Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sex, drugs and sea slime : the ocean's oddest ceatures and why they matter

From NPR

Never threaten a
hagfish. And if you do, watch out.

"When it's threatened or in danger or gets injured, it produces — very quickly — huge amounts of slime," says
Ellen Prager, a marine scientist and educator.
"In fact, they found that in just a few minutes, it can fill up seven buckets full of gooey, slimy gunk."

The hagfish isn't the only underwater inhabitant with unusual tactics for survival.
In Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter, Prager describes some of the craziest underwater activities that help ocean creatures stay alive, fight predators, find food and reproduce.

Consider the lobster

There are more than 100 species of lobsters in the ocean, but the one Americans are probably most familiar with is the Maine lobster, a wide-clawed nocturnal creature with a propensity for urinating on potential mates.

"The male lobsters use [urine] aggressively, but the female lobsters shoot it as a Love Potion No. 9," says Prager. "She shoots when she comes up to a den that might have a male in it. She actually seduces him with her pee and instead of clobbering her over the head with his claw, he says, 'Come in, come in' and gets all touchy-feely."

But before the female and male lobsters mate, the female sheds her shell.

"For the female lobster's private parts to become available, she has to molt," says Prager.
"And then she becomes acceptable to the male."

Dominant males are routinely seduced into one-off sexual encounters while female lobsters are generally more choosy, says Prager.
Females can store a male's sperm for up to three years, using it to fertilize several batches of eggs.

Coral Reefs: The More, The Merrier

Prager has a unique view of marine life because she used to be the chief scientist at an underwater research lab in the Florida Keys.
The lab, which sits underneath 60 feet of water, allows scientists to spend hours underwater studying the ocean without worrying about decompression.

The warm and relatively shallow water provided a fertile ground for reef-building corals.
The organism, which looks like rock, is considered an animal, plant and mineral.
It also provides food and shelter for other marine life and can develop into some of the biggest biologic structures on the planet, says Prager.
And just how do they build those structures?

Most coral reefs are what scientists refer to as "broadcasters."
That means they release either eggs or sperm into the water, where they float to the surface, mix and become fertilized.

"So if you're a coral and you want to mix your eggs with the sperm of another coral of your species, [you must] release [them] at the same time," says Prager.
"So coral reefs spawn synchronously throughout the world. All those corals release their eggs and sperm at the same time."

Prager says she's witnessed the synchronized release of eggs and sperm while on night dives.
"It looks like an undersea snowstorm," she says.
"The eggs look like little tiny pink balls and they all start floating up. And coral spawn is yummy fish food so worms and other things come to feed on it. It really [makes you think about] how active the ocean is."

Like the hagfish, corals also emit a mucuslike slime — dubbed "coral snot" — when disturbed.
"I will tell you from experience that if you disturb corals through something like drilling, [they] start to exude huge quantities of slime," she says.
"You come up just covered in the stuff."

Ellen Prager
has written several books about underwater life, including Adventure on Dolphin Island, Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks and Living Undersea with Ocean Experts and Volcano: Iceland's Inferno and Earth's Most Active Volcanoes.
She has worked at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and the National Undersea Research Center in the Bahamas.
Prager has a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University and was chairwoman of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel for the U.S. government.

Links :
  • YouTube : Ellen Prager I / II / III / IV

Friday, April 8, 2011

NZ Linz update in the Marine GeoGarage

16 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage (Linz March update published 31 March, 2011) :

  • NZ68 : Nugget Point to Centre Island
  • NZ69 : Stewart Island
  • NZ232 : Lake Taupo (Taupomoana)
  • NZ532 : Approaches to Auckland
  • NZ542 : Motiti Island to Pehitari Point
  • NZ681 : Approaches to Bluff and Riverton / Aparima
  • NZ5125 : Bay of Islands
  • NZ5214 : Marsden Point
  • NZ5215 : Whangarei Harbour
  • NZ5221 : Cradock Channel and Mokohinau Islands
  • NZ5222 : Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island)
  • NZ5321 : Mahurangi Harbour to Rangitoto Island
  • NZ5322 : Auckland Harbour East
  • NZ6825 : Paterson Inlet / Whaka A Te Wera
  • NZ7624 : Charles Sound to Dagg Sound
  • NZ7625 : Thompson Sound and Doubtful Sound / Patea
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

UK & misc. update in the Marine GeoGarage

Today 941 charts (1707 including sub-charts) are available in the 'UK & misc.' chart layer
regrouping charts for different countries :
  1. UK
  2. Argentina
  3. Belgium
  4. Netherlands
  5. Croatia
  6. Oman
  7. Portugal
  8. Spain
  9. Iceland
  10. South Africa
  11. Malta

638 charts for UK

7 charts for Argentina :

  • 227 Church Point to Cape Longing including James Ross Island
  • 2505 Approaches to the Falkland Islands
  • 2517 North-Western Approaches to the Falkland Islands
  • 2519 South-Western Approaches to the Falkland Islands
  • 3560 Gerlache Strait Northern Part
  • 3566 Gerlache Strait Southern Part
  • 4207 Falkland Islands to Cabo Corrientes and Northeast Georgia Rise

