Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shipwreck lifeboat washes up in Australia, after about 6,000 miles of drift

In a surprising find, a fisherman has stumbled across a ship wreck lifeboat along The Coorong, almost two years after it was lost at sea.

From ABCNews

The location of the Nightingale Islands (left point) in comparison to the Coorong, South Australia (right point), where the lifeboat was found :
difficult to imagine the real directions between the two locations
during this long drift with the prevailing currents.
A study of these prevailing currents show that, having drifted south of the Cape of Good Hope, it would be likely that the lifeboat would have drifted southwards, before either heading towards Southern Australia, or being sucked into the anti-clockwise current circulation in the Southern Indian Ocean. Theoretically it could have floated around this system more than once.
Others may argue that, like the Wandering Albatrosses, the lifeboat may have tracked further south, and continued beyond the south of New Zealand, into the Pacific, following an almost continuous easterly drift of ocean currents around the Southern Ocean, eventually passing Cape Horn, back into the Atlantic, passing South of the Cape of Good Hope again...and hence to South Australia.
Any other ideas?
A lifeboat has washed ashore in Australia from a ship that ran aground in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean almost two years ago.
The lifeboat from the bulk carrier Oliva floated about 12,000 kilometres from Nightingale Island to a beach at the Coorong wetlands near the mouth of the Murray in South Australia.

The ship's crew of more than 20 was rescued after the maritime accident in March 2011, which caused a big oil spill.
The Oliva had been sailing from Brazil to China.
It broke up two days after the accident, the forward section drifting off.
The aft section of the bulk carrier capsized and sank. (see video)

Nick Balmer, from Victor Harbor, just west of the Coorong, spotted the lifeboat when he went fishing and said it was in good condition considering its long journey.
"The seats inside are torn up so, you know, the chances are it's probably been sitting on other beaches around the world maybe, you know, and people have sort of trashed it inside a bit," he said.
"The lifejacket was out on the beach down the Coorong there so we're not the first person to find it."

The South Australian Transport Department said it was unsure what to do with the 6.8-metre lifeboat.
Official Joe Rositano said departmental staff were travelling to the beach near Salt Creek and planned to ensure the boat could not wash back out to sea.
"What we're going to make sure is that it actually doesn't become a navigation hazard again," he said.
"What we're going to look at doing is perhaps anchoring it initially because the thing weighs, without the water in it it's a couple of tonnes, so it's not an easy thing to move."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Storm force - Scotland experiences the highest seas in the world

Tuesday's swell chart indicated that the previous day's high seas continued off Scotland

From BBC

Scotland and Ireland experienced the highest seas anywhere in the world earlier this week, according to swell models.
But what is a swell model and how do they work?

Far off the Western Isles in the North Atlantic a buoy called K5 gathers data on the movement of the sea.

situation for the 4th of February

The information is monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organisations such as the Met Office.
The data is also among resources surfers' website in Kingsbridge, South Devon, uses to create swell models - forecasts of wave sizes out to sea and their size close to shore.

Wild Weather! more info: Fair Isle, Shetland, Scotland, the South Lighthouse received wave damage today Feb. 4, 2013. The south west corner wall was washed down onto the football pitch, window smashed in the NLB engine room, etc.

On Monday, K5 - also known as station 64045 - was relaying some big numbers.
Wave heights of 14.3m (46.90ft) were recorded during Monday to create the highest seas anywhere in the world on that day, according to's modelling.
Significant conditions continued on into Tuesday.
Forecaster Ben Freeston said:
"It's been an active winter in the Northern Atlantic with several large storms already.
"Typically a swell in this sort of size range occurs about once per winter approaching Scotland, which is uniquely placed globally for such an event.
"The storm of 4 February pushed waves averaging almost 47ft past a wave buoy some 200 miles west of the coast of Scotland with waves of an average 30ft recorded on the lee side of the Shetlands.
"While this is extremely large by any standard it's not actually unusual in range for Scotland in the winter."

