Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deep ocean creatures I/II

From BBC Blue Planet

This documentary explores the unknown depths of the ocean.
Over 60% of the sea is more than a mile deep and it forms the planet's most mysterious habitat.
A sperm whale descends 1000 metres to look for food and is followed.
On the way down, a number of unusual creatures are witnessed, such as transparent squid and jellies, whose photophores give pulsating displays of colour.
In such dark places, both being able to see (or sense movement) and the means of quick concealment are equaly desrirable.
To that end, some use bioluminescence as a means of detecting food or evading predators.
A descend to the very bottom of the ocean - some 4,000 metres - reveals life even at such cold temperatures, much of it new to science.
It is dominated by echinoderms that sweep the sea bed; however, there are occasional large hunters, such as chimaera.

Life in the Deep Oceans (part I)

The term deep sea refers to organisms that live below the photic zone of the ocean.
These creatures must survive in extremely harsh conditions, such as hundreds of atmospheres of pressure, small amounts of oxygen, very little food, no sunlight and constant extreme cold.
Most creatures have to depend on food floating down from above.
These creatures live in very harsh environments such as abyssal or hadal zones, which, being thousands of meters below the surface, are almost completely devoid of light.
The water is very cold (between 3 and 10C) and has low oxygen levels.
Due to the depth, the pressure is between 20 to 1000 atmospheres.

Barometric pressure
These animals have evolved to survive the extreme pressure of the sub-photic zones.
The pressure increases by about one atmosphere every ten meters.
To cope with the pressure, many fish are rather small, usually not exceeding 25 cm in length.
Also, scientists have discovered that the deeper these creatures live, the more gelatinous their flesh and more insignificant their skeletal structure is.

Lack of light
Because there's no light most animals have very large eyes with retinas constructed only of cones, which increases sensitivity.
Many animals have also developed large feelers to replace peripheral vision.
To be able to reproduce, many of these fish have evolved to be hermaphroditic, eliminating the need to find a mate.
Many creatures have developed very strong senses of smell to detect the chemicals released by mates.

Since at such deep levels, there is little to no sunlight, photosynthesis is impossible as a means of energy production, leaving some creatures with the quanday of how to produce food for themselves.
For the giant tube worm, the answer comes in the form of bacteria that live inside of it.
These bacteria are capable of chemosynthesis and live inside of the giant tube worm, which lives on hydrothermal vents.
These vents spew high amounts of chemicals that these bacteria can transform into energy.
These bacteria can also grow freely of a host and create mats of bacteria on the sea floor around hydrothermal vents, where they serve as food to other creatures.
Bacteria are a key energy source in the food chain.
This source of energy creates large populations in areas around hydrothermal vents, which provides scientists an easy stop for research.

Whales can dive to about 1.200m deep in search of their prey.
The giant squid is one of the very few deep ocean creatures that can visit the ocean surface.
The viperfish have long sharp clear teeth that they use to catch their prey.
The hatchet fish has a light that attracts their prey, gulper eels have huge heads and mouths so they can swallow their prey easily.
They also have elastic stomachs, which allows them to eat fish larger than themselves. Anglerfishes use a light on top of their head to catch their prey, the rattail fish detects its prey with a whip like tail, a sea pen is like a worm like creature that lives and crawls on the ocean flood.
Many fish larger than the sea pen make it their lunch.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bahamas WLP update in the Marine GeoGarage

3 charts have been removed from the previous layer :

  • B233 : Eleuthera - Current Cut
  • B241 : Eleuthera - Davis Channel
  • B239 : Eleuthera - Rock Sound
4 charts have been added :

  • B228 : Central Eleuthera
  • B273 : Eleuthera - Sail Rocks to Finley Cay
  • B227 : Northern Eleuthera
  • B229 : Southern Eleuthera
8 charts have been updated :

  • B242 : Eleuthera - Davis Harbour
  • B118 : Eleuthera - Egg Island Cut
  • B60 : Eleuthera - Fleeming Channel
  • B236 : Eleuthera - Governor's Harbour
  • B231 : Eleuthera - Harbour Island
  • B232 : Eleuthera - Harbour Mouth
  • B225 : Eleuthera - Spanish Wells & Devil's Backbone
  • B276 : Eleuthera - Tarpon Bay
Today, 261 charts for Bahamas (from WLP) are published on the Marine GeoGarage

Note : you will note some shifts between the nautical maps and Google imagery in some positions.