27 charts for Belgium & Nederlands :

  • 99 Entrances to Rivers in Guyana and Suriname
  • 110 Westkapelle to Stellendam and Maasvlakte
  • 112 Terschellinger Gronden to Harlingen
  • 120 Westerschelde - Vlissingen to Baalhoek and Gent - Terneuzen Canal
  • 122 Approaches to Europoort and Hoek van Holland
  • 124 Noordzeekanaal including Ijmuiden, Zaandam and Amsterdam
  • 125 North Sea Netherlands - Approaches to Scheveningen and Ijmuiden
  • 126 North Sea, Netherlands, Approaches to Den Helder
  • 128 Westerschelde, Valkenisse to Wintam
  • 207 Hoek Van Holland to Vlaardingen
  • 208 Rotterdam, Nieuwe Maas and Oude Maas
  • 209 Krimpen a/d Lek to Moerdijk
  • 266 North Sea Offshore Charts Sheet 11
  • 572 Essequibo River to Corentyn River
  • 702 Nederlandse Antillen, Aruba and Curacao
  • 1187 Outer Silver Pit
  • 1408 North Sea, Harwich and Rotterdam to Cromer and Terschelling.
  • 1412 Caribbean Sea - Nederlandse Antillen, Ports in Aruba and Curacao
  • 1414 Bonaire
  • 1503 Outer Dowsing to Smiths Knoll including Indefatigable Banks.
  • 1504 Cromer to Orford Ness
  • 1546 Zeegat van Texel and Den Helder Roads
  • 1630 West Hinder and Outer Gabbard to Vlissingen and Scheveningen
  • 1631 DW Routes to Ijmuiden and Texel
  • 1632 DW Routes and Friesland Junction to Vlieland
  • 1874 North Sea, Westerschelde, Oostende to Westkapelle
  • 2047 Approaches to Anguilla

14 charts for Croatia :

  • 201 Rt Kamenjak to Novigrad
  • 202 Kvarner, Kvarneric and Velebitski Kanal
  • 269 Ploce and Split with Adjacent Harbours, Channels and Anchorages
  • 515 Zadar to Luka Mali Losinj
  • 683 Bar, Dubrovnik and Approaches and Peljeski Kanal
  • 1574 Otok Glavat to Ploce and Makarska
  • 1580 Otocic Veliki Skolj to Otocic Glavat
  • 1582 Approaches to Bar and Boka Kotorska
  • 1996 Ports in Rijecki Zaljev
  • 2711 Rogoznica to Zadar
  • 2712 Otok Susac to Split
  • 2719 Rt Marlera to Senj including Approaches to Rijeka
  • 2773 Sibenik, Pasmanski Kanal, Luka Telascica, Sedmovrace, Rijeka Krka
  • 2774 Otok Vis to Sibenik
6 charts for Oman :

  • 2851 Masirah to the Strait of Hormuz
  • 2854 Northern approaches to Masirah
  • 3171 Southern Approaches to the Strait of Hormuz
  • 3409 Plans in Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates
  • 3511 Wudam and Approaches
  • 3518 Ports and Anchorages on the North East Coast of Oman

124 charts for Spain & Portugal :

