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"Why is the water so salty?" and other priceless questions from clueless tourists

<p>In the heart of the stunning intersection where the Daintree Rainforest kisses the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find <a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g499639-d1045292-Reviews-Ocean_Safari-Cape_Tribulation_Daintree_Region_Queensland.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ocean Safari</a> – a top-notch, eco-certified tour company. Brooke Nikola, one of their delightful tour guides, has been guiding wide-eyed adventurers through this paradise for years. With thousands of tourists coming from all corners of the globe, she’s accumulated a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes that could rival the size of the reef itself.</p> <p>Let’s dive right into the deep end with some classic moments <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/australian-holidays/queensland/hilarious-comments-from-clueless-tourists/news-story/ad90a419cbf4fed9d454d3edef0cb096" target="_blank" rel="noopener">per news.com.au</a>. One sunny day, while marvelling at the endless blue expanse, a curious tourist asked Brooke, “Why does the water taste so salty?”</p> <p>“Well, it’s the ocean,” Brooke gently reminded them. Ah, the wonders of seawater – still a mystery to some.</p> <p>Then there was the time aboard the Ocean Safari vessel, cruising serenely over the waves, when a perplexed guest inquired, “How far above sea level are we?” </p> <p>And who could forget the would-be scientist who attempted to bottle the stunning blue ocean water, only to be baffled when it turned out clear. We can only imagine Brooke explaining the tricky science of light refraction and how the ocean's mesmerising blue doesn't quite fit into a bottle. No doubt their holiday turned into an impromptu science lesson.</p> <p>The complaints Brooke hears are just as priceless. One guest, dripping after a snorkelling session, grumbled, “Ugh, snorkelling makes me so wet.” </p> <p>Then there was the revelation about the rainforest. As rain drizzled through the lush canopy, a bewildered tourist remarked, “It’s so rainy in the rainforest!” Who knew that rain would be part of the rainforest experience? Certainly not that guest!</p> <p>Geography can be tricky, especially in a place as uniquely named as Cape Tribulation. As tourists boarded the Ocean Safari vessel from Cape Tribulation beach, one asked where the Daintree Rainforest was – oblivious to the verdant scenery they had driven through for the past hour. Brooke had to kindly point out that they had been in it this whole time.</p> <p>Another classic came from a guest who thought Cape Tribulation was an island. They earnestly asked, “So, how big is the whole island?” To which Brooke replied, “It’s pretty big. So big, in fact, it’s known as Australia!”</p> <p>Through all of these delightful moments, no doubt Brooke remained a fountain of patience and good humour. So, next time you find yourself at Cape Tribulation, remember to bring your sense of wonder – and a good laugh. Because as Brooke can tell you, the Great Barrier Reef is full of surprises, both above and below the water!</p> <p><em>Images: Ocean Safari / Instagram</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"Unidentified life form" found off New Zealand coast

<p>Ah, the deep sea, where the mysteries of the ocean lurk in the shadows, waiting to be discovered by intrepid marine scientists armed with nets, trawls and a healthy dose of confusion...</p> <p>Recently, a team of brave souls embarked on a journey off the coast of New Zealand, armed with curiosity and a fervent desire to find Nemo's distant relatives. What they found, however, was not just Nemo's cousins – but a veritable treasure trove of potential new species. Or at least, they think so.</p> <p>In a saga that could rival any aquatic adventure film, the scientists stumbled upon approximately 100 potential new species, including one particularly enigmatic life form that has left them scratching their heads in bewilderment.</p> <p>Initially mistaking it for a sea star – or perhaps a particularly flamboyant sea cucumber – they now suspect it might be a deep-sea coral. Or a cosmic jellyfish. Or a lost prop from a sci-fi movie. The possibilities are as endless as the ocean itself.</p> <p>Dr Michela Mitchell, a taxonomist with a penchant for the dramatic, declared it could be "a whole new group outside of the octocoral." Because why settle for identifying just one species when you can potentially create an entire taxonomic order?</p> <p>Dr Daniel Moore, another member of the expedition and self-proclaimed captain of the confusion ship, confessed, "We can't even describe it to family." One can only imagine the perplexed expressions at family gatherings as they attempt to explain their latest discovery: "Well, it's sort of like a sponge, but not really. And it might have tentacles. Or wings. We're not entirely sure."</p> <p>Their research vessel, the <em>Tangaroa</em>, became a floating laboratory of befuddlement as they collected nearly 1,800 samples from the abyssal depths. Armed with modified sleds and a healthy dose of optimism, they trawled the ocean floor, hoping to snag the elusive creatures that lurked below.</p> <p>"It was true exploration, very exciting," Dr Moore boasted, his enthusiasm undiminished by the fact that they still couldn't <em>definitively</em> identify half of what they'd found.</p> <p>Among their discoveries was a new species of fish, dubbed the "eelpout", which was "instantly recognised as being different to the others." Because, apparently, it had a flair for the dramatic and refused to conform to traditional fish norms.</p> <p>In a surprising revelation, Dr Moore admitted, "Finding new vertebrates is rare." One can only assume that the eelpout, upon hearing this declaration, puffed out its chest (or whatever passes for a chest in fish anatomy) and proclaimed itself the king of the ocean.</p> <p>As the expedition came to a close, the scientists reflected on the vastness of the ocean and the infinitesimal fraction of its inhabitants they had encountered. With only 240,000 species identified out of an estimated 2.2 million, they realised they had barely scratched the surface. Or, in this case, the sea floor.</p> <p>And so, armed with their nets, their sleds, and their unshakeable sense of optimism, the intrepid scientists set sail once more, ready to delve deeper into the mysteries of the ocean and perhaps stumble upon another baffling creature that defies explanation. After all, what's science without a little bit of confusion?</p> <p><em>Image: Ocean-Census | NIWA</em></p>

International Travel

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Rescued sailor speaks after being adrift for months with his dog

<p dir="ltr">Australian sailor Timothy Shaddock has spoken up about the three months he spent lost at sea with nothing but his dog Bella.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 54-year-old was rescued by a Mexican tuna boat in the Pacific Ocean after a helicopter spotted his incapacitated catamaran 1900 km from land.</p> <p dir="ltr">When he was found by the Maria Delia crew, which is part of the Grupomar fleet, Shaddock and his dog were in a “precarious” state after surviving three months without provisions and shelter.</p> <p dir="ltr">Shaddock, who was sailing from Mexico to French Polynesia lost contact because his boat’s electronic system was damaged during rough seas.</p> <p dir="ltr">When the helicopter first discovered him, they threw him a drink and flew away before returning with the tuna trawler to rescue him. This was his first contact with humans since early May.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the horrifying ordeal and the fear of not being able to survive an impending hurricane, the sailor remained positive and said that he enjoyed being out at sea.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I did enjoy being at sea. I enjoyed being out there," he told reporters during a news conference in Manzanillo, Mexico on Tuesday, after he safely made it back to land.</p> <p dir="ltr">"But when things get tough out there, you know, you have to survive. And then when you get saved, you feel like you want to live. So, I'm very grateful."</p> <p dir="ltr">Shaddock said that he passed the time by fixing things and tried to stay positive by going into the water to “just enjoy” it.</p> <p dir="ltr">The sailor survived on a diet of raw fish after the storm knocked out his electronics and ability to cook.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I did a lot of fishing,” Shaddock said. “There was a lot of tuna sushi.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The emaciated sailor who survived was immediately given food, water and medication upon being rescued.</p> <p dir="ltr">In one of the photos shared by the Grupomar, a thin and bearded Shaddock was pictured in the boat's cabin with a blood pressure cuff around his arm and a huge smile on his face despite the entire ordeal.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a few others, Bella was pictured lying on the deck and receiving pats for being the bravest pup. Shaddock expressed his gratitude for his loyal companion.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Bella found me in Mexico, she’s Mexican. She is the spirit of the middle of the country, and she wouldn’t let me go,” he said. “She’s amazing, that dog is something else.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’m just grateful she’s alive. She’s a lot more brave than me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He revealed that the hardest part of surviving was the fatigue, but this incident will not stop him from going into the ocean in the future.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ll always be in the water, I don’t know how far out in the ocean I’ll be,” he said.</p> <p><em>Images: ABC News/ 9news/ Facebook</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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“Unfortunate timing” for Play School’s underwater adventure