After checking the two maps B229 and B228, it seems the land geo-referencing is fairly accurate (the map creator WLP frequently takes positions of docks or rocky coastline and then adjusts the land imagery if need be).
So it would seem that the Google system is incorrect in this general area.
See the overlay of B229 on Bing Maps aerial pictures :

B229 overlay with Bing Maps imagery

In the same way, if we display the historical imagery of this area in Google Earth we can see that the imagery from 2002 seems to be correctly georeferenced.

We feedback Google about this issue.

If you navigate in these areas, it would be interesting to find where the error is, checking places on different Islands to see if there is a discrepancy to the GPS readings taken to georeference the map.

NZ Linz update in the Marine GeoGarage

13 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage (Linz october update published December 29, 2010) :

  • NZ52 : Cape Brett to Cuvier Island
  • NZ53 : Bream Head to Slipper Island including Hauraki Gulf
  • NZ443 : Approaches to Port Taranaki
  • NZ521 : Cape Brett to Bearm Tail
  • NZ522 : Bream Tail to Kawau Island including Great Barrier Island
  • NZ531 : Great Barrier Island to Mercury Bay
  • NZ4314 : Manukau Harbour
  • NZ4432 : Taranaki Roads: Port Taranaki
  • NZ5124 : Plans in the Bay of Islands
  • NZ5223 : Great Barrier Island (Northwestern Part)
  • NZ5224 : Great Barrier Island (Southern Part)
  • NZ5318 : Great Mercury Island to Otara Bay
  • NZ14638 : Fiji to Kermadec Islands including Tongatapu
Today NZ Linz charts (178 charts / 340 including sub-charts) are displayed in the Marine GeoGarage.

Note : LINZ produces official nautical charts to aid safe navigation in New Zealand waters and certain areas of Antarctica and the South-West Pacific.
Using charts safely involves keeping them up-to-date using Notices to Mariners

Sea no evil: the life of a modern sailor

The Eugen Maersk, the world's largest (397-metre-long) container vessel

From TheTelegraph

Forget any romantic notions of life on the ocean wave – most modern-day seafarers are simply ‘prisoners with a salary’

It was only late afternoon, but already dark and stormy, on the Thursday of the week before Christmas 2009, when the cargo freighter
Danny FII approached the Lebanese port of Tripoli en route from Uruguay to Syria.
She carried 18,000 cattle, 10,000 sheep and 83 humans, including four passengers, and had been converted from a car carrier into a modern-day Noah’s Ark.
Danny FII was not a new ship, but it was modern, because her crew was international: a British captain and chief engineer, 59 Pakistanis, some Filipinos, a Lebanese and a Syrian.
Though she was Uruguayan, she flew another country’s flag.
She was a typical member of the 90,000-strong fleet of freighters that sail the seas, bringing us 95 per cent of everything that we consume.
Eleven miles out from Tripoli, the night, the weather and the Danny FII itself combined to create a fatal outcome.
The details are still unclear, but Danny FII changed course, then capsized.
Twenty-three sailors reached the lifeboats, but they capsized, too, and the seas filled with drowning animals and men.
Forty men survived, 43 did not, including the captain, who went down with his ship.
And so Danny FII was added to the 36 other ships that sank that year and the 43 men were added to the estimated 2,000 or so who lose their lives annually.