  • 73 Puerto de Huelva and Approaches
  • 83 Ports on the South Coast of Portugal
  • 85 Spain - south west coast, Rio Guadalquivir
  • 86 Bahia de Cadiz
  • 87 Cabo Finisterre to the Strait of Gibraltar
  • 88 Cadiz
  • 89 Cabo de Sao Vicente to Faro
  • 91 Cabo de Sao Vicente to the Strait of Gibraltar
  • 93 Cabo de Santa Maria to Cabo Trafalgar
  • 142 Strait of Gibraltar
  • 144 Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar
  • 307 Angola, Cabeca da Cobra to Cabo Ledo
  • 308 Angola, Cabo Ledo to Lobito
  • 309 Lobito to Ponta Grossa
  • 312 Luanda to Baia dos Tigres
  • 366 Arquipelago de Cabo Verde
  • 369 Plans in the Arquipelago de Cabo Verde
  • 469 Alicante
  • 473 Approaches to Alicante
  • 518 Spain East Coast, Approaches to Valencia
  • 580 Al Hoceima, Melilla and Port Nador with Approaches
  • 690 Cabo Delgado to Mikindani Bay
  • 886 Estrecho de la Bocayna and Approaches to Arrecife
  • 1094 Rias de Ferrol, Ares, Betanzos and La Coruna
  • 1096 Ribadeo
  • 1110 La Coruna and Approaches
  • 1111 Punta de la Estaca de Bares to Cabo Finisterre
  • 1113 Harbours on the North-West Coast of Spain
  • 1117 Puerto de Ferrol
  • 1118 Ria de Ferrol
  • 1122 Ports on the North Coast of Spain
  • 1133 Ports on the Western Part of the North Coast of Spain
  • 1142 Ria de Aviles
  • 1145 Spain - North Coast, Santander
  • 1150 Ports on the North Coast of Spain
  • 1153 Approaches to Gijon
  • 1154 Spain, north coast, Gijon
  • 1157 Pasaia (Pasajes) and Approaches
  • 1172 Puertos de Bermeo and Mundaka
  • 1173 Spain - North Coast, Bilbao
  • 1174 Approaches to Bilbao
  • 1180 Barcelona
  • 1189 Approaches to Cartagena
  • 1193 Spain - east coast, Tarragona
  • 1194 Cartagena
  • 1196 Approaches to Barcelona
  • 1197 Plans on the West Coast of Africa
  • 1215 Plans on the Coast of Angola
  • 1216 Baia dos Tigres
  • 1290 Cabo de San Lorenzo to Cabo Ortegal
  • 1291 Santona to Gijon
  • 1448 Gibraltar Bay
  • 1453 Gandia
  • 1455 Algeciras
  • 1460 Sagunto
  • 1514 Spain - East Coast, Castellon
  • 1515 Ports on the East Coast of Spain
  • 1589 Almeria
  • 1595 Ilhas do Principe, de Sao Tome and Isla Pagalu
  • 1684 Ilha da Madeira, Manchico and Canical
  • 1685 Nisis Venetico to Nisos Spetsai including the Channels between Akra Maleas and Kriti
  • 1689 Ports in the Arquipelago da Madeira
  • 1701 Cabo de San Antonio to Vilanova I la Geltru including Islas de Ibiza and Formentera
  • 1703 Mallorca and Menorca
  • 1704 Punta de la Bana to Islas Medas
  • 1724 Canal do Geba and Bissau
  • 1726 Approaches to Canal do Geba and Rio Cacheu
  • 1727 Bolama and Approaches
  • 1730 Spain - West Coast, Ria de Vigo
  • 1731 Vigo
  • 1732 Spain - West Coast, Ria de Pontevedra
  • 1733 Spain - West Coast, Marin and Pontevedra
  • 1734 Approaches to Ria de Arousa
  • 1740 Livingston Island, Bond Point to Brunow Bay including Juan Carlos 1 Base and Half Moon Island
  • 1755 Plans in Ria de Arousa
  • 1756 Ria de Muros
  • 1762 Vilagarcia de Arosa
  • 1764 Ria de Arousa
  • 1831 Arquipelago da Madeira
  • 1847 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
  • 1850 Approaches to Malaga
  • 1851 Malaga
  • 1854 Motril and Adra
  • 1856 Approaches to Puerto de La Luz (Las Palmas)
  • 1858 Approaches to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Puerto de San Sebastian de la Gomera, Santa Cruz de la Palma and Approaches
  • 1869 Gran Canaria to Hierro
  • 1870 Lanzarote to Gran Canaria
  • 1895 Ilha de Sao Miguel
  • 1950 Arquipelago dos Acores
  • 1956 Arquipelago dos Acores Central Group
  • 1957 Harbours in the Arquipelago Dos Acores (Central Group)
  • 1959 Flores,Corvo and Santa Maria with Banco Das Formigas
  • 2742 Cueta
  • 2761 Menorca
  • 2762 Menorca, Mahon
  • 2831 Punta Salinas to Cabo de Formentor including Canal de Menorca
  • 2832 Punta Salinas to Punta Beca including Isla de Cabrera
  • 2834 Ibiza and Formentera
  • 2931 Baia de Inhambane to Cabo de Sao Sebastiao
  • 2932 Cabo de Sao Sebastiao to Beira
  • 2934 Africa - east coast, Mozambique, Beira to Rio Zambeze
  • 2935 Quelimane to Ilha Epidendron
  • 3034 Approaches to Palma
  • 3035 Palma
  • 3220 Entrance to Rio Tejo including Baia de Cascais
  • 3221 Lisboa, Paco de Arcos to Terreiro do Trigo
  • 3222 Lisboa, Alcantara to Canal do Montijo
  • 3224 Approaches to Sines
  • 3227 Aveiro and Approaches
  • 3228 Approaches to Figueira da Foz
  • 3257 Viana do Castelo and Approaches
  • 3258 Approaches to Leixoes and Barra do Rio Douro
  • 3259 Approaches to Setubal
  • 3260 Carraca to Ilha do Cavalo
  • 3448 Plans in Angola
  • 3578 Eastern Approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar
  • 3633 Islas Sisargas to Montedor
  • 3634 Montedor to Cabo Mondego
  • 3635 Cabo Mondego to Cabo Espichel
  • 3636 Cabo Espichel to Cabo de Sao Vicente
  • 3764 Cabo Torinana to Punta Carreiro
  • 4114 Arquipelago dos Acores to Flemish Cap
  • 4115 Arquipelago dos Acores to the Arquipelago de Cabo Verde
  • Ilha de Madeira, Ponta Gorda de Sao Lourenco including the Port of Funchal

13 charts for Iceland :

