Newly Discovered Deep Water Coral Reef off Amazon River Threatened by Drilling

Graphic: The Guardian

A 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef has been discovered off the mouth of the Amazon River. Stretching for over 600 miles, from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, the reef is in water from 160 to over 320 feet deep.  Scientists say that the massive reef is unlike any other known on Earth.  Unfortunately, the newly discovered and unique reef is also in the path of where energy giants BP and Total plan to drill for oil

Smithsonian reports: The reef is so odd, in fact, that its discoverers believe it may constitute an entirely new type of ecological community.  

“This is something totally new and different from what is present in any other part of the globe,” says Fabiano Thompson, an oceanographer at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. “But until now, it’s been almost completely overlooked.”   Continue reading

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“The Twentieth Century”: The Sailing Oystermen

At one time, 2,000 skipjacks dredged for oysters under sail. Now they number fewer than 40 and less than half are actively fishing. Walter Cronkite hosts this documentary that examines a disappearing way of life for Chesapeake Bay skipjack sailors, dredging for oysters under restrictions aimed at preserving a dwindling supply. The film also captures life on Smith Island. Originally broadcast February 7, 1965.

“The Twentieth Century”: The Sailing Oystermen

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Death on the Great Barrier Reef — Laws of Chance or Deadly Jellyfish?

Recently, a 63 year old British tourist died suddenly while snorkelling on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  He is the fifth tourist to die in the last three months. In November, a 60-year-old British man and two French tourists, aged 74 and 76, died within days of each other while diving and snorkelling in spots north of Cairns. Ten deaths occurred on the Great Barrier Reef last year. 

The Great Barrier Reef is a major Australian tourist destination, attracting upwards of 2 million people each year and generating over $4 billion in revenues. Given the large numbers of tourists, the deaths of ten people on the reef might be explained by the laws of probability.  As is the case in the United States, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Many of the deaths on the reef have been attributed to heart attacks. 

Many, however, are concerned that something even more deadly may be killing people on the reef — the Irukandji jellyfish, the smallest and most venomous jellyfish in the world. Tiny and translucent, its venom is said to be 100 times stronger than that of a cobra. Irukandji are native to the Great Barrier Reef.

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“Black Jacks” at Noble Maritime in Snug Harbor This Saturday

I read Dr. Jeffrey Bolster‘s book, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail, not long after it came out a few years ago. It is a fascinating study of the largely untold story of African-American sailors in the maritime trades from colonial times through the Civil War. This Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 2 PM, the Noble Maritime Collection at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island will be hosting a presentation of Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail  by Dr. Bolster. Using historical sources and images, Dr. Bolster will explore the role African Americans played in the nation’s maritime culture.  The presentation is free and all are welcome. Sounds like a fascinating afternoon.

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Free Online Course — Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

For anyone with an interest in shipwrecks, here is a very interesting free online course that marine archaeologist John Broadwater pointed out on Facebook.  It has just started but there is still time to sign up. 

ABOUT THE COURSE
People have explored and depended on the oceans of our planet for millennia. During that time the geography of our world has changed radically as coastal regions have flooded and islands have risen up, or been lost beneath the waves. With 70% of the world’s surface covered by water, an unparalleled, yet largely untouched record of human life has been left beneath the sea for us to discover, from our earliest ancestors right through to present day. Over the length of this Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds course we will learn about maritime archaeology together – exploring underwater landscapes from the ancient Mediterranean to the prehistoric North Sea, and consider Shipwrecks from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific coast of the Americas.

Click here for more:

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Blue 52 — Which May or May Not Be the Loneliest Whale

Somewhere in the vast North Pacific Ocean, there is a singular whale singing a unique song, which was first recorded in 1989. For close to thirty years, researchers monitoring anti-submarine hydrophone arrays have heard a whale call which is much higher than the calls of other large whales. While most blue whale calls are around 10–25 hertz and fin whales tend to be around 20-hertz, this whale has been calling at 52-hertz. If most blue and fin whales are singing bass, this whale is an alto, at least by whale standards. 52-hertz is just higher than the lowest note on a tuba.

Scientists do not know even what type of whale it is. The whale’s movements have been similar to a blue whale but the timing of its calls are similar to fin whales.  Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute speculate that it could be malformed, or a hybrid of a blue whale and another species. 

