Archive for April, 2012

The Jakarta Post –

A wayward dolphin that has spent two days in a narrow wetlands channel along the southern California coast was on its way out to the ocean when it suddenly turned tail and swam back to shallow waters.

Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue says he and other wildlife experts on paddleboards managed to coax the dolphin toward open waters Saturday, but it was spooked by a pair of fellow dolphins.

The six-foot-long, black-and-white common dolphin was spotted in a channel of Orange County’s Bolsa Chica wetlands Friday, circling in shallow waters as crowds grew along the banks and TV helicopters flew overhead.

Wallerstein says rescuers have decided to let the healthy, strong and fast dolphin try to find its own way out.

He says the dolphin doesn’t need a high tide to escape.

RT – 

The Moscow Oceanarium, which opened its doors in autumn, seems not to be welcoming everyone.

A group of children diagnosed with autism has been denied access.

“Refused. Visitors do not like to see the disabled, it disappoints them. It is not acceptable,” read a note sent to teachers of a school that had tried to organize an excursion for autistic children.

Further, the Moscow Oceanarium administrator suggested visiting the oceanarium on a cleanup day – so that “nobody sees them.”

The school had contacted the Oceanarium to help organize a tour for several groups of children.

But when the Oceanarium’s staff learned the children were autistic, “the lady answering the call was clearly pushed back,” and “made quite an awkward attempt to clarify what autism meant,” wrote a mother of one of the kids on her Facebook page.

Though the teacher explained that autism is a lifelong disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to others, and that physically such children are normal, the teacher was still advised that the group should visit on a day when the Oceanarium is closed to the public.

“If there had been a group of people using wheelchairs, then we could have explained the Oceanarium’s reluctance to let them in on a weekend …

but a visit on a cleanup day is beyond understanding,” noted a Russian blogger.

Full story…


Santa Cruz Sentinel – 

The late Sen. Henry Mello affectionately referred to it as New Year’s Island, a landmark he used to pilot his small boat north from the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Located near the San Mateo-Santa Cruz County border, it was christened Punta de Año Nuevo on January 3, 1603 by the chaplain of a ship commanded by Spaniard Don Sebastian Vizcaino as it sailed past what its crew believed to be an unbroken finger of land jutting offshore as they made their way from Monterey toward San Francisco Bay.

State Parks archaeologist Mark Hylkema said by that time the area had been seasonally occupied for 12,000 years since the ice age by the Quiroste, one of 50 Ohlone tribes that fished, hunted and made tools from malleable rock found there.

They made contact with the Spanish in 1769 who a quarter century later relocated them to the Santa Cruz Mission, where most succumbed to disease.

Some survived and in 2009, a cultural preserve was established by their descendants at Año Nuevo State Park.

While many believe the island was part of the mainland before ocean waters began to separate them in the 1700s, Hylkema has reviewed historical diaries of mariners but found no indication of this.

“There are no archeological sites on the island, which could be because it separated from the mainland before the Ohlone presence,” Hylkema told me.

Thousands of years ago water levels were lower, likely connecting the island to a peninsula.

Full story…


Paul Fraser Collectibles –

A unique collection of rare US naval flags, including several from the historic USS Constitution, is coming to auction in Philadelphia on April 30.

The Dietrich Collection contains 11 flags from the famous ship, which have never been available on the open market before.

Three United States Navy ensigns will feature. A rare 31-star, 16 foot wide ensign, flown from the Constitution circa 1851, has a high estimate of $250,000, a valuation matched by a circa 1837 Commodore’s Broad Pennant from the ship.

A rare circa 1846 28-star variant has a $200,000 valuation, the same figure as that put forward for a 19-star offering from 1816.

The USS Constitution was launched in 1797, and is the oldest commissioned naval vessel. Known as “Old Ironsides”, she last sailed on her 200th birthday in 1997, and currently resides in her hometown of Boston.

“These flags are actual artefacts of ‘Old Ironsides’, flown during many pivotal moments in the nation’s as well as the world’s history,” said the auction house’s chairman Samuel M Freeman.

Several foreign naval ensigns from the Constitution will also feature, including English and Imperial Brazilian specimens, both from the first half of the 19th century and both carrying high estimates of $50,000.

An extremely rare 13-star US naval colour from the late 18th and early 19th century is the oldest flag in the auction.

Full story…


Oceanus –

Artist Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh is passionate about exploring the ocean’s great unknowns.

Via her latest work, she has found a kindred spirit in Gareth Lawson, a biological oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Their unique collaboration, “The Pteropod Project: charismatic microfauna,” features a series of Kavanagh’s aluminum and bronze sculptures of mostly microscopic sea snails that float freely in ocean currents.

Because pteropods also swim by flapping two wing-like lobes called parapodia, they are often called sea butterflies. The exhibit opens in Manhattan’s Blue Mountain Gallery in May.

Kavanagh and Lawson’s partnership began about a year into the project, as the artist tried to figure out how to express the plight of pteropods through sculpture.

When she showed him photographs of the scale models she had carved, Lawson instantly recognized them as pteropods.

He offered to collaborate, believing that art exhibitions grounded in science provide an interesting form of scientific outreach.

Pteropods are widely distributed in the world’s oceans and in many regions are a key food source for higher level predators, including commercial fishes such as salmon.

Lawson is studying the distribution, movements, and ecological role of pteropods. In particular, he is investigating the impacts on pteropods from changing seawater chemistry associated with continued increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

The continuing buildup causes more of the gas to dissolve into the ocean, making seawater more acidic than it currently is.

Pteropods’ ability to make shells may be highly sensitive to changing seawater conditions.

The shells are made of aragonite (calcium carbonate), and as more CO2 is dissolved in the ocean, less carbonate is available for making shells.

Full story…


Cutty Sark reopens

Posted: 04/26/2012 in all marine news

Maritime Journal – 

Her Majesty the Queen will officially reopen the 1869 tea clipper, Cutty Sark, today after a massive UK restoration project spanning 6 years and totalling £25m.

There appears to be little to worry about though, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, should be incredibly proud of the ship for which he originally set up the Preservation Society back in 1954 – the memorial to “the great days of sailing” and to all those who served in the merchant service.

There was plenty of pre-opening mayhem yesterday, with builders hastily completing last minute jobs – but the restored ship is a joy to behold.

The ship has been lovingly restored with much of the original fabric having been maintained – thankfully most of the timber was in storage at the time of the catastrophic fire in 2007, which threatened to put paid to the entire renovation project.

In a brilliant feat of engineering, Cutty Sark has been raised 11 feet into the air relieving the keel of the weight of the ship – all 900 tonnes of it, and preserving its unique shape.

For the first time visitors can walk underneath the hull, which is strangely disconcerting. The ship’s decks and rigging have been painstakingly restored piece by piece.

The metal frame of the hull is largely original and the new metal cladding on the hull is true to the original.

The timber planks that form the hull – each measuring around 30ft – are still the original elm below the water line and teak above.

In fact it is reckoned that over 90% of the ship is ‘original’ – if a ship is ever truly that after undergoing repairs throughout the course of its working life.

Full story…


Hydro International – 

Reporting in the journal Nature, an international team of scientists led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has established that warm ocean currents are the dominant cause of recent ice loss from Antarctica.

New techniques have been used to differentiate, for the first time, between the two known causes of melting ice shelves: warm ocean currents attacking the underside, and warm air melting from above.

This finding brings scientists a step closer to providing reliable projections of future sea-level rise.

Researchers used 4.5 million measurements made by a laser instrument mounted on NASA’s ICESat satellite to map the changing thickness of almost all the floating ice shelves around Antarctica, revealing the pattern of ice-shelf melt across the continent.

Of the 54 ice shelves mapped, 20 are being melted by warm ocean currents, most of which are in West Antarctica.

In every case, the inland glaciers that flow down to the coast and feed into these thinning ice shelves have accelerated, draining more ice into the sea and contributing to sea level rise.

Lead author Dr Hamish Pritchard from British Antarctic Survey, which is part of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said to see a pattern that in all the cases where ice shelves are being melted by the ocean, the inland glaciers are speeding up.

It’s this glacier acceleration that’s responsible for most of the increase in ice loss from the continent and this is contributing to sea-level rise. Some ice shelves are thinning by a few metres a year and, in response, the glaciers drain billions of tons of ice into the sea.

This supports the idea that ice shelves are important in slowing down the glaciers that feed them, controlling the loss of ice from the Antarctic ice sheet.

Full story…