  • 2733 Dyrholaey to Snaefellsjokull
  • 2734 Approaches to Reykjavik
  • 2735 Iceland - South West Coast, Reykjavik
  • 2897 Iceland
  • 2898 Vestfirdir
  • 2899 Iceland, Noth Coast, Horn to Rauoinupur
  • 2900 Iceland, North East Coast, Rauoinupur to Glettinganes
  • 2901 Iceland, East Coast, Glettinganes to Stokksnes
  • 2902 Stokksnes to Dyrholaey
  • 2955 Iceland, North Coast, Akureyri
  • 2956 Iceland, North Coast, Eyjafjordur
  • 2937 Hlada to Glettinganes
  • 2938 Reydarfjordur

45 charts for South Africa :

  • 578 Cape Columbine to Cape Seal
  • 632 Hollandsbird Island to Cape Columbine
  • 643 Durban Harbour
  • 1236 Saldanha Bay
  • 1769 Islands and Anchorages in the South Atlantic Ocean
  • 1806 Baia dos Tigres to Conception Bay
  • 1846 Table Bay Docks and Approaches
  • 1922 RSA - Simon's Bay
  • 2078 Port Nolloth to Island Point
  • 2086 East London to Port S Johns
  • 2087 Port St John's to Durban
  • 2088 Durban to Cape Vidal
  • 2095 Cape St Blaize to Port S. John's
  • 3793 Shixini Point to Port S Johns
  • 3794 Port S Johns to Port Shepstone
  • 3795 Port Shepstone to Cooper Light
  • 3797 Green Point to Tongaat Bluff
  • 3859 Cape Cross to Conception Bay
  • 3860 Mutzel Bay to Spencer Bay
  • 3870 Chamais Bay to Port Nolloth
  • 4132 Kunene River to Sand Table Hill
  • 4133 Sand Table Hill to Cape Cross
  • 4136 Harbours on the West Coasts of Namibia and South Africa
  • 4141 Island Point to Cape Deseada
  • 4142 Saldanha Bay Harbour
  • 4145 Approaches to Saldanha Bay
  • 4146 Cape Columbine to Table Bay
  • 4148 Approaches to Table Bay
  • 4150 Republic of South Africa, South West Coast, Table Bay to Valsbaai
  • 4151 Cape Deseada to Table Bay
  • 4152 Republic of South Africa, South West Coast, Table Bay to Cape Agulhas
  • 4153 Republic of South Africa, South Coast, Cape Agulhas to Cape St. Blaize
  • 4154 Mossel Bay
  • 4155 Cape St Blaize to Cape St Francis
  • 4156 South Africa, Cape St Francis to Great Fish Point
  • 4157 South Africa, Approaches to Port Elizabeth
  • 4158 Republic of South Africa - South Coast, Plans in Algoa Bay.
  • 4159 Great Fish Point to Mbashe Point
  • 4160 Ngqura Harbour
  • 4162 Approaches to East London
  • 4170 Approaches to Durban
  • 4172 Tugela River to Ponta do Ouro
  • 4173 Approaches to Richards Bay
  • 4174 Richards Bay Harbour
  • 4205 Agulhas Plateau to Discovery Seamounts

  • 5 charts for Malta :

    • 36 Marsaxlokk
    • 177 Valletta Harbours
    • 211 Plans in the Maltese Islands
    • 2537 Ghawdex (Gozo), Kemmuna (Comino) and the Northern Part of Malta
    • 2538 Malta

    62 international charts from NGA

    • 3 Chagos Archipelago
    • 82 Outer Approaches to Port Sudan
    • 100 Raas Caseyr to Suqutra
    • 255 Eastern Approaches to Jamaica
    • 256 Western Approaches to Jamaica
    • 260 Pedro Bank to the South Coast of Jamaica
    • 333 Offshore Installations in the Gulf of Suez
    • 334 North Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda
    • 386 Yadua Island to Yaqaga Island
    • 390 Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island, Approaches to Freeport
    • 398 Grand Bahama Island, Freeport Roads, Freeport Harbour
    • 457 Portland Bight
    • 462 The Cayman Islands
    • 486 Jamaica and the Pedro Bank
    • 501 South East Approaches to Trinidad
    • 700 Maiana to Marakei
    • 766 Ellice Islands
    • 868 Eastern and Western Approaches to The Narrows including Murray's Anchorage
    • 920 Chagos Archipelago, Diego Garcia
    • 928 Sulu Archipelago
    • 959 Colson Point to Belize City including Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Islands
    • 1043 Saint Lucia to Grenada and Barbados
    • 1225 Gulf of Campeche
    • 1265 Approaches to Shatt Al 'Arab or Arvand Rud, Khawr Al Amaya and Khawr Al Kafka
    • 1266 South-Eastern Portion of the Bahama Islands
    • 1450 Turks and Caicos Islands, Turks Island Passage and Mouchoir Passage
    • 1638 Plans in Northern Vanuatu
    • 2006 West Indies, Virgin Islands, Anegada to Saint Thomas
    • 2009 Sheet 2 From 23 deg 40 min North Latitude to Old Bahama Channel
    • 2065 Northern Antigua
    • 2133 Approaches to Suez Bay (Bahr el Qulzum)
    • 2373 Bahr el Qulzum (Suez Bay) to Ras Sheratib
    • 2374 Ra's Sharatib to Juzur Ashrafi
    • 2441 Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg to Jazireh-ye Forur
    • 2658 Outer Approaches to Mina` al Jeddah (Jiddah)
    • 2710 Delaware Bay to Straits of Florida
    • 2837 Strait of Hormuz to Qatar
    • 2847 Qatar to Shatt al `Arab
    • 2858 Gulf of Oman to Shatt al `Arab
    • 2888 Jask to Dubayy and Jazireh-ye Qeshm
    • 2889 Dubayy to Jabal Az Zannah and Jazirat Das
    • 3043 Red Sea, Ports on the coast of Egypt.
    • 3172 Strait of Hormuz
    • 3174 Western Approaches to the Strait of Hormuz
    • 3175 Jazirat al Hamra' to Dubai (Dubayy) and Jazireh-ye Sirri
    • 3179 UAE and Qatar, Jazirat Das to Ar Ru' Ays
    • 3310 Africa - east coast, Mafia Island to Pemba Island
    • 3361 Wasin Island to Malindi
    • 3432 Saltpond to Tema
    • 3519 Southern Approaches to Masirah
    • 3520 Khawr Kalba and Dawhat Diba to Gahha Shoal
    • 3522 Approaches to Masqat and Mina' al Fahl
    • 3526 Ports of Khawr Fakkan and Fujairah (Fujayrah) including the Offshore Anchorages
    • 3530 Approaches to Berbera
    • 3785 Mina' Raysut to Al Masirah
    • 3907 Bahama Islands and Hispaniola, Passages between Mayaguana Island and Turks and Caicos Islands.
    • 3908 Passages between Turks and Caicos Islands and Dominican Republic
    • 3910 Little Bahama Bank including North West Providence Channel
    • 3912 Bahamas, North East Providence Channel and Tongue of the Ocean
    • 3913 Bahamas, Crooked Island Passage and Exuma Sound
    • 3914 Turks and Caicos Islands and Bahamas, Caicos Passage and Mayaguana Passage
    • 3951 Sir Bani Yas to Khawr al `Udayd

