Archive for 10/05/2011

John Konrad – 

Yesterday, just months after arriving on location, the newly built Ocean Rig Drillship Poseidon, was attacked by pirates while drilling off the coast of Tanzania.

In a statement earlier today Tanzania’s Registrar of Ships said “The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) … has received reports of an attack on an exploration vessel known as the Ocean Rig Poseidon,

In the incident, seven pirates in a small boat attacked the ship with weapons. Security personnel on the ship with the help of the Tanzanian Navy returned fire and managed to subdue and arrest the pirates.” Tanzanian authorities also confirmed the location of the attack…. about 82 miles out from capital Dar es Salaam.

Tanzanian government officials estimate the country’s natural gas reserves at over 7.5 trillion cubic feet but oil companies have been reluctant to send rigs there partly because of the country’s close proximity to Somalia, a neighbor to the north.

In response to concerns, Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda took steps to protect Petrobras assets in the region. In a statement issued in April of this year he said, “Due to increased piracy attacks, we have been compelled to beef up security in our territory. The first step has been to provide escorts to vessels that request security assistance when they enter our territorial waters and the second is for the government to provide protection to vessels exploring for gas and oil in our ocean.

The attack comes just days after Shell agreed to purchase a 50% interest in the wells being drilled by the Poseidon and share in both the estimated $11 million drilling costs and the $14 million on port development projects promised by Petrobras.

Upstream has reported that Petrobras is using the drillship under a 20-month charter at a dayrate of up to $632,000. The total contract value for Ocean Rig, including mobilization, is USD 353 million. The ship is a Saipem 10000 design launched from Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard on July 28th of this year. It is classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and registered in the Marshall Islands.

Full story…

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Hydro International – 

In September 2011 the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Satellite data from NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, USA, showed that the summertime sea ice cover narrowly avoided a new record low.

The Arctic ice cap grows each winter as the sun sets for several months and shrinks each summer as the sun rises higher in the northern sky. Each year the Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum extent in September. It hit a record low in 2007.

The near-record ice-melt followed higher-than-average summer temperatures, but without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007. NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said that atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels, probably reflecting loss of multiyear ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.

Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.

While the sea ice extent did not dip below the 2007 record, the sea ice area as measured by the microwave radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite did drop slightly lower than 2007 levels for about 10 days in early September, Comiso said. Sea ice area differs from extent in that it equals the actual surface area covered by ice, while extent includes any area where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean.

Full story…

Manila Bulletin – 

Local government officials in a Bohol town have resorted to using religious images to prevent blast fishers from further ruining the country’s only double barrier reef.

This solution was devised by the local government of Bien Unido, a fairly young town located in northeastern Bohol, some 108 kilometers away from Tagbilaran.

The town, with fishing as the primary livelihood source for its 32,000 residents, is known for its devotion to the Holy Child and the Virgin of Fatima and, in an effort to keep dynamite fishers from further destroying the Danajon Double Barrier Reef, local officials led by Mayor Rey Nino Boniel, have submerged religious images of both religious patrons down in said reef.

Gizmodo –

Every year, the government gives scientists money that they use for amazingly cool things, like building robots that dive to extreme underwater depth and record video like this.

Thanks to funding from taxpayers and philanthropists (and, of course the Internets, which come to think of it also launched as a government program), you can sit on your couch in your underwear and watch magma flow deep under the sea.

This post is part of the Public Science Triumphs organized by our sister site io9 in partnership with several other publications that cover science. On November 23, the U.S. Congress has pledged that its budget supercommittee will present a proposal for US$1.2 trillion in cuts to government spending, which makes us fear for publicly-funded science institutions in the United States.

We hope the series will help you and U.S. government representatives remember that science is a non-partisan public good that enriches local and global economies – and makes it all the more awesome to be human.