 The swell chart produced for Monday - reds, pinks and black indicate the highest waves
- courtesy of magicseaweed -

As well K5, Magicseaweed draws on other meteorological information that is being shared across the world by trained observers and air and sea traffic and being sent from automated weather stations and satellites.

The modelling done in Kingsbridge results in colour-coded swell charts.
Bright pinks, deep reds and black signify the highest waves.

Mr Freeston said:
"At Magicseaweed we use a long range numeric modelling system to predict and track these storms and the swells and surf they create.
"As a big storm like this starts to appear in our system - sometimes almost a fortnight in advance - we'll talk simultaneously to big wave surfers and surf contest organisers in Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal who are attempting to ensure they can find the right location at the right time for the largest possible waves and best possible wind conditions."

 Water mountain: Coastal areas including this harbour on the North Sea are likely to suffer the most today

But the prime conditions surfers are seeking begin as something to be avoided, storms in northern and southern latitudes where cold polar air meets warmer tropical air.

Mr Freeston said that for "truly extreme" wave conditions in the Northern Hemisphere there were just two key regions: Scotland/Ireland and Alaska/Western Canada.
He said: "By comparison an Alaskan wave buoy at a similar latitude tops out over the same period at a maximum significant height of just 33ft. A height exceeded almost every winter in Scotland."

Among the chief reasons for this, he added, was a phenomena known as the Greenland Tip Jet.
The forecaster said that as storms pass to the north of Greenland the large, prominent land mass acts almost like an aircraft wing, creating an area of higher speed winds flowing to the east around the tip. This wind pattern builds energy into swells and points itself directly at Scotland.

Nic von Rupp’s tow-in trial by fire on a chilly Irish slab (January 30, 2013)
Frame grab: Divine Intervention / José Pedro Gomes

Mr Freeston said: "Despite these enormous waves the issue for surfing in Scotland or Ireland is that the same storms that create these colossal swells tend to march over the land as the waves arrive, so a typical swell is accompanied by extremely strong winds that make surfing dangerous or impossible in all but the most sheltered locations.
"For this reason it's probably accurate to say that Scotland has some of the largest waves on Earth - but is far less likely to see them ridden at this size than other locations a little further removed from the storm's path."

 Rubble: Scottish islanders are cleaning up after the 'storm of a lifetime' saw 80ft waves destroy lighthouse sea defense walls which had stood for 122 years on Fair Isle, off the north coast

Dave Wheeler, a photographer and local weather forecaster on Fair Isle, in Shetland, was monitoring Monday's swell charts.
He said the high seas were among the worst in living memory on the remote island.
Waves presented as bright colours on the charts caused actual damage on Fair Isle, with the sea smashing a wall at the 120-year-old South Lighthouse and washing the debris several hundred metres inland.
Mr Wheeler said: "No-one can remember damage to this extent at the lighthouse.
"Monday's sea conditions have been described as phenomenal."

Links :

Thursday, February 7, 2013

GeoGarage and web navigator issues

GeoGarage sharing tools with Safari or Chrome web navigator

Display problem with Firefox v.17 / Firefox v.18 (Win/Mac OS) :
No dedicated logo for GeoGarage sharing tools

Marine Chart & Routes viewer with Microsoft Internet Explorer v.10 (Win7/Win8) :
Impossible to launch the chart viewer and route planning:
the screen shows the little wheel spinning in a CCW direction

NZ Linz update in the Marine GeoGarage

11 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage
(Linz January published 30 January 2013 updates) 

  • NZ532 Approaches to Auckland
  • NZ534 Mercury Bay to Katikati Entrance
  • NZ541 Mayor Island to Okurei Point
  • NZ885 Tokelau
  • NZ4314 Manukau Harbour
  • NZ5221 Cradock Channel and Mokohinau Islands
  • NZ5222 Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island)
  • NZ5314 Mercury Islands
  • NZ5321 Mahurangi Harbour to Rangitoto Island
  • NZ5411 Tauranga Harbour, Katikati Entrance to Mount Maunganui
  • NZ5413 Approaches to Tauranga
      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

      Image of the week : Weird underwater waves spotted from space

      This photograph, taken on Jan. 18 by a crewmember on the International Space Station, shows internal waves north of the Caribbean island of Trinidad.
      Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

      From NASA

      This photograph, taken from the International Space Station (ISS), shows the north coast of Trinidad and a series of subtle, interacting arcs in the southeastern Caribbean Sea.

