Saturday, June 8, 2024

There’s a secret spanish beach in the middle of a field

At the beach known as Playa de Gulpiyuri, you can’t see the ocean.
Located over 100 meters from the Cantabrian Sea, Playa de Gulpiyuri borders a flooded sinkhole—in the middle of a vast field.
The beach appears and disappears with the tide, and at its height it stretches only 40-50 meters in length.

According to Oddity Central, underground tunnels—carved out by the salt water—funnel water into the sinkhole and onto the beach, creating miniature waves.
In 2001, the Principality of Asturias, Spain named it a natural monument

Links :

Friday, June 7, 2024

Local bright spot among melting glaciers: 2000 km of Antarctic ice-covered coastline has been stable for 85 years

The area covers approximately 2000 kilometers of coastline and contains as much ice as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet.
Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø

From University of Copenhagen

Ice sheet
A whaler's forgotten aerial photos from 1937 have given researchers at the University of Copenhagen the most detailed picture of the ice evolution in East Antarctica to date.
The results show that the ice has remained stable and even grown slightly over almost a century, though scientists observe early signs of weakening.
The research offers new insights that enhance predictions of ice changes and sea level rise.
Higher temperatures, extreme weather, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels - all indicators that the climate and the world's ice masses are in a critical state.
However, a new study from the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen offers a local bright spot.

Using hundreds of old aerial photographs dating back to 1937, combined with modern computer technology, the researchers have tracked the evolution of glaciers in East Antarctica.
The area covers approximately 2000 kilometers of coastline and contains as much ice as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet.

By comparing the historical aerial photos with modern satellite data, the researchers have been able to determine whether the glaciers have retreated or advanced and whether they have thickened or thinned.
The study reveals that the ice has not only remained stable but grown slightly over the last 85 years, partly due to increasing snowfall.

“We constantly hear about climate change and new melt records, so it's refreshing to observe an area of glaciers that has remained stable for almost a century,” says PhD student Mads Dømgaard, the study’s first author.

However, the researcher emphasizes that the study also shows the first signs of changes in the sea ice off the glacier.
This could mean that the stable East Antarctic glaciers might shrink in the future.

“Our results also indicate weakening sea ice conditions, making the glaciers’ floating ice tongues more vulnerable and unable to grow as large as seen in the early aerial images from 1937.
We know from other parts of Antarctica that the ocean plays an extremely important role and drives the massive and increasing melt we see in e.g. West Antarctica,” says Mads Dømgaard.

More about the study

- Out of 2200 images photographed from seaplanes in 1937, 130 were selected for the analysis.
- The researchers combined the historical photos with modern satellite data to create 3D reconstructions of the glaciers.
- The Norwegian aerial images were supplemented with 165 aerial images of the same glaciers from Australian surveys conducted between 1950 and 1974.
This allowed the researchers to examine the evolution of the glaciers over different periods and calculate historical ice flow speeds for selected glaciers.
- Compared to modern data, the ice flow speeds are unchanged.
While some glaciers have thinned over shorter intermediate periods of 10-20 years, they have remained stable or grown slightly in the long term, indicating a system in balance.

A Stinson Reliant poton aircraft was used for aerial photography. 
The aircraft had a range of around 1200 km and an automatic Zeiss camera was mounted in the floor of the aircraft. 
Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute 

Hidden from the Nazis

Most of the images used in the study were captured during a 1937 expedition organized and paid for by Norwegian whaler Lars Christensen.
The mission aimed to produce the first maps of this part of East Antarctica, but the maps were never published due to the German invasion of Norway.
Since then, the images have been stored at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø and forgotten.

When the researchers from the University of Copenhagen read about the expedition, they realized that valuable images were likely hidden in an archive in Norway.
They traveled to Tromsø and reviewed all 2200 images taken during the expedition.
They supplemented the Norwegian aerial images with images of the same glaciers from Australian surveys conducted between 1950 and 1974.
From aerial images to 3D models.
Aerial images of the Taylor Glacier in East Antarctica from 1937 can be transformed into 3D models and composite image mosaics using modern image processing techniques.
This gives researchers a unique opportunity to study changes in the glacier going back almost 100 years.
Photo: Mads Dømgaard/Norwegian Polar Institute

“By comparing the historical aerial photos with modern satellite data, we have gained critical knowledge about glaciers that we would not otherwise have had.
I think it's fantastic that these old images can be used to generated new research results almost 100 years after they were taken,” says Assistant Professor Anders Bjørk from the University of Copenhagen, who leads the group working with the historical images.