<p dir="ltr">Aussie children’s show <em>Play School </em>has prompted debate online after airing an episode focussed on the underwater adventure of two characters. </p> <p dir="ltr">The episode, while harmless enough on its own, caused eyebrows to raise over its timing - with ABC airing the content in the wake of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/surprising-cause-of-death-revealed-for-missing-titan-sub-crew">the Titanic-bound Titan submersible’s implosion</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The segment in question, titled ‘Sea and Space: 2’, saw characters Jemima and Kiya dive deep to the ocean’s “cold and dark” midnight zone at the hands of hosts Kaeng and Rachel.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rachel was delighted to inform audiences that the dolls were “going to the bottom of the sea”, with a close-up shot showcasing the dolls’ descent in their submarine-like prop vessel. </p> <p dir="ltr">“They’ve made it all the way to the bottom of the sea floor,” Rachel went on to share, before revealing that it was “very dark” down there, and wondering whether or not the explorers would get to see any creatures. </p> <p dir="ltr">After taking a look around, Rachel sang about how “two explorers went to sea sea sea to see what they could see see see see, but all that they could see see see was …”</p> <p dir="ltr">Rachel’s fellow host, Kaeng, got involved then to show off a torch fish, and the dolls had the opportunity to check out a whole host of deep-sea creatures along with another few verses of the song.</p> <p dir="ltr">But that wasn’t the end of it, with some concerned viewers taking issue with the timing of the episode, and taking to social media to share their thoughts with like-minded users. </p> <p dir="ltr">One Reddit user shared a clip from the episode, noting that it was “bad timing for the scheduling this morning.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another shared a screenshot from the same segment, writing that the show was “trolling with an episode this morning about submarines”. </p> <p dir="ltr">“OMG I saw this and thought the same,” one shared. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Disgusting!” someone else declared. </p> <p dir="ltr">“<em>Play School </em>just rubbing it in! How vicious,” another said. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, others were not so quick to condemn the network, instead suggesting that the episode - and <em>Play School</em>’s schedule - had been planned out months beforehand, and the timing was not intentional, just unfortunate. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Not sure this was a fresh episode probably just an unaware scheduled repeat,” one wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Unfortunate timing for this morning's Play School broadcast," someone thought. </p> <p dir="ltr">And as another put it, “you do realise how far in advance these are filmed and scheduled, right?”</p> <p dir="ltr">And while social media had had plenty to offer, a spokesperson for ABC confirmed to news.com.au that they’d so far received no complaints over the episode. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Play School / ABC</em></p>

TV

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Disaster, opulence, and the merciless ocean: why the Titanic disaster continues to enthral

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kristie-patricia-flannery-1220337">Kristie Patricia Flannery</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a></em></p> <p>The question on many minds this week is why did some of the world’s richest men risk death to venture to the bottom of the sea in a cold and cramped <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/20/us/oceangate-titanic-missing-submersible.html">“experimental” submersible</a> for a chance to glimpse the wreck of the Titanic?</p> <p>The “unsinkable” ship that sunk on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg is arguably the world’s most well-known boat. The Titanic is recognisable to more of the world’s population than, say, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (Christopher Colombus’s fleet that launched the Spanish conquest of the Americas), or Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour (the tall ship that set in motion the British conquest of Australia). The Endeavour’s long-forgotten wreck was found scuttled off the coast of Rhode Island <a href="https://theconversation.com/has-captain-cooks-ship-endeavour-been-found-debate-rages-but-heres-whats-usually-involved-in-identifying-a-shipwreck-176363">just last year</a>.</p> <p>The Titanic’s maiden voyage and calamitous end was one of the biggest news stories of 1912, and has continued to fascinate us ever since. The disaster inspired songs and multiple films in the twentieth century, including James Cameron’s 1997 epic romance, which long reigned as the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_films#Timeline_of_highest-grossing_films">highest-grossing film of all time</a>. More recently, Titanic exhibitions that invite visitors to examine relics and <a href="https://titanicexhibition.com/nyc/#sec_instafeed">explore the ship’s recreated rooms have attracted huge crowds in New York, Seville and Hong Kong</a>.</p> <h2>Opulence and immigrants</h2> <p>There are two reasons why we are so drawn to the Titanic, and why the super-rich are apparently willing to part with their money and even risk their lives to catch a glimpse of its broken hull.</p> <p>The first is its opulence. The White Start Line that built the Titanic advertised the ship as the most luxurious ever to set sail. Wealthy passengers paid up to £870 for the privilege of occupying the Titanic’s most expensive and spacious first-class cabins. To put this 110-year-old money in perspective, when the first world war broke out in 1914, infantry soldiers in the British army were paid a basic salary of around £20 per year.</p> <p>Titanic movies and exhibitions are popular because audiences enjoy the voyeurism of gazing on the ship’s beautiful furnishings, the stunning clothes worn by its rich and beautiful passengers, and their elaborate meals in fancy restaurants. First-class passengers feasted on <a href="https://online.ucpress.edu/gastronomica/article-abstract/9/4/32/93511/The-Night-the-Good-Ship-Went-Down-Three-Fateful">multi-course dinners</a> with salmon, steak, and pâté de foie gras. Chefs in Australia and around the globe occasionally <a href="https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/things-to-do/titanic-dining-experience">recreate Titanic meals</a> for curious clients.</p> <p>Hundreds of poor immigrant passengers, represented by Jack (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in Cameron’s movie, were also aboard the Titanic. They lived in crowded quarters and enjoyed less thrilling meals such as boiled beef and potatoes. If their ilk were the only people on board the Titanic, the ship would arguably have faded quickly from memory.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/erAQ9LkftwA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>The power of the sea</h2> <p>The fact the Titanic was touted as unsinkable also adds to its allure. The ship, whose name evoked its massive size, was engineered to cheat the ocean. When it departed England it symbolised man’s domination over nature. At the bottom of the Atlantic, it serves as a visceral reminder of the indomitable sea’s awesome power.</p> <p>The same two factors - the excess of the voyage, and its defeat by the sea – are now driving the current global interest in the Titan submersible disaster. Few world events garner so much attention, including statements from Downing Street and the White House, and live news blogs from The New York Times and the Guardian.</p> <p>The Titan, like the Titanic, commands our attention because of its obscenely rich passengers, who each reportedly paid US$250,000 (or between four and five times the average US salary) to visit the wreck of the famous ship that battled the sea and lost.</p> <p>And then there is the intriguing mystery and power of the sea. News outlets are publishing helpful graphics that try to teach our terrestrial brains to comprehend just how deep the ocean is, and how far below the sea’s surface the Titanic and possibly the Titan lie.</p> <h2>The limits of human knowledge</h2> <p>Last night I spied <a href="https://neal.fun/deep-sea/">Neal Argawal’s Deep Sea</a> website circulating on social media. The site allows viewers to scroll from the sea surface to the sea floor, diving down past images of various marine animals that inhabit different oceanic depths.</p> <p>At 114 metres is an orca, and 332m marks the the deepest depth a human has ever reached using SCUBA gear. It takes a lot of scrolling to descend to the Titanic almost 4,000m below the waves.</p> <p>Besides gross income inequality, reflecting on the Titan and the Titanic invite us to confront just how little we can “see” of the sea in this age of mass surveillance. Not even the powerful US navy, assisted by the Canadian, UK and French governments, can muster the resources and technology required to locate, let alone rescue, the missing submersible.</p> <p>As the sea seems to have swallowed yet another ship, we are reminded of limits of human knowledge and mastery over the ocean.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208200/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kristie-patricia-flannery-1220337">Kristie Patricia Flannery</a>, Research Fellow, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/disaster-opulence-and-the-merciless-ocean-why-the-titanic-disaster-continues-to-enthral-208200">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Search underway for tourists missing on Titanic submarine

<p dir="ltr">An expedition submersible, better known as the Titan, has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean with five people on board.</p> <p dir="ltr">The group had set out as part of their eight-day venture to explore the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, with the company behind the trip - OceanGate Expeditions - boasting it as a “chance to step outside of everyday life and discover something truly extraordinary”.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, around one hour and 45 minutes after commencing the dive - approximately 600 km off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and roughly 4 km below the ocean surface - the Canadian research vessel that they were working with, the Polar Prince, reportedly lost contact with them, and hasn’t been able to re-establish communication. </p> <p dir="ltr">Coast Guards have confirmed that a search is underway, with Lt Samantha Corcoran explaining that they were “just trying to use all efforts and work with international partners to try to get any resources out there to safely locate all five individuals.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The last photo of the vessel - a 6.4-metre, 23,000 pound submersible - was taken early on the morning of its disappearance, with fog and wet weather conditions apparent, as it was being taken out into the water on a barge between two dinghies. </p> <p dir="ltr">Weather had not been ideal through the season, with British billionaire and “mission specialist” for the Titan team Hamish Harding noting that it had been “the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years” in a post to social media ahead of the trip.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023” he added. “A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CtmxGHvs1yE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CtmxGHvs1yE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Capt. Hamish Harding (@actionaviationchairman)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Harding’s step son had taken to Facebook in the wake of the disappearances to write “thoughts and prayers for my stepfather Hamish Harding as his Submarine has gone missing exploring Titanic. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Search and rescue mission is underway.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And while he later removed the post, the search continued, with OceanGate Expeditions making a statement about their efforts, explaining that the company was “exploring and mobilising all options to bring the crew back safely.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are working toward the safe return of the crew members.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Those crew members consisted of Harding, French submersible pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet, OceanGate Expeditions chief executive and founder Stockton Rush are also on board the sub, and two others. </p> <p dir="ltr">And while there is “a comprehensive approach to try and locate this submersible” underway, according to First District Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger, “it is a large area of water [around the wreckage] and it’s complicated by local weather conditions as well”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mauger shared that they believed the vessel had not surfaced, an element that made their search endeavour a more complicated process, as the coast guards were thereby forced to use sonar to search below the surface. </p> <p dir="ltr">Time is of the essence too, as the missing submersible was designed with just 96 hours of “emergency capability”, leaving rescuers with a limited window to local the crew and bring them back to safety. </p> <p dir="ltr">As Mauger told the media, “we anticipate there is somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours available at this point.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