      These are known as “internal waves,” the surface manifestation of slow waves that move tens of meters beneath the sea surface.

      An internal wave propagating on the interface between two layers.
      The undisturbed sea level is indicated by the yellow line.
      Water particles are shown as yellow and magenta dots.
      Yellow dots sit in the middle of the water column and move only up and down.
      Magenta dots sit at the top and bottom of the water column and move only in the horizontal.
       - courtesy of Matthias Tomczak-
      Watch the animation and concentrate on one of three aspects at a time:
      • By watching a yellow dot you can see how a water particle in the middle of the water column moves up and down, but does not move horizontally, as the wave passes through.
      • By selecting a particular magenta dot at the bottom of the water column and watching it you can see how a water particle moves back and forth horizontally as the wave passes. By comparing it with the movement of a particular dot above it you can see that at any one location, particles at the top and bottom of the water column move always in opposite direction.
      • By watching groups of magenta dots you can see that convergences (where water particles cluster together) and divergences (where particles are spread out) follow the wave, and that convergences are always located where the respective layer is thickest, while divergences are found where the layers are thinnest.
      Internal waves produce enough of an effect on the sea surface to be seen from space, but only where they are enhanced due to reflection of sunlight, or sunglint, back towards the International Space Station.

      The image shows at least three sets of internal waves interacting.
      The most prominent set (image top left) shows a packet of several waves moving from the northwest due to the tidal flow towards the north coast of Trinidad.
      Two less prominent, younger sets can be seen further out to sea.
      A very broad set enters the view from the north and northeast, and interacts at image top center with the first set.
      All the internal waves are probably caused by the shelf break near Tobago (outside the image to top right).
      The shelf break is the step between shallow seas (around continents and islands) and the deep ocean. It is the line at which tides usually start to generate internal waves.
      Over the island of Trinidad, the heating of the land surface sets off the growth of cumulus clouds.
      Off the coast, a light blue northwest-southeast trending plume at image center is sediment embedded in the Equatorial Current (also known as the Guyana Current).
      The current is transporting material to the northwest—in almost the opposite direction of the internal waves.
      The current flows strongly from east to west around Trinidad, all the way from equatorial Africa, driven by year-round easterly winds.
      Seafarers in the vicinity of Trinidad are warned that the current—and its local reverse eddies—make navigation complicated and sometimes dangerous for smaller craft in these waters.

      Envisat SAR image shows internal waves in the Strait of Gibraltar
      As water flows into and out of the Mediterranean, two currents are formed in the strait.
      An upper layer of Atlantic water flows eastward into the sea over a lower layer of saltier and heavier Mediterranean water flowing westward into the ocean.
      The lower current is called the Mediterranean Outflow water.
      As it leaves the Mediterranean near the strait's western end, it flows over a sudden rise in the sea floor, generating a series of internal waves.
      Internal waves are not directly visible to the observer because they do not result in large undulations on the sea surface; instead, they induce a horizontal surface current, which changes the surface roughness of the sea.
      From space, internal waves can be detected very efficiently using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments that are sensitive to changes in the small-scale surface roughness on the ocean surface.
      Internal waves in this image show up as a semi-circular rippled pattern east of the strait's entrance in the Mediterranean Sea.
      Additional sets of internal waves generated in the Atlantic Ocean are visible as dark pink lines on the western side of the strait.

      Astronauts also have observed internal waves in other parts of the world, such as San Francisco and the Straits of Gibraltar.