Why were there no headlines? Consider the reaction if 37 airliners crashed every year, or 37 trains, and if it happened every year, regular as a shipping schedule.
In 1910, the journalist FR Bullen wrote that we regarded this ‘indispensable bridging of the ocean’ as ‘no more needing our thoughtful attention than the recurrence of the seasons or the incidence of day and night’. Nothing has changed.
The man who goes to sea, wrote Marco Polo, is a man in despair.
This is still true, but today’s man of the sea is also probably poor, probably exploited, and living a life that contains, at the least, chronic fatigue and overwork; boredom, pirates and danger. Suicide rates of seafarers are triple those of land-based occupations and carrying sea cargo is the second-most deadly job on the planet after fishing.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (
ITF), which represents seafarers, said recently that ‘the maritime and fishing industries continue to allow astonishing abuses of human rights of those working in the sector.
Seafarers and fishers are routinely made to work in conditions that would not be acceptable in civilised society’.
Middle-class shoppers may think they are helping the world’s poor by buying Fairtrade food, but, chances are, they have never given a thought to the conditions on board the ships that bring them those goods.
Only last year a young South African cadet named Akhona Geveza was found floating in the sea, an hour after reporting that she had been raped by a senior officer.
An investigation by South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper interviewed other cadets and found two made pregnant by senior officers; two male cadets raped; and a widespread atmosphere of intimidation.
‘When we arrived,’ one female cadet told the newspaper, ‘we were told that the sea is no-man’s land and that what happens at sea, stays at sea.’

International Commission on Shipping estimates that thousands of seafarers, working on 10-15 per cent of the world’s ships, ‘work in slave conditions, with minimal safety, long hours for little or no pay, starvation diets, rape and beatings’.
All to bring us our Fairtrade coffee and our ethically sourced clothes.
A British Navy Admiral last year accused Britons of ‘sea blindness’; of having no idea what sea life is like.
But how can we? Shore and sea lives are nothing alike.
You would expect for example that the families of Danny FII’s dead crew would be compensated, because that is what happens in shore life, ideally, where there are checks and balances and courts and redress.
But the men of Danny FII lived in a world that is essentially lawless.
When something goes wrong at sea, a seafarer has nowhere to turn.
‘A land-based person would have national jurisdiction,’ says Deirdre Fitzpatrick of the ITF,. ‘I’m in the UK, my problem is here, and I know where to go for help. If you are Filipino, on a Panamanian-flagged ship, travelling from South Africa to the Netherlands, what law is going to govern you? You are a total moving target.’
International, multinational, transnational: this is normal in shipping, an industry whose complexity would impress offshore bankers.
Crews of five or more nationalities are standard, and 60 per cent of ships now fly a flag of a country that is not that of their owner.
These days, the average ship in British ports is unlikely to have either a British flag or a British crew.
The only thing you can predict with certainty about it is that its sailors will be from poor countries, and exhausted.
Occasionally, they will also be unpaid, or worse, which is where Tommy Molloy comes in.
An inspector for the ITF, based in Liverpool, Molloy spends his days visiting whichever of the world’s freighters has arrived at the quays of Liverpool and Birkenhead, to see if they pass muster.
We meet in New Brighton, old-time seaside resort for Liverpool, now supplanted by Ryanair and short-haul sunshine.
His office is on a retirement estate for ex-seafarers run by
Nautilus, a seafaring union.
All the old seafarers here are British, and ‘they wouldn’t recognise the industry today’, says Molloy, as we drive at pensioner speed through the lanes.
But he hardly ever sees a Briton on the ships that call here, because they cost too much in wages, and expect things like being paid on time, or having the right to be in a union, that shipowners can avoid quite easily and legally by flying a ‘flag of convenience’, a responsibility-avoidance system unique to shipping.
It is common to see ships who are owned by, for example, a Japanese company, flying the flag of Liberia or Panama.
This entitles them to operate under a nation state that supplies none of the governance that it should, a practice that makes tracking down bad shipowners near impossible.
Flagging out your ship, an Australian maritime union wrote, is like ‘being able to register your car in Bali so you can drive it on Australian roads without having to get the brakes fixed’.
There are decent flag-of-convenience registries, but questionable ones abound.
North Korea has a large fleet.
When Cambodia-flagged ships got involved in too many sinkings and drug trafficking investigations, the registry office in Singapore was closed and two weeks later reopened as Mongolia’s.
United Nations Law of the Sea specifies that there should be a ‘genuine link’ between the flag-owner and the state.
It took years for diplomats to agree on this.
They are now spending years deciding what a genuine link should consist of.
In practice, when anything goes wrong, the seafarer is on his own.

