Saturday, June 2, 2018

Homo delphinus : Jacques le dauphin

From Maritime Herald

In 1988 there was a ‘boom’ in the French cinemas with ‘Le grand bleu’ by Luc Besson, a film that established a way of watching and filming the sea.
He was inspired by the submariner Jacques Mayol, the first man to reach 100 meters in apnea (that is, lung).
The documentary ‘Dolphin Man’ by Lefteris Charitos rescues his figure and marine philosophy.
And it opens in the Docs.

“At the bottom of the sea the water is not even blue anymore and the blue of the sky is only a memory”, explained submariner Jacques Mayol, the first man to reach 100 meters in apnea.
A world record that he established in 1976 when he was 49 years old (at 56 he reached 105). But Mayol did more than set records.
He opened the way to a certain marine philosophy, wrote several essays – such as the mythical Homo Delphinus (1986) – to remind us that man was born of water, that the ocean is part of our being and that “there is a dolphin in all of us”.

Luc Besson immortalized him forever in Le grand bleu (1988), a cult film inspired by Mayol and his rivalry with the Italian freediver Enzo Maiorca (who played a young and bronzed Jean Reno).
Since its premiere in Cannes, the film was a phenomenon in France, where it reached 9.2 million viewers, and that lasted more than two hours and the tempo of certain scenes was dilated in almost mystical images of the Mediterranean.
Yves Klein patented his own shade of blue.
For Besson invented a cinematic blue, a way of filming the sea, almost as a place of inner discovery.

The Greek director Lefteris Charitos returns to that way of approaching the sea in his documentary Dolphin Man, which premieres today at the Docs Festival.
The film is preceded by awards at the festivals of Thessaloniki, Adelaide (Australia), Tokyo and, most recently, Miami, where in March he celebrated his American premiere, followed by a Le Grand Bleu pass in which actor Jean was present -Marc Barr, who played Mayol 30 years ago and now puts his voice as a narrator in Dolphin Man.
Curious. Because in Le grand bleu he hardly spoke: it was Mayol with the dreamy look and his abstracted air, thus he built the myth and an enigmatic character, almost of tragedy.
And whose life ended tragically: in 2002 he committed suicide in his house on the island of Elba.

Le grand bleu is an underwater fable based on biographical fragments and Dolphin Man forms almost a diptych, an ode to the sea, but diving into a more complex reality.
Because Mayol had many layers.
And it is not easy to reconstruct a character who was a globetrotter, a bon vivant despite economic shortages, a somewhat absent father (especially after divorce), a showman and a seducer; but also a loner, a tireless seeker, an ecologist, a spiritual diver.

For Mayol, the descent into the depths was something spiritual, an integration in the water, being the sea.
When submerging in the marine abyss, everything slows down, the weight of the body practically ceases to exist and the heart hardly beats (it goes down at 20 or even 12 beats per minute).
A Zen state without oxygen.
Literally. Mayol spent some seasons in Buddhist monasteries, where she learned to meditate and practice yoga, transferring breathing techniques (such as uddiyanior restraint of breathing) and emptying the mind to her dives.

DOLPHIN MAN VR is a series of three films of 6 minutes shot in 360° offering a unique dive into the world of freediving with three great names in the discipline in the lineage of Jacques Mayol, pioneer of freediving who marked a generation of divers.
The digital experience invites the viewer to share a sensory and disturbing experience of deep diving.
Here, let's meet cetaceans in the company of Fabrice Schnöller, engineer and biologist who develops a unique computer program in the world to decipher their language.

“The man who becomes homo Delphinus will have understood that he is not separated from nature or from the sea. You will know that from the microbe to the whale there are no inferior or superior beings. Everything is linked, “wrote Mayol.
He talked about the homo Delphinus, but the writer Jean-Albert Föex, also a diver, advocated at the same time for homo aquaticus.
Föex is one of the authors that has devoted most pages to the deep sea, from myths such as Atlantis – which, incidentally, was located in the Canary Islands, passing through the marine sites of the Bible or historical trials that trace divers from the ancient Mesopotamia.

In its mythical underwater history of men he established a peculiar chronology: first, it was the caveman, then the forest man, followed by the man of arms and horses, the man of modern cities and business …
He did not foresee the digital man, but yes to the underwater man: “In a world of masses, speed, noise and violence, hear better the call of a world of solitude, slowness, silence and deep tranquillity”.

Links :

Friday, June 1, 2018

NOAA announces launch of crowdsourced bathymetry database

The crowdsourced bathymetry database, displayed in the IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry Data Viewer, has an updated user interface.

From NOAA by Lt. Cmr. Adam Reed, Integrated Oceans and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) Assistant Coordinator

Today NOAA announces the end of a testing phase in the development of a new crowdsourced bathymetry database.
Bathymetric observations and measurements from participants in citizen science and crowdsourced programs are now archived and made available to the public through the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB) Data Viewer.
The operationalized database allows free access to millions of ocean depth data points, and serves as a powerful source of information to improve navigational products.

NOAA began database development in 2014 with the IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group.
The database is part of the IHO DCDB and is hosted at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), which offers access to archives of oceanic, atmospheric, geophysical, and coastal data.
Sea-ID, a maritime technology company, provided early testing and support and is currently working to encourage data contributions from the international yachting community.
Ongoing participation from Rose Point Navigation Systems, a provider of marine navigation software, helped kickstart the stream of data from a crowd of mariners.