      Links :

      Wednesday, February 6, 2013

      Sea urchin nickel 'trick' could be key to capturing carbon

      Could the sea urchin hold the key to carbon capture?

      From BBC

      Researchers say that the natural ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.

      Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell.
      They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless calcium carbonate.
      The research is in the journal, Catalysis Science and Technology.
      Many sea creatures convert carbon dioxide in the waters into calcium carbonate which is essentially chalk.
      Species such as clams, oysters and corals use it to make their shells and other bony parts.

      A close up of the skeleton of a sea urchin which could help capture and store carbon

      Bubbling under

      When the team at Newcastle looked at the larvae of sea urchins they found that there were high concentrations of nickel on their external skeletons.
      Working with extremely small nickel particles, the researchers found that when they added them to a solution of carbon dioxide in water, the nickel completely removed the CO2.
      "It is a simple system," Dr Lidija Siller from Newcastle University told BBC News.
      "You bubble CO2 through the water in which you have nickel nanoparticles and you are trapping much more carbon than you would normally - and then you can easily turn it into calcium carbonate."
      "It seems too good to be true, but it works," she added.

      An X-ray of a sea urchin embryo shows lots of blue which indicates calcium carbonate
      At present most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based around the idea of capturing CO2 from electricity generating stations or chemical plants and pumping the stripped out gas into underground storage in former oil wells or rock formations.

      But there are still question marks about the possibility that the stored carbon may leak back out again.
      The Newcastle researchers say that an alternative approach would be to lock up the CO2 in another substance such as calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate.
      This can already be done by using an enzyme called carbon anhydrase but it is very expensive.
      PhD student Gaurav Bhaduri who is the lead author on the research paper explained that using nickel would be a far more economic option.

      Carbon capture plant

      The dominant technology is still the oldest - absorption of carbon dioxide by liquid amines
      "The beauty of a nickel catalyst is that it carries on working regardless of the pH and because of its magnetic properties it can be re-captured and re-used time and time again," he said.
      "It is also very cheap, a thousand times cheaper than carbon anhydrase. And the by-product - the carbonate - is useful and not damaging to the environment."
      Calcium carbonate is said to make up 4% of the earth's crust.

      Links :
      • TheTelegraph : Sea urchin could hold key to tackling climate change

      Tuesday, February 5, 2013

      Divers find 'mystery ship' responsible for famous World War I ambush

      HMS Stock Force, one of the Royal Navy’s top secret “Q-ships

      From BusinessInsider / TheTelegraph 

      Explorers have located the shipwreck of a top-secret First World War “Mystery Ship”, whose captain won the Victoria Cross and later appeared as himself in a silent movie about its sinking.

        >>> geolocalization with the Marine GeoGarage <<<

      Position (WGS84) : 50°08.986' N / 3°59.935' W
      For years, its final resting place was unknown because official charts had placed it in the wrong location.
      The team started to look for the wreck after realizing that the position given for it in official maps and charts was incorrect.
       Wikipedia : List of shipwreck in July 1918 :
      "The Q-ship was torpedoed and damaged in the English Channel 25 nautical miles (46 km) west of Start Point, Devon (49°49′N 3°53′W); HMS Stock Force later sank off Bolt Tail in Bigbury Bay"
      They spent about four years searching for it, before they discovered the vessel about eight miles from where the charts said it was, at a depth of 200ft and 14 miles from Plymouth.

      It was perhaps one of the most hazardous roles of the First World War – acting as bait for German submarines.
      But that was exactly the job of HMS Stock Force, one of the Royal Navy’s top secret “Q-ships” or “Mystery Ships” – specially adapted decoy vessels with concealed guns, which lured U-boats to the surface and then engaged them in a deadly duel.
      The Stock Force was sunk in just such a clash, in what became one of the war’s most celebrated naval encounters, which led to its captain, Lieutenant Harold Auten, receiving the Victoria Cross, and inspired an early action film.

