Arrivals/Departures: shark attacks, heritage, calling occupants of interplanetary craft

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The Independent Travel
How to...avoid sharks

After several highly publicised shark attacks this year, Florida has been labelled the shark-attack capital of the world. Between 1990 and 2000 there were 220 unprovoked attacks. A one-mile stretch of Florida's New Smyrna Beach, south of Daytona, was closed last week after several shark sightings. There have been 10 attacks there since 18 August.

But the Department of Ichthyology at Florida Museum of Natural History is keen to correct a few misconceptions about shark attacks. It compared biting injuries occurring annually in New York City to the number of shark-related ones in the US. During a four- year period, there was an average of 11 shark bites around the US, whereas, in New York, there was an annual average of 1,584 instances of humans biting humans, 95 instances of squirrel bites, 11 of raccoon bites and six of parrot bites.

The department offers advice on minimising the risk of being attacked by a shark. Stay in groups when swimming and don't stray too far from shore. Avoid being in water during darkness or twilight, when sharks are most active. Do not enter the water if bleeding and avoid wearing shiny jewellery. Refrain from excess splashing and exercise caution around sandbars and steep drop-offs. The final suggestion ­ "don't harass sharks" ­ rather states the obvious.

England news 1

Next week 2,500 unusual and historic properties open their doors to the public for four days. Heritage Open Days, sponsored by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, runs from 7 September to 10 September.

English Heritage properties taking part include Wolvesey Castle in Hampshire and St Mawes Castle in Cornwall. Don't forget to take a torch to Scott's Grotto in Ware ­ "one of England's finest grottoes". For more information contact the Civic Trust, which is co-ordinating the event (020 7930 0914; www.civictrust.org.uk).

One place that will not be welcoming visitors is English Heritage's own Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, Europe's largest man-made Neolithic mound. The site is closed after trespassers broke in. It is believed they were seeking evidence of extraterrestrial activity in the monument, which, so some believe, is a re-fuelling point for UFOs. English Heritage plans to do a three-dimensional seismic scan of the mound's interior. "We are mapping the shafts inside the hill so that we can stabilise the interior permanently," said a spokeswoman. "It has nothing to do with UFOs."

England news 2

While foot and mouth disease continues to creep across parts of the UK, several walking festivals postponed from spring have been rescheduled for September. The Isle of Wight Walking Festival (01983 813818) starts on 15 September and continues until the end of the month. There are more than 80 walks, a farmers' market and exhibitions. The North Devon Walking Festival (0845 4583630; www.walkingnorthdevon.co.uk) now runs from 21 to 24 September and is centred in the Ilfracombe area. The Calderdale Walking Festival (01422 843831) has been rescheduled for 22 September to 7 October and offers 70 walks, as well as talks and exhibitions.

Whatever next

For his final project at Rotterdam Academy of Architecture Hans-Jurgen Rombaut produced blueprints for a hotel on the moon, titled "Lunatic". Clearly, to stay at a lunar resort means getting to the moon. The X Foundation, which hopes to develop low-cost spaceships for tourists, has 19 teams (including Bristol Space Planes) competing for the X Prize. The $10m prize goes to whoever can put three people into space in a re-usable vehicle.

And in July the Space Tourism Promotion Act was introduced in the US Congress. The bill is intended "to promote the development of the United States space tourism industry".

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