I drive with Molloy to Birkenhead docks.
He has the right to visit ships that have signed an ITF agreement promising to respect certain wage levels and hours of rest.
Otherwise he asks politely to visit.
Shipping is the only industry that regulates working hours by hours of rest, because it would be impossible to conform to hours of work limits.
On a recent passage I took, conforming to regulations was impossible.
In port, crews were working 18 hours a day, because shipping these days is 24 hours, seven days a week.
The days of prolonged stays in port are long gone.
With containerisation, a ship can be unloaded and loaded and gone in 24 hours.
Some of the crew on my ship hadn’t been ashore in months.
‘I’ve been to New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo,’ the chief engineer said, ‘and they all look like my engine room.’
Molloy doesn’t see many decent ships. ‘I deal with the dirty end of the industry,’ he says.
The first ship we visit, though, is fine.
Hohe Bank is flagged in Antigua, owned by Germans, managed by Britons, built by Chinese, and with an Indonesian crew and Russian officers. Normal, in other words.
Molloy hands out ITF magazines in Russian and an Indonesian language, and they are pleased to get them, because it is human contact, which they don’t get much of.

Plenty of seafarers I meet tell me their job is like being ‘at prison with a salary’.
Wrong, wrote the Maritime Charities Funding Commission, which found that ‘the provision of leisure, recreation, religious service and communication facilities is better in UK prisons than on many ships’.
The ship ‘house’, where seafarers live, is small but clean.
But Molloy gives me a PowerPoint presentation about some other ships he has seen.
Mouldy, filthy couches, rotting fruit and meat. I hear complaints that chandlers – suppliers – regularly give ships poor quality food, simply because they can, when a ship is in port for 24 hours. But the crew doesn’t complain here and the paperwork is orderly.
Still, even on the better ships, Molloy can go aboard and be there for days.
‘You’ll find that all the crew have exceeded their contracts. We always try to persuade them to leave but often they don’t want to.’
Non-officers don’t have permanent contracts, so staying at sea longer means more money and less need immediately to look for work.
I met Filipinos with four children who had missed every birth and every birthday.
It is the price they pay. ‘We call it dollar for homesickness,’ one said.
Many seafarers also find themselves abandoned in a port with no money, no supplies and no way to get home.
The abandonment of ships peaks during times of recession, but it happens all the time, usually when an unscrupulous owner has run out of money and disappears.
The worst cases happen overseas, such as that of Arabian Victory, stranded in Dubai in 2002 for 45 days in temperatures of 111F (44C).
The Indian and Ukrainian crew didn’t even have water.
Appeals to Dubai authorities, the flag state (Belize) and the Indian consulate failed.
When the crew decided to sail to India for help, the Iraqi owner tried to arrest them for hijacking.
This case is extreme, but Molloy sees abuse that is alarming for being so routine.
He boarded one Greek-owned ship and found that the Filipino crew and officers hadn’t been paid for months.
‘The captain got on the phone to the company and told me $48,000 was being wired immediately. I said, hang on, I haven’t even calculated the total yet, then I did and it was $47,600. They knew exactly what they owed.’
Once, when Molloy got money for the crew, he had a call at 3am from a crew member.
‘He was at Manchester airport on his way home. He said: “I’m the only one who refused to give the money back as soon as we got off the ship, so they kicked me off.”’
But who is going to enforce anything?
When a crew is abandoned, the ITF can apply to special maritime courts to have the ship arrested and eventually sold.
This can take 12 weeks, and the sailors have no money or food.