       ‘Sunk without Trace’
      One more victim of the U-boat campaign is taking her final plunge, and in the moment the North Sea will have covered her completely .
      The total death rate in the British Mercantile Marine reached higher percentage in relation to personnel than that of the Royal Navy.

      More than 90 years later, a team of explorers believe they have found the wreck of the vessel and will present their findings at the International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth.
      Steven Mortimer, 46, a former corporate banker from Bristol, who led the team that found the vessel, said: “Q-ship crews became national heroes after the war and Harold Auten wrote his memoirs, which we were able to use to help us work out that we had the right wreck.
      There are many wrecks around our shores, but few with such a fantastic story as the Stock Force.”

       HMS Stock Force shipwreck plan
      courtesy of Steven Mortimer (alias numbnuts on SouthWestMafia)

      The 160ft ship, a former collier which still had the appearance of a merchant vessel and whose Royal Navy crew were disguised as merchant sailors, was lost off the coast of Devon on July 30, 1918, after being attacked by a submarine which it, in turn, ambushed.
      As their vessel slowly sank from the damage caused by a German torpedo, which had also injured a number of sailors, the crew of the Stock Force remained hidden at their posts while the U-boat surfaced to finish them off with shellfire.
      To coax the submarine close enough to be within range of its guns, a so-called “panic party” of sailors rowed away from the stricken ship, before turning back towards it.
      Taking the bait, the enemy submarine drew closer until the Stock Force’s weapons were revealed and it opened fire.
      Three direct hits were made, one blowing off the periscope, another blowing up the conning tower and the third ripping into the hull of the submarine.
      Firing continued until the U-boat vanished beneath the surface.
      During the action, one sailor on the Stock Force was forced to remain pinned under one of its guns, where he had been stuck since the torpedo hit.
      To avoid arousing the suspicion of the approaching Germans, he could not be rescued.
      By the time he was freed, he had almost drowned.
      In the end, however, it was the British ship that went to the bottom, disappearing under the waves about four and half hours after the torpedo had struck.
      Her crew were rescued by trawlers and two torpedo boats.
      The submarine managed to limp back to its port.

      Is this the Q-ship HMS Stockforce?

      Despite the outcome, the clash became a famous event after the war ended.
      During the conflict, Q-ships had been top secret and few details were given of the Stock Force’s sinking or the reasons behind the Victoria Cross awarded to its captain.
      Once the war ended, though, the legend of the Q-ships, especially that of the Stock Force, grew.

      The captain published a book, “Q” Boat Adventures, and the incident was made into a silent film, in 1928, called Q-Ships, in which Auten – who later became executive vice-president of the Rank Organisation in New York – appeared as himself.
      The film also featured Val Gielgud, the brother of Sir John.

      The vessel, which was built in Dundee, was one of around 200 Q-ships used during the First World War.
      They are thought to have taken the name from the home port of the earliest versions – Queenstown, now known as Cobh, in the Republic of Ireland.
      The phrase lives on in “Q cars” which is the term for unmarked police vehicles.
      The ships, which were typically cargo steamers or trawlers, had guns concealed under dummy lifeboats or hidden under fake funnels and awnings.

      Today, only one of the boats, historic vessel HMS President
      which is moored on the Thames, survives afloat.

      Some of the ships used paint to hide their cache of weaponry.
      The idea was to lure U-boats into attacking these decoy ships, which would unleash their hidden weaponry.
      They often carried a cargo of wood to make them harder to sink.

       UB80 (1918)
      UB-80 was one of the most successful  U-Boats of WW1 accounting for 20 allied ships during the period 26 Nov. 1917 to 9 Sept.1918

      The submarine involved in the Stock Force clash is thought to have been UB80, which was captained by Max Viebeg, although some experts suggested that it might have been a different vessel.
      In 1929, the Prince of Wales gave a dinner for Victoria Cross holders in Guildhall, London, and Auten replied to the Prince’s speech on behalf of the Navy.
      After the war, Auten, who was born in Leatherhead, Surrey, worked in the film industry in the US.
      He moved to Bushkill in Pennsylvania, where he owned a hotel and cinema.
      During the Second World War, he returned to naval service, directing convoys across the Atlantic from New York. He died in 1964.

