years, this offshore island group of Ecuador has become a popular place for ecotourism. There are several places on Earth that offer such insights into our natural world intrigue and, for wildlife enthusiasts, the Galapagos vacation can be one of their most memorable life experiences. Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

Among the unique endemic species, the rare and endangered Galapagos Penguin is one of the most sought-after sightings. By 2017, after decades of declining population, researchers have seen a spurt in bird growth, and there appears to be some good news for the most endangered penguin species on the planet – and that’s also good news for wildlife lovers who visit the Galapagos holiday area. Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

A bonanza breeding

The reason for buying gold recently did not result in an overnight success. Many bird nests that have been used for the last 40 years have been destroyed by floods or followed by the Sea Iguanas. So, in 2010, a team of researchers from the University of Washington began working on a project that included the construction of 120 artificial penguin nests, with the goal of providing as many opportunities as possible to breed for the species.

The nest is made by digging the tunnel into the lava landscape, or by lava plate accumulation. The nest has been dubbed “penguin condo” and has been built on three island islands: Isabela, Bartolomé and Fernandina. The aim of the researcher is to ensure that when food availability is abundant (when the breeding is most likely to occur), the birds have access to a safe nest to protect their eggs and keep them cool.

The nest is monitored twice a year and in the last visit by researchers, the number of teenage penguins is more visible – and, in fact, they account for about 45% of the total population.

Current events

The increase in breeding is directly correlated with La Niña weather events, which bring rich and nutrient rich flows into the seas around the archipelago. In recent years the El Niño event (which brought the current slower and warmer, created a scarcity of food sources), consequently for the penguin population has been devastating. It is estimated that there are less than half of these days as in the 1979-73 and 1982-83 pre-El Niño years. Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

By providing a means for species to utilize favorable nesting conditions, artificial nests have played an important role in the regeneration of this population. In the hope of another La Niña in the spring of 2018, it is hoped that this breeding crush will continue and increase further. The Galapagos Conservancy has supported this program since 2013, and the body recognizes the valuable work of this dedicated group of researchers. Their long-term goal is to increase the population to a certain point so as to survive the adverse climate fluctuations, and representatives will return to the islands in February 2018 to examine the nest and share their findings.

A privilege of experience

For wildlife enthusiasts who visit the region on the Galapagos holidays, it is still a privilege and an unforgettable experience to see species in their natural habitat. In the coming years, the population can regain its prevalence over the last few decades – proving that in some cases, human intervention can be positive rather than harm world wildlife.

Great news for the Galapagos Penguin

 

Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

For wildlife lovers, a vacation in the Galapagos is often an old dream and a real “bucket list” experience. This remote island off the coast of Ecuador is home to some of the most unique wildlife on Earth, and offers the opportunity for some very close encounters. For those who want to take advantage of most opportunities to take animal photos, some specific tips from experts can help.
Tips for Photography at Holiday Galapagos Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

There are many generic tips for photographing wildlife (including the most basic, ie patient), but there are also some specific ones to capture great images of these remote island animals.

Be prepared

This suggestion has a double meaning: You need to be prepared in terms of equipment, but also at a situational level. Taking the right camera and accessories is essential, and SLRs with interchangeable lenses will produce far superior results to the iPhone, however up-to-date the model. The wildlife in the archipelago is unbelievably fearless, so there is no need for long focal length and long fixed lenses, but if you are serious, short and medium lens combinations are recommended. As a guide, consider (at least) the 18mm-70mm lens and the 100mm-400mm. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Another aspect of preparation is getting ready to get “money fired” without too much notice. Wild wildlife, however, and animals will not wait for you to focus, change openings and frame the scene perfectly – even though the Giant Tortoise Galapagos may be an exception. Read it every time and frankly, keeping your eyes peeled so you can take advantage of the situation as it appears.

Lighting

Due to the geographical position of the archipelago at the equator, the sun rises and sets rapidly, spends much of its time just above the head. This results in harsh and top-lit conditions that are often less conducive to capturing wildlife images. What you should aim for is low-side lighting, which creates greater interest in texture and shaded contours. Without the benefits of an artificial studio lighting, the only real solution is to get up early before the sun reaches overhead, or later at night when it goes down. An added bonus of this is that you can get some spectacular and dramatic pictures by using sunrise or sunset to give the backlight on your subject. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Expose

Even if you set your SLR for automatic exposure, lighting and conditions in the archipelago are often beyond the reach of the most advanced camera metering system. For example, bright white plumage in Nazca Booby perched on black volcanic rocks will cause the camera to glow for darker areas, and then highlight it more deeply. A good tip is to use the +/- function on your camera, which will override the meter and fix one or two stops to expose the bird and not the rocks.

Think laterally

In addition to the technical aspects, the most important advice of the knowing experts is to think out of the box and actually take advantage of the incredible opportunities that you will encounter on Galapagos holidays. Do not just follow the crowd and photograph the animals from a static point of view – go down to the sand with Sally Lightfoot Crabs, ride high on rocks with the Marine Iguana, and cross into shallow rivers with weird Sea Lions (obviously keeping your camera protected). Being creative with angles is one of the surest ways to open up to this once-in-a-lifetime image.