The whale has been nicknamed the 52-hertz whale as well as Blue-52. Continue reading

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Only Total Naval History Nerds Should Even Try This Quiz

Buzzfeed has a quiz for naval history nerds. I got 11 out of 13. The modern naval questions gave me some problems. How well would you do? Click on the link or the image below.

Only Total Naval History Nerds Should Even Try This Quiz

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Sinking of the Cutter Alexander Hamilton — the USCG First Loss in WWII

Seventy five years ago today, the USCG Cutter Alexander Hamilton was the first United States Coast Guard ship to be be lost in World War II. The cutter was named after the first Secretary of the Treasury, often referred to as the “Father of the US Coast Guard.”

On January 29, 1942, the 327′ long Treasury-class United States Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton was patrolling the Icelandic coast near Reykjavík when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-132. The torpedo struck on the starboard side between the fireroom and the engine room. Twenty sailors died in the initial explosion and six more subsequently died from burns.  The ship’s wartime compliment was 221 officers and crew.

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Mike Peyton, the Picasso of Sailing, Dies at 96

You may not necessarily know his name, but if you have been reading yachting magazines over the years, his cartoons probably brought a smile to your face. British cartoonist Mike Peyton, who died on January 25th at the age of 96, was described variously as “the world’s greatest yachting cartoonist” and as the “Picasso of sailing.” A lifelong sailor himself, for over sixty years his cartoons captured the joys, sorrows, absurdity and outright silliness of sailing.

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Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Still Not Quite Home

In February 2014,  the City of Adelaide, the world’s oldest surviving composite clipper ship, returned to her namesake city. Now almost three years later, she still have not quite found a home. The ship is sitting on a deck barge as a “temporary” accommodation at Port Adelaide’s Dock 1, with no permanent dock space yet in sight. The State Government’s commitment to provide a permanent location for the largely privately funded project remains unfulfilled. 

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Taiwan Operating World’s Oldest Submarines While Planning for New

Taiwan is now operating the two oldest submarines in service in the world, the 72 year old SS-791 Hai Shih, ex-USS Cutlass, and the 71 year old SS-792 Hai Pao, ex USS Tusk. The Taiwanese government has announced that the Hai Shih is scheduled to be refit to allow the ship to continue sailing until 2026, at which point the submarine will be a remarkable 80 years old.

The two Guppy-class submarines were transferred from the US Navy to the Taiwanese in 1973 with sealed torpedo tubes. It is reported that the tubes were restored in 1976 and that modern torpedoes were purchased through Italy and other sources. The submarines have been used for training purposes and it is unclear whether or not they could be deployed in combat.

Taiwan is also planning to build a series of new submarines. Continue reading

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Winter Storm Breaks Up SS Palo Alto — the Strange Career of the “Cement Boat,”

Over the weekend, winter storm Kori sent record high waves smashing into the California coast. The National Weather Service said a new wave record was set as the Monterey Bay buoy recorded 34-foot waves. At Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California, the storm waves tore the stern off the SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship built as a tanker in 1919, at the end of World War I.  A storm last winter had rolled the ship to starboard and had cracked the hull. This weekend’s storm may have delivered the coup de grâce.

The SS Palo Alto had a strange but interesting career. Although she was built as a tanker, by the time she was delivered, World War I had ended, so the ship was laid up for a decade, until it was purchased as an “amusement” ship.  The Palo Alto was towed to Aptos, California on Monterrey bay. In 1930, the ship was sunk in a few feet in the water off the beach and a pier was built to the ship. Operated by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation, she was refitted a dance floor, a swimming pool and a café. 

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Master Storyteller of the Sea, Douglas Reeman, a.k.a Alexander Kent, 1924 — 2017

We understand that writer Douglas Reeman has died at this home in Cobham, Surrey, at the age of 92. Reeman, perhaps best know for the novels written under the pen-name Alexander Kent, wrote close to 60 books and has left an indelible mark on the literature of the sea. 

Douglas Edward Reeman was born at Thames Ditton, on October 15, 1924. He joined the Royal Navy in 1940, at the age of 16, and served during World War II and the Korean War, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In addition to being an author, Reeman has also taught the art of navigation for yachting and served as a technical advisor for films. Reeman is survived by his wife of thirty one years, Kimberley Jordan. 