    Don't forget to visit the UKHO Notices to Mariners : NTM for 2011

    So today, for a cost of 9.9 € / month ('Premium Charts' subscription), you can have access to 3658 updated charts coming from 7 international Hydrographic Services.

A radical hull design : "the coolest boat on the water"

the Batmobile of the sea : prefiguring future superyachts architecture

From Wikipedia

The M80 Stiletto is a prototype naval ship manufactured by the
M Ship Company as an operational experiment for The Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation.
It is notable for its hull design and carbon fiber construction, as well as its networked architecture.

The M80 Stiletto is a U.S. Navy vessel designed for combat in littoral (near shore) waters built by M Ship Co.
The 88-foot (27 m) long vessel has a notable hull design, an
M-shaped hull that provides a stable yet fast platform for mounting electronic surveillance equipment or weapons, or for conducting special operations.
The hull design does not require foils or lifting devices to achieve a smooth ride at high speeds in rough conditions.
Its shallow draft means the M80 Stiletto can operate in littoral and riverine environments and potentially allows for beach landings.

The M80 Stiletto is equipped with four Caterpillar, Inc. C32 1232 kW (1652 HP) engines yielding a top speed in excess of 50 knots (90 km/h) and a range of 500 nautical miles (900 km) when fully loaded.
It can be outfitted with jet drives for shallow water operations and beaching.
It has a topside flight deck for launching and retrieving
UAVs and a rear ramp that can launch and recover an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RIB) or Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV).

It weighs 45 tons unloaded, light enough that it can be hoisted onto a cargo ship, while still able to carry up to 20 tons of cargo in the 1,996 square feet (200 m2) of usable interior space.
The ship is 88.6 feet (27.0 m) in length, with a width of 40 feet (12 m) and a height of 18.5 feet (5.6 m), yet has a draft of only 2.5 feet (0.8 m).

The M80 Stiletto is the largest U.S. naval vessel built using carbon-fiber composite and epoxy building techniques, which yields a very light but strong hull.
The prototype M80 Stiletto is expected to be in use in less than one year.
Ships are expected to cost between $6 and $10 million.

Historically, ships have evolved to become narrower and deeper to achieve speed and stability. The M Hull however become wider, because its distinctively wide hull captures the vessel’s bow wave and redirects the energy under the hull.

The Stiletto’s double-M hull enables the craft to achieve an unequaled ride in rough seas at high speed, which is critical for the Navy SEALS and other Special Operations Forces, because it reduces the G-forces and related injuries these personnel are subjected to during training and on missions.
The Stiletto is being tested by the United States Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combat Crewmen, who operate small, fast craft in in the rough littoral seas that the vessel is designed to excel in.
SEAL teams routinely endure 15-25 mile (24-40 km) trips through rough seas aboard their
V-hulled boats and 11-meter RIBs, which can cause a variety of injuries to the spine, internal organs and extremities.
However the M-Hull system, which produces an air cushion, reduces the chances of crew injuries through lower G-Force impact during transit.

In 2006 and 2007, the Stiletto participated in
Trident Warrior exercises, as well as a number of other naval exercises.
This included three days of mine-clearing experimentation during Exercise Howler in 2006, when the vessel was operated by the Naval Special Clearance Team-1 (NSCT-1) from the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado.