The video above (you might want to turn down your sound; the scientists get excited) was recorded on equipment carried by the Jason remotely-operated vehicle, which you can see in the foreground. Jason was designed and built by the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute, which gets funding from federal agencies, private contributions, and endowments.

The vehicle gives scientists access to the seafloor without leaving the deck of a ship. In the video scientists witness for the first time glowing lava from a submarine volcanic eruption. The undersea volcano is part of the Mariana arc, which extends from south of Guam northward more than 800 nautical miles.

It’s amazing the lava is so hot that it remains red for a split second before the water snuffs it. It was recorded during the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (a government-funded institution) Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 exploration.

Full story…

Anatolia News Agency – 

A Turkish diver has broken a world record in 87 meters constant weight apnea Saturday.

Cenk Devrim Ulusoy reached the depth of 87 meters in 1 minute 15 seconds off the coast of the Kaş district in the Mediterranean province of Antalya in the presence of observers from the World Underwater Federation, or CMAS.

Constant weight apnea is the depth discipline of free-diving where no fins are used. Ulusoy completed his diving achievement in 2 minutes 28 seconds.

Homar Leuici of Italy was the holder of the previous world record.

CMAS Vice President Ivan Nyiri and Turkish Federation of Underwater Sports Chairman İnkilap Obruk were among the observers.

Born in Istanbul in 1973, Ulusoy took up sports when he was 5 years old and became a national Turkish athlete when he was 9.

He began training for free diving in 2002 and broke his first official world record in a world championship in Tenerife, Spain. Ulusoy has broken three world records in the “jump blue” category.

gCaptain –

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard seized the Indonesian fishing vessel Bangun Perkasa and her crew for the suspected use of drift nets to fish the North Pacific Ocean.

Renegade large-scale high-seas drift net fishing indiscriminately kills massive amounts of fish and other marine life such as whales and turtles. The practice of using enormous nets suspended for miles in open water is a significant threat to ocean ecosystems and to the food and economic security of nations relying on fishery resources.

Acting on vessel sighting information from a Fisheries Agency of Japan airplane, Coast Guard Cutter Munro launched its helicopter and crew who located the Bangun Perkasa with 22 fishermen aboard approximately 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak, Alaska.

The vessels’ crew reportedly abandoned their fishing nets and attempted to leave the area once they spotted the helicopter flying above them. The vessel was found to be operating without valid flag state registration and was seized as a stateless vessel for violations of U.S. law.

Upon boarding the vessel, a Munro team found more than 10 miles of drift net, 30 tons of squid and approximately 30 shark carcasses aboard. They retrieved the abandoned net and began the lengthy escort toward Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

“The seizure of the Bangun Perkasa highlights how international cooperation along with U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutters can detect, monitor, and interdict high-seas drift net fishing vessels,” said Capt. Gregory Sanial, 17th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement.

“This method of fishing is illegal, despicable and shows complete disregard for the world’s ecosystem, and the joint effort of the many Pacific nations shows our dedication to ending this barbaric practice, enforcing maritime law and being good stewards of the environment.”

Full story…

Sara Nelson – 

It could be the grim denouement from a science fiction film, as the silhouette of a man solemnly watches a glowing sea, with a child perched atop his shoulders.

But this is not cinema trickery – it’s a natural phenomena caused by a chemical reaction called bioluminescence, which happens when a naturally-occurring micro-organism in the water is disturbed, causing a chemical reaction which emits light.

The reaction is similar to the ‘glow’ that fireflies use to attract prey or mates. Many undersea organisms ‘glow’, especially creatures that live at depths where light from the surface is less likely to penetrate.

The spellbinding sight was captured at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, California, yesterday. The night-time glow is a side-effect of blooming red algae, known as red tide, which can turn entire beaches scarlet and murky during the day.

The smell of decay, caused by rotting kelp, plankton and fish often accompanies the event as the red algae starves the water of oxygen and light. By night, there is an increase in microscopic plankton called dynoflagellates, which glow in the dark when disturbed by currents or waves.