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Scottish MP Supports Rescue of the Falls of Clyde

A UK member of parliament from Glasgow, Scotland has joined in the effort to save the endangered historic sailing ship Falls of Clyde. MP Alison Thewliss has written to David Ige, Governor of Hawaii, in support of returning the ship to the Scotland. The four masted steel ship is currently in Honolulu, at risk of being scrapped of scuttled.

The real question is now whether the supporters in Scotland will succeed in marshaling the resources to save the ship.

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HMS Vengeance Trident Missile Failure and Possible Coverup

Last June, the Royal Navy submarine HMS Vengeance test fired a dummy Trident II D5 nuclear ballistic missile while cruising in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.  The missile was supposed to fly 5,600 miles (9,012 km) to a target at sea off the west coast of Africa.  Instead, the missile veered towards the US.

There are no reports that the missile hit the US mainland. On the other hand, there are very few reports about the incident at all.  The failed test was allegedly covered up in the weeks before the British Parliament approved a £40billion Trident renewal program.

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Jumping Mako Shark in Gulf off Indian Rocks Beach

This video brings back memories of fishing in an open boat in the Gulf off John’s Pass, FL when I was in high school, back in another century. I remember when a friend landed a fairly small 3-4′ shark and how the boat suddenly seemed to get very small as we tried to keep our arms and legs, fingers and toes, away from the snapping jaws and teeth of the very unhappy shark.

Here is a video of three fishermen in an open boat off Indian Rocks Beach, who had been fishing for grouper when they saw what they describe as a roughly 15′ long mako shark, which took their hook and put on quite  show. Fortunately, the shark got away without landing in the boat. They did, however, catch some great video.

Florida fishermen capture incredible video of large shark jumping out of water

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Global Sea Ice at Record Lows as Temperatures Set New Record for Third Year

The latest observations from the US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, say that the extent of global sea is now as low as it has been since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s.  It is also likely that it is as low as is has been in several thousand years. Likewise, global temperatures set a new record in 2016, after also setting records in 2015, and 2014. This is the first time in recorded history that three temperature records have been set in three consecutive years.

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Armel Le Cléac’h Wins the 8th Vendée Globe Singlehanded Round the World Race

French sailor, Armel Le Cléac’h, 39, won the 8th Vendée Globe singlehanded round the world race today at 15:37:46 UTC after 74 days 3 hours 35 minutes and 46 seconds at sea on his 60ft racing yacht Banque Populaire VIII.  He set a new record for the race, beating the previous record of 78 days 2 hours 16 minutes set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes.  This is Le Cléac’h’s third Vendee Globe Race, coming in second in both the 2008-09 and 2012-13 sailings of the race.  This time around, Le Cléac’h sailed 24,499.52 nm at an average speed of 13.77 knots in the race which began in Les Sables d’Olonne, France on November 6 and ended for Le Cléac’h today in the same harbor.

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Vendee Globe — A Two Boat Race for the Finish Line

After sailing over 24,000 nautical miles and just 300 nautical miles from the finish line of the Vendee Globe singlehanded round the world race, Armel Le Cleac’h sailing Banque Populaire VIII is holding a slim 30 nautical mile lead on Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss.  With contrary winds, it is unclear whether Thomson will have the time to close the remaining distance with Le Cleac’h.  The two boats have been racing neck and neck together for the last 73 days. They are expected to cross the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France sometime tomorrow.

The rest of the fleet of 18 boats still in the race is spread out. Jérémie Beyou sailing Maitre Coq in third place is about 1,000 nautical miles to the finish line while the last boat competing in 18th place, Sébastien Destremau on TechnoFirst – faceOcean  is 9,630 nautical miles from the finish. 

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Wilson & Roura — Oldest and Youngest Vendee Globe Racers Round Cape Horn

Swiss sailor, Alan Roura, 23, is the youngest competitor in the Vendee Globe single-handed ’round the world race. American, Rich Wilson, 66, is the oldest. Both recently rounded Cape Horn, with Roura roughly 12 hours ahead of Wilson. The two sailors are 13th and 14th in the current 18 boat fleet. Twenty nine competitors began the race but 11 have now dropped out.

This is not the first time that Rich Wilson can claim the honor of being the oldest sailor in the Vendee Globe. As we posted a year ago, in 2009, Wilson was the oldest sailor in the Vendee Globe at 58. He finished ninth of the thirty boats which began the race. Wilson was the only American in the eleven boats which finished. This year, Wilson and Roura are also the only American and Swiss competing in the current race.

A Continue reading

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