The crowdsourced bathymetry database now contains more than 117 million points of depth data, which have been used by hydrographers and cartographers to improve chart products and our knowledge of the seafloor. NOAA, working with George Mason University, is using the database depths to assess nautical chart adequacy, determine when areas require updated survey information, and identify chart discrepancies before an incident occurs.
The Canadian Hydrographic Service used this dataset to update several charts of the Inside Passage, a network of coastal routes stretching from Seattle, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska.

Data are contributed to the database through a variety of trusted sources (e.g., partner companies, non-profit groups)—referred to as “trusted nodes”—that enable mariners to volunteer seafloor depths measured by their vessels.
Contributors have the option to submit their data anonymously or provide additional information (vessel or instrument configuration) that can enrich the dataset.
The trusted node compiles the observations and submits them to the crowdsourced bathymetry database, where anyone can access the near real-time data for commercial, scientific, or personal use.

 Mariners provided millions of bathymetry data points to the crowdsourced bathymetry database by voluntarily submitting the depth data collected by their vessels.

NOAA invites maritime companies to support this crowdsourcing effort in their systems by making it simple for users to participate.
For example, Rose Point Navigation Systems further promoted the IHO crowdsourced bathymetry initiative by moving the option to collect and contribute bathymetry data to a more visible section of their program options menu.

By submitting crowdsourced bathymetry data, mariners provide a powerful source of information to supplement current bathymetric coverage.
Nautical charts need to be updated as marine sediments shift due to storm events, tides, and other coastal processes that affect busy maritime zones along the coast.
Crowdsourced bathymetry data helps cartographers determine whether a charted area needs to be re-surveyed, or if they can make changes based on the information at hand.
In some cases, crowdsourced bathymetry data can fill in gaps where bathymetric data is scarce, such as unexplored areas of the Arctic and open ocean and also shallow, complex coastlines that are difficult for traditional survey vessels to access.
Crowdsourced bathymetry data is also used to identify dangers to navigation, in which case NOAA can issue a Notice to Mariners about the navigation hazard within 24 hours.

The utility of crowdsourced bathymetry data extends beyond the territory of the United States and into international mapping efforts.
Seabed 2030 is a global mapping initiative to produce a complete, high-resolution bathymetric map of the world’s seafloor by 2030.
GEBCO (which operates under the IHO and International Oceanographic Commission) and the Nippon Foundation launched the initiative in 2017, and received NOAA-wide commitment of resources and support.

Seafloor mapping is integral to many NOAA products, and crowdsourced bathymetric data supports NOAA’s Integrated Oceans and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) initiatives to maximize potential sources and use of mapping data.
Crowdsourced efforts are poised to become a major source of information for improving nautical chart coverage and accuracy, and the crowdsourced bathymetry database contributes to national and international seafloor mapping efforts as a growing repository of bathymetric data.

Links :

Discover fascinating vintage maps from National Geographic's archives

This 1922 map of the world was the first general reference map created by National Geographic magazine’s in-house cartography shop, which was founded in 1915.

From National Geographic by Betsy Mason

More than 6,000 maps from the magazine's 130-year-long history have been digitally compiled for the first time.

Cartography has been close to National Geographic’s heart from the beginning.
And over the magazine’s 130-year history, maps have been an integral part of its mission.
Now, for the first time, National Geographic has compiled a digital archive of its entire editorial cartography collection — every map ever published in the magazine since the first issue in October 1888.

1928 map of discovery
This 1928 map depicted the current political boundaries of the time, but was created in the style of sixteenth-century mariner’s charts, with pictorial depictions of feats of exploration decorating the corners.
The map is one of a series of five original murals by renowned illustrator N.C.
Wyeth that still hang in the National Geographic Society’s Washington D.C. headquarters.

The collection is brimming with more than 6,000 maps (and counting), and you’ll have a chance to see some of the highlights as the magazine’s cartographers explore the trove and share one of their favorite maps each day.
Follow @NatGeoMaps on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what they discover.
(The separate map archive is not available to the public, but subscribers can see them in their respective issues in the digital magazine archive.
“It’s inspiring,” says Martin Gamache, National Geographic’s director of cartography.
“There's tons of stuff in there that struck me as being innovative and interesting.”

1963 Antarctica
This revealing depiction of Antarctica from the February 1963 issue was based on more than 5,000 depth measurements that scientists took by exploding charges and recording how long it took for the sound to travel through the ice, bounce off the bedrock below, and return to the surface.

We’ll be digging through the collection as well to bring you stories about some of the most intriguing maps we find.
The gallery above includes some tantalizing examples, such as the first composite map of the United States created out of color satellite photographs, and a clever way to get around Moscow’s ban on aerial photography in order to create a birds-eye view of the Kremlin.

1888 first map
This map from National Geographic magazine’s inaugural October 1888 issue depicts the violent meteorological conditions of the “Great White Hurricane,” one of the worst blizzards to ever hit the United States.

