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Shipwrecks and Lost Treasures of the Seven Seas : WET & HOT NEWS !

30 March 2013

What were Egypt’s divers up to with underwater cables ?

Christopher Dickey -

Maybe the three scuba divers were just idiots. Or spies. Or saboteurs.

It’s hard to tell from the Egyptian military’s statements about the men it arrested this week for allegedly cutting an undersea fiberoptic cable carrying vast amounts of Internet traffic between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

But whatever the motive, the incident underscores once again just how vulnerable global communications really are.

According to the official Egyptian news agency, the three divers said they were doing underwater salvage work less than a kilometer off the coast from the city of Alexandria.

There have been violent protests there in recent days, raising the question of a possible link.

Religious zealots often rage against the openness of the Internet. (Saudi Arabia is threatening to shut down Skype and other encrypted services.)

And there are always many Egyptians who see the hand of Israel in supposedly nefarious plots.

But according to the Egyptian news report on this incident, these three were basically just diving for junk.

And when they saw a cable about the diameter of a garden hose on the floor of the Mediterranean they decided to take a chunk of that, too.

The effect was a little like rats chewing an electric wire, but instead of a few lights flickering, the divers disrupted Internet service in Egypt and far beyond.

So, if that was by accident, just imagine what a terrorist might do on purpose: 95 percent of the world’s voice and data traffic travels through undersea cables.

Only about 5 percent goes via satellites, and they could never take up the slack if a major part of the cable infrastructure were shut down.

Just for example, more than a trillion dollars' worth of international banking transactions is conducted through fiberoptic cables every day.

Full article...


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22 March 2013

Singapore divers head to Sabah despite warning

Law Zhi Tian -

The fighting in the Malaysian state of Sabah has not deterred some Singapore divers from heading there.

This is despite the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) last week advising travellers going to eastern Sabah to "monitor developments through the local news and avoid the troubled spots such as Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna".

Director of travel agency Amazing Borneo Travel and Events, Mr Kenji Yeo, 32, said none of his customers has cancelled a trip to Sipadan Island.

Six of them are heading there at the end of this month. The popular dive site is three to four hours from the military action taking place in Lahad Datu and the surrounding areas, which has seen 56 Filipino insurgents and nine Malaysians killed.

Mr Yeo said that although his customers are "definitely worried and concerned" about the situation in Sabah and have e-mailed him or called him up, most do not regard it as serious enough to call off their trip.

"Most ask me whether it's safe enough to go and I will usually tell them to check the Sabah Tourism Board's website.

If they ask me for my personal choice, I tell them that I would go, but it's their choice."

Full article...


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Kon artist ?

Richard Conniff -

One of the first lessons you learn going into the field as an anthropologist, archaeologist or journalist is never to come back empty-handed.

The cost of the expedition, the need to gratify sponsors, the urge to make a name, all turn up the pressure to get the story.

So it’s easy to forget the second great lesson of fieldwork: beware of a story that’s just a little too good.

Thor Heyerdahl, who died in April at the age of 87, spent much of an active and sometimes inspiring life in the thrall of one good story.

He believed that, long before Columbus, early ocean travelers—tall, fair-skinned, redheaded Vikings much like himself—spread human culture to the most remote corners of the earth.

Academics scoffed, particularly at his idea that the islands of the mid-Pacific had been colonized by way of South America, rather than by Polynesians from the western Pacific.

In 1947, Heyerdahl risked his life attempting to prove his point. He built a balsa-log raft, the Kon-Tiki, and in one of the great ocean adventures of the 20th century, he and his small crew made the harrowing 4,300-mile voyage from Peru to French Polynesia. In the process, Heyerdahl established himself as an almost mythic hero.

His best-selling book Kon-Tiki inspired a new generation of scholars—many of whom went on to systematically refute their hero’s great idea.

The trouble with a good story is that it has a way of distorting the facts: we see what we want to see and close our eyes to everything else.

In the 1970s, scholars and filmmakers were so enraptured with the idea of peace-loving, Stone Age hunter-gatherers they failed to notice that the gentle Tasaday were a very modern Filipino hoax.

In the harsher zeitgeist of more recent times, a hotly disputed book, Darkness in El Dorado, charges that anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon believed so firmly in the savagery of Venezuela’s Yanomami that he instigated the very bloodshed he went there to document. (Chagnon steadfastly denies the charge.)

Full story...


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21 March 2013

County taking steps to let scuba divers return to Silver Springs

Bill Thompson -

For a few years at the end of the Eisenhower administration Hollywood legend Lloyd Bridges used the once gin-clear output of Silver Springs as the set for a TV show based on a scuba diver.

Over 155 episodes of the adventure series “Sea Hunt” — more than 100 of which were filmed at Silver Springs — Bridges portrayed Mike Nelson, a one-time Navy frogman who in the space of 30 minutes, as the online version of Skin Diver magazine once noted, “got into trouble, got out of trouble, rescued a damsel, caught the bad guys and neatly wrapped things up with a safety message.”

Now that Silver Springs is slated to become a state park, and enticing ecotourists is viewed as a must, a drive is on to open up the waterway to the ranks of contemporary Mike Nelsons.

This week the County Commission directed County Administrator Lee Niblock to research what steps are necessary to allow scuba divers to return to the springs — who, except under certain circumstances, have been banned for a generation.

Some commissioners see the financial sense in doing so.

Full article...


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11 March 2013

Australian government gives the green light to $60 million Barrier Reef resort

Kelley Vick - 

Australia's Environment Minister, Tony Burke, gave his approval yesterday for development of a $600 million resort on Great Keppel Island, a rugged island just off the coast of Queensland boasting 17 white sandy beaches with some of the highest cover of hard coral reefs on Australia's famed Great Barrier Reef.

The planned resort consists of a 250-room hotel, 750 Villas, 600 apartments, a 250-berth marina, and a golf course designed by Greg Norman.

This is the third attempt for developer Tower Holdings to get plans green-lighted by the government -- the first two included an even larger-scale resort and were denied due to environmental concerns (original plans reportedly included three hotels with 700 rooms).

"In considering this proposal I have taken into account the likely impacts on matters protected under national environment law, including measures to ensure the ongoing protection of the Great Barrier Reef," Mr. Burke said in a statement, explaining the Australian federal government has imposed 96 conditions on the Great Keppel development's approval.

"The conditions I have imposed will ensure that the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef is not diminished by this development."

Full story...


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Another cruise ship damaged after hitting rock

Gene Sloan -

An adventure cruise ship operated by Lindblad Expeditions hit a submerged rock on Monday, causing damage to the vessel.

The 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion was departing an anchorage in the Las Perlas Islands, about 70 nautical miles from Panama City, when it struck the rock, which was uncharted, Lindblad spokesperson Patty Disken-Cahill tells USA TODAY.

None of the 55 passengers and 35 crew on board the vessel was injured, Disken-Cahill says.

The National Geographic Sea Lion sustained damage to its hull and one propeller during the incident, but after clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard, returned to Panama City on its own power, arriving today at 5 a.m.

The accident occurred on the third day of an eight-day voyage transiting the Panama Canal and exploring the islands of Panama and Costa Rica.

Full story...


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Royal Navy ship discovers uncharted deep Red Sea canyon

Hydro International -

HMS Enterprise, a multi-role survey vessel - hydrographic oceanographic (SVHO) of the British Royal Navy, has recently produced a series of stunning images of a Grand Canyon-style ocean floor hidden deep under the Red Sea.

The vessel used her surveying equipment to reveal the natural wonder during her nine-month mission to improve understanding of the waters east of Suez.

Discovering the 250-meter