Potential for major sea level rise

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is receiving increasing attention from researchers, due to its potential for extremely large and rapid sea level rise.
Unlike Greenland, very little was known about Antarctica glaciers until the 1990s, when the first good satellite observations became available.

“Early observations of glaciers are extremely valuable as they give us a unique insight into how the ice has evolved through a varying climate and whether current changes in the ice exceed the glaciers' normal cycle of advance and retreat,” explains Mads Dømgaard.
Overview map.
Credit: Mads Dømgaard

According to the researcher, solid, long-term data is crucial for producing accurate predictions of future glacier evolutions and sea level rise, and this study provides new insights into a vast area in East Antarctica.

“The long time series of glaciers improves our ability to make more accurate models of future ice changes, as the models are trained on historical observations,” concludes Anders Bjørk.

The results have just been published in Nature Communications [link ] and are a collaboration between researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Arctic University of Norway and the Institute of Environmental Geosciences in France.

Links :

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Historian uncovers covert D-Day chart maker's tale

Adrian Webb started his project in 2003 researching the covert Hydrographic department
From BBC by Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley

An historian who brought to light a clandestine Hydrographic department, integral to the success of D-Day, is on the hunt for the people that worked in it.

A British Admiralty "Beach Chartlet," for the Invasion of Normandy, covering the route to the British Beach-head "Sword," just outside the port of Ouistreham.
Dating from February 1944, this map was probably used in preparatory planning for the D-Day invasion, and shows the levels of planning that took place for the Invasion of Europe.
Since 2003, Adrian Webb has researched the covert department, predominantly based in Taunton and Bath.

In 1944 its 1,100 workers produced a "staggering" seven million nautical charts that showed servicemen and allies the exact locations and routes to take during the Normandy landings.

Mr Webb said without their "tireless" work the invasion might well have failed. 

Many of the posters on the walls reflected the secret nature of the department where the staff worked during the Second World War

 One of the locations used for drawing the top Secret charts was the Royal School for Officers' Daughters in Bath

"It's difficult to imagine the levels of secrecy back in the 1940s," he said.
"Through corroborated stories, we understand there was a worker who was overheard talking about what they were doing.
"That person was shipped off to Iceland."

In Bath, the department drew "complicated" master copies of charts that "really pushed people's technical limits".

This is thought to be one of the final views of a purpose-built chart factory before it was demolished 
Ian Coleby

They were then securely delivered to a purpose built factory in Taunton where they were printed in "unimaginable numbers".

"In the year of 1938 they issued around one million charts and books and in 1944 it staggeringly produced around seven million charts," he said.
"It was unprecedented really."
An extract from the Channel Handbook published by the Hydrographic Department for use during D-Day, showing Ouistreham in 1943
A stamp bearing the word "bigot" was often printed on many of the operational documents

“Bognor to the Needles Route Chatlet” prepared by the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty on the 29th March 1944 in preparation for the D Day landings.

Map annotated by the U.S. Army 12th Group to provide situational awareness of their end-of-day position and known German unit locations.
Following D-Day, situation maps like this one became a daily requirement.

"It's a true testament to the workers who did incredibly long , tireless hours to get them ready."
Mr Webb said the most amazing stories came from the workers themselves and their families.
"I believe there are still five people alive who worked in the department and most of them are now 100 years old," he said. 
Jeanne Bullard was one of the Map Girls who worked in Bath drawing charts during World War Two
Alan Bullard

"A lady called Ivy, who has now passed away, told me she was tasked with taking a roll of top secret charts from Bath to Taunton by train.
"They locked her into a carriage for security and waited to meet a policeman in Taunton who would deliver her to the factory.
"But unfortunately when she arrived, no-one was there. 

Louisa Fell was also a worker for the secretive department in Bath
Susan Rostron

"It was late at night, there was a blackout, she just started walking.
"After a while the department feared the worst when she had not arrived and found the policeman exhausted and alseep at his home.
"On an act of faith the department flicked their lights on and off to signal to her and show her where to go in the hope she was walking to them."

Percy Fletcher was a copperplate engraver who worked in Exeter and Taunton for the department during the Second World War
Pauline Sutton

He said she "thankfully" eventually made it and "saved the day".
"If those handdrawn documents had not arrived D-Day could have been delayed," he added.