A key feature of this vessel is that it can set up a network between a special forces team by launching an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that relays information between the team and boat.
The Stiletto can also carry surveillance UAVs to provide reconnaissance for the SEAL team, and, using a clustered supercomputer on board, will be able to send real-time images to the team on shore.

The Stiletto was selected by
Time magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2006 and one of two inventions in the Armed Forces category.
San Diego-based
CONNECT named the M80 Stiletto as the Most Innovative New Product for 2006 in the General Technology category.
In 2008, the Stiletto deployed on a 70 day mission for
USSOUTHCOM as part of a joint agency operation that included the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Coast Guard.

Links :
  • Metro : M80 Stiletto Stealth launched to help fight US war on drugs
  • YouTube : M80 Stiletto "water batmobile"
  • YouTube : Stealth warships of the future I / II / III / IV / V
  • YouTube : Futuristic French warship DCN Swordship

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Branson set to travel to ocean bottom

While rumors continue to swirl regarding director James Cameron's planned dive on the Mariana Trench, another wealthy explorer is wasting no time in deciding to take the plunge.

When Sir Richard Branson unveiled the Virgin Oceanic submarine, he noted that "More men have been to the moon than have been down further [underwater] than 20,000 feet."
To that end, he and an explorer pal will take the submarine to the deepest trenches of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, feeding first-of-its-kind data and video to Google, to be added to Google's Earth and Maps databases.
The deep sea is truly the
final frontier on our planet, and Branson wants to make it as accessible as possible.

"Man has not explored our ocean," the Virgin Atlantic founder said

Virgin Oceanic is a five-journey proposal, in which they'll hit the Mariana Trench (Pacific), Puerto Rico Trench (Atlantic), Diamantina Trench (Indian), South Sandwich Trench (Southern), and Molloy Deep (Arctic).
"They" is Sir Richard Branson (whose cojones can only be measured in cubic miles at this point) and
Chris Welsh, an American pilot and explorer.
The Puerto Rico Trench is the deepest trench known, and has never been explored.

Their submersible, designed by Graham Hawkes, is one of the more interesting parts of the journey.
The "DeepFlight 
Challenger" was originally commissioned by Sir Richard Branson's friend, the late Steve Fossett. Branson "intends to finish what his friend started and then go on to help explore and unlock the wonders of the oceans still unknown to humankind or science." [Steve Fossett was reported missing on September 3, 2007, after the plane he was flying over the Nevada desert failed to return. His remains were not found and verified until late in 2008.]

Shaped more like a dolphin than a traditional submarine, the Virgin Oceanic craft has an operating depth of 37,000 feet--about seven miles--which means it has to be able to withstand outrageous pressure, 1,500 times that of an airplane.
Constructed of carbon fiber and titanium (with a quartz dome), the craft is currently undergoing tests--at that depth, the smallest crack would result in certain death for the pilots, both due to the immense pressure (13 million pounds) and the simple fact that there exist no other vehicles capable of a rescue mission.
The sub travels at a maximum of three knots, and can dive at 350 feet per minute, so a dive to the bottom of the Mariana trench and back would take around five hours.

The sub is equipped with all the usual sensors and cameras, which should come in handy as this isn't--or at least isn't only--a swashbuckling "let's see if we can do it" mission.
Knowledge of the ocean at this depth is, without exaggeration, at 0%--we have no idea what's going on down there, which is why Virgin is working closely with both Google and the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and with a host of other scientists from some of the best marine studies departments in the country.

Though further tests need to be carried out before the first expedition begins, Virgin Oceanic expects to dive the
Mariana Trench sometime this year, with the remaining four dives spaced out throughout the following two years.

Links :

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why is it so hard to find flight 447's black boxes?

BEA images
Debris scattered over quite a small area (600 m x 200 m) at 3900 m depth
which seem indicating
that the plane impacted the ocean in one piece

From PhysicsCentral

The French government announced today that more bodies and wreckage from the
Air France flight 447 crash off the coast of Brazil had been found almost two years after the crash.
The critical pieces of the puzzle, the plane's flight data recorders - or black boxes - are still missing, however.
But why are they so hard to find?

The wreckage from flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil in June 2009, is scattered over mountainous ocean floor at depths from 12,500 - 13,000 feet, or around 2.5 miles.
Though that doesn't sound very deep, especially when you consider that modern airliners often cruise at three times that height, it's far too deep for scuba divers or naval submarines to explore.

For every 33 feet you descend under water, the atmospheric pressure pushing down on you increases by 100 percent.
At the surface, every person and object has 14.7 pounds per square inch of air pressure pressing down on him or her.
That pressure feels normal to us, but once it is increased or decreased, it starts to cause problems.

Boyle's law tells us that as the pressure doubles, the volume decreases by half (assuming there's no change in temperature).
If, for example, we pulled a party balloon under water, at 33 feet - where the atmospheric pressure is doubled - the balloon would be half as big as it was at the surface.
Drag it down another 33 feet and it would shrink in half again.
Human's lungs are a lot like a balloon.
At around 100 feet, humans reach the limit of how much pressure their lungs can stand.

