Archive for 02/27/2012

Esther Inglis-Arkell –

When was the first voyage of the Challenger ? No, not the Space Shuttle — the original Challenger, a sea ship that sailed in 1872.

The HMS Challenger traversed the world’s oceans for four years, drove some of its sailors completely insane, caused about a quarter of the crew to jump ship, and forever changed the face of ocean science.

Is there a way to scroll past the nature channels without seeing one that describes the richness of the ocean and the life that teems in its depth ?

In the early 1800s, the ocean was something to fish in and to get across.

What happened below 1500 feet was of no concern to anyone, although scientists calculated that the pressure, the temperature, and the lack of sunlight meant that no life existed below.

The bottom of the ocean was presumed to be as lifeless as the surface of the moon, though it was far less known.

In 1872, the HMS Challenger was sent out to circumnavigate the globe, with a crew of around 240 sailors and scientists.

When it got back in 1876, it had 144 people aboard, losing people to madness, death, sickness, and sheer desperation to escape the voyage. It also held a wealth of information that launched a new era of exploration, and a new field of science.

The HMS Challenger sounds like a dream assignment to anyone who has ever imagined exploring new territory or making a contribution to science. It was set to go around to the globe, via some of the most beautiful islands in the world, taking reading and collecting life from regions never studied.

Then reality set in. The routine of the Challenger was this: the ship would sail to a certain part of the ocean, send down lines to a certain depth, take temperature and pressure readings, send nets or dredgers down, and haul up whatever life they could find.

Full story…


BBC News –

Stretching for more than 2,500km (1,500 miles), the Mariana Trench is a very narrow, very deep crack in the ocean floor.

At its deepest, it reaches nearly 11km (seven miles) down – making it the lowest point in our oceans.

Once, its record-breaking depth was thought to be the only interesting thing about the trench, but now scientists are beginning to think otherwise.

Jim Gardner, from the US Centre for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM), says: “Trenches are becoming much more focused in the scientific community.”

The geologist has spent the past five years creating the most detailed survey of the Mariana Trench to date. And he says that finding out more about the inner workings of these deep-sea spots is vital.

There are more than 20 trenches like the Mariana around the world, but most are in the Pacific Ocean.

They are formed at the boundary of two tectonic plates, where very heavy oceanic crust (in the case of the Mariana Trench, the Pacific Plate) dives underneath lighter continental plate – a process called subduction.

Full story…


gCaptain –

A crew boat carrying a four man crew ran ground on the Sabine jetties near Houston Port Arthur, TX early Friday causing various injuries to the crew and an oil spill, according to Coast Guard officials.

Watchstanders from Sector Houston-Galveston said they received a call at 6:17 a.m. Friday reporting that the M/V Miss Pearl ran aground on the west side of the Sabine jetties and that the four-person crew had suffered various injuries.

USCG dispatched a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and crew from Station Sabine and a MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter to the scene to assist. The crew of the helicopter hoisted the four crewmembers to safety and transported them to awaiting EMS at the Beaumont Airport.

The Coast Guard says that approximately 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled and pollution response and salvage efforts are ongoing as of Friday afternoon. The 135-foot crew boat is owned and operated by Seacor Marine and has a cruising speed of 23 knots.

 “The Coast Guard is working with the vessel owner and will supervise and direct cleanup efforts,” said Capt. Joe Paitl, commanding officer of MSU Port Arthur.

Full story…