Mr Webb said he was sure there were more people out there with more stories about the department.
"Out of the 1,100 people I've only spoken to a few. If anyone knows a person, a relative who had worked in the department please let me know," he added.

His book, Churchills Secret Chart Makers: The Road to D-Day and Beyond has been published ahead of the D-Day anniversary on 6 June.

Links :

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Octopuses rewrite their own RNA to survive freezing temperatures

The California two-spot octopus (Bimaculoides) is the first octopus species to have its genome sequenced and is very helpful for studying cephalopods. 
Roger T. Hanlon

From PopSciences by Laura Baisas

A new study dives deeper into the amazing adaptations of the cephalopod brain.

Octopuses can do it all, from their signature camouflage to chucking shells at other octopuses, but one major thing they can’t do is thermoregulate.
Changes in water temperature can threaten their powerful brains due to this quirk of evolution, but they still manage to handle it.

A study published June 8 in the journal Cell shows that two-spot octopuses adapt to seasonal shifts in temperature by producing different neural proteins.
They accomplish this by editing their RNA—the messenger molecule between proteins and DNA.
The team on this study believes that this rewiring protects their brains and this strategy is likely used across other octopuses and squid.

“Ten years ago, there were some hints that something unusual was going on, but there wasn’t [any] systematic mapping and our first goal was to systematically map the editing sites of the squid,” study co-author and a statistical mathematician at Tel Aviv University Eli Eisenberg tells PopSci.
Credit: Shabinh/ Pixabay

They found that squid have tens of thousands of recording sites that were primarily located in their neural tissues where these RNA edits could be happening.
Eisenberg and study co-author Joshua Rosenthal extended their research into octopuses and their neural networks.
They wanted to know how these cephalopods with complicated and well-evolved brains handle the wide range of temperatures they are exposed to.

DNA mutations typically allow organisms to adapt over long periods of time and over multiple generations.
RNA editing is a common, flexible, and temporary way to adapt to changes in the environment–like seasonal temperature.

“There’s often a contrast between this and CRISPR genome editing,” Rosenthal, a biologist at the University of Chicago-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory, tells PopSci.
“CRISPR genome editing is this artificial process that is designed to make changes in DNA, which would be kind of permanent from the time that changes are made throughout the life of the organism.
RNA gives you the chance to do things temporarily.”

When RNA editing changes protein structures, the process is called RNA recoding.
It’s pretty rare—except in octopuses and squid.
Humans have millions of editing sites that affect less than three percent of our genes, but coleoid or “smart” cephalopods can recode the majority of their neural proteins.

“In the context outside of cephalopods, the main way to change the [protein] sequence and get a new kind of protein is through mutation and evolution,” study co-author and St.
Francis University biologist Matthew Birk tells PopSci.
“That takes generations and hundreds and thousands of years, while this is days. That was very exciting.”

In this new study, the team worked with California two-spot octopuses in a laboratory setting and in the wild.
This species is the first octopus to have their genome sequenced, and they are a reliable proxy for other octopuses.
Wild octopuses are exposed to quick changes in temperature like when they dive to colder depths or during upwelling events and slower changes like when the seasons shift.

They acclimated wild-caught adult octopuses to warm (71.6ºF) or cold (55.4ºF) waters in tanks and after several weeks, they compared the RNA transcripts for the acclimated octopuses to the genome to find signs of RNA editing.

“One surprising finding was the fact that so many proteins, so many editing sites had changed upon temperature change, and all of them almost all of them in the same direction,” says Eisenberg.

Editing occurred at around 30 percent or more than 20,000 individual places on the genome.
The proteins edited tended to be neural proteins, and almost all edited sites sensitive to temperature swings were more highly edited in the cold, according to Eisenberg.

To see how quickly these changes occurred, they investigated the reaction in tiny thumbnail-sized juvenile octopuses.
They gradually heated or cooled the tanks from 57.2°F up to 93.2°F and vice versa in hourly increments over about 20 hours.
After measuring RNA editing before the temperature change, immediately after the change, and four days later, the team was surprised by just how rapidly it occurred.
Birk says that changes were happening in less than one day, and their new steady levels were present four days after and remained for a month.

The team also started investigating if recoding impacted protein structure function.
They focused on two proteins that are critical for nervous system function—kinesin and synaptotagmin.
They found evidence that the recoding changed the structures in the proteins that would impact how they function.