News

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Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by 2030s, say scientists – this would have global, damaging and dangerous consequences

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jonathan-bamber-102567">Jonathan Bamber</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by the 2030s, even if we do a good job of reducing emissions between now and then. That’s the worrying conclusion of a new study in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38511-8">Nature Communications</a>.</p> <p>Predictions of an ice-free Arctic Ocean have a long and complicated history, and the 2030s is sooner than most scientists had thought possible (though it is later than some had wrongly forecast). What we know for sure is the disappearance of sea ice at the top of the world would not only be an emblematic sign of climate breakdown, but it would have global, damaging and dangerous consequences.</p> <p>The Arctic has been experiencing climate heating <a href="https://theconversation.com/arctic-is-warming-nearly-four-times-faster-than-the-rest-of-the-world-new-research-188474">faster than any other part of the planet</a>. As it is at the frontline of climate change, the eyes of many scientists and local indigenous people have been on the sea ice that covers much of the Arctic Ocean in winter. This thin film of frozen seawater expands and contracts with the seasons, reaching a minimum area in September each year.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=184&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=184&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=184&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=232&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=232&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530136/original/file-20230605-19-mdh85y.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=232&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Animation of Arctic sea ice from space" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Arctic sea ice grows until March and then shrinks until September.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/esnt/2022/nasa-finds-2022-arctic-winter-sea-ice-10th-lowest-on-record">NASA</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The ice which remains at the end of summer is called multiyear sea ice and is considerably thicker than its seasonal counterpart. It acts as barrier to the transfer of both moisture and heat between the ocean and atmosphere. Over the past 40 years this multiyear sea ice has shrunk from around <a href="http://polarportal.dk/en/sea-ice-and-icebergs/sea-ice-extent0/">7 million sq km to 4 million</a>. That is a loss equivalent to roughly the size of India or 12 UKs. In other words, it’s a big signal, one of the most stark and dramatic signs of fundamental change to the climate system anywhere in the world.</p> <p>As a consequence, there has been considerable effort invested in determining when the Arctic Ocean might first become ice-free in summer, sometimes called a “blue ocean event” and defined as when the sea ice area drops below 1 million sq kms. This threshold is used mainly because older, thicker ice along parts of Canada and northern Greenland is expected to remain long after the rest of the Arctic Ocean is ice-free. We can’t put an exact date on the last blue ocean event, but one in the near future would likely mean open water at the North Pole for the first time in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10581">thousands of years</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=712&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=712&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=712&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=895&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=895&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530138/original/file-20230605-29-9uuhxu.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=895&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Annotated map of Arctic" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The thickest ice (highlighted in pink) is likely to remain even if the North Pole is ice-free.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2015/05/new-tools-for-sea-ice-thickness/">NERC Center for Polar Observation and Modelling</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/">CC BY-SA</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>One problem with predicting when this might occur is that sea ice is notoriously difficult to model because it is influenced by both atmospheric and oceanic circulation as well as the flow of heat between these two parts of the climate system. That means that the climate models – powerful computer programs used to simulate the environment – need to get all of these components right to be able to accurately predict changes in sea ice extent.</p> <h2>Melting faster than models predicted</h2> <p>Back in the 2000s, an assessment of early generations of climate models found they generally <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007GL029703">underpredicted the loss of sea ice</a> when compared to satellite data showing what actually happened. The models predicted a loss of about 2.5% per decade, while the observations were closer to 8%.</p> <p>The next generation of models did better but were <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL052676">still not matching observations</a> which, at that time were suggesting a blue ocean event would happen by mid-century. Indeed, the latest <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/">IPCC climate science report</a>, published in 2021, reaches a similar conclusion about the timing of an ice-free Arctic Ocean.</p> <p>As a consequence of the problems with the climate models, some scientists have attempted to extrapolate the observational record resulting in the controversial and, ultimately, incorrect assertion that this would happen <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/21/arctic-will-be-ice-free-in-summer-next-year">during the mid 2010s</a>. This did not help the credibility of the scientific community and its ability to make reliable projections.</p> <h2>Ice-free by 2030?</h2> <p>The scientists behind the latest study have taken a different approach by, in effect, calibrating the models with the observations and then using this calibrated solution to project sea ice decline. This makes a lot of sense, because it reduces the effect of small biases in the climate models that can in turn bias the sea ice projections. They call these “observationally constrained” projections and find that the Arctic could become ice-free in summer as early as 2030, even if we do a good job of reducing emissions between now and then.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=394&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=394&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=394&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=495&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=495&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/530365/original/file-20230606-21-usmovg.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=495&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Walruses on ice floe" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Walruses depend on sea ice. As it melts, they’re being forced onto land.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">outdoorsman / shutterstock</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>There is still plenty of uncertainty around the exact date – about <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016GL070067">20 years or so</a> – because of natural chaotic fluctuations in the climate system. But compared to previous research, the new study still brings forward the most likely timing of a blue ocean event by about a decade.</p> <h2>Why this matters</h2> <p>You might be asking the question: so what? Other than some polar bears not being able to hunt in the same way, why does it matter? Perhaps there are even benefits as the previous US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/06/politics/pompeo-sea-ice-arctic-council/index.html">once declared</a> – it means ships from Asia can potentially save around 3,000 miles of journey to European ports in summer at least.</p> <p>But Arctic sea ice is an important component of the climate system. As it dramatically reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by the ocean, removing this ice is predicted to further accelerate warming, through a process known as a positive feedback. This, in turn, will make the Greenland ice sheet <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2014GL059770">melt faster</a>, which is already a major contributor to <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2021RG000757">sea level rise</a>.</p> <p>The loss of sea ice in summer would also mean changes in <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/chapter/ccp6/">atmospheric circulation and storm tracks</a>, and fundamental shifts in ocean biological activity. These are just some of the <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2021RG000757">highly undesirable consequences</a> and it is fair to say that the disadvantages will far outweigh the slender benefits.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jonathan-bamber-102567">Jonathan Bamber</a>, Professor of Physical Geography, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/arctic-ocean-could-be-ice-free-in-summer-by-2030s-say-scientists-this-would-have-global-damaging-and-dangerous-consequences-206974">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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13 fascinating facts about the world’s oceans

