The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Month: December, 2014

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Just Received a $5 Million Grant to Expand Its Robotics Research Program

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Photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Massachusetts state officials gathered on Friday to announce that a $5 million dollar grant will be awarded to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) so that they may expand their underwater robotics research program, which began with the clunky bathyscaphe Trieste in 1956 and the HOV (human-occupied vehicle) Alvin, whose legendary research began over 50 years ago and is still a proud and active member of the WHOI fleet.

Unlike NASA’s outer space research program, The United States’ oceanographic research institutions don’t receive a tremendous amount of funding. This is a big feat for Woods Hole, and a tremendous progress into the future of ocean research. More funding like this and it’s anyone’s guess what’s next, but surely we’ll begin to see the colossally unexplored ninety-some-odd percent of the seas in unprecedented fashion.

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Watch a White Shark Photobomb an Oblivious Surfer in Los Angeles

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Photo: Thomas Kampas/KTLA

Southern California is home to countless juvenile great white sharks, and a handful are spotted every day. Photographer Thomas Kampas was fortunate enough to capture one in the surf at El Porto, one of Los Angeles’ most popular surfing beaches, just north of Manhattan Beach.

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How Electric Eels Not Only Stun, But Remotely Control Their Prey

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Photo: K. Catania/BBC

Electric eels don’t only shock their prey, they play them like fiddles, too. According to a Vanderbilt University study published in Science Magazine, electric eels, which can produce up to 860 volts of electricity, remotely control fish from meters away before they stun them.

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Wish You Were Here: Barren Isles Archipelago, Madagascar

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Photo: Blue Ventures

The Barren Isles Archipelago is hardly barren, but up until recently, local custom forbade occupation of the 9 islands off Madagascar’s west coast, with the exception of a few passing fishermen.

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“A Project of this Magnitude has Never Been Undertaken on Earth.” A Gigantic Ocean Mine Threatens Baja California.

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Image Courtesy: Dr. Urmas Kaldveer

A massive suffocating plume of heavy metal-laden sediment snakes its way through the ocean from a boat as it dumps the byproduct of dredging seven meters deep to extract the phosphate it contains to produce fertilizer. The noise from pounding diesel engines and clanging of the dredging arm sends shock waves miles through the water. Once the project begins, sometime in 2015, it will mine enough sand to fill 100 of the largest freighters in the world. It will continue for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the next 50 years. And yet, this causes no impact to the local marine environment at all, in fact there may even be some benefits.

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Mining Area. Image Courtesy: WildCoast/CostaSalvaje

It’s hard to imagine a reasonable person believing that such an industrially intense process could be benign to the ocean environment, but this notion is exactly what Exploraciones Oceanicas, a Mexican mining company, subsidiary of the US-based multi-national Odyssey Marine Exploration, are trying to sell to the people of Baja California Sur and SEMARNAT, the Mexican federal environmental authority responsible for granting project approval.

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The History and Lore Behind the Adage, ‘Red Sky in Morning’

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‘Scarlet Sunrise’ Folly Island, South Carolina. WanderSea Photography by Carolyn Sotka, October 7, 2014

‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.’

One of the first known accounts of this old adage can be found in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew, likely written between 50 – 90 A.D. According to the disciple Matthew, Jesus was approached by the ruling class of Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who asked for a sign from God. Jesus was in continuous conflict with these groups, and that ultimately led to his crucification and death.

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Season’s Beatings! Two of the Best Videos From the Biggest Mavericks Day in Four Years

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When the next 60 seconds of your life become hell on earth. Screen Grab from Surfline/Powerlines Productions.

On a dreary December 20, 2014, the biggest northwest swell since 2010 lumbered up the stairstep reef off Pillar Point in California. The giant waves were met by a phalanx of the best big wave surfers alive – Jamie Mitchell, Shawn Dollar, Greg Long, Grant “Twiggy” Baker and G-Mac among them. The result was a day of critical, five-story drops, bone-crushing wipeouts and some of the most epic rides – and beatings, ever captured at Mavericks’ gladiator arena. Immediately after the session, photos and videos of the glory and carnage appeared across the Interwebs. But with a little time in the editing bay, a pair of stellar video collections of the day’s biggest hits and misses appeared courtesy of Surfline and Paul Topp Photography.

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Is Indonesia’s Explosive Curb on Illegal Foreign Fishing Harming Its Own People?

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Above: Two Papua New Guinea-flagged ships are blown up in Indonesian waters after officials seized them and detained their crew. These are just two of the latest in a string of illegal vessels that have been blown up by the government in an attempt to deter illegal fishing. Photo: Izaac Mulyawan/REUTERS

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo is taking a definitively militant stance against illegal fishing. It’s part of what he calls Indonesia’s new policy of “shock therapy” towards illegal poachers. He sank three Vietnamese ships just last week, telling the Antara News Agency, “We sunk three of them on Friday to teach them a lesson, so that they will give up poaching in Indonesian waters.” Last Sunday, Widodo’s government reported that it had detained and detonated and sunk 22 vessels from China alone (after emptying their fuel). Within five days of the “shock therapy” announcement, Indonesia had detained 155 foreign fishing boats. Still, this is a relative drop in the bucket.

“Every day there [are] around 5,400 [foreign] boats in our ocean and our sea,” Widodo told The Wall Street Journal. “And 90% of them are illegal. So to give shock therapy to them, of course, we [are] sinking them.”

Taiwan’s fisheries agency is pleading with Indonesia that it follow international protocol regarding illegal fishing activity, which allows for the seizure of vessels and arrests of crew, but forbids nation-states from opening fire, which is generally considered an act of war. Vietnam and Papua New Guinea — two nations in high tension with Indonesia — are likewise not pleased.

Interestingly too, many Indonesian fishermen are also angry at the president’s actions. Surely, they reason, an Indonesian fisherman could have adopted a newly seized boat, rather than watch it be filled with explosives and sent to the depths to rot. Another factor is that many of these foreign-flagged vessels are actually employing Indonesians. Likewise, many Indonesian captains are actually operating foreign flagged vessels in their home waters. In short, the issue is considerably more complicated than it would at first seem.

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