      Links :
      • Forces War Records : History highlights: on this day 4th feb 1915: Germany declares war zone around British isles

      Monday, February 4, 2013

      Locata wants to fill holes in GPS location, navigation

      In a keynote speech to the 2012 Spatial@Gov Conference in Canberra, Australia, on 21 November, Locata's CEO, Nunzio Gambale,
      explains why every nation must now build their own independent backup to GPS.
      Also, why the invention of Locata technology is such an important development for the future of all positioning and timing systems world-wide.

      From CNET

      Its ground-based equivalent of satellite navigation technology is for governments and businesses today, but Locata hopes to bring it to smartphones in two years or so.

      It's a common affliction: you're using your smartphone to navigate in a city with a bunch of big buildings and your phone misplaces your location.
      Often the problem often is that the GPS location system just doesn't work well where the satellite radio signals can be blocked or reflected.
      A company called Locata says it's got an answer.
      Locata does what the GPS system does, but it replaces satellites in orbit with radio transmitters on the ground.
      The result is location services with high precision, better reliability, and indoor coverage, said Paul Benshoof, global business development manager for the Australian company.
      "GPS is like Swiss cheese. It's really good, but it has holes," Benshoof said.
      "It doesn't work indoors, where there's interference. It doesn't work in urban canyons, where there's obscuration of satellites by buildings. It doesn't work in dense foliage. We can plug those holes."

      In a test in Sydney, Locata devices could pinpoint their location with precision of less than 2 inches. That's a lot better than GPS' 10 to 25 feet, though various augmentation technologies can improve accuracy to inches.
      Location-based services are important on the Net today.
      Along with navigation services, smartphone location is the basis for explore nearby businesses, find friends, geotag photos, and play games such as Google's Ingress.

      But Locata, which has been working on location technology since the early days of consumer GPS services 17 years ago, isn't yet aiming for consumer applications.
      It's used for precisely locating drilling equipment at the Newmont Boddington Gold Mine in Australia, and today, Locata announced it's won a contract through which the U.S. Air Force will use Locata to keep track of aircraft at its White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during operations that jam GPS.
      And Locata's technology is hardly ready to be squeezed into a mobile phone.
      A receiver today measures about 5 inches by 5 inches by 1 inch and costs about $10,000.
      But it'll be smaller and cheaper soon.
      Today, Locata uses large, expensive, but adaptable chips called field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to run its algorithms.
      But it's planning on partnerships that to build custom chips.
      "We're working with a company to shrink that," Benshoof said.
      "We envision really within a couple years."

       This Locata receiver made by Leica is far too large and expensive for use in a consumer technologies such as mobile phones,
      but Locata plans to shrink the devices by using custom processors in about two years.
      (Credit: Locata) 
      Another constraint: the transmitters aren't cheap to set up, with a price tag of about $200,000.
      That means buyers today are entities like governments and the military.
      The technology today is useful for keeping airports humming, for keeping mobile phone towers doing their thing, for coordinating the electrical power grid in sync, and for tracking firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel.
      And countries that might not want to rely on the United States' geopositioning system also can use it, Benshoof added.
      "To launch a global navigation satellite system, you basically need to be a superpower," he said. "What's that say for the 200-some non-superpowers?"
      As with GPS, though, Benshoof expects others will adopt the technology once it's available.
      "I think that when governments start adopting it as backup to their critical infrastructure, others will be able to catch on," he said.
      Locata's transmitters broadcast signals over the 2.4GHz radio channel, an openly available frequency used by Wi-Fi, baby monitors, and other technology.
      A surveyor must precisely locate each transmitter, but once that's done, the transmitter broadcasts its location information so a device can use it for locating itself.

