Have you ever stood on a beach looking out on the ocean and wondered what country is directly over there? If so, this map is for you.

I'm going to send this map to my mother as I have a vivid memory of me and my brothers standing on a beach in Florida during one Spring Break and her telling us that we were staring at Australia. Not sure why that memory stands out...

Pro top: Click on the map above for a larger version.

Published in General News
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 16:21

What is Sea Level?

I will be honest with you, up until today I had never really put much thought about how they determined that Mount Everest was 8,848 meters above sea level.

Wait; let me back up first lest you think I'm a simpleton. I always understood the concept of elevation but I had never thought about exactly how they figure it out considering that most times the sea is hundreds of miles of away. Also, with all that ocean sloshing around and going up and down, how do they know where to start measuring from?

Leave it up to gang at MinutePhysics to figure it out and explain it to us like the simpletons that we are.

Spoiler alert: Gravity has a big role to play in the whole thing.

Flickr photo credit: cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jimmy Emerson

Published in How Stuff Works

I remember when we were kids on a family vacation in Nova Scotia once we found ourselves wandering the harbour docks at night (to this day I don't know why since it seems like a really sketchy activity). Well, we were walking by a large freighter that were loading provisions on board and I have no idea how, but we were invited by one of the crew members onboard for a tour of the ship. I wouldn't be surprised if my father started yelling from the deck asking for one as he was that kind of guy.

So next thing you know we are getting the full tour. We visited the galley, bridge and even got to meet the captain who was really excited to meet us and show us around. For us it was easily the best part of our vacation meanwhile my mother was terrified the whole time and was convinced that we were going to get kidnapped.

Anyways, ever since that day I have loved big ships. I love everything about them and fascinated by their mysterious inner workings. I mean, who really knows where all the pipes that you see actually go? Nobody knows, that's who.

So you can imagine my excitement when Google announced that they have rolled out a Google Streetview tour of the Schmidt Ocean Institute's new 272-foot research vessel, Falkor.

The Bridge of the Falkor ship.

The tour is awesome. You can wander through all nine levels starting with the engine room and all the way up to the crow's nest (do they call it that on a research vessel?).

You view the street view feature here and by dragging the street view icon over the ship or click here for the direct link to the engine room.

Down in the the Falkor engine room.

You might be wondering why this boat in particular has received the full Google tour treatment. Well, the Schmidt Ocean Institute was founded by Dr. Erik Schmidt who is both the Chief Executive at Google and quite the philanthropist. gcaptain.com has the full backstory.

SOI bought the vessel from the German government in 2009 and recently completed an extensive three year, $94 million conversion of the ship from a fishery protection vessel to the high-tech research vessel it is today.

"Falkor's biggest goal is to help change the public conversation about ocean health," said Ms. Schmidt at the Exploratorium, "We're living on a planet where we really don't even know most of what's here. So, we would like to say it's time that we did understand."

Following her San Francisco debut, Falkor left the City by the Bay for British Columbia on two expeditions in Canadian and U.S. waters, before making her way southwest for several months conducting oceanographic research in the Central and Western Pacific.

More info: gcaptain.com
Falkor photo credit: schmidtocean.org

Published in General News
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 14:25

How Big is the Ocean?

We all know that the ocean is large. By large I mean huge. The reality is that the ocean is so big that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it.

To blow your mind this afternoon here is a short animation to help put everything into perspective.

Here is my favourite ocean fun-fact: The oceans of the world hold 99% of the world’s biosphere. That means that every single tree, bug, human and gopher you see on land is only 1% of what’s really out there.

Published in Environment

I always knew that Seahorses were awesome but the video below puts my love for them over the top.

Published in Funny

NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world.

I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before.

This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this:

Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns.

The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days.

They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012.

Photo credit: NASA

Published in Environment

If you have been looking for a good reason to be more afraid of the water then you currently are I think I finally found it: Monsters live below the water surface and they are getting ready to take us down.

Don’t believe me? Witnesses in Victoria, BC saw an almost one metre-long Great Pacific octopus attack and eat a sea gull. When I heard the news this is what I was picturing:

But of course it was more like this…today but what about tomorrow?

An octopus eating a sea gull.

I’m pretty sure that the sea gull didn’t even see it coming so keep that in mind next time you are out paddling and decide to practice your rescues as there is a very, very high chance that you will end up just like this guy.

Sub-Mariner comic book cover.

Also, if you don’t think that a bird eating octopus is bad enough, evil scientists (only an evil scientist could have come up with this) finally figured out a way to put lasers (yes, lasers) on sharks. Nature’s most efficient killing machine just got a whole lot scarier.

Sharks with a laser!

Is it time to re-enact that awesome Iron Maiden song and run to the hills? All signs point to yes.

Top photo credit: famousmonstersoffilmland.com
Middle photo credit: Ginger Morneau
Shark photo credit: wired.com
Comic photo credit:  wikipedia.org


Published in Weird

After being away for a week I’m still trying to get caught up with all the good stuff that the internet spit out since I was gone.

Last week the nerdy/sarcastic web comic, XKCD published this awesome infographic on the relative depths of the worlds lakes and oceans. Click through to view the full sized images in all its nerdy glory.

Image credit: xkcd.com

Published in General News
Kokatat LogoKokatat, the leading US manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports, is pleased to announce its support of OAR Northwest, an ocean adventure rowing and adventure education organization, based in Seattle, WA.  OAR Northwest will be using Kokatat gear during its upcoming expeditions: a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and Atlantic Ocean crossing.
“We are proud to keep OAR Northwest paddlers dry during their expeditions and support their mission on land of educating their communities on the health of our marine ecosystems while promoting water sports in general,” said Lisa Kincaid, Kokatat Promotional Marketing Manager.
While attempting record setting ocean rowing journeys, members of the OAR Northwest team uses high-tech instruments to collect research data from the ocean environment and marine life and individual biometric data from the rowers.  For example, they will use a YSI CastAway to analyze the ocean water’s temperature, salinity and sound speed.  Through free web-based tracking and an adventure learning curriculum found at OARnorthwest.com, students and adults alike can virtually join the rowers every oar stroke of the way on these academic year-based expeditions.
“Kokatat gear is essential for our safety and comfort in the unpredictable seas,” said rower and OAR Northwest President, Jordan Hanssen.  “Kokatat has been a great partner in the past, and we are excited to have them back in the ocean rowboat for these upcoming expeditions.”
The OAR Northwest team consists of an Olympic Gold Medalist and Guinness World Record holding rowers.  For the expeditions the team will use the world’s most technologically advanced ocean rowboat, the 29-foot James Robert Hanssen and an array of Kokatat gear including GORE-TEX® Front Entry Dry Suits with Relief Zipper, GORE-TEX® Anorak jackets, multiple layering options, and various accessories.
On April 7, 2012, OAR Northwest will depart on its Canadian Wildlife Federation Salish Sea Expedition.  This 750-mile record-making attempt to circumnavigate Vancouver Island will depart from Lake Union Park, Seattle, WA and proceed in a counter-clockwise direction around the island.
In December 2012 OAR Northwest will make a Guinness World Record attempt across the Atlantic Ocean on its CWF Africa to the Americas 2012 expedition.  The journey will span 60-80 days as the team rows nearly 4,000 nautical miles from Liberia to Venezuela.  In addition to connecting children from communities separated by a vast ocean and cultures through its educational programs, the expedition team is rowing in support of Right To Play – an international nongovernmental organization whose philosophy is to impart skills of responsibility and self-reliance that leave a lasting impact for children.
About Kokatat Watersports Wear
Celebrating over 40 years of innovation, Kokatat is an independently operated, US manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports. Handcrafted in Arcata, California, Kokatat employees are focused on building the finest functional product for people who work and play on water. Our gear is designed for paddlers, by paddlers, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water all year long and in all weather conditions. Into the water with Kokatat! Please visit www.kokatat.com and follow Kokatat on Facebook and Twitter “@kokatat”.
About OAR Northwest
Founded in 2005, OAR Northwest connects with partners to reach its expedition and program goals, while propelling youth, community members and businesses to their own extraordinary achievement. The crew for next two expeditions, including a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and mid-Atlantic crossing: Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Kreek; Guinness World Record holders and North Atlantic Rowing Race veterans Jordan Hanssen and Greg Spooner, and national level lightweight rower Richard Tarbill.  Jordan and Greg rowed 3,200 nautical miles across the North Atlantic in 72 days from the USA to the UK without assistance.  This Pacific Northwest-based 501(c)3  non-profit organization is currently raising awareness and funds for its 2012 expeditions. OAR Northwest proves that solid teams faced with extreme challenges can inspire excellence. For more information visit: OARnorthwest.com.  
About OAR Northwest’s Educational Program
The OAR Northwest education program aims to motivate student learning, and the approach is to make students active participants in the learning process.  Face-to-face interactions with expedition crew members, innovative online tracking technology and an adventure learning curriculum contribute to building a student’s academic excellence.  Students explore real life and world issues through authentic classroom and out-of-school learning experiences.  Programs launch in March 2012 at schools.  Enroll today by visiting the education tab on the OAR Northwest website.
Published in Press Releases

I don’t care what my wife says; we are remortgaging the house tomorrow and buying this semi-submarine on Friday. Once I’m done exploring the Toronto Harbour I’m totally going to cruise out and show up that jerk, James Cameron and with my own Mariana Trench dive.

Published in Weird
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