“I’m really interested to see if this extends beyond physical environmental factors.
If social context can influence the way you encode your nervous system, that’s a pretty interesting concept,” says Rosenthal.
“I want to know what underlies this high level recoding of messenger RNAs.” 

Understanding more about this RNA editing and recoding could be applied to therapeutics in humans.
Rosenthal and Eisenberg are working on a grant project from the National Institutes of Health to see if RNA editing can be used as a non addictive treatment for opioids.

Studies like these are also satisfying the ever growing appetite for knowledge about our eight legged aquatic friends.
“I feel like people understand or know octopuses pretty well.
There’s all these fascinating things that we can physically see,” says Birk.
“Now, we’re starting to understand more and more that they’re fascinating even at a molecular level.
They are strange and inspire curiosity.” 

Links :

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The sea is swallowing this Mexican town

Nancy Otsoa, who leads la Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción Pesquera Barranqueña del Golfo, stands among ruins in her city of Las Barrancas.
Photograph: Seila Montes

From Wired by Andrea J. Arratibel

Las Barrancas, in the state of Veracruz, has struggled for 10 years against the rising Gulf of Mexico waters.

Localization of Las Barrancas with the GeoGarage platform (SEMAR nautical raster chart)
Its best hope may lie in mangrove trees.

"Wake up! The sea is taking it all away, it's taking it all away!" were the first cries Claudia Ramón heard that night, when a fierce wave lashed her town.
"It was my cousin who warned me, and I ran to take out my personal things.
If she hadn't grabbed my arm tightly, the wave would have rolled me over too," says the young woman standing on the rubble in the sand.

Where the family bodega used to stand there's now only a huge sinkhole.
In the background there's the squawking of seagulls and a calm, silent horizon, oblivious to the roaring wind that mercilessly lashed the landscape of Las Barrancas, Mexico, in the early morning of October 2, 2022.

It was not the first time that a storm had stolen houses and a piece of beach from this fishing village situated at the foot of a ravine in the municipality of Alvarado, in the state of Veracruz.
It's a town of no more than 300 inhabitants, and it’s population has decreased steadily over the past decade.
This is due in part to the lack of employment opportunities that sends young people packing, but mostly because the sea increasingly threatens to carry away the small buildings and leave families without shelter.

“We have been suffering the onslaught of the sea for a long time.
It started 14 years ago, but increased 10 years ago,” says Nancy Otsoa as she walks along the shore, an increasingly narrow line of the beach.
The erosion was accelerated in 2021 by the onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms.
"That night, the last night a storm hit us so hard, the water came right up to the main street," she recalls.

Ruins of one of the houses that the sea took away in Las Barrancas, in Veracruz, Mexico.
Photograph: Seila Montes

Around her are mounds of sandbags and tires, placed there by locals to mitigate the impact of the storm surge.
"But it's no use, as soon as the winds come, another piece of coast is ripped off," she says.
Dozens of lifeless starfish are piled up nearby, extracted from the salt water by the north wind and abandoned on this piece of land.
As of 2021, 71.7 kilometers of beaches in Alvarado had coastal erosion.

More ruins in Las Barrancas.
Photograph: Seila Montes

10 Years Fighting the Sea

"The first town that was affected was Matalauva.
Zapote followed, and then we began to lose a lot of beach," says Otsoa, who heads the Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción Pesquera Barranqueña del Golfo.
Founded 35 years ago, the consortium is made up of 41 members: 24 men and 17 women who started a business to sell canned goods from the fish they catch at sea.
"We use everything from the bonito and other species to make our products, such as the ceviche pulp for minilla, a typical local dish," explains Otsoa, who is leading the fight to keep her community from disappearing from the map.
It is a battle against the maneuvers of megaprojects, the ravages of climate change, environmental degradation in the region, and the abandonment of a village that is disappearing with the onslaught of the sea.

"Not so long ago it was common to see children playing in the waves while the women fished on the shore," she recalls.
Those days are long over.

Nancy Otsoa with her grandmother Florencia “Pola” Hernández, 81, in Las Barrancas, Mexico.
Photograph: Seila Montes

"That's why my husband hardly ever goes out anymore.
You have to go far out to sea," says Florencia Hernandez, 81, grandmother of Otsoa and Ramón, known locally as Pola.
In a wheelchair surrounded by memories—black and white portraits, lead hooks, the fishing line she holds in her hands—she is the longest-lived witness of the transformation that her land has undergone.
She learned the fishing trade in her youth.