<p><strong>The reason it’s blue</strong></p> <p>The ‘deep blue sea’ – and our ‘blue planet’ along with it! – owe their iconic colour to the light of the sun. When the sun shines on the ocean, the water absorbs the longer red and orange wavelengths of light while reflecting blue light back. This will only happen, though, with a large amount of water; the more water you have, the bluer it is. This is why the water you drink out of a glass doesn’t appear ocean-blue. This process of light absorption and reflection is also the reason the sky is blue – but the blue colour of the ocean is not because it’s reflecting the colour of the sky, as many people believe.</p> <p><strong>The ocean is full of gold</strong></p> <p>The phrase ‘liquid gold’ was never so applicable. Believe it or not, every drop of ocean water contains a teeny-tiny bit of real gold. It’s such an inconsequential amount that you’re not going to get rich by scooping up seawater – there are about 13 billionths of a gram of gold in every litre of seawater. But when you consider just how much ocean water there is on the entire planet, that does add up to a lot of gold. About 20 million tonnes of it, to be specific! Considering that that amount would be worth hundreds of trillions of dollars, the ocean’s hidden gold is truly an unattainable fortune.</p> <p><strong>It comprises 99 per cent of the planet’s habitable space</strong></p> <p>Wait, what happened to only 70 per cent? Well, there’s a difference between the amount of the Earth’s surface covered by ocean (that’s 70 per cent) and the total amount of space. With the depths of the oceans taken into account, the ocean comprises a whopping 99 per cent of all habitable space on the planet. Despite all that open space, though, the ocean isn’t as populated as the land is, in part because the deepest parts of the ocean are inhospitable to all but a few life forms.</p> <p><strong>Someone once free dived 253 metres into the ocean</strong></p> <p>Compared to the actual deepest point of the ocean (the Mariana Trench stretches down nearly 11 kilometres), 253 metres may not seem that deep. But when you consider that this intrepid diver was accompanied only by a wetsuit, a weighted sled and an air balloon to help him float back to the top – without even scuba gear – his accomplishment seems a lot more noteworthy. It’s the deepest part of the ocean ever reached by a free-diving human (as opposed to a human inside a machine). The diver, Herbert Nitsch, completed his historic feat in 2012, and he currently holds 33 separate world records in free diving. Through rigorous training, he’s been able to increase his lung capacity to more than twice the usual amount of air.</p> <p><strong>The pressure at the bottom of the ocean is extreme…</strong></p> <p>…it’s like being-crushed-under-a-pile-of-elephants extreme. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the pressure is about eight tonnes per 6.5 square centimetres, the equivalent of about 100 fully grown elephants. It’s so intense that, while we do have machines capable of withstanding it, equipment has simply imploded under that amount of pressure.</p> <p><strong>It helps power the internet</strong></p> <p>The next time you’re watching a funny cat video or enjoying a Netflix binge, make sure you thank the ocean. The vast majority of the cables that power the internet, allowing access to it across the entire globe, are underwater. Wires called ‘submarine communications cables’ crisscross the ocean floors and were put in place by boats built solely for that purpose. To ensure that the cables remain undisturbed, they have to be placed on relatively flat stretches of the ocean floor, away from ocean ecosystems or shipwrecks. Some of the cables even have a coating that protects them from being damaged, should a hungry shark come across them.</p> <p><strong>The biggest waterfall in the world is underwater…</strong></p> <p>It might seem counter-intuitive to think that there are bodies of water within the oceans, but it’s true! Deep within the ocean, caverns and fissures on the ocean floor form when water oozes through the layers of salt beneath it. This water, filled with dissolved salt, is denser than the water around it and settles into the fissures. It’s this type of dense water that forms the Denmark Strait, a massive cascade of water that plummets 3500 metres. This is because the colder water of the strait sinks when it collides with the less dense water around it.</p> <p><strong>…and so is the world’s tallest mountain (partly, at least)</strong></p> <p>With 70 per cent of Earth’s surface covered by oceans, it makes sense. But that doesn’t make it any less mind-boggling to learn that in Hawaii, there is a mountain that would make Mount Everest look like a bunny hill if they were side-by-side. Mauna Kea is half under the water and half above it, and, from top to bottom, it stretches a whopping 10,000 metres. That’s more than a kilometre taller than Mount Everest! We consider Mount Everest the tallest mountain because it reaches the highest distance above sea level, but in terms of height from top to bottom, this half-submerged Hawaiian volcano is the champion.</p> <p><strong>There’s a spot in the Pacific where you’re closer to space than anywhere on Earth</strong></p> <p>This unique spot, the furthest on the entire planet from land, goes by the name ‘the oceanic pole of inaccessibility’, or, more concisely, ‘Point Nemo’. We know what you’re thinking – its name does not come from a cartoon fish but from the hero of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It’s located smack in the southern Pacific Ocean, and you’d have to travel 1600 kilometres from even the closest points of land to reach it. Those points of land are Motu Nui, far off the western coast of Chile; Ducie Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands between South America and Australia; and Maher Island, off the coast of Antarctica. And it’s at least 1600 kilometres from each of them. That’s so far that the closest people to Point Nemo are often up in space! The International Space Station orbits just 400 kilometres above Earth’s surface. Now that gives ‘finding Nemo’ a whole new meaning.</p> <p><strong>Most of Earth’s oxygen comes from the oceans</strong></p> <p>And no, it’s not the ‘O’ of H2O. When it comes to ocean facts, most people don’t know about 70 per cent of our planet’s entire supply of oxygen is a waste product created by marine-dwelling plankton. These minuscule creatures take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen during photosynthesis, and this oxygen plays a vital role in the life of every oxygen-breathing creature on the planet. According to National Geographic, one type of plankton called Prochlorococcus produces so much oxygen that it’s most likely responsible for one of every five breaths we take.</p> <p><strong>No one knows for sure what made this mysterious undersea noise</strong></p> <p>In 1997, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration detected a mysterious undersea sound – incredibly loud and at a very low frequency – and puzzled for years over its origin. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA2wY5-yiGY">Take a listen here</a>. It may sound a little bit like your stomach when you’re hungry, but scientists have theorised that everything from a massive marine animal to a shifting iceberg is responsible. Icebergs cracking and shifting on the ocean floor produce a similar sound, so that’s the most likely explanation, but there’s no definite answer yet as to what it is.</p> <p><strong>A rubber duck accident helped researchers understand ocean currents</strong></p> <p>We’re used to ‘spills’ in the ocean having disastrous effects, but this one proved to be something of a happy accident. In 1992, a crate of bath toys on its way from China to the United States broke, spilling thousands of rubber ducks and other floating toys into the Pacific. Oceanographers seized the opportunity to learn more about the movements of the ocean. Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer headed up the research efforts, asking beachgoers all over the world to report sightings of the ducks and their floating friends. The ducks travelled far and wide, ending up everywhere from Europe to Alaska to Hawaii and continuing to be spotted well into the 2000s. The fleet of toys became affectionately known as ‘the Friendly Floatees’.</p> <p><strong>Antarctic-dwelling fish have a protein that keeps them from freezing</strong></p> <p>Unsurprisingly, the water around the poles can get pretty chilly. Yet there are still plenty of fish that make their home there. A group of fish called notothenioidei comprises over 120 species all native to the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. The water in that area hovers around temperatures of -2° and 10° Celsius. Even when it’s technically below freezing, the dissolved salts in the seawater keep it from doing so. But how does marine life possibly stay alive there? Well, these fish have a biological component called a glycoprotein that allows them to live where they do; it acts as a natural antifreeze, essentially. The protein prevents ice crystals from forming in their blood, allowing it to flow normally.</p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-9a6d26fe-7fff-aeac-06e5-045b3fd355a8">Written by Meghan Jones. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/science-technology/13-fascinating-facts-about-the-worlds-oceans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></span></em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

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Missing cruise passenger rescued after over 15 hours in ocean

<p dir="ltr">A passenger on a Carnival Valor cruise ship has been rescued by the US Coast Guard after spending more than 15 hours in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 28-year-old was with his sister at the ship’s bar on the night of Wednesday, November 23, but didn’t return after he left to use the toilet.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to a statement from Carnival, the sister reported her brother missing the following day.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another passenger on the cruise, Mike Anderson, told <em>CNN </em>that announcements were made on the ship and people “noticed security starting to search the boat with a photo of the missing (passenger) in their phones”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Anderson said passengers were later told their arrival to their port of call in Cozumel, Mexico, was delayed, while his wife said one of the pools was drained.</p> <p dir="ltr">After a lengthy search, the man was finally spotted about 30 kilometres off the coast of Louisiana on Thursday night by rescue crews that had been scouring a 320-kilometre area along the gulf.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lieutenant Seth Gross of the US Coast Guard said the man may have been in the water for over 15 hours, the “absolute longest that I’ve heard about”.</p> <p dir="ltr">He said that “all available resources” were launched to locate the man, including a small boat from Florida, a New Orleans-based helicopter, and planes from Florida and Alabama.</p> <p dir="ltr">The man was hoisted onto the helicopter and was responsive.</p> <p dir="ltr">"He was able to identify his name, confirmed that he was the individual that fell overboard," Lieutenant Gross told <em>CNN </em>on Friday, adding that the man had signs of “hypothermia, shock and dehydration” but could walk and talk.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The fact that he was able to keep himself afloat and above the surface of the water for such an extended period of time, it's just something you can't take for granted and certainly something that'll stick with me forever," Lieutenant Gross added, describing it as “just one of those Thanksgiving miracles”.</p> <p dir="ltr">He said that the case was unlike anything he had seen in his 17-year career with the Coast Guard and “could have had a much more difficult ending”.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It took a total team effort from Coast Guard watchstanders, response crews, and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate the missing individual and get him to safety,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the man has been reported to be in a stable condition, it is still unclear how or when he fell into the water.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8ec41e9a-7fff-4d90-5291-7ba679087764"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Cruising

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About 200 dead whales have been towed out to sea off Tasmania – and what happens next is a true marvel of nature