Imagine what it is like at 12,500 feet, where the wreckage is scattered.
Even modern naval submarines can't stand the pressure at that depth.
They call it a day at around 1,000 feet where the pressure is over 30 times the surface pressure. Beyond that, they could be crushed like an empty soda can.

Accident site (in the area of an abyssal plain) :
Note the position in the middle of the previous search zones on a flat and sandy seabed
around 5 NM, north of the last known position (LKP : 2°58.800 N, 30°35.400 W)
--> localization with the Marine GeoGarage <--

At the wreck site, the pressure is almost 400 times the pressure at the surface.
To survey the sea floor at 12,500 feet below the surface, a special mini submarine called a
submersible is needed.
Submersibles have a limited range and can only stay under water for hours at a time so they usually work in conjunction with another vessel - a ship or a larger submarine.

A yellow submersible called
Nautile, who previously surveyed the Titanic wreckage, helped originally locate flight 447 wreckage in 2009. (The Titanic wreckage is also at a depth of about 12,500 feet.) A similar sub, called Alvin, was also used to explore the Titanic wreckage when the ship was discovered.
Though it seems impossible, the tiny sub is protected by a titanium pressure hull just 2 inches thick. Both subs carry 3 explorers.

The sub that found the latest wreckage was an unmanned sub called a
REMUS 6000.
The REMUS 6000, with no human occupants, can travel a little faster and a little longer than Nautile or Alvin, but even it can explore for only 22 hours at a time, limited by battery life.
(see BEA phase 4 mission preparation)

A deep, dark environment and the special tools needed to explore it make searching for anything at 2.5 miles under the sea a difficult task.
There's hope, after finding an engine and landing gear, that the black boxes may yet be found, and help solve the mystery of what really happened to flight 447.
Even if they are found, it's anyone's guess whether the boxes will have survived two years of crushing pressure in a corrosive seawater environment.

Links :
  • BBC : Wreckage from Air France jet found in Atlantic
  • NYT : Bodies from 2009 Air France crash are found
  • TheGuardian : Air France plane crash victims found after two-year search
  • CNN : Father of crash victims: Leave their remains under water
  • BEA : Flight AF447, sea search operations, phase 4
  • WHOI : WHOI-led team locates Air France wreckage

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

58 charts have been updated (CHS update, March 27)

  • 3864 GOWGAIA BAY
  • 4118 ST. MARY'S BAY
  • 4381 MAHONE BAY
  • 4486 CHALEUR BAY
  • 5059 SAGLEK BAY
So 692 charts (1647 including sub-charts) are available in the Canada CHS layer. (see coverage)

Note : don't forget to visit '
Notices to Mariners' published monthly and available from the Canadian Coast Guard both online or through a free hardcopy subscription service.
This essential publication provides the latest information on changes to the aids to navigation system, as well as updates from CHS regarding CHS charts and publications.
See also written Notices to Shipping and Navarea warnings :

Dick and Peyron win the Barcelona World Race

From VendeeGlobe

Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron have just won the second edition of the Barcelona World Race, the double-handed race around the world starting and ending in the Spanish port.
This win rewards an experienced, solid duo, whose combined skills enabled them to sail an exemplary race aboard Virbac-Paprec 3.
Unless they suffer some last minute damage, the Spaniards on Mapfre and Renault Z.E are likely to complete the podium in a race marked by the retiral of four crews that were expected to do well: Président, Foncia, Groupe Bel and Mirabaud.

We look back today at the key moments in these past three months of racing.

By winning the Barcelona World Race on Monday, Jean-Pierre Dick has achieved his second victory in this event, while Loïck Peyron adds another line to his remarkable list of achievements.
The magic certainly worked between these two experienced sailors, enabling them to dominate the race almost from start to finish, in spite of two pit stops in Recife and in Wellington.
But winning was no easy matter, as Jean-Pierre Dick stressed on the eve of this win by Virbac-Paprec 3 : “The competition was tougher this time (tougher than in the first edition three years ago, editor’s note) with a playmate to keep us company from the outset (Foncia). Then after New Zealand, we had to fight it out with MAPFRE right up to the finish. It was only when we were in the Indian Ocean that we really found ourselves alone.”

Duel at the front
Barcelona, 31st December 2010.
Fourteen duos crossed the starting line of the Barcelona World Race.
Very early on a duel developed between Virbac-Paprec 3 and Foncia, who were the first two boats to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar.
The start of the race was marked by the forced retiral of Jean Le Cam and Bruno Garcia, following on from the dismasting of their Président.
At the front, the duos of Dick/Peyron and Desjoyeaux/Gabart stuck with each other and both put into Recife in Brazil for a pit stop.
The battle continued until Foncia was dismasted in the South Atlantic a few miles from the Cape of Good Hope.
Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart were reluctantly forced out of the race.
Virbac-Paprec 3 began to tackle the southern ocean with a comfortable lead over the boats chasing after them, MAPFRE, Groupe Bel and Estrella Damm.
Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron were all alone at the front in the Indian Ocean and were the first to cross the longitude of Cape Leeuwin.
But when they were forced to put into Wellington for a pit stop, the suspense built again.