"My father taught me.
Like my grandfather, he was a fisherman.
He had a little wooden boat, and he took me when I was a child," says Hernandez while showing a photo album.
"Later, I fished with my brother Salvador.
I was the one who grabbed the motor.
We would go out at night.
When I got married, I accompanied my husband.
I would get up very early in the morning, leave the clothes washed and laid out for when we returned from the day's work.
In a short time, we would fill baskets with fish that we would sell in the afternoon," she says.

An abandoned boat in the fishing community of Las Barrancas, Mexico.
Photograph: Seila Montes

Hernandez and her husband raised their children with what they earned from the sea.
"The sea that has given me everything and now takes everything away," she says with a broken voice.
In Las Barrancas they live every day with the fear of the arrival of a hurricane like Roxanne, which landed in 1995.
"I was only 8 years old but I remember it very well. That one hit very hard. It took a lot of houses," says Ramón. 
Climate Change and Poorly Planned Projects

Between the storm surges, the sea level continues to gradually rise.
In the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, that increase is about three times faster than the global average, according to a 2023 study published in Nature.
"This could be due to the loss of important habitats, such as seagrasses and reefs, natural barriers that protect the coast," says Patricia Moreno-Casasola, a biologist at the Institute of Ecology.

“Here it's already taken 100 meters of beach,” says Otsoa.
"The impact has not only been environmental and on fishing, on which we live, but it has also had a great social impact.
The beach was our means of communication with the other neighboring communities," explains the fisherwoman.
The tourism that her town used to attract has also fallen off.

“My mother had a little food stand by the beach that was crowded at Easter, a business that sold snacks.
We lived on that income almost all year round,” Ramón says.
Even horse races were organized there on the beach."

Claudia Ramón in Las Barrancas, Veracruz, facing the ravages of rising sea levels.
Photograph: Seila Montes

"We already know that climate change is behind this situation.
But also human action, the expansion of the hotel zone, poorly founded works carried out without impact studies," says Otsoa.
The activist devoted years of research to better understand how the destruction of ecosystems and climate change are affecting coastal territories.
Otsoa was so eager to learn that she enrolled in an online university and spends hours of her day talking to experts to help her find solutions.

"In this community it is the women who move everything," says Moreno-Casasola, one of Mexico's leading experts in sustainable development.
She says that the erasure of beaches in the region is due to different factors, “such as the loss of sediments that used to be carried by rivers to the sea or the melting of glaciers, which raises sea levels.
But, above all, due to the expansion works carried out in the port of Veracruz and the construction of breakwaters in the northern area of Alvarado,” she says.

Ruins of one of the houses that the sea took away in Las Barrancas.
Photograph: Seila Montes

Projects carried out by the Ministry of the Navy and the networks of corruption in the region have provoked, little by little, the acceleration of the erosion of the Veracruz coast.
"We are more and more isolated.
The streets are used to store the boats; we no longer have a place to keep them.
Many residents have sold their boats and we have to look for other alternatives to survive.
Many people leave because they have lost their homes," Otsoa explains.

Years ago she also decided to leave the place where she grew up to find luck in the United States.
"We made it there, but the border patrol caught us and sent us back in a truck.
It was our whole family, my mom, my brother, my husband, my aunt, a cousin.
They didn't want us there because destiny had another future in store for us," says the fisherwoman, who no longer trusts anything.
“Not even the sea. We are already very afraid of it because it is getting stronger and stronger.”
No Response From the Government

"There is no mitigation plan from the authorities," she says.
The woman has been requesting support from different officials for more than a decade.
"I have already presented evidence with all the government agencies, even to the president, who came and promised to help us.
But time goes by and time goes by and we don't receive any response.
We are alone, abandoned," she says.

Fishermen fixing a motor in Barrancas, Mexico.
Fishing is the main economic activity in the town, increasingly affected by climate change and environmental degradation.
Photograph: Seila Montes

Before better understanding the implications of the disaster looming over her community, Otsoa hoped for a breakwater that had been promised years ago by Javier Duarte de Ochoa, the state governor.
(Ochoa, a controversial leader accused of several corruption crimes, was sentenced to prison in 2017.) The breakwater he intended to erect was supposed to protect the coast and divert currents, like the one he inaugurated in 2014 in the neighboring community of Matalauva.
Its installation helped Matalauva and the neighboring community of Zapote recover part of their beaches.
The Las Barrancas breakwater never materialized.