<p>Australians watched in horror as 230 pilot whales became stranded at a beach near Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast. Some whales were saved, but the vast majority died. This left a big problem: what to do with all the rotting whale carcasses?</p> <p>Authorities decided to tow the dead animals out to sea, hoping they’ll eventually sink to the seafloor.</p> <p>Such mass whale strandings are sad to witness. But in this case, the aftermath presents a fascinating opportunity for scientific discovery.</p> <p>As the dead whales decompose, an astonishing and rare chain of events is likely to flow through the marine ecosystem – ultimately leading to an explosion of activity and new life.</p> <h2>A 600-tonne problem</h2> <p>Mass whale strandings happen fairly regularly – especially in Tasmania – yet no one really knows why.</p> <p>Days before this latest incident, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-20/sperm-whales-stranded-off-king-island-tasmania/101457406" target="_blank" rel="noopener">14 sperm whales</a> became stranded off King Island, northwest of Tasmania.</p> <p>And in 2020, about 470 pilot whales <a href="https://theconversation.com/like-trying-to-find-the-door-in-a-dark-room-while-hearing-your-relatives-scream-for-help-tasmanias-whale-stranding-tragedy-explained-146674" target="_blank" rel="noopener">became stranded</a> at Macquarie Harbour. While many were pulled out to sea, some of those carcasses washed up and were left to rot on the beach – an entirely natural process.</p> <p>However, pilot whales are big animals. Males weigh up to 2,300kg, which means they take a long time to decompose. The smell of two tonnes of rotting whale blubber soon becomes unbearable, so carcasses are frequently buried.</p> <p>This time around, authorities <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-25/whale-carcasses-towed-out-to-sea-after-mass-stranding/101471166" target="_blank" rel="noopener">decided to tow</a> the dead animals out to sea. The ABC reported local salmon farm workers took almost 11 hours to dispose of 204 dead whales with a combined weight of between 500 and 600 tonnes.</p> <p>They were tied to a 400 metre-long rope and towed by boats for 40 kilometres, before being dropped into deep water in the Indian Ocean.</p> <p>Some carcasses may wash back to shore, but most are likely to disperse with the tides and currents.</p> <h2>Shark bait? Probably not</h2> <p>The big question is: what happens to all that whale mass dumped at sea?</p> <p>Initially, a dead whale tends to float to the surface as it begins to decompose and its innards expand with gas. As this happens, ocean scavengers such as sharks and seabirds are likely to feast on the remains.</p> <p>Some people <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-14/do-buried-whale-carcasses-really-attract-sharks/10996512" target="_blank" rel="noopener">can be concerned</a> that whale carcasses attract sharks that might pose a risk to humans.</p> <p>Granted, encounters between sharks and humans, are <a href="https://theconversation.com/fatal-shark-attacks-are-at-a-record-high-deterrent-devices-can-help-but-some-may-be-nothing-but-snake-oil-150845" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on the rise</a> in Australia and elsewhere. But they’re still very rare.</p> <p>A <a href="https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/167613/swim-humpback-whales-risks-sharks.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a> to the Western Australian government in 2012 found whale carcasses were a risk factors associated with shark attacks, and said caution should be exercised near a dead whale in the water.</p> <p>But the same report noted that of 26 shark attacks investigated, the highest number occurred more than a kilometre offshore. While there is no doubt <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00655" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sharks are attracted to dead whales</a>, the data is <a href="https://hakaimagazine.com/news/beached-whales-are-a-lure-for-hungry-sharks/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">not clear</a> on whether a whale carcass leads directly to an increase in shark attacks on people.</p> <p>Research <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989419301854?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has shown</a> the likelihood of whale carcasses washing towards shore, where shark scavenging can be observed, is low. So as long as the carcass is taken far from shore and people keep their distance from it, the threat to humans from shark encounters appears to be exceedingly low.</p> <h2>From death comes new life</h2> <p>Inevitably, the whale carcass will start to sink. Most life in the ocean is found fairly close to the sea surface, so if the water is relatively shallow much of what’s left of the carcass will be quickly eaten by scavengers once it reaches the sea floor.</p> <p>But these carcasses have been disposed of in deep water. The deep ocean can be a barren place, where rich food sources are rare. So the appearance of a single whale carcass can supercharge an entire ecosystem.</p> <p>New life and activity can erupt around the dead animal in very little time. This process is known as “whale fall” and has been studied by scientists, sometimes using remotely operated vehicles. On the seafloor of the North Pacific, whale fall has been found to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2022.885572/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener">support the survival</a> of at least 12,490 organisms of 43 species.</p> <p>Deep sea sharks will make the most of the carcass. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZzQhiNQXxU" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A host of other animals</a> including hagfish, octopus, crabs, lobsters, worms and sea cucumbers will join in too. All the while bacteria work away quietly in the background.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-happens-when-whales-die.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to</a> Britain’s Natural History Museum, a single whale can provide animals with food for up to two years during the scavenging stage.</p> <p>Other animals and bacteria survive off the chemicals produced from the rotting carcass.</p> <p>These organisms, known as “chemotrophs” were thought to be unique to underwater volcanic vents, where they use hydrogen sulphide as the principal energy source. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2337" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Research</a> has shown a similar suite of animals recruit around dead and decaying whales – generating a completely independent ecosystem based on a gas that <a href="https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-happens-when-whales-die.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">smells like rotten eggs</a>.</p> <p>Only a few organisms can break down the bones that remain, in a process that might take up to ten years.</p> <p>So take a moment to consider the effect of 204 whale falls in a small part of the ocean off Tasmania. Right now, they are probably generating interconnected marine metropolises, the likes of which are rarely seen.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/about-200-dead-whales-have-been-towed-out-to-sea-off-tasmania-and-what-happens-next-is-a-true-marvel-of-nature-191340" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Why cruising is good for your brain

<p>Nothing on earth feels quite as nice as a cruise holiday, and recent research suggests that there might be some science behind why it feels so good on the open ocean.</p> <p>Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, released a book this year called <em>Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do</em>, that shone a light on the effect of the ocean on our brain, and why it can improve our mood in such as substantial way.</p> <p>In the book Nichols explains just how, "We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what's broken. We have a 'blue mind' -- and it's perfectly tailored to make us happy in all sorts of ways that go way beyond relaxing in the surf, listening to the murmur of a stream, or floating quietly in a pool."</p> <p>This “blue mind” as Nichols puts it, is considered a meditative state of calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction triggered when we’re in or near water. And you’re never around more water when you’re on a luxury cruise.</p> <p>In an interview with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Huffington Post</span></strong></a>, Nichols elaborated on his position and explained how our brains can benefit from overstimulation of everyday life when around water.</p> <p>Nichols said, “The sound around us, from an auditory perspective, is simplified. It's not quiet, but the sound of water is far simpler than the sound of voices or the sound of music or the sound of a city. And the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of water and look out on the horizon, it's visually simplified relative to the room you're sitting in right now, or a city you're walking through, where you're taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”</p> <p>Nichols is quick to advise that this doesn’t mean that our brains are shutting down, but instead working in quite a different way, stating, “When you have that simplified, quieter 'blue' space, your brain is better at a different set of processes.”</p> <p>So if you were looking for an excuse to book your next cruise, this health reason is a great one.</p> <p>Have you ever been on a cruise before, and did you find it a meditative experience? Do you have any cruises on the horizon? Let us know in the comments.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Cruising

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Warming oceans may force New Zealand’s sperm and blue whales to shift to cooler southern waters