Welfare organisations such as the Sailors Society, Mission to Seafarers and Stella Maris are often the only solace for exploited seafarers.
They are crucial, especially when the crew won’t leave for fear they will never get paid.
Molloy tells of one Sri Lankan who told him: ‘If you send me home, I will cut my throat.’ Like thousands of seafarers, he had coped with not being paid by taking loans from moneylenders, who were threatening to kill his family.
Russians and Ukrainians are more likely to stand up for themselves, says Molloy, but the Filipinos will resist longer because of blacklisting, a practice that no one admits to but which is widely used among the crewing agencies in the Philippines.
Roy Paul, who looks after Filipino seafarers for the ITF’s Seafarers Trust, says it is common practice.
‘You’ll have someone who has worked for a ship for four or five years, then makes a complaint against, for example, a racist captain. Suddenly the agency has no ship for him, though it did for four years.’
The conditions that Molloy sees every day would cause outrage ashore.
And it’s not just lower ranking crew members who suffer.
In South Korea, the Indian captain, Jasprit Chawla, was imprisoned for 18 months after his anchored ship was hit by a runaway barge and leaked oil into the Yellow Sea.
He was only released after a protracted campaign.
‘You land a plane at sea and you’re a hero,’ Paul says. ‘You put a ship on land and you’re a criminal.’

Of course, there are many responsible ship owners.
As Deirdre Fitzpatrick points out, ‘They know that their most valuable asset is their employees.’ They also know that there is a worldwide shortage of officers (a 33, 000 shortfall at the last count).
Campaigners hope that this shortage will put pressure on the industry to clean up its act.
Not much else seems to be working.
Even the Fairtrade Foundation is defeated by the complexities and realities of this extraordinary, unique industry.
It would be nice, says Fairtrade’s Ian Bretman, to insist on using ships that have signed ITF agreements, or to avoid flags of convenience, but without any way of monitoring, ‘this would be merely an empty gesture. [But] I hope that it will not be too long before we can consider what practical support we would offer trade unions in the maritime and shipping industries so that seafarers can also see the benefits of Fairtrade.’

None of the seafarers I met shares this optimism.
In a seafarers’ centre, I ask Menandro, a ship’s cook, if he would send his son to sea.
He used to be a civil servant in the Philippines, but the economy collapsed and only the shipping agencies were hiring.
He now spends his days bringing us everything we need to survive.
Menandro is an educated and articulate man, but his answer is brief. ‘No, no and no. I am doing this so he doesn’t have to. This is no life.’

Links :
  • Slate : Five weeks on a container ship

Thursday, January 27, 2011

AIS vessel tracking experimentation in the Marine GeoGarage

>>> <<<

In parnership with Nantes-Saint Nazaire Port Atlantique, ICOM France and the French Hydrographic Service (SHOM), Marine GeoGarage has implemented a webmapping application showing the vessel traffic in real-time in the Loire Estuary in France.

With some Icom AIS receiver (IC-M505) connected to some ADSL router without any PC assistance via some
specific hardware router interface developed by our company, Marine GeoGarage collects the raw data (AIS sentences) and process them 'in real-time' for viewing with its Google Maps viewer.

Note : the sentences are also sent by the Marine GeoGarage to MarineTraffic for its own use

Explorer recounts deepest-ever ocean expedition

This short documentary illustrates the descent of Jacques Piccard, the Swiss oceanographer who dove to the bottom of the Mariana...

From Wired

Fifty-one years ago this Sunday, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and Navy oceanographer Don Walsh descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the sea’s surface.

It’s the lowest point on Earth, and deeper than any human had gone before — or since.