"They managed to bring back tourism, which had a very strong economic benefit.
If they can benefit, why can't we?" Otsoa asked herself at the time.
But while the construction of the breakwater in the neighboring community brought immediate benefits, Otsoa no longer wants one.
"The long-term effects are unknown and, after much research, I know that this is not the solution," she says.

"Installing a barrier over the beach dramatically changes the dynamics of the currents.
Putting a spur provides a short-term solution in a specific location, but it moves the problem elsewhere.
There are already many studies on the consequences of this approach," says Jacobo Santander, a biologist with the Interdisciplinary Collective of Applied Science and Environmental Law who came to the community four years ago to study the complex phenomenon and help this town defend itself against the rising sea and the pounding waves.

Ruins of one of the houses that the sea took away in Las Barrancas, Mexico.
The destruction of ecosystems and climate change are affecting coastal territories.
Photograph: Seila Montes

“The disappearance of beaches in this region stems from a multifactorial problem.
On the one hand, there are the mega works executed without sensible planning, such as the port expansion of Veracruz or the artificial barriers in the middle of the sea that the government developed.
Because of the distance on the map they appear as distant points, so they may seem to be isolated events.
However, they are connected, and the effects have repercussions in this area.
On the other hand, the deterioration of ecosystems is a fundamental part of sediment erosion,” says the Santander.

Moreno-Casasasola agrees with that hypothesis, and has a potential solution.
“Regardless of the rise of the sea due to climate change, there is a serious problem of lack of sediment.
That is why we must recover the mangrove system, which provides the substrate that acts as a barrier against tidal waves.”

Saving a Mangrove to Protect the Beach

To face the complex situation that threatens the Barrancas, it would be more productive, scientists say, to work on the natural areas in the territory than to build a breakwater in the sea.
That's why they're developing a plan for the recovery of the ecosystems that includes its inhabitants.

A major part of that plan is the Salao, as this community calls its mangrove swamp.
Home to more than 80 species of fauna and flora, up to three species of mangrove and about 30 bird species find refuge here.

“We are betting on the rehabilitation of habitats to recover coastal protection.
So that nature returns sediment to the coast.
The idea is to recover the balance that existed before, to return the natural flow to the mangrove and its exchange of sediment with the beach.
Because in spite of the pressure of pollution we can still do something, there is life here, there are species, flora, a lot of fauna,” Ramón says with enthusiasm in his voice, proud that the work has already had a visible impact.
"There is an incredible capacity for restoration. We put the mangrove seed on the shore of the beach and it's already sprouting, it has stuck and is reproducing!"

Claudia Ramón in the Las Barrancas mangrove swamp.
Photograph: Seila Montes

For Las Barrancas to return to its former landscapes, "awareness is also key.
That is why we carry out environmental education campaigns," says Santander.
Despite the cleanup days, much of the mangrove area is still covered with debris.
"Some of that arrives from the sea and some of it is directly thrown away, especially plastic.
We insist a lot to the neighbors that they have to recycle and stop throwing waste.
And little by little we are succeeding.
The burning of garbage is another problem.
We don't have a public cleaning service here," says Otsoa as she strolls among the old mangrove roots and sorts through the containers, plastics of all colors and shapes, fishing nets, pieces of tires, many bags, cans of soft drinks … plastics, plastics, and more plastics.

"We would also like to recover the waterfall," Ramón says.
The one where they used to bathe.
"It had a tremendous stream and gave very good water. But the hill began to collapse, roads were opened, construction work was done and, over the years, the flow deteriorated," she says.
“If we have learned anything over the years, it is that to be better off we must take care of our environment,” Otsoa says.

Ruins of one of the houses that the sea took away in Las Barrancas, Mexico.
Photograph: Seila Montes

The village also plans to create fishing refuges, an idea that biologist Santander suggested.
"We started to work on the initiative, to let fishing rest for a while.
We want to organize ourselves with the rest of the fishermen of the coastline we share and designate these refuge zones.
Only together can we define them, decide how long fishing should stop, and see how the species repopulate little by little," Otsoa says.
Under her arm she carries a folder with all the documentation she has been compiling: files on the erasure of territory, rising sea levels, letters sent to the authorities asking for support, requests for them to take action, photographs and videos that show how Las Barrancas used to be and how it has been reshaped.

