Business explores world through the Internet

"Until 1948, the nesting site for the curlew, far out on the Yukon River Delta, was a mystery. Newly-hatched curlews may walk miles to gather in nursery groups. This 17-inch, migratory species of concern finds prime nesting on Palmyra Atoll, a mid-ocean group of 50 tiny islands 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. A South Whidbey Internet company takes Web surfers to places such as theseRobert J. Shallenberger photosTune in for another Web TourSalmon: Spirit of the Land and Sea, One World Journey's next expedition, starts on Sept. 6. The 10 day webcast will salmon, their historical influence on the Northwest and the land and sea animals that depend on them for survival. The first portion of expedition will take place off of Princess Royal Island with a focus on the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. One element of the expedition will be to search for and photograph the Spirit (Kermode) Bear. The second half of the trip will focus on the Orcas in and around Johnstone Strait.To take this journey or to access past expeditions, go to OneWorld Journeys on the Internet.On a coral atoll 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, a couple of photographers and a few nature writers spent seven days in May hoping the batteries in their cell phones wouldn't wear out.The group was staying on a group of tiny islands called the Palmyra Atoll, a tropical wildlife paradise recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy. Part of just a handful of people who will be allowed to visit the atoll this year, the photographers and writers were documenting the wildlife and scenery of the islands by day, then sending them off the island digitally by night via laptop computers and satellite phones. The destination for the photographs they took and essays they wrote was another island thousands of miles to the northeast: Whidbey Island.This expedition to Palmyra is one of four mounted during the past year by a new South Whidbey Internet business, OneWorld Journeys. Founded by brothers Kevin and Russell Sparkman with the backing of the Seiko Epson Corporation, the company combines the sorts of stories and photos seen in National Geographic magazine with free Internet distribution. Speaking recently from his satellite office in Medford, N.J., Kevin Sparkman said the photographs and stories One World nature journalists are producing are unique in the digital realm.It's unlike anything done on the Internet, Sparkman said.Produced in Clinton and Langley by Denise Rocco and Michael Zilber, the OneWorld Journeys travel site draws on both local and internationally known writers and photographers. On the One World Web site, the Palmyra expedition opens with moving graphics and text that fades into and out of existence. An essay written by South Whidbey's Marian Blue coupled with photos of palm trees, birds, coral reefs, and a map of the atoll explains Palmyra's history as a bird refuge, a World War II airfield, and a remote human outpost.Other essays written by naturalists who were on the expedition go into further detail about species, habitat and climate.Blue, who is not one of the traveling writers, said she enjoyed doing the months of research and writing for her introductory article, even though she could not - and probably never will - travel to Palmyra.It's a little like plowing the field to plant it, she said. Blue has also written for two other One World expeditions, Sonora and Jaguar. An avid traveler, Blue had an easier time envisioning the Sonoran Desert and Mexico's Yucatan jungles because she has visited those places. The Palmyra expedition had a greater tease factor for her, since the atoll is almost entirely off limits to people.That's some place I can't get to, she said.But that's the beauty of the Internet, Sparkman said. His company's site can transport people to exotic places they may never see first hand. The formula has proved attractive. Not only does the site have a large number of daily visitors, it also made Pick of the Day at Yahoo's browser site.It's extraordinary to get that kind of attention from Yahoo, Sparkman said. What we're doing is so cool.Because the site is free for all visitors, One World makes its money from sponsorships, like the one they are getting from Epson. The electronics and imaging company pays the expenses of producing the One World webcasts. Also profiting from the Web site is the Nature Conservancy, which solicits donations through One World. The strategy is effective: The conservancy brought in $15,000 from the Sonora Web cast.Next up for OneWorld Journeys is a 10-day expedition that tracks the history and life cycle of Northwest salmon. Salmon: Spirit of the Land and Sea will hit the Web on Sept. 16.Other South Whidbey people who bring the One World expeditions to the Web include company vice president Roseann Alspector and writer Susan Zwinger. OneWorld Journeys is a subsidary of Clinton's FusionSpark Media, Inc. "

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