Around the World in 50 Minutes with Marty Essen

Marty Essen is a man with a seemingly ordinary background. Nevertheless, this Montana native has traveled the world and documented the unseen vestiges of nature. Accompanied by his wife Deb, his camera, and a team of likeminded travelers, Mr. Essen has photographed strange and unusual wildlife on every continent. From Australia to Antarctica and Africa to South America, he has fulfilled his lifelong dream of being one with the environment. On Tuesday, he shared his adventures with a presentation called “Around the World in 50 Minutes” at the LSC Theater in Sam Houston.

Mr. Essen is the author of “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet”, which explains in detail his journeys into the wild. He presently has the number one book lecture in the country. “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet” was awarded the 2009 Green Book Festival Award for Animals, the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Travel/Essay, and the Best Books 2006 Book Award for Travel/Essay. He has received honors from Senator George McGovern and wildlife expert Jeff Corwin who exclaimed that Essen’s book is “a roller coaster ride through the natural world that will both entertain and enlighten readers.”

What is more intriguing is Essen’s knack for wildlife photography. He has one of the only known pictures of the Orchid Mimic Spider, a creature that is white in color and emulates the look of a flower. He has even kayaked across the Amazon River. Essen recalled that his journey in the Amazon was a life-changing event. It was the realization of his childhood dream. In a humorous manner, he recalled that during his first trip to the region he was stung by a Bullet Ant . This may seem uneventful, but the Bullet Ant is a creature that possesses deadly venom. If left untreated, it can kill a man. Luckily, Essen survived the matter with only slight illness. In another life threatening tale, he reminisced about his encounter with a hippopotamus. He and his wife were canoeing down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe when a hippo bit through the hull of the boat, snapping its gun wing. On the projector, he showed the aftermath. The boat had a foot and a half wide hole in the center. Even in the distressing moment, Essen and Deb can be seen smiling. In his words, the two were on “a strong adrenaline high”.

In viewing the presentation, one could easily conclude that Mr. Essen is a conversationalist. Although he stated that he “didn’t want to talk politics”, Essen showed compelling evidence of human damage to the environment. He talked about the Bear Glacier, an icy mass so powerful that it creates it’s own weather system. However, Essen stressed that the glacier is melting, as affirmed by the river flow behind it, and 50 years ago this river was solid ice. He is also against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As evidence, he showed pictures of tundra plant life and the mass migration of Canadian Caribou. This was to defame the notion that there is no life in that region.

As Mr. Essen’s book lecture came to a close, I felt more enlightened about the world beyond civilization, smokestacks, and human expansion. I felt closer to nature and was amazed by this man’s dexterity to capture life at it’s fullest. If anyone is interested, please visit Mr. Essen’s website at, where one can order a copy of “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet”.

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