Diagram of the Mariana Trench and its subduction-powered formation.
Wikipedia/Vanessa Ezekowitz

Above is a new video chronicling the explorers’ journey, weaving animation with audio from an interview granted by Piccard in 2005, three years before his death.
The interview was conducted by New York writer
Victor Ozols, but went unpublished and eventually ended up on his blog.
There it was found by German design student Roman Wolter, who made the film.

“Piccard’s story has been told in encyclopedic format before, but never before like this,” wrote Ozols in an e-mail to

Piccard and Walsh performed their descent Jan. 23, 1960, inside the
bathyscaphe Trieste — a closet-sized metal sphere joined to a giant gasoline-filled buoyancy tank, built with the assistance of Piccard’s father.
Since then, only two remotely operated
robots have made the journey.

Links :

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thousands of fishermen empty lake in minutes

Only one day a year the Dogon people of Mali have the right to fish in the sacred waters of Lake Antogo.
Throughout the year, catch a fish here is forbidden, even the food is scarce in this country so dry and hot. However, the ban is lifted once a year, before the rainy season, during a fishing day that the Dogon tribe never would miss it for anything. Indeed, this is a unique opportunity to catch fish.

Hundreds of "fishing" going on the beach and a few hours of prayers.
Thus, nearly 2000 men who rush to the water, basket in hand.
Catching a fish in the lake Antogo stands for luck for the year ahead for the fisherman.
Men also not hesitate to keep fish caught in their mouths so as not releasing them.

Each catches for yourself and then have to hurry because the whole crowd clears the lake from the fish in minutes...until next year !

Links :

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arctic passage


The maritime industry is preparing for major shifts in navigation, due to the improvements at the Panama Canal.
For a longer view of maritime changes, the world is looking northward as well.

The last thirty years have seen a significant retreat in Arctic sea ice, currently allowing for over a month of navigable water through the Arctic Ocean.
As Arctic ice recedes, countries are looking forward to faster sea routes across the top of the world.
A transit between Vladivostok and Rotterdam, using the northern route, can save approximately 10 days and $300,000 per ship.
Alternately, the voyage is nearly 11,000 nautical miles through the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans – including transits through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Northern Sea Route

The reductions in ice coverage, seen over longer periods, have resulted in a doubling of vessel traffic in the Arctic since 2005.
Mounting cargo demands, emerging resource development, and the growing popularity of ecotourism add to burgeoning interest in the region.

NOAA is working now, on several fronts, for the new era of Arctic navigation.

U.S. joins Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission

On October 6, 2010, NOAA led a U.S. delegation that formally established a new Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission with four other nations.
The commission, which also includes Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the Russian Federation, will promote cooperation in hydrographic surveying and nautical chart making.
The problem is that many Arctic nautical charts are out of date or nonexistent.
Inadequate charts pose a significant risk to marine safety, and could potentially lead to loss of life or environmental disaster.

NOAA issues draft U.S. Arctic Nautical Charting Plan

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey recently drafted a nautical charting plan devoted exclusively to the U.S. Arctic.
NOAA is sharing the draft plan with other government partners, including the U.S. Navy, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and will solicit comments from both industry and the public.
(see testimony of Capt John Lowell, NOAA)
The draft provides detailed plans for additional nautical chart coverage in U.S. Arctic waters and describes the activities necessary to produce and maintain the charts.
The final plan is slated for completion in May 2011.

The Northwest passage

The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone includes 568,000 square nautical miles of U.S. Arctic waters. About a third of U.S. Arctic waters are navigationally significant.
The majority of charted Arctic waters were surveyed with obsolete technology dating back to the 1800s.
Most of the shoreline along Alaska’s northern and western coasts has not been mapped since 1960, if ever, and confidence in the region’s nautical charts is extremely low.