Turned Good to Great

Meanwhile, for some people, the Galapagos holiday is quite a gift in itself, for others, catching amazing photographs is a very important aspect. Wildlife photography can, in essence, be a very challenging quest. And while being in the right place at the right time can reap amazing rewards, following a few tips to take advantage of those “timely, right place” moments can make the difference between good and good photos. Nature on Display: Tips for Shooting the Galapagos Wildlife

Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Giant tortoises are one of the best known animals in the Galapagos Islands. And, for nature lovers who choose wildlife holidays in the Galapagos, this is one of the most sought-after encounters. Like many other animals, however, despite its iconic status as the world’s largest tortoise, it faces the challenge of survival, and is now extinct or nearly extinct on several islands in the archipelago.
Of the 14 native populations, only eleven are left – with many of them considered to be highly threatened. The GTRI (The Giant Tortoise Recovery Initiative) is a conservation project  aimed at changing the flow and restoring its population across the island. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

GTRI work

Established in 2014, GTRI has worked closely with the Directorate of National Parks to achieve a number of objectives. The long-term goals of the initiative include:

• Restoring population to historical summits throughout the archipelago. This includes breeding programs to recover the islands where endemic subspecies have become extinct. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

• Rejuvenate and restore the required habitat.

• Survey of current population to inform future conservation research and efforts.

• Use genetic advances to improve future conservation programs.

Why Do They Need Help?

In an environment where it has no natural predators for millions of years, the Giant Turtles become the animals most affected by human arrivals on the islands. For years, they were used as a food source by settlers and maritime tourists, who managed to find out that they were able to survive for long at sea. They transport them aboard in holding the ship, and then kill them as needed.

In addition to being a source of food, the population is devastated by the introduction of animals such as dogs, goats, cows and pigs. Dogs and pigs loot eggs and hatchlings, while cattle and goats compete with the turtle’s own food source.

Although it is illegal to catch them today, and introduce animals gradually controlled or removed, in some cases too late. But generating an extinct subspecies, such as endemic disease on the island of Floreana, becomes a reality in itself by GTRI’s deductive work.

Progress Created

Species from Floreana Island have been deemed extinct since 1850. But thanks to advances in DNA testing, scientists were able to determine their genetic traces in 2008. They then tested the hybrid population on Wolf Isabela volcano island that has different DNA, and found that it fits well the extinct Floreana species. How this cross-crossing takes place is a mystery, although the most likely explanation is through human intervention, perhaps by dismantling them among the different islands.

A group of 30 have been transferred to a research center in Santa Cruz, where scientists can analyze their DNA even further. It was found that two were classified F1, meaning that they were descended from two elderly races. Through a breeding program, GTRI now intends to refill Floreana Island with the offspring of these animals – effectively bringing the species back from the dead.

Visit the Past and Future on Holidays in the Galapagos

Thanks to GTRI, past species are now closely related to their future, and it is highly likely that populations can be restored to their natural habitat. Visitors to wildlife vacations in the Galapagos can visit the Tortoise Center in Santa Cruz to see the resurrection of Tortoise Giant Floreana in (albeit very slowly). Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight

The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight

The animals of the Galapagos Islands are famous for some of the most unique in the world. With a high number of endemic species, wildlife vacations in the Galapagos offer nature lovers a glimpse of true evolutionary microcosms. Many species have adapted to this unique and remote environment by developing characteristics that enable them to survive in harsh and diverse conditions. Of all the species, though, few adapt to unusual ways like non-flying birds. The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight
Flight cormoran

On his exploration of the archipelago, the naturalist Charles Darwin was fascinated by the discovery of a cormorant with wings so that it was not proportional to its size so it could not fly. At that time, Darwin was formulating his amazing theory of evolution and natural selection, and he believed that environmental change could result in the loss of birds’ ability to fly. In modern studies of bird DNA, scientists have discovered that, more than two million years ago, it also underwent genetic changes, resulting in a small wing that made it impossible to fly. The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight

Story Two Halves

While Darwin observes that many evolutionary changes occur in the archipelago that can contribute to the process of natural selection of the species, scientists have gone a long way to deciphering changes in birds at the molecular level. The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight

Characterized by its short, thin wings, this is the largest of all world cormorants, and the only one of 40 species that can not fly. However, this is a very strong swimmer, and capable of diving for fish. From his observation of this characteristic, Darwin hypothesized that, with the loss of flight, the bird had developed another skill that enabled it to survive – a process now known as positive selection.

Another possibility is that birds lose their ability to fly just because they have no predators to escape, and they do not need to migrate to breed. It is also possible that the change occurred as a result of a combination of these two reasons.

Through a project in which relationships are found between genetic changes in bird DNA and changes in the structure of certain proteins in the body, scientists identify the existence of a gene called CUX1. The gene structure in the cormoran from the archipelago is different from other species capable of flying, so scientists can conclude that its existence alters the function of certain proteins, which affect the size of the wings. They also found that bird DNA showed high mutations affecting the cilia, which play an important role in the development of skeletal and bone growth. The Evolution of Cormoran Without Flight

Research into whether genetic mutations of the non-operable cormorants shared by other non-flying birds is under way, but the same type of genetic change has been found to cause problems in the development of the human skeleton. Findings from the work of researchers with birds have the potential to lead to new treatments for serious bone disorders in humans.

Discover the unique Cormorent Flightless Cormorant on Holidays in the Galapagos

For those visiting the wildlife resort of Galapagos, more than 1,000 pairs of birds can be seen on the islands of Isabela and Fernandina. They can be observed diving for food around the ocean, using their muscular feet to push them down into the water. A growing (and increasing) population is a reminder that, as always, the Universe is full of surprises.