MAPFRE manages to keep up, while Groupe Bel retires
The pit-stop lasted 48 hours and they set off again just 128 miles ahead of Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, who achieved a remarkable recovery on board MAPFRE, the boat aboard which Michel Desjoyeaux won the last Vendée Globe.
Constantly on the attack, the Spaniards clawed back the miles and almost grabbed the lead.
Behind them, Estrella Damm and Groupe Bel carried out a pit stop in Wellington.
This situation benefited Pachi Rivero and Pepe Ribes, who took third place aboard Renault Z.E.
Still at the front, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron extended their lead as they approached Cape Horn, and went on to round it with a good lead.
On board Groupe Bel, Kito de Pavant and Sébastien Audigane rounded the Horn too, but were forced to retire with a damaged keel. Kito de Pavant would not complete his first round the world voyage.
“This was a difficult decision, as we have completed the hard part of this Barcelona World Race, “ he explained, before adding, “It is of course very frustrating, as we just had the Atlantic left and we had hoped to continue the fight to earn our place on the podium.”

Dick-Peyron a winning duo

Dick and Peyron in control
A few days later, Mirabaud was dismasted after rounding Cape Horn.
The adventure was over for Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret, after their third place in the first edition of the race.
At the same time, Dick and Peyron were continuing their climb up the Atlantic.
But stuck in the Doldrums that were particularly active, they saw their lead over Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez melt away as they were slowed down much less in the intertropical convergence zone.
But the French were to recover and extend their lead again.
The two crews went into stealth mode as they rounded the Azores high, but this little trick was not to change anything on the ground. Virbac-Paprec 3 could be confident of winning the race unless they suffered some damage.
With strong headwinds and boat-breaking seas, the end of the race was particularly tough on the leaders. As they passed Gibraltar, the boat experienced the worst conditions since the start of the race. After this violent episode, they were to find themselves becalmed.
The Mediterranean certainly lived up to its reputation.
Virbac-Paprec 3 went on to cross the finishing line at 10h20 GMT on Monday, after 93 days 22 hours and 20 minutes of racing.

Second place
Unless there is a major upset, MAPFRE is set to take second place today.
A fine result for this crew, who managed to make up for their lack of experience by showing faultless determination.
Renault Z.E will almost certainly take third place, thus confirming the overall improvements in Spanish sailing.
Thanks to some good strategic choices, Pachi Rivero and Pepe Ribes managed to ward of the repeated attacks of Estrella Damm and Neutrogena, respectively in fourth and fifth place on Monday.
After Central Lechera Asturiana was forced to turn back and head for New Zealand this Monday morning, four other duos are continuing towards Barcelona: GAES Centros Auditivos, Hugo Boss, Forum Maritim Catala and We Are Water.
They have all had their own problems. Only Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella, aboard GAES Centros Auditivos, have not carried out a pit stop.
With large gaps between them, these crews now only have one real ambition and that is to complete their round the world voyage.

Links :
  • TheDailySail : Well earned victory
  • YachtPals : Barcelona World Race winners
  • Marine GeoGarage blog : Barcelona WR, second edition for the two-handed world race

Monday, April 4, 2011

Deep-sea volcanoes don’t just produce 
lava flows, they also explode!

Underwater volcanic eruptions and magma flows on the sea floor have been seen
for the first time ever thanks to video captured by NOAA

From McGill University

McGill geology researchers’ discovery of high concentrations of CO2 at mid-ocean ridges confirms explosive nature of certain volcanic eruptions

Between 75 and 80 per cent of all volcanic activity on Earth takes place at deep-sea, mid-ocean ridges.
Most of these volcanoes produce effusive lava flows rather than explosive eruptions, both because the levels of magmatic gas (which fuel the explosions and are made up of a variety of components, including, most importantly CO2) tend to be low, and because the volcanoes are under a lot of pressure from the surrounding water.

Over about the last 10 years however, geologists have nevertheless speculated, based on the presence of volcanic ash in certain sites, that explosive eruptions can also occur in deep-sea volcanoes.

But no one has been able to prove it until now.

By using an ion microprobe, Christoph Helo, a PhD student in McGill’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has now discovered very high concentrations of CO2 in droplets of magma trapped within crystals recovered from volcanic ash deposits on Axial Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, off the coast of Oregon.

These entrapped droplets represent the state of the magma prior to eruption.
As a result, Helo and fellow researchers from McGill, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, have been able to prove that explosive eruptions can indeed occur in deep-sea volcanoes.
Their work also shows that the release of CO2 from the deeper mantle to the Earth’s atmosphere, at least in certain parts of mid-ocean ridges, is much higher than had previously been imagined.

Given that mid-ocean ridges constitute the largest volcanic system on Earth, this discovery has important implications for the global carbon cycle which have yet to be explored.

Links :
  • Nature : Explosive eruptions at mid-ocean ridges driven by CO2-rich magmas
  • NOAA : Scientists discover and image explosive deep-ocean volcano (video)
  • YouTube : Undersea volcano eruption 2009 (Tonga )