NOAA surveys high transit areas

Responding to a request from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Alaska Maritime Pilots, and the commercial shipping industry, NOAA sent one of its premier surveying vessels, NOAA Ship Fairweather, to detect navigational dangers in critical Arctic waters that have not been charted for more than 50 years.

Fairweather, whose homeport is Ketchikan, Alaska, spent July and August 2010 examining seafloor features, measuring ocean depths and supplying data for updating NOAA’s nautical charts spanning 350 square nautical miles in the Bering Straits around Cape Prince of Wales.
The data will also support scientific research on essential fish habitat and will establish new tidal datums in the region.

Links :

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coast a 'graveyard' of lost ships

Shipwrecks of Delmarva map, National GeoGraphic (full resolution)

From Delmarva

More than 2,000 Delmarva wrecks featured on new map

For beachcombers, Delmarva's waterways are delivering constant reminders of a bygone era.

The artifacts that have washed ashore from long-forgotten shipwrecks -- everything from button covers to Buddha statues -- hold both historical and mythic value to collectors like Bill Winkler of Ocean View.

"The history is more important than a piece of pottery or glass bottles," he said.
"Literally tons, as in 2,000 pounds per ton plural, have been collected over the past 100 years."

Although not all the items can easily be traced to a particular wreck, given the daunting number of ships lost offshore since the days of the first 17th century settlers, Winkler said they all tell a story.

Now, at least part of the region's sunken history is being told through a map of the Shipwrecks of Delmarva commissioned by National Geographic.

Don Shomette, who's written volumes of literature about nautical history, was tasked with culling the 7,000 known shipwrecks to the 2,200 featured on the map.
Based on predictive modeling, he said between 10,000-12,000 wrecks are believed to lie on or beneath the sea floor.

The region's waterways rival the Outer Banks of North Carolina as the "graveyard of lost ships," he said.
"It was an embarrassment of riches," he said.
"There were so many important sites, and a number of them couldn't be included."

The process of selecting the sites to be included took more than a year itself, Shomette said.
He and cartographer Robert Pratt made the selections based on cultural and historical relevance, as well as diversity. Revolutionary War-era privateers exist alongside 1850s paddle steamers, Navy submarines and modern pleasure cruisers.

"We didn't want to put every work boat and every barge -- even though some of them are enormous in size -- in there," Shomette said.

Assembling the list meant pulling from his life's work: decades spent poring over government documents, letters and old newspapers, determining the location and details of wrecks across the region.

Just like Winkler, Shomette said the importance lies in what the wrecks have to tell him.
"Ships at sea have their own laws, customs and ways separate from land society," he said.
And Shomette said most mariners, whose "roots were at sea," left little or no record in the wider world.

Conversely, he said shipwrecks also serve as time capsules of what society was like at the time they were lost.
"A ship is unique," Shomette said. "A ship is a container of the society that built it, sailed it, fought on it and died in it."

Beth Gott, an interpreter at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, said the site's shipwreck displays -- of the Dutch
H.M.S. De Braak, which was captured by the British and capsized off Lewes in 1798, and a wreck discovered during beach replenishment dredging near Roosevelt Inlet in 2004 -- are among the most popular.

"People are fascinated by the story of what happened to it and all the mysteries behind it," she said.

Although an estimated 40,000 artifacts were collected by researchers at the wreck site, Gott said people are still finding items believed to have come from the ship.

"A gentleman just walked in yesterday," she said.
"He found a piece of brown stoneware; he was so excited."

Aside from a few news articles which crop up from time to time, Winkler said most people are unaware of financial and historical wealth beneath the waves.

"The people who know where these shipwrecks are don't really blab about it," he said.
"If I found gold bullion over here, I wouldn't either."

Links :

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big wave hold down

Surfer and legendary big wave hell-man, Ken Bradshaw comes unstuck charging waves at Himalayas on Hawaii's North Shore.
He battles for air as a six wave set pounds the inside.

A stand up paddle surfer braves the big waves in Hawaii