      Powered by revolutionary Locata technology, Leica Jps is an alternative positioning network to GPS. Able to operate with, or completely independent of the GPS network.
      Leica Geosystems have produced the worlds first dual GPS - Locata receiver.
      It is fundamentally a new technology.
      Leica Jps creates a ground-based positioning network system that provides the same positioning accuracy that GNSS together with RTK corrections would normally provide - but without the signal drop-out.

      Locata's technology is designed to supplement GPS, not replace it.
      If a device already knows its location but GPS stops working, Locata can take over in an instant. Otherwise -- when popping out of a subway station, for example -- it can take 30 seconds to get a fix on the towers and calculate a location based on differences between the time-code data embedded in each transmitter's signal.

      Links :
      • NewScientist : New positioning technology could compete with GPS 
      • YouTube : Locata, a true story of impossible technology - Nunzio Gambale

      Sunday, February 3, 2013

      Dolphins try to save dying companion

       Everybody's favourite cetacean just got a little more lovable.
      For the first time, dolphins have been spotted teaming up to try to rescue an injured group member.
      The act does not necessarily mean dolphins are selfless or can empathise with the pain of their kin,
      Kyum Park of the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan, South Korea, and colleagues were surveying cetaceans in the Sea of Japan in June 2008.
      They spent a day following a group of about 400 long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis).
      In the late morning they noticed that about 12 dolphins were swimming very close together.
      One female was in difficulties: it was wriggling and tipping from side to side, sometimes turning upside-down. Its pectoral flippers seemed to be paralysed.

      From BBC

      Common dolphins have been seen gathering to aid a dying companion, trying to support it in the water and help it breathe.

      This is the first time that a group of dolphins has been recorded trying to help or save another dying dolphin.
      Korean-based scientists witnessed the event in the East Sea off the coast of Ulsan, in South Korea.
      Five individual dolphins formed a raft with their bodies in an attempt to keep the stricken dolphin afloat.
      Details of the behaviour are reported in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

      Healthy cetaceans, the group of animals that includes whales and dolphins, have been seen attempting to provide supportive care to individuals before.
      For example, in the mid-20th Century, a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in captivity was seen lifting her stillborn calf to the surface with her back.
      Wild bottlenose dolphins have also been seen supporting dead or stillborn calves near the surface, while some have been recorded stimulating their babies by biting them.
      But all previous examples involved just one or two adult dolphins trying to rescue a calf.

      Now Kyum J Park of the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan, Korea, and colleagues report an incident when up to 10 long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis) tried to save the life of another adult.
      The researchers routinely monitor cetaceans off the South Korean coast.
      During one survey, they encountered a group of long-beaked common dolphins containing more that 400 individuals being followed by approximately 500 streaked shearwaters.
      Both dolphins and birds were foraging, and the research vessel approached and observed the pod several times.
      A small group of dolphins had separated from the pod and were splashing near to the boat.
      Closer observation revealed at least 12 individuals swimming very slowly.
      Among them, one dolphin was wriggling about, its body leaning over, with its abdomen showing to the surface.
      Though it could move and splash its tail, its flippers appeared to be paralysed and it had red marks on its belly.
      A number of dolphins circled this group, while those within appeared to be trying to help the stricken dolphin maintain its balance, by pushing it from the side and below.
      Then the 10 remaining dolphins took turns to form a raft using their bodies.
      Five dolphins at a time lined up horizontally into a raft-like formation, maintaining it while the stricken dolphin moved on top and rode on their backs.
      One of the dolphins in the raft even flipped over its body to better support the ailing dolphin above, while another used its beak to try to keep the dying dolphin's head up.
      A few minutes later the stricken dolphin appeared to die, its body hanging vertically in the water, with its head above the surface. It wasn't breathing.
      Five of its associates continued to interact with the dead dolphin's body, rubbing and touching it, or swimming underneath, releasing bubbles onto it.
      They carried on this way despite the dead dolphin's body showing signs of rigor mortis, say the researchers.

      Links :