Stories from the Seven Seas
A weekly roundup of coastal news.
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Hakai Magazine is all about the coast, but other outlets sometimes share our fascination. Every week on Strand we round up our favorite coastal stories from around the web.
US Navy revives ancient navigation as cyber threats grow
by Steve Mollman for Defense One
“The Naval Academy stopped teaching celestial navigation in the late 1990s, deeming the hard-to-learn skill irrelevant in an era when satellites can relay a ship’s location with remarkable ease and precision.
But satellites and GPS are vulnerable to cyber attack (paywall). The tools of yesteryear—sextants, nautical almanacs, volumes of tables—are not. With that in mind, the academy is reinstating celestial navigation into its curriculum.”
Hunting the Godzilla El Niño
by Quirin Schiermeier for Nature
“[I]n 2014, the warming along the equator was less pronounced than in most El Niño years, and the westerly wind bursts did not appear as expected. By mid-year, the anticipated El Niño had completely vanished.
What had stopped the show, and why the Pacific warming spectacularly resurfaced 12 months later, are questions that are puzzling ocean researchers and meteorologists. The mysteriously reborn El Niño is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to combine observations and models to find out what has happened, and perhaps to improve forecasting systems, says Axel Timmermann, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii.”
Behold the blobfish
by Franz Lidz for Smithsonian Magazine
“One day while surveying the Tangaroa’s recently departed, expedition photographer and marine ecologist Kerryn Parkinson came upon what Mark McGrouther describes as a ‘very soft, very goopy fish, about the length of a comic book. While the ship swayed, the jiggly mass slid to and fro, even in death.’ Drooping from its lower lip—like the unlit cigarette that forever dangled from Humphrey Bogart’s—was a parasitic copepod. A blob within a blob.”
Busting myths about penguin feathers
by Ed Yong for National Geographic
“When Cassondra Williams from University of California, Irvine, first started looking into penguin feathers, she was shocked to see how many unsubstantiated statements there were, and not just on websites. Various scientific papers claimed that penguins had anywhere from 11 to 46 feathers per square centimetre, and none of them—none—described any methods or cited any sources behind these estimates. They might as well have come up with random numbers.”
Global warming could be melting ancient greenhouse gases under Oregon coast
by Kelly House for The Oregonian
“Their work joins a growing body of research suggesting climate change might not happen in a slow and steady fashion. Rather, the earth’s warming could allow trapped greenhouse gases to escape, creating a snowball effect in which the earth could warm faster over time.”
Legal challenges over Exxon Valdez sputter to an end
by Krista Langlois for High Country News
“[I]n 1991, when Exxon negotiated a billion-dollar settlement to help clean up and monitor Prince William Sound, the company also agreed to a “re-opener claim” — a provision that allowed the state and federal governments to ask for more money should unanticipated impacts be revealed. In 2006, when it was clear that the oil was more insidious than anyone had anticipated, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Alaska Department of Law asked Exxon for another $92 million to clean up the oil that was still hampering the recovery of harlequin ducks and sea otters. The company refused to pay, and the case has been in limbo ever since.
Last week it came to an end.”
Japan rejects international court jurisdiction over whaling
by Andrew Darby for The Sydney Morning Herald
“Japan has moved suddenly to fence itself off from any future challenge to its Antarctic whaling in the International Court of Justice.
After its last whaling program was ruled illegal by the court in a case brought by Australia, its latest plan to restart whaling within weeks has come under strong scientific attack.
Now the Japanese government has told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a special declaration that it will take a sweeping exception to the court’s jurisdiction.”