“When President López Obrador came to Veracruz, we approached him, part of the community, and gave him the letter.
He promised to take action, but he never did.
And we don't know what to do to make officials listen to us.
We are afraid that the help will arrive when it's too late.
We don't want it to happen to us like it did to the people of Tabasco,” says Otsoa, referring to El Bosque, the town located in the municipality of Centla that was completely swallowed by the sea.
After years of suffering the ravages of tides and surges, in February of this year all of its inhabitants had to be evicted.

"That's what we don't want to happen to us," says Pola.
As her granddaughter Otsoa explains, a relocation “would be devastating because it would force us to change our way of life.
What we have here is a heritage achieved through hard work.
We were born here, and we have always lived here.
Belonging to Las Barrancas is part of our identity.
That is why we cannot allow ourselves to lose our land.
That is why we continue to fight and do the work that the government does not do; we work so that the balance of nature returns.
And so that they listen to us before it's too late.
Before only the name of this community remains as a memory, and so that future generations don't have to say that their town was destroyed by the sea.”
Links :

Monday, June 3, 2024

After nearly 80 years, the wreck of the USS Harder has been found

The wreckage of the submarine Harder has been found, nearly 80 years after it was sunk by Japanese forces during World War II.
Some of the 79 men who died aboard the boat are shown here earlier in the war.

From NavyTimes by Geoff Ziezulewicz
The final resting place of the 79 sailors aboard the submarine Harder has been found.

The boat was sunk by Japanese depth charges on Aug. 24, 1944, while Harder was on patrol.
Its last known location was in the South China Sea, near the Philippines, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

“Resting at a depth of more than 3,000 feet, the vessel sits upright on her keel relatively intact except for the depth-charge damage aft of the conning tower,”
The command’s underwater archaeology branch confirmed Harder’s location with the help of Tiburon Subsea CEO Tim Taylor and the Lost 52 project, a group that works to find and memorialize the 52 U.S. submarines lost during World War II.

In addition to Harder, the group has located fellow fallen subs Grayback, Stickleback, R-12, S-26, S-28 and Grunion, according to the Navy, and Taylor received the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2021 for his efforts.
Localization with the GeoGarage platform (NGA nautical raster chart)
(3000 ft / 914 m) below water off yhe Philippines northern island of Luzon
Harder was found sitting upright with its keel “relatively intact” at a depth of more than 3,000 feet, with depth charge damage aft of the conning tower, the Navy said.

A 4D photogrammetry model of the submarine Harder's wreck site, provided by The Lost 52 Project. The group is dedicated to finding U.S. subs sunk during World War II. 
Lost 52 scanned the entire boat and stitched all the images together in a multi-dimensional model used to study and explore the site.
(Image courtesy of The Lost 52 Project via Navy)

While it can be challenging to identify subs in such situations, the Navy credited the data collected by Lost 52 and the “excellent state of preservation of the site” as key to confirming that the wreck is Harder.

“Harder was lost in the course of victory,” Navy History and Heritage Command’s director, retired Adm. Samuel J. Cox, said in a statement. “We must not forget that victory has a price, as does freedom.”

“We are grateful that Lost 52 has given us the opportunity to once again honor the valor of the crew of the ‘Hit ‘em HARDER’ submarine that sank the most Japanese warships – in particularly audacious attacks – under her legendary skipper, Cmdr. Sam Dealey.”

Harder played a key role in disrupting Japanese forces in the lead up to the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, according to the Navy.

During its fifth and most successful patrol in May and June of 1944, Harder sunk three Japanese destroyers and crippled two others over the course of four days, attacks that prompted Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa to depart his fleet from Tawi-Tawi, Philippines, a day early, according to the Navy.

That earlier departure mucked up Japanese battle plans and forced Ozawa to slow down his carrier force in the Philippine Sea, which contributed to the Japanese defeat in the battle, according to the Navy.

The final days of the Harder and its sailors began during the boat’s sixth war patrol, when it joined fellow sub Haddo in attacking and destroying three Japanese escort ships off Bataan, Philippines, on Aug. 22.

As the sun rose the next day, Haddo attacked until it needed to leave for torpedo replenishment, and Harder and Hake stayed off Dasol Bay, prowling for new targets.

On Aug. 24, Hake went deep and silent to avoid a Japanese attack, and reported hearing 15 rapid depth charges at about 7:30 a.m.

Japanese records later showed that Harder fired three torpedoes at an escort ship, and that the ship sunk Harder with the fifth depth charge that it dropped, according to the Navy.