<p>The world’s oceans are absorbing more than <a href="https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/ocean-impacts" target="_blank" rel="noopener">90% of the excess heat and energy</a> generated by rising greenhouse gas emissions.</p> <p>But, as the oceans keep warming, rising sea temperatures generate unprecedented cascading effects that include the melting of polar ice, rising seas, marine heatwaves and ocean acidification.</p> <p>This in turn has profound impacts on marine biodiversity and the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities, especially in island nations such as New Zealand.</p> <p>In our latest <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X22007075?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research</a>, we focused on great whales – sperm and blue whales in particular. They are crucial for maintaining healthy marine ecosystems, but have limited options to respond to climate change: either adapt, die, or move to stay within optimal habitats.</p> <p>We used mathematical models to predict how they are likely to respond to warming seas by the end of the century. Our results show a clear southward shift for both species, mostly driven by rising temperatures at the sea surface.</p> <h2>Computing the fate of whales</h2> <p>Data on the local abundance of both whales species are <a href="https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v690/p201-217/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">deficient</a>, but modelling provides a powerful tool to predict how their range is likely to shift.</p> <p>We used a <a href="http://macroecointern.dk/pdf-reprints/AraujoNew2007.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">combination of mathematical models</a> (known as correlative species distribution models) to predict the future range shifts of these whale species as a response to three future climate change scenarios of differing severity, as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (<a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">IPCC</a>).</p> <p>We applied these models, using the whales’ present distributions, to build a set of environmental “rules” that dictate where each species can live. Using climate-dependent data such as sea-surface temperature and chlorophyll A (a measure of phytoplankton growth), as well as static data such as water depth and distance to shore, we applied these rules to forecast future habitat suitability.</p> <p>We chose a scenario of “<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener">modest</a>” response to cutting greenhouse gas emissions (the IPCC’s mitigation strategy RCP4.5), which is the most likely given the current policies, and a worst-case scenario (no policy to cut emissions, RCP8.5), assuming the reality will likely be somewhere between the two.</p> <p>Our projections suggest current habitats in the ocean around the North Island may become unsuitable if sea-surface temperatures continue to rise.</p> <p>These range shifts become even stronger with increasing severity of climate change. For sperm whales, which are currently abundant off Kaikōura where they support eco-tourism businesses, the predicted distribution changes are even more evident than for blue whales, depending on the climate change scenario.</p> <p>While our results do not predict an overall reduction in suitable habitat that would lead to local extinctions, the latitudinal range shifts are nevertheless bound to have important ecological consequences for New Zealand’s marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them.</p> <h2>How whales maintain ecosystems</h2> <p>Great whales are marine ecosystem engineers. They modify their habitats (or create new ones), to suit their needs. In fact, these activities create conditions that other species rely on to survive.</p> <p>They engineer their environment on several fronts. By feeding in one place and releasing their faeces in another, whales convey minerals and other nutrients such as nitrogen and iron from the deep water to the surface, as well as across regions. This process, known as a “<a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0013255" target="_blank" rel="noopener">whale pump</a>”, makes these nutrients available for phytoplankton and other organisms to grow.</p> <p>This is very important because phytoplankton contributes about <a href="https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/plankton-revealed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">half of all oxygen to the atmosphere</a> and also captures <a href="https://www.imf.org/Publications/fandd/issues/2019/12/natures-solution-to-climate-change-chami" target="_blank" rel="noopener">about 40% of all released carbon dioxide</a>. By helping the growth of phytoplankton, whales indirectly contribute to the <a href="https://theconversation.com/tiny-plankton-drive-processes-in-the-ocean-that-capture-twice-as-much-carbon-as-scientists-thought-136599" target="_blank" rel="noopener">natural ocean carbon sink</a>.</p> <p>On top of this, each great whale accumulates about <a href="https://www.arcticwwf.org/the-circle/stories/protecting-the-earth-by-protecting-whales/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">33 tonnes of carbon dioxide in their body</a>, which they take to the ocean floor when they die and their carcass sinks.</p> <p> </p> <p>Ultimately, the impact of warming oceans on whale distribution is an additional stress factor on ecosystems already under pressure from wider threats, including acidification, pollution and over-exploitation.</p> <h2>A way forward to help whales</h2> <p>Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales (odontocetes) and deep-diving apex predators. They primarily feed on squid and fish that live near the bottom of the sea.</p> <p>Blue whales are baleen whales (mysticetes) and filter small organisms from the water. They feed at the surface on zooplankton, particularly dense krill schools along coastlines where cold water from the deep ocean rises toward the surface (so-called <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/upwelling.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">upwelling areas</a>).</p> <p>These differences in feeding habits lead to divergent responses to ocean warming. Blue whales show a more distinct southerly shift than sperm whales, particularly in the worst-case scenario, likely because they feed at the surface where ocean warming will be more exacerbated than in the deep sea.</p> <p>Both species have important foraging grounds off New Zealand which may be compromised in the future. Sperm whales are currently occurring regularly off Kaikōura, while blue whales forage in the South Taranaki Bight.</p> <p>Despite these ecological differences, our results show that some future suitable areas around the South Island and offshore islands are common to both species. These regions could be considered sanctuaries for both species to retreat to or expand their habitat in a warming world. This should warrant <a href="https://environment.govt.nz/assets/Publications/Files/Environmental-Report-Card-Marine-Areas-with-Legal-protection_0.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased protection of these areas</a>.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/warming-oceans-may-force-new-zealands-sperm-and-blue-whales-to-shift-to-cooler-southern-waters-188522" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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“Vast ocean of love": Olivia's husband releases new message

<p dir="ltr">John Easterling has honoured his “courageous” late wife Olivia Newton-John in a moving post on her official Instagram, along with a sweet throwback photo of the couple.</p> <p dir="ltr">Easterling, who broke the news of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/honouring-dame-olivia-newton-john" target="_blank" rel="noopener">her sudden passing on August 8</a>, remembered his wife of 14 years and the love they shared.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our love for each other transcends our understanding,” Easterling began.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-512e7ad5-7fff-0bbb-02e2-9c64e6485d6e"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“Every day we expressed our gratitude for this love that could be so deep, so real, so natural. We never had to ‘work’ on it. We were in awe of this great mystery and accepted the experience of our love as past, present and forever.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/ChFqQeQvBVd/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/ChFqQeQvBVd/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Olivia Newton-John (@therealonj)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The 70-year-old called his wife a “healer”, honouring her courage, kindness and her dedication to cancer awareness and research through the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.</p> <p dir="ltr">“At Olivia’s deepest essence she was a healer using her mediums of song, of words, of touch,” he continued. </p> <p dir="ltr">“She was the most courageous woman I’ve ever known. Her bandwidth for genuinely caring for people, for nature and all creatures almost eclipses what is humanely possible. It is only the grace of God that has allowed me to share the depth and passion of her being for so long.</p> <p dir="ltr">“In her most difficult times, she always had the spirit, the humor, and the will power [sic] to move things into the light.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Easterling ended his post by thanking fans for their messages of love and support following Newton-John’s death, and that her love has even helped him navigate his grief.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Even now as her soul soars, the pain and holes in my heart are healed with the joy of her love and the light that shines forward,” Easterling wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our family deeply appreciates the vast ocean of love and support that has come our way.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Onward Ho.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Comments of support flooded in from friends and family praising Easterlings words, with <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/olivia-s-niece-reveals-final-heartbreaking-moments" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Tottie Goldsmith</a>, Newton-John’s niece, commenting that the pair were “true soulmates”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So beautifully said,” Jane Seymour commented. “She loved and adored you with every fibre of her soul and we could all dream of having that love and support in our lives. God bless you all.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am so grateful to have experienced her talent, sweetness and genuine respect,” country singer Stella Parton shared. “Thank you for being the truly wonderful soul mate to travel with her on this earth. May your life always be so much richer for sharing in her light and love.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Dear John, what a beautiful tribute to your darling wife,” one fan said. “Our hearts are with you every step of the way.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Such beautiful words for a lovely lady. To find a love so wonderful is a true gift,” another added.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-46e8640a-7fff-587a-b12c-541dcfb7e015"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: @therealonj (Instagram)</em></p>

Caring

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Historic first as unique WWII sea fort bunker goes on sale

<p>A decommissioned World War II fort in the middle of the ocean is being auctioned off for the first time in an historic sale. </p> <p>Starting at £50,000 (A$87k), the abandoned concrete vessel was initially built between 1915 and 1919 for naval defence during World War I, but was not operational until WWII.</p> <p>The property, which is located in the Humber Estuary of Northern England, is defined by the United Kingdom as a “grade II” building or structure that is “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it”, making it a historic listing.</p> <p>The unique marine dwelling under the hammer on July 19th through <a href="https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/124641977?utm_campaign=later-linkinbio-zillowgonewild&amp;utm_content=later-28287929&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=linkin.bio#/?channel=RES_BUY" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Savills National Auctions</a>.</p> <p>The ship once featured 30cm of armour on one side and an arsenal of weapons on the other, which was enough to support a garrison of up to 200 soldiers, according to the listing.</p> <p>The armour and weaponry were stripped from the site back in 1956.</p> <p>The sea fort is made up of three floors with a basement and a chamber below sea level, and also features a central two-storey observation tower.</p> <p>“In need of refurbishment throughout with potential for development /alternative uses, subject to consent.” the listing explains.</p> <p>The sea fort itself can only be accessed ‘by private boat’ from a port just south of Hull, located approximately five hours from London.</p> <p><em>Image credits: rightmove.co.uk</em></p>

Real Estate

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Wooden shipwrecks turn out to be thriving habitats for seafloor microbiomes

<p>The ocean floor is a graveyard to over three million shipwrecks, most of them made of wood. While they do alter the microbial habitat of the seafloor, new research has found that the impact is not all bad, and that they may even boost productivity.</p> <p>“Microbial communities are important to be aware of and understand because they provide early and clear evidence of how human activities change life in the ocean,” says author Dr Leila Hamdan of the University of Southern Mississippi, US.</p> <p>A study on the microbial life around two 19th-century shipwreck sites in the Gulf of Mexico investigates the diversity among these human-made habitats. Samples of biofilms were collected using pieces of pine and oak placed at the shipwreck, and up to 200 metres away from the shipwreck. After fourth months, microbes were measured using gene sequencing, including all bacteria, archaea and fungi</p> <p>“Ocean scientists have known that natural hard habitats, some of which have been present for hundreds to thousands of years, shape the biodiversity of life on the seafloor,” says Hamdan. “This work is the first to show that built habitats (places or things made or modified by humans) impact the films of microbes (biofilms) coating these surfaces as well. These biofilms are ultimately what enable hard habitats to transform into islands of biodiversity.”</p> <p>The results showed that bacteria preferred oak over pine, but that the type of wood had less impact on archaea or fungi diversity. Diversity also varied depending on the proximity to the wreck site, where surprisingly, the greatest diversity was not at the wreck site, but peaked at 125 metres away. The depth of the water, and proximity to a nutrient source like the Mississippi River delta, also played a part in the distribution of biofilms.</p> <p>Though this study informs on wooden shipwrecks and the impact on microbial diversity, there are also thousands of oil and gas platforms and oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico alone that warrant further research to understand their microbial impacts too.</p> <p>“While we are aware human impacts on the seabed are increasing through the multiple economic uses, scientific discovery is not keeping pace with how this shapes the biology and chemistry of natural undersea landscapes,” says Hamdan. “We hope this work will begin a dialogue that leads to research on how built habitats are already changing the deep sea.”</p> <p><strong><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/shipwrecks-habitats-microbiomes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Qamariya Nasrullah.</em></strong></p>

