See Another Side of the Highlands With Scotland’s First Snorkeling Trail

Move over, Nessie: Scottish sea creatures are having a moment. Hoping to attract tourists and raise awareness of the region’s precious natural resources, the Scottish Wildlife Council has created the country’s first snorkeling trail, which officially opened on July 9. 

Snorkeling? In Scotland? Admittedly, the chilly waters off the Northwest Highlands are wetsuit, not bikini, territory, but those waters boast an impressive wealth of marine life to observe. Snorkelers visiting the trail’s nine stops can spot corals, cuttlefish, jellies, anemones, sea stars, dolphins, and even harmless basking sharks [PDF]. 

Culture, Tourism, and External Affairs cabinet secretary Fiona Hyslop thinks the trail is a brilliant way to benefit visitors, residents, and the region’s wildlife. 

“Scotland’s coast boasts some of the UK’s richest spots for marine wildlife,” she said in a press statement, “which is why nearly half of the visitors surveyed come to Scotland for our scenery and landscape.” 

Noel Hawkins is the trust’s Living Seas Officer. “The coast of Wester Ross and Sutherland features some fantastic sheltered headlands and beaches that are great places for snorkeling,” he said. For now, the trail is a self-led experience, but in time the trust hopes to set up a snorkel club for kids and a training program so that residents can become instructors.

“Scotland needs healthy living seas that can adapt to climate change,” Hawkins said. “The snorkel trail will encourage more people to explore the fragile habitats below the waves and the marine life they support, whilst also helping to raise awareness of the need to protect them.”

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Afternoon Map
The Literal Translation of Every Country's Name In One World Map

What's in a name? Some pretty illuminating insights into the history and culture of a place, it turns out. Credit Card Compare, an Australia-based website that offers its users assistance with choosing the credit card that's right for them, recently dug into the etymology of place names for a new blog post to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world's countries, including the United States of Amerigo (which one can only assume is a reference to Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who realized that North America was its own landmass).

"We live in a time of air travel and global exploration," the company writes in the blog. "We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there."

In other words: there's probably a lot you don't know about the world around you. But the above map (which is broken down into smaller bits below) should help.

For more detailed information on the background of each of these country names, click here. Happy travels!

Micah Bochart, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
The Loneliest Road in America Is This Arctic Supply Route in Alaska
Micah Bochart, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Micah Bochart, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Sick of traffic? Try heading for Alaska’s Dalton Highway, considered the least-traveled road in the United States, CityLab reports. The 414-mile highway, traversed largely by a handful of truckers and passing through only a few small towns, sees the fewest cars per year of any road in the U.S., according to America’s Quietest Routes, an interactive website made by Geotab, a company that helps optimize truck fleet routes.

To create the site, Geotab used data from the Highway Performance Monitoring System’s 2015 average traffic statistics. Though the Nevada stretch of U.S. 50 is sometimes called the “Loneliest Road in America,” the numbers show you’d be much lonelier driving down the Dalton Highway, also known as State Route 11. The route, which runs along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline north-south between Fairbanks and the remote Arctic town of Deadhorse, saw an average of 196 vehicles a day over the course of 2015—one for every two miles of road. Many of those vehicles are trucks carrying vital supplies to the oil fields of the Arctic.

The highway has been featured on the History Channel reality show Ice Road Truckers and is considered one of the most dangerous routes to drive in the world. There is a 240-mile stretch that features zero services, and it’s full of steep grades, avalanche-prone areas, and the slow-moving landslides known as frozen debris lobes. Despite the dangers, it’s a picturesque route, one with views that writers regularly call “Tolkienesque.”

One thing’s for sure—you probably don’t want to drive it on your own.

[h/t CityLab]


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