The Navy submarine Harder was commissioned on Dec. 2, 1942, with Cmdr. Samuel D. Dealey in command, and lost at sea with 79 souls aboard on Aug. 24, 1944.
(Naval History and Heritage Command)

Harder’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Dealey, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for Harder’s fifth war patrol, and the sub received a Presidential Unit Citation and six battle stars for its service in World War II.

The Navy said the Harder’s final resting place is protected under U.S. law and falls within the Navy’s jurisdiction.

Any activity around the site must be cleared by the Navy as well.

“Most importantly, the wreck represents the final resting place of sailors that gave their life in defense of the nation and should be respected by all parties as a war grave,” the Navy said.

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Pacific squid flashes its huge attack 'headlights'

A rare deep-sea squid has been captured on video at a depth of more than a kilometre underwater, by scientists from The University of Western Australia and Kelpie Geosciences in the UK.
A team from the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre and chief scientist Heather Stewart, from Kelpie Geosciences UK and an adjunct at UWA, captured the footage when they were deploying free-fall baited cameras north of an area known as the Samoan Passage.
After the camera was retrieved from a deployment of more than 5km deep, researchers realised an animal rarely seen in its natural habitat had been captured on video.
At a depth of just over 1km, a deep-sea hooked squid called Taningia danaecaught up with the lander as it was sinking to seafloor at 58 metres per minute.
“As we were reviewing the footage, we realised we had captured something very rare,” Associate Professor Stewart said.
The deep-sea hooked squid is one of the largest deep-water squid and is renowned for having two very large photophores on the end of two of its arms, which produce bright bioluminescent flashes to startle and disorientate prey when hunting.
These are the largest known photophores in the natural world.
“The squid, which was about 75cm long, descended on our camera assuming it was prey, and tried to startle it with is huge bioluminescent headlights,” Associate Professor Stewart said.
“It then proceeded to wrap its arms around one of other cameras which in turn captured the encounter in even greater detail. I think we were very lucky to have witnessed this.”
Professor Alan Jamieson, director of the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre, said observing deep-sea squid in their natural habitat, especially in the mid-water, was notoriously challenging.
“Many records of this species are from strandings, accidental bycatch or from the stomach contents of whales,” Professor Jamieson said.
“The rarity of live observations of these amazing animals makes every encounter valuable in gathering information on geographic locations, depth, and behaviour, plus it is such a unique animal that we hardly ever get to see, so we had to share it.”
The research ship RV Dagon is currently in the final few weeks of a three-month expedition, supported by Inkfish, to the Nova Canton Trough located in the Central Pacific Ocean. 
 The mission is to explore and document the biodiversity and geodiversity of the seafloor at depths between three and eight kilometres.
Rare footage of a deep-sea hooked squid in its natural habitat was captured earlier this month by a team of scientists in the South Pacific.
Bright bioluminescent lights, which are used to startle its prey, could be seen at the end of two of the squid's arms.

From BBC by Jonathan Amos

Watch: The Dana squid flashes its lights - at normal speed and in slow motion

The Dana squid has all the tools of a top ocean predator, including a pair of brilliant "headlights" it flashes at the moment it goes in for the kill.

They are intended to dazzle the prey, to make the victim freeze for those few moments longer until it can be captured in a death embrace.

Scientists have just filmed this rare squid in full attack mode, on a research cruise in the central Pacific.

It was about 1,000m below the surface, where conditions are near pitch black.

Those headlights, on the ends of two of its arms, are more properly called photophores - organs that react a mix of substances with oxygen to emit light. It is a classic example of bioluminescence.

And the 2m (6ft 6in) Dana squid (Taningia danae) is thought to have the biggest photophores in the animal kingdom - roughly the size of lemons.

"Most of our knowledge about this large squid comes from strandings, when they've been washed up on the shore, or when they've been accidentally trawled," Prof Alan Jamieson, from the University of Western Australia (UWA), told BBC News.
"We also get to examine squid retrieved from the stomach contents of whales.
"All this can tell you about squid biology - but it doesn't tell you much about their day-to-day existence, which is why it's amazing to see them alive at the exact depth at which they operate." 
The Dana squid latches on to the baited frame as it falls through the water column

The video was filmed by free-fall cameras attached to a baited frame, a simple but effective device scientists drop overboard to investigate what is living at great depth.

The bait was a piece of mackerel flesh.

And although it is impossible to tell from the video, the cameras are falling at nearly 60m per minute when the squid attacks, showing how quickly it can move.