The very first maps published by National Geographic in 1888 depict one of the most severe blizzards to ever hit the United States (below).
Nicknamed the Great White Hurricane, the three-day storm crippled the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay all the way into Canada, dumping almost 5 feet of snow in some places and creating 50-foot snowdrifts.
National Geographic used a set of four maps to document temperature, pressure, and wind patterns on successive days as the storm lashed the coast.

The maps accompany a blow-by-blow description of the conditions that fed the storm, written by Edward Everett Hayden, a meteorologist and one of the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society.
Hayden’s article also included a gripping account of the travails of one ship as it struggled to survive the violent blizzard.
“Just before midnight a heavy sea struck the boat and sent her over on her side,” he wrote.
“Everything moveable was thrown to leeward, and the water rushed down the forward hatch. But again she righted, and the fight went on.”

1967 Indian Ocean floor
Based on the work of geologists Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen, this gorgeous map of the Indian Ocean floor was painted for a supplement to the October 1967 issue by Austrian artist Heinrich Berann, who also painted many mountainscapes for National Geographic.
Berann worked with Tharp and Heezen to create three more ocean floor map supplements in the 60s and 70s.

It was the start of a long tradition in National Geographic magazine of enhancing storytelling with maps.
The maps of the storm were likely made by the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, and the magazine continued to work with various outside mapmakers like the U.S. Geological Survey until it established its own cartography shop In 1915.
Over the next century, the National Geographic cartography department made thousands of maps for the pages of the magazine and hundreds of poster supplement maps.

The goal of the cartography team, Gamache says, is to capture readers’ imagination by conveying a sense of place, to give the viewer an idea of how a place might look and feel.
“I think when we're successful, it resonates with people," he says.

1961 London panorama
It took seven National Geographic artists to hand paint the individual buildings for this six-page fold-out panorama of London, published in 1961.
It shows the view that would be seen from a plane flying south of the Thames.

It took months to extract all the maps from the magazine’s digitized back catalog and compile them into a separate collection.
Gamache says the resulting trove will help the current staff cartographers connect to the magazine’s legacy as they continue to try new things.
“It's always good to look at what we've done in the past on any subject,” he says.
“It gives us ideas.”

As they share a curated selection of maps from the archive, the cartography team will be highlighting some of the maps that have served as inspiration for new maps, says research editor Irene Berman-Vaporis.

1957 map of the Heavens
The December 1957 issue of National Geographic came with a pull-out poster-size map of the night sky.
The map shows the stars and constellations as they would appear to someone standing at Earth’s north and south poles.

One of the things that defines National Geographic magazine’s cartography is the way it is integrated into the rest of the magazine’s editorial process.
Each map tells its own story, but also works alongside text and photography to bring another dimension to the article, Gamache says.
“A map is able to connect with somebody in a different way than a text will or a photo will,” he says. “They engage with a different part of our psyche or our brain."

Links :

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Amid ice melt, new shipping lanes are drawn up off Alaska

courtesy of Audubon Alaska

From Scientific American by Margaret Krie Hobson

Special protections have also been granted for wildlife and coastal communities potentially threatened by oil spills

Early this month, the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that winter sea ice levels in the Bering Sea had dropped to a record low level for this time of year.

That wasn’t surprising news to the Alaska Native villages along the state’s western coast. For the last decade, those communities have been enduring the impacts of a warming climate, from the melting tundra that’s causing waterfront homes to fall into the ocean to a lack of coastal sea ice, which traditionally protected those communities from winter storm surges.

Now the increasingly open waters are attracting new ship traffic to the Bering Strait, Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea, noted Austin Ahmasuk, a marine advocate for Kawerak, an Alaska Native regional tribal consortium.
“If you look at the ship tracts in the Bering Sea over the last 10 years, it’s been like a big bowl of spaghetti, with ships going all over the place,” said Ahmasuk, who lives in Nome, Alaska.
“The shipping industry is increasing, and all of the other things that are potential harmful threats from shipping are increasing,” he said.

 Bering Strait with the GeoGarage platform (NOAA chart)

Last week, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations’ global regulatory body for international shipping, took steps to bring some order to the growing ship traffic streaming through the Bering Strait.

At a London meeting, the IMO’s senior technical body, the Maritime Safety Committee, accepted a proposal to create six two-way sea routes for ships traveling between the Arctic and Pacific oceans.
The plan, developed jointly by Russia and the United States, is intended to be voluntary and to only apply to all domestic and international vessels weighing 400 tons or more.

The IMO safety committee also identified six precautionary areas located along Russia’s Chukotskiy Peninsula and Alaska’s Seward Peninsula to help ships avoid shoals, reefs and islands that lie close to the two-way routes.

At the same time, the IMO provided special protections for the communities living on three Bering Strait islands that are in harm’s way from vessels in the Bering Strait.

The group accepted a proposal from the U.S. Coast Guard to designate new environmentally important “areas to be avoided” by ships traveling near Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island and King Island in the Bering Strait.

 The steep, rocky cliffs on the eastern shore of Little Diomede off Alaska’s Arctic coast provide habitat for seabirds that feed in Bering Strait waters.

 Diomede islands and the Russia-US frontier with the GeoGarage platform (NOAA chart)

Russia and the United States are also in talks to set up new protections around the Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait.
Those two islands are located 2 ½ miles apart, with the western Big Diomede governed by Russia and eastern Little Diomede part of Alaska.

Also at the IMO meeting, the safety committee announced plans to assess the safety, security and environmental soundness of autonomously operated ships (Greenwire, May 25).

That study will examine whether vessels operated with limited or no human help can comply with a variety of international conventions, including mandates that require all vessels to have procedures for recovering people from the water and to help tow disabled ships.

The shores between the Arctic and Pacific oceans are home to dozens of small Alaskan and Russian indigenous villages that maintain a traditional subsistence way of life.
The area also hosts one of the world’s major marine migrations of bowhead and beluga whales, Pacific walruses, and ice seals, as well as vast populations of seabirds.

Now, the increasingly open Arctic waters are beginning to attract new cargo ships, tourism, oil and gas exploration, and research and scientific activities.
The growing marine traffic is problematic in regions that are relatively shallow, particularly for ships that continue to rely on 100-year-old nautical charts, according to the IMO.

 Image Courtesy: Champion Tankers

The potential impact of increased shipping on Alaska Native communities became clear two years ago when the 599-foot Norwegian tanker Champion Ebony ran aground offshore from Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea while carrying 14.2 million gallons of fuel products.

None of the fuel leaked from the ship. But the close call raised local concerns that an oil spill could have devastated local resources, Albert Williams, president of the Native village of Mekoryuk on Nunivak, said in a letter to the Obama administration.
“At the same time, our community, which would have been on the front line of an oil spill response, has virtually no infrastructure or capacity to address a risk of that scale,” Williams wrote.

The IMO’s adoption of new shipping routes and environmental protections was praised by U.S. conservation groups that have been working with coastal communities in Alaska and Russia.

Kevin Harun, Arctic program director for Pacific Environment, praised the IMO for beginning to bring order before ship traffic gets out of hand.
“Finally, decisionmakers are getting ahead of the curve to protect the environment and subsistence in advance of this increase in traffic,” he said.

Eleanor Huffines, senior officer with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ U.S. Arctic program, described the IMO action as “a significant step toward safer shipping in the Arctic.”
“These measures will keep vessels on the safest course and reduce the risk of them running aground, colliding or interfering directly with subsistence hunting,” Huffines said.

Coast Guard officials said the new shipping routes, developed in conjunction with the Russian government, will go a long way toward reducing the potential for marine casualties and environmental disasters.
“This is a big step forward as the U.S. Coast Guard continues to work together with international, interagency and maritime stakeholders to make our waterways safer, more efficient and more resilient,” said Mike Sollosi, chief of the Coast Guard’s Navigation Standards Division.

The proposal to create shipping lanes grew out of the Coast Guard’s Port Access Route Study of the Bering Strait, which was completed last year.
Sollosi said the study was the product of a decade of collaboration with international, interagency, industry and private stakeholders and extensive coordination with community residents along the coasts of Alaska.

Links :

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

El Faro and mental models

NTSB contracted for a dynamic motion analysis of El Faro, which also used the post-storm weather analysis model for wind and sea inputs.
This video shows the results of simulations with El Faro underway at about 17 knots, at 3:30 on the morning of the sinking.
The ship has a 4-degree list... similar to the windheel calculated from the beam wind at the time.
Please note that the vessel motions match the models' output data, but waves are not accurately reflected.

From WorkBoat by Joel Milton 

The National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, has released their final report on the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship.
In its final report into the disaster, the NTSB said the Captain’s decisions and TOTE’s poor oversight and inadequate safety management system led to the sinking, the deadliest shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years.
The summary includes detailed pictures and even an artist rendering of what the ship may look like sitting 3 miles below sea level on the ocean floor.
All 33 crew members perished in the accident on October 1, 2015.
The 790-foot ship went down 430 miles southeast of Miami during Hurricane Joaquin, a category 3 storm.

It’s not a pretty picture, no matter what angle you view it from.
The findings from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board after concluding their separate investigations of the now infamous sinking of the 790′ El Faroin the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, are sobering stuff.

In spite of the fact that various parties representing various interests will continue to dispute portions of the Coast Guard and NTSB reports, the many failures and shortcomings that led to the disaster leave no one untouched.

Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS El Far near Acklins and Crooked Island Bahamas October1, 2015 This two-dimensional animation reconstructs the sequence of events leading to the sinking of the US-flagged cargo vessel SS El Faro in the Atlantic Ocean near Acklins and Crooked Island, Bahamas, which occurred on the morning of October 1, 2015.
The animation displays the position of El Faro as a yellow circle, and a solid white line indicates the track path of the vessel.
During the animation, the planned course and proposed course changes for El Faro are shown as dotted white lines.
The Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) was recovered on August 8, 2016. The VDR retained the last 26 hours of conversation on the bridge and vessel operating data.
Data from the VDR were used to determine the position and heading of the accident vessel.
The bridge audio from the VDR was also used in reconstructing the sequence of events in the accident.
The animation does not depict visibility conditions at the time of the accident.
The animation includes audio narration, and the script of the narration is appended to this description/disclaimer.
The animation begins with an overall map of the area between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
An inset photograph of the fully loaded El Faro is shown in the upper right side of the screen, and the typical course from Jacksonville to San Juan traveling to the east of the Bahama Islands is depicted.
 An inset photograph shows the VDR in its position on El Faro before the voyage; the inset transitions to a photograph of the VDR in its location on the bottom of the ocean before it was recovered.
An arrow indicating north, and a scale are shown in the lower left side of the screen.
The departure of the El Faro on September 29, 2015 at 9:48 pm Easter Daylight Time (EDT) is indicated, along with the position and development of Hurricane Joaquin from a tropical depression through a tropical storm to a hurricane.
A series of predicted storm tracks are animated, indicating that the storm was consistently predicted to move southwest, then turn north.
The National Hurricane Center’s Best Track (the actual track calculated after the accident) is also shown.
The date and time in EDT of selected events are displayed on the lower left side of the screen, as they are depicted or when mentioned in the narration.
The sequence of events starts at 5:36 am EDT on September 30 with the earliest information available from the VDR.
The position of El Faro is shown along with the predicted storm tracks from Bon Voyage System (BVS) and from the National Hurricane Center Sat-C, plus the National Hurricane Center Best Track.
The hurricane position is interpolated on the BVS or Sat-C tracks to indicate where the hurricane would have been expected to be at any time.
The BVS information is shown in blue, the Sat-C information is shown in red and the National Hurricane Center Best Track is shown in black.
Beginning at 2:30 pm EDT on September 30, the animation changes to a closer view including the islands in the Bahamas, with the islands of San Salvador, Rum Cay and Samana Cay identified with text labels.
The Old Bahama Channel north of Cuba is also labeled with text. Beginning at 12:00 am EDT on October 1, the animation changes to a closer view centered on San Salvador, Rum Cay and Samana Cay, which are identified with text labels.
The Old Bahama Channel north of Cuba is again labeled with text.
An inset photograph looking at the aft and starboard side of El Faro is shown, superimposed with twelve white ovals to indicate the openings in the hull that would have allowed water to enter the second deck of the vessel.
Beginning at 5:43 am EDT on October 1, the animation changes to closer view showing the position, heading and track path of El Faro, along with Samana Cay identified with a text label.
The vessel is shown 30 times actual size.
Selected summarized or paraphrased comments from the bridge audio from the VDR are displayed as text along with the time in EDT at the time they occurred.
The center of the hurricane along the National Hurricane Center Best Track is shown, along with the wind circulation directions.
An inset photograph illustrates a scuttle from El Faro.
An inset graphic indicates the listing of the ship to starboard or to port, as reported in the narration. The animation is followed by an underwater photo of the stern of El Faro resting on the seafloor. 

Poor situational awareness, aided and abetted by inadequate professional training, an ineffective safety culture afloat and ashore, and an unwillingness to consider worst-case scenarios and possible alternatives to avoid them, led directly to a series of clearly bad operational decisions.
But these decisions did not occur in a vacuum.
A complete lack of checks and balances, both on the water and ashore, resulted in the voyage gradually snowballing into a mass-fatality disaster.
Insufficient safety support and oversight from every level — corporate, regulatory, etc. — laid the foundation for it all to unravel, resulting in the deaths of 33 crewmembers for no good reason at all.

courtesy of Maritime Executive
“We may never understand why the captain failed to heed his crew’s concerns about sailing into the path of a hurricane, or why he refused to chart a safer course away from such dangerous weather,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt.
“But we know all too well the devastating consequences of those decisions.”

There is much to think about, but I’ll point first to remarks made by NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt at one of the hearings in Washington, D.C. Referring to the El Faro’s captain, Michael Davidson, he said, he “had a mental model that the hurricane would be in one place, and based on that mental model and based on his previous experience he thought they were going to be OK.”

That mental model proved to be wrong, and with fatal consequences.
Since we all build mental models for everything we do (even if you’re unaware of it) and no one is immune from building a bad one, you might want to consider the serious ramifications of that fact.

As for the value of experience, consider this: Davidson’s previous experience did not help him and probably pushed him further into a corner from which there was no escape.

Links :

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How to save the high seas

From Nature by Olive Heffernan

In the early fifteenth century, Portuguese sailors reached a becalmed part of the Atlantic Ocean, coated with mats of gold-brown seaweed.
Under windless skies, their ships drifted idly with the currents.
The sailors named the seaweed Sargassum — after its resemblance to a Portuguese plant — and the region eventually became known as the Sargasso Sea.

Initially thought to be an oceanic desert, this part of the Atlantic is now recognized as a watery rainforest.
It is one of Earth’s most rare and valuable marine ecosystems, so rich in nutrients that eels travel thousands of kilometres from rivers in Europe and the Americas to breed there.

But the Sargasso Sea is also one of the dirtiest and most damaged parts of the open ocean.
The gyre of currents that bounds this shoreless sea entraps vast amounts of plastic waste, and fish stocks are declining in the now-busy shipping route.

Scientists want to conserve the Sargasso ecosystem, and ten governments have signed a non-binding pact to protect it.
But their efforts are limited owing to a major gap in international policy.
Like half of the planet, the Sargasso Sea doesn’t fall under the control of any single nation.
Countries can protect or exploit waters closer than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) to their shorelines, but everything outside these ‘exclusive economic zones’ is considered international waters: the high seas.

The high seas make up two-thirds of Earth’s oceans, providing 90% of its available habitat for life and accounting for up to US$16 billion a year in fisheries catch.
The oceans are also prime territory for the discovery of valuable mineral deposits, potent pharmaceuticals and oil and gas reserves.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regulates activities in international waters, including sea-bed mining and cable laying; a patchwork of 20 or so other organizations oversee aspects of international shipping and whaling, as well as fishing and conservation at the regional level.
But no overarching treaty exists to protect biodiversity or conserve vulnerable ecosystems in the oceans.

The photo shows the projected warming per year (indicated by the color-coded bar on the right) of the world's Marine Protected Areas (indicated by the black dots).

Yet momentum is now building to protect the high seas.
This September in New York City, negotiations begin on a United Nations treaty — which is likely to be an add-on to UNCLOS — to agree on how to safeguard this vast shared resource by setting aside areas for conservation and laying out rules for activities such as deep-sea mining.
The treaty could also find ways to help all countries benefit from research into deep-sea species — including whether marine organisms’ genes and proteins might form the basis of new drugs or materials — either financially or through technology transfer.
The talks are being heralded as a Paris climate accord for the oceans: a vital opportunity to conserve the planet’s least-explored realm.
“We have a once in a lifetime chance to secure a treaty that will allow nations to manage activities on the high seas,” says Lance Morgan, president of the non-profit Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle, Washington, which is focused on ocean protection.

The UN, regional fisheries organizations and non-profit agencies have already shortlisted numerous international marine regions that — like the Sargasso — deserve protection.
But researchers are unsure whether politicians will heed scientific advice in choosing what to protect, and in making judgements about environmental impacts.
Ahead of the negotiations, Nature lays out this guide to protecting the high seas, and the scientific debates at play.

How to cordon off the oceans

A major focus of the treaty will be to agree a process to create marine protected areas (MPAs) — regions that are off-limits to at least some kinds of commercial activity.
Established properly, MPAs can boost biodiversity in previously decimated regions.
They can’t stop plastics entering the ocean, or waters becoming hotter or more acidic, but they can increase the size and diversity of marine populations, giving them a greater resilience to these stressors.

Scientists say that at least 30% of the global ocean, distributed evenly between ocean ecosystems, should be cordoned off to avoid a mass extinction of marine life.
On paper, almost 7% of the ocean is now protected: in the past 3 years, 13 of the world’s largest MPAs, all more than 100,000 square kilometres in area, have been created in coastal waters — largely impelled by a UN goal to protect 10% of the ocean by 2020.
In practice, however, these protections are often less than adequate.
To be effective, MPAs need key traits: they must be ‘no-take’, or completely off-limits to commercial activity; have an area of at least 100 square kilometres; be permanent and physically isolated from their unprotected surroundings by deep water or sand; and have well-enforced protections.
An analysis of 87 MPAs found that those with only one or two of these traits were ecologically indistinguishable from fished sites.

Many coastal MPAs allow for oil and gas exploration, shipping and fishing.
Only 2% of the ocean is no-take, and these MPAs are mostly in deep tropical waters of little interest to industry, so do little to reduce overall exploitation of the ocean.
As for the high seas, just 0.5% is off-limits to commercial exploitation.
(Much of this is due to the largest international MPA, in the Ross Sea off Antarctica, which was created by a regional 25-nation council).
“As is often the case closer to shore, there’s a serious risk that high-seas MPAs will be sited in areas of low commercial interest,” says Elizabeth De Santo, an environmental-management specialist at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
How scientific advice on MPAs will feed into the UN treaty is yet to be decided.
But debates about coastal MPAs suggest that scientists’ fears of being ignored are well-founded.
In the planned Laurentian Channel MPA off the coast of Canada, for example, it’s possible to drill for oil and gas in almost 90% of the reserve, against scientific advice.

There’s no shortage of ideas for marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas.
UN organizations have listed dozens of vulnerable ecosystems, as have regional fisheries bodies and non-governmental organizations.
This map highlights ten sites that showcase the diversity of ecosystems on the high seas and the range of threats they face.
Data came from the Marine Conservation Institute, which has an interactive version at

1. Dead zones.
Pollutants from agricultural runoff can cause plankton blooms in the Bay of Bengal, a shallow, warm part of the Indian Ocean.
The blooms suck up oxygen, leaving dead zones that total at least 60,000 square kilometres.
Further runoff or a change in monsoons could cause huge-scale oxygen depletion, radically changing an ecosystem that provides jobs and food security to more than 100 million people.

2. Coral crunch.
Between the Hawaiian and Aleutian islands, a chain of deep-sea volcanoes provides nutrient-rich waters for migrating albatrosses, whales and tuna.
Corals and fish have been hit hard by trawling and are struggling to recover.

3. Shark cafe.
Hundreds of great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) forage and breed here, in a region at risk from fishing and shipping.
These sharks are a genetically distinct population and of higher concern even than other great whites; the species as a whole could number as few as 3,500 in the wild.

4. Sea-bed mining.
Scattered on and below the sea bed are trillions of nodules — potato-sized, rock-like deposits rich in many valuable minerals.
But the region also hosts rare marine species, including a species of ghost octopus that was discovered in 2016.
The International Seabed Authority has issued 16 contracts to explore the area for minerals.
Scientists say at least one-third of the zone should be off-limits to mining, with controls in place where it is permitted.

5. First new MPA?
East Antarctica, a relatively pristine ecosystem that is home to Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and emperor (Apterodytes forsteri) penguins, the seas here are rich in cold-water corals.
This region is also the origin of Antarctic bottom water, a cold, dense and oxygenated water mass that drives the circulation of the global ocean.
All this amkes it a clear choice for a high-seas MPA.
But China and Russia have interests in fishing krill here; in 2017, it was rejected as an MPA for the sixth consecutive year by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

6. Dynamic dome.
Strong winds drive currents that force cold, nutrient-rich waters to well up from the deep to just below the surface.
Iconic ocean species come here, including mahi-mahi, billfish, sharks, squid, cetaceans and endangered sea turtles.
But this ‘thermic dome’ shifts its position, and only seasonally occurs on the high seas, so it is challenging to protect.

7. Marine rainforest.
The Sargasso region is one of 37 EBSAs, or ‘Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas’ on the high seas.
The UN designation identifies the regions as important to healthy ocean function but does not protect them.

8. Hydrothermal field.
Discovered in 2000, the ‘Lost City’ system could give clues to the necessary precursors for life on Earth.
At a depth of 800 metres, this acidic, hot ecosystem extends for about 400 metres along the top of an underwater mountain known as the Atlantis Massif.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has proposed a 20-kilometre buffer zone.

9. Ineffective sanctuary.
This refuge, regarded as the first ever high-seas MPA, was created in 1999 to protect the many cetacean species that visit its waters.
But the sanctuary lacks management and has had little effect.
If expanded and implemented properly, it could provide refuge for bluefin tuna, sharks and swordfish.

10. Oil and gas.
This 1,800-kilometre mountain chain hosts active volcanoes, hydrothermal vents and unique creatures such as eyeless shrimp (Rimicaris exoculata), which could be vulnerable to shipping and oil and gas exploration as the Arctic warms.

Monitoring and enforcement

Once protected ocean areas have been agreed on, it’s crucial to gather baseline data.
A 2000–10 project called the Census of Marine Life provided much of what researchers know about life in the high seas, but the oceans have become warmer, more acidic and more heavily fished since then.
This need for new data could stimulate a fresh period of discovery.
“A new treaty could focus international attention on the critical need to explore, understand and monitor these common ocean areas,” says Patrick Halpin, a marine ecologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Monitoring breaches of protected areas is possible thanks to satellite technology.
Global Fishing Watch (GFW), a satellite-based surveillance initiative that was launched in 2014 by the non-profit organizations SkyTruth and Oceana, together with Google, allows anyone with WiFi access to track fishers in real time, for instance.
These data suggest that commercial fishing reaches more than half the ocean, spanning an area four times that covered by agriculture on land.
A similar initiative, called Project Eyes on the Seas, was created in 2015 by the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Satellite Applications Catapult in Didcot, UK.

But prosecuting regulatory breaches is a political issue — and at the will of individual nations.
An analysis of hundreds of coastal MPAs has found that staffing and budgets are the strongest predictors of whether an MPA will have a conservation impact.
The ecological effects of MPAs with enough staff to patrol and monitor activity within the reserve were nearly three times greater than were those of MPAs with inadequate capacity, researchers found.

Environmental assessments

On land and in coastal waters, new commercial activities have to undergo an ‘environmental impact assessment’ or EIA, to weigh up any benefits against potential harm to local wildlife.

On the high seas, only some activities are regulated in this way.
It wasn’t until 2006 that bottom trawling — a highly destructive fishing method — needed an EIA.
Before that, it destroyed deep-sea corals.
Even now, mid-water fisheries, open-water farming and rocket launches (which dump waste at sea) do not need to consider potential environmental harm.
Scientists want to see new commercial activities on the high seas tightly regulated.
Deep-sea mining, in particular, is likely to cause a flashpoint at the UN talks.

The International Seabed Authority, established by UNCLOS, has approved 29 exploration licences for companies such as Lockheed-Martin to do surveys, mostly along ridges in the oceans and at hydrothermal vents.
It is now developing regulations for what EIAs mining companies would have to conduct.

Cindy Van Dover, a deep-sea biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says that scientists are concerned these regulations will not be strict enough.
One unresolved issue is whether companies can mine active hydrothermal vent sites.
Nautilus Minerals in Toronto, Canada — the company likely to begin the first deep-sea mining operation — is targeting active vents in Papua New Guinean waters, giving rise to concerns that this might also happen on the high seas.
Active vents support large, diverse biological communities.
Generally, more than 60% of species are unique to a single vent site, and within an ocean region, vents share just 5% of species.
“We’re arguing that we should protect active hydrothermal vents,” she says.
Scientists don’t yet know whether these communities can recover from mining.
“What we’ve learned from bottom trawling is that the recovery time, particularly for complex habitats like deep-water corals, can potentially be hundreds of years,” says Paul Snelgrove, a deep-sea biologist at the Memorial University in St Johns, Canada.
Snelgrove spoke to delegates at a preparatory meeting for the UN negotiations that took place in April in New York.
“I think we have to accept that science will not be the only deciding factor, but we certainly hope it will be one of the major considerations,” he says.

Links :

Monday, May 28, 2018

CSIRO probe reveals Bass Strait shipwreck after 'chance encounter'

A digital image of the wreck discovered while "lawn mowing" the sea floor
Image :

From ABC by Rhiannon Shine

Scientists scanning the bottom of Bass Strait in a "lawn-mowing" operation have stumbled on an 1890 shipwreck and uncovered more than they expected.

The CSIRO has released footage of the wreck, which was first detected last year as a "blip" in waters between Tasmania and Victoria.

The footage comes from scientists onboard the research ship Investigator as it makes its way down Australia's east coast, surveying more wrecks along the way.

The Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator is equipped with the advanced geoscience equipment to take a range of measurements of the sea floor and beneath.
This animation includes a list of the equipment and the capabilities available to scientists who use the vessel.

After last year's discovery, volunteers from the Maritime Archaeological Association of Victoria visited the site and identified it as the barque Carlisle.
Heritage Victoria senior maritime archaeologist Peter Harvey said the Carlisle was a 26-year-old collier which was bound for Newcastle from Melbourne in 1890 when it sank.
"When it got to Newcastle it was intended to pick up coal and take it to South America," he said.
"As they were going along everything seemed to be going normally but at some point they struck rocks about seven o'clock in the evening."

The Carlisle was built in England in 1864 and had crew of 23 who all survived the wreck.
Supplied: Heritage Victoria

The 23 crew had to abandon ship and jump into three life boats when the Carlisle started taking on water.
"One [boat] had most of the crew and it headed for Port Albert, but it missed and ended up about 26 miles down the 90-mile beach towards the east," he said.
"And the other one with the smaller crew went on and eventually got to Cliffy Island and they waited there at the lighthouse. They stayed there with the lighthouse keepers until they were rescued by a ship from Melbourne."

Ship hit 'mystery' rock

Mr Harvey said a marine inquiry later exonerated the ship's captain of any wrongdoing.
"The marine inquiry found that the captain did everything right and he had probably hit an uncharted rock that was about seven miles east of Crocodile Rock," he said.

There was no loss of life when it sank but it now teems with marine life.
(Supplied: National Shipwreck Database)

"If [it did], that rock would be currently in the main shipping lane between Melbourne and News South Wales today.
"So it looks like he got off on the benefit of the doubt and in fact it had been a navigation error."

 Crocodile rock with the GeoGarage platform (AHS maps)

Wreck picked up on 'lawn-mowing' exercise

CSIRO hydrographer Matt Boyd, who discovered the wreck while on an Investigator voyage last year, said it appeared as a "blip" while he was conducting routine mapping of the ocean floor.
"The way this survey works, it is very monotonous kind of stuff, very repetitive, we call it 'mowing the lawn'," he said.
"We are sort of going back and forth for long periods of time over large areas of seabed.
"We just happened to go over this blip and we noticed it and thought 'oh jeez that looks just a little too much like a shipwreck' and so we did a little bit more investigating and looked at it digitally.

Shipwreck in Bass Strait
The ship hit rocks south-east of Wilsons Promontory in Tasmanian waters.
Supplied: National Shipwreck Database 

Then once we established that yes it was a shipwreck we put a drop camera down.
"That is the exciting bit — that unknown of what it could be and what happened to it."
Mr Harvey said it was an exciting discovery.
"The condition is degraded but as an archaeological site it is intact, so really important to us to give us an opportunity to look at a site that hasn't been disturbed before," he said.

More shipwrecks found off east coast

Matt Boyd has been at sea this week onboard the Investigator, which is on a week-long voyage from Brisbane to Hobart and has mapped two more shipwrecks.
One of the wrecks was HMAS Pioneer and the other was unidentified.

HMAS Pioneer was scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1931.
Supplied: State Library Victoria

Originally constructed for the British Royal Navy in 1900, the light cruiser Pioneer was later gifted to the Royal Australian Navy.
After serving in World War I, it was used as an accommodation ship before being scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1931.

Fits dive of Andrew Johnstone on the Ex HMAS Pioneer (67mtrs)...
only circumnavigated the aft third.
Still allot of wreck to investigate.

The Australian National Maritime Museum's Emily Jateff, who was on board the voyage to help with the shipwreck mapping, said the unidentified wreck was an exciting find.
"RV Investigator has the capability to do a close resolution multi-beam survey which allows us to located shipwrecks in almost a single pass," she said.
"The wreck is at this point pretty unidentified. We have vague dimensions — about 67 metres in length and about 11 metres across.
"It could be another naval vessel. Quite a number of naval vessels were scuttled off the coast during WWI and WWII. But we will just have to wait and find out."

Links :

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Volvo Ocean Race: 24 Hour record falls

How to fly a drone in 30+ knot winds 
Go behind-the-scenes with OBR Sam Greenfield as he launches his DJI drone in brutal Atlantic Ocean conditions.
Bonus: Kyle catches drone ...while driving! (yes really)

Team AkzoNobel set a new record for the greatest distance sailed in 24 hours in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race today, eclipsing the previous mark and smashing past the 600-mile barrier (602.51 Nm, average boat speeds above 25 Knots) as they rocketed through the North Atlantic.
By the way, 6 of 7 teams beat the previous record on this current leg :
Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont’s crew on their Volvo Open 65 bested the existing record for a yacht competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, the 596.6 miles set by Torben Grael’s Volvo Open 70 Ericsson 4 in the 2008-09 edition.