Cruising

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Why Viking is No.1 in the world for river and ocean cruising

<p>When it comes to cruises, you want to make sure you’ve made the best possible choice in terms of picking the ship, the itinerary and the quality of services on hand. </p> <p>After being consistently voted the world’s best when it comes to river and ocean cruising, this is definitely where Viking comes in. </p> <p>Viking’s river, ocean and expedition cruises are perfect for curious travellers to set off and explore the world in comfort and style – not just this year, but in 2023 and 2024 as well. </p> <p>From their exquisite dining experiences to their wholesome cultural enrichment programmes, incredible onshore experiences and unmatched inclusions, let’s dive (literally and figuratively) a little deeper into what Viking are doing – and what they most definitely are NOT doing – to set themselves apart in the world of ocean cruising.  </p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60_SKY_Lofoten_Midnight_Sun_MXL0691_Red_lightSkyWide.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p><strong>More bang for your buck </strong></p> <p>Viking’s Inclusive Value mantra means they include everything you need and nothing you do not. </p> <p>Worth more than $200 a day, guests will benefit from features and services ranging from a free guided excursion in every port of call to complimentary WiFi, plus beer, wine and soft drinks on board with lunch and dinner. </p> <p>You’ll also enjoy 24-hour specialty coffees, teas and bottled water, with access to their top-rated spa and state-of-the-art fitness centre. You can also access self-service launderettes, avoid port taxes and fees, as well as ground transfers with Viking Air purchase. </p> <p>Your stateroom includes a private veranda, a king-size bed with luxury linens and pillows, as well as a separate seating area where you can enjoy a 42-inch flat-screen LCD TV with complimentary movies on demand. </p> <p>Each room is decked out with a spacious closet and drawers, a mini-bar (of course), security safe, a hair dryer, spacious glass-enclosed shower with heated bathroom floor and anti-fog mirror. You will also be covered head-to-toe by Premium Freyja toiletries and enjoy plush robes and slippers. </p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-Chefs_Table_Plate_16-650.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong>Exquisite dining</strong></p> <p>The Restaurant, the main dining venue onboard each state-of-the-art Viking vessel, offers delicious regional cuisines from only the best locally sourced ingredients.</p> <p>This gives passengers not only the opportunity to explore their destination, but also the chance to explore different cultures through food. </p> <p>However, if you’re looking for something a little more specific, say Italian, then Manfredi’s is the place to be. Be transported to the farms of Tuscany or the city of Rome with its divine and authentic Italian meals. </p> <p>Those looking to extend themselves even further in a culinary sense and learn a little more about food and wine pairings will find themselves drawn inexorably to The Chef’s Table – where you’ll experience several courses, each paired with select wines all thoughtfully prepared for your enriching experience. </p> <p>If you’re into something a little more dynamic and want to observe the world-renowned chefs working their magic, then the World Café is the place to be. The open kitchen will have you watching on in excitement as your phenomenal sushi and seafood dishes are prepared, set against a backdrop of the breathtaking panoramic views from the Aquavit Terrace. </p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-CC_SEA_Restaurant_Window_Views-1280x720-1.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>However, if you want to switch places with the hard-working chefs and actually have a hand in cooking yourself, you are more than welcome to head over to The Kitchen Table to immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine. Here, the on board cooking school gives passengers a thrilling first-hand experience in how the chefs prepare meals for guests. </p> <p>If you’re looking to relax a bit before dinner then the Wintergarden is the place to be, where you can indulge in several different teas under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood while listening to a soft string quartet. </p> <p>Otherwise, head on over to Mamsen’s in the Explorers’ Lounge, which offers some of the best culturally enriching Norwegian specialties for breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack or evening treat.</p> <p>Looking to keep it simple for an afternoon snack? Look no further than the Pool Grill, which has casual meals prepared to order. Otherwise, head up to your room and take advantage of the 24/7 room service on offer (we won’t tell anyone about that extra tempting midnight snack). </p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-STAR_Wintergarden_Horiz_124-1280x720-1.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p><strong>Cultural enrichment</strong></p> <p>How extraordinary to be able to gain invaluable insights and knowledge while also relaxing on holiday. That’s right, Viking has so much on offer for its guests and it’ll have you wanting more. </p> <p>First on the list are the world-class guest lecturers, all of whom are experts in their field and include archaeologists, authors, former diplomats and even news correspondents. It’s their job (and passion) to share important information with you on your destinations’ art, architecture, music, geopolitics, the natural world and so much more.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can have one-on-one discussions with the onboard historian ready to enrich your mind with their in-depth stories and facts. </p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-CC_ORION_Resident_Scientist_Book-Ocean-Entertainment-Option-2.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>Another powerfully enriching Viking experience is the performing arts sector, where you are more than welcome to enjoy an incredible work of art or one of dozens of destination experiences. Could it be the Portuguese <em>fado</em> with its melancholy melodies and poignant lyrics? Or traditional Greek dancing or Italian opera. The choices are staggering. </p> <p>If you’re intrigued to see what’s on offer at your next onshore destination, there are informative multimedia presentations on Amsterdam, Bergen, Venice, San Juan, Vancouver, Tokyo and even Sydney that highlight the must-see landmarks during your shore visits. </p> <p>Viking’s knowledgable local guides are passionate about their unique region. They will introduce you to the iconic and the obscure, so you can soak up the culture, art, history and architecture of your destination while gaining an insight into the local way of life.</p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-Arles_Arena_Group_Excursion_2913.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>The cultural enrichment continues on board with a unique collection of original artworks on board every ship. Viking also has an exclusive deal with Oslo’s Munch Museum where guests can explore the entire collection of Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch. This museum brings “magic” on board with an interactive event daily and showcasing the amazing artworks curated by Munch. </p> <p>Otherwise, indulge your mind with a TED Talk, where passengers can enjoy short and powerful talks about the arts, history, geography, science and even longevity. </p> <p>Fancy a night at The Met? Well, all you need to do is head to The Theater and enjoy the world-class production under the starlit “sky”.</p> <p>If you want to keep it simple, then there’s a special spot for you in the small cinemas where you can enjoy short films that will inform you about the iconic destinations you’re travelling through.</p> <p>Kick back and relax by listening to the classical music from Viking’s resident pianist, guitarist, violinist and cellist. Or head over to the onboard library, which have been expertly curated by independent London bookseller Heywood Hill – who dedicated hundreds of hours of his time into understanding what Viking guests most want to read on their journeys.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/O60-CC_-SEA_Dubrovnik_Sunset_SKY_red.jpg" alt="Viking" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p><strong>What Viking definitely is NOT</strong></p> <p>If we haven’t managed to convince you as to why you should be travelling with Viking, then let these be the cherries on top of your next cruising adventure.</p> <p>Each Viking cruise ship absolutely promises no casinos, no children under the age of 18, no umbrella drinks, no photography sales or art auctions, no charge for beer or wine at lunch or dinner and you can dine in a choice of restaurants at no additional cost.</p> <p>Wi-Fi comes included and you won’t be charged for using the laundry, there are no hidden entry fees for the spa and no undue pressure on spa sales of any kind. </p> <p>And perhaps most important of all, there’s no waiting in endless queues. All that’s left is a clear focus on you, on the quality of the service, and on making sure that every journey provides you with memories to last a lifetime.</p> <p>For more information and to book your next Viking adventure, <a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/oceans/cruise-destinations/index.html?utm_medium=content&utm_source=oversixty&utm_campaign=native-findacruise-ocean" target="_blank" rel="noopener">click here</a>.</p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with <a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/oceans/cruise-destinations/index.html?utm_medium=content&utm_source=oversixty&utm_campaign=native-findacruise-ocean" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Viking</a>.</em></p>

Cruising

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"World's most difficult shipwreck search" comes to an end

<p>The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been found off the coast of Antarctica 107 years after it sank. The lost ship of the Anglo-Irish explorer had not been seen since it was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea on the 21st of November, 1915.</p> <p>Last month, the Endurance22 Expedition set off from Cape Town in South Africa on a mission to find the vessel, one month after the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest’s death.</p> <p>Endurance was finally spotted at a depth of 3008 metres and some six kilometres south of the position recorded by the ship’s Captain Frank Worsley, according to the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust.</p> <p>Even though the wreck has been sitting in water for more than a century, the expedition’s director of exploration said Endurance was “by far the finest wooden shipwreck” he has ever seen.</p> <p>Mensun Bound, who has now fulfilled a dream ambition in his near 50-year career, said: “We are overwhelmed by our good fortune in having located and captured images of Endurance.</p> <p>“This is a milestone in polar history.”</p> <p>The ship is said to look much the same as when it was photographed for the final time by Shackleton’s filmmaker, Frank Hurley, in 1915. The team even spotted some boots and crockery on board.</p> <p>Mr Bound told the BBC: “Beside the companion way, you can see a porthole that is Shackleton’s cabin.</p> <p>“We found the wreck a hundred years to the day after Shackleton’s funeral. I don’t usually go with this sort of stuff at all, but this one I found a bit spooky.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Huge congratulations to <a href="https://twitter.com/Endurance_22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Endurance_22</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/NatGeo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NatGeo</a> for finding the wreck of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Shackleton?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Shackleton</a>’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Endurance?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Endurance</a>. The wreck is amazing but can we also talk about some of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Antarctic?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Antarctic</a> sea floor creatures that now call it home! Add any others you spot to the thread! (1) <a href="https://t.co/QULEJkoiW4">pic.twitter.com/QULEJkoiW4</a></p> <p>— Huw Griffiths (@griffiths_huw) <a href="https://twitter.com/griffiths_huw/status/1501492716517171201?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 9, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>Dr John Shears, the expedition leader, described the moment cameras landed on the ship’s name as “jaw-dropping”.</p> <p>He said: “The discovery of the wreck is an incredible achievement.</p> <p>“We have successfully completed the world’s most difficult shipwreck search, battling constantly shifting sea-ice, blizzards, and temperatures dropping down to -18C.</p> <p>“We have achieved what many people said was impossible.”</p> <p>He added: “In addition, we have undertaken important scientific research in a part of the world that directly affects the global climate and environment.”</p> <p>Sir Ernest had set out to make the first land crossing of Antarctica - but he had to abandon the quest when Endurance was trapped and holed by sea-ice.</p> <p>The mission to find the lost ship was launched by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust using a South African icebreaker, Agulhas II - equipped with remotely operated submersibles.</p> <p>The shipwreck is a designated monument under the international Antarctic Treaty and must not be disturbed in any way.</p> <p>Deep-sea polar biologist Dr Michelle Taylor from Essex University said: “It would appear that there is little wood deterioration, inferring that the wood-munching animals found in other areas of our ocean are, perhaps unsurprisingly, not in the forest-free Antarctic region.</p> <p>The icebreaker is now on its way back to Cape Town. The team plan is to make a stop at the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia where Shackleton is buried to pay their respects.</p> <p><em>Image: Twitter</em></p>

International Travel

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12 of the world’s most haunted bodies of water

<p><strong>Devil's Pool, Australia</strong></p> <p><span>Devil’s Pool is a natural pool created by surrounding boulders and a waterfall that feeds it, and as beautiful as it is, people say it’s cursed. </span></p> <p><span>According to legend, Oolana, a young woman from the Yindinji Tribe, drowned herself in the pool after being separated from her true love. Still searching for him today, she lures young men to their death in the green waters. </span></p> <p><span>Sixteen young men have died there in the past 50 years, reports News.com.au.</span></p> <p><strong>Manchac Swamp, USA</strong></p> <p><span>According to local legend, Julia Brown, a practising voodoo priestess, used to sit on her front porch near the Manchac Swamp in Louisiana and sing, “One day I’m gonna die, and I’m gonna take all of you with me,” reports MentalFloss.com. </span></p> <p><span>That curse turned out to be true: On the day of Brown’s funeral in 1915, a category 4 hurricane tore through the area, causing hundreds of drowning deaths. </span></p> <p><span>These days, people say that Brown can be heard cackling on the shores of the swamp. Spooky, right?</span></p> <p><strong>Truk Lagoon, Micronesia</strong></p> <p><span>If it’s shipwrecks that make your spine tingle, then look no further than Truk Lagoon in Micronesia. </span></p> <p><span>That’s where the wreckage of 40 Japanese ships and 25 American aircrafts that went down in the waters lay. </span></p> <p><span>They went down during Operation Hailstone, the ill-fated WWII battle. The underwater scene is described as a massive “ship graveyard.” </span></p> <p><span>Photos of the wreckage are absolutely chilling and a haunting reminder of all the lives that were lost in that one battle, alone.</span></p> <p><strong>Lower Yellowstone Falls, USA</strong></p> <p><span>In 1870, a group of Native Americans stole pack horses from a group of five militiamen and their guide during the night near the area that’s now known as Lower Yellowstone Falls in Wyoming. </span></p> <p><span>When they woke up, the men gave chase and caught up with the Native Americans as they were attempting to cross the treacherous falls. </span></p> <p><span>During the fighting, the Native Americans’ makeshift raft sank and they were swept over the falls and drowned. </span></p> <p><span>Today, some who stand on the platform at the falls swear they hear the death chant of the brave Native American warriors and the river water is said to turn red on occasion.</span></p> <p><strong>Bride's Pool, Hong Kong</strong></p> <p><span>The Bride’s Pool, a natural pool created by boulders with an adjoining waterfall in Hong Kong, is said to have gotten its name because a bride fell into the water and drowned on the way to her wedding. </span></p> <p><span>If that’s not chilling enough, “today, some people report seeing a woman dressed in a red cheongsam [a traditional Asian wedding dress] brushing her hair near the majestic waters,” reports Time Out Hong Kong.</span></p> <p><strong>Saco River, USA</strong></p> <p><span>Sure the Saco River in Maine is a great place for holiday-makers to go tubing, but you may not want to after you find out about its rumoured curse. </span></p> <p><span>As the legend goes, around 1675, a group of drunken English sailors crossed paths with the chief of the Saco tribe and his family. </span></p> <p><span>The sailors callously threw the baby in the river to see if he could swim; sadly, the baby died a few days later. </span></p> <p><span>To enact revenge, the chief put a curse on the Saco River that three white people would drown in it each year. </span></p> <p><span>Whether or not the body count has held up, the murder of the child actually happened and likely led to further bloodshed in the years following.</span></p> <p><strong>Loch Ness, Scotland</strong></p> <p><span>There are some who believe with all their heart that a lake near Inverness in Scotland is haunted by a mythical being, aka the Loch Ness Monster. </span></p> <p><span>“There are over 300,000 visitors each year and only one to two bona fide sightings,” Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club tells the Travel Channel. </span></p> <p><span>But those odds continue to inspire visitors who always carry their cameras just in case “Nessie” decides to make an appearance.</span></p> <p><span><strong>White Rock Lake, USA</strong><br /></span></p> <p><span>They say Dallas’s White Rock Lake is haunted by a young woman wearing a soaking-wet evening dress. </span></p> <p><span>“Apparently, the girl tells people she was involved in a boating accident and needs to get to an address on Gaston Avenue. When she gets into a car’s back seat, she disappears,” the Dallas News reports. </span></p> <p><span>These encounters have been reported off and on since 1964, although no one knows who the woman is or whether a woman in an evening dress actually drowned there.</span></p> <p><strong>Changi Beach, Singapore</strong></p> <p><span>During Japan’s occupation of Singapore during World War II in 1942 tens of thousands of Chinese men who were suspected of having anti-Japanese sentiments, were forced into the waters of Changi Beach and machine-gunned en masse. </span></p> <p><span>It’s said that the ghosts of these executed men remain trapped on the shores, crying and screaming as they suffer the same deadly fate over and over again.</span></p> <p><strong>Blackwater River, USA</strong></p> <p><span>Like the Saco River, Blackwater River in Florida is also a popular tubing spot with a dark past. </span></p> <p><span>A woman with long black hair smelling of rotting flesh haunts the water and will attempt to drag you to your death if you can’t escape her clutches. </span></p> <p><span>No matter what is causing people to drown in the river, it would be wise to be careful when taking a dip.</span></p> <p><strong>Lake Superior, USA</strong></p> <p><span>In 1985, more than a decade after the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sunk 150 metres to the bottom of Lake Superior – all 29 men on board were lost – it was spotted sailing on the surface of Lake Superior by a commercial crew. </span></p> <p><span>There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation involving mist and a lighthouse, according to CNN, but there are those who believe that the Edmund Fitzgerald will continue to sail on as a ghost ship in the choppy, icy waters of the lake that took it.</span></p> <p><strong>The Bermuda Triangle </strong></p> <p><span>No discussion of haunted water would be complete without including the Atlantic Ocean’s Bermuda Triangle (bounded by Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico). </span></p> <p><span>Countless aeroplanes and ships have dared to enter the 1,300,000-square-km perimeter in perfectly good weather and not the slightest hint of engine malfunction – only to disappear forever. </span></p> <p><span>Not for nothing, it’s also known as the “Devil’s Triangle.”</span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/12-of-the-worlds-most-haunted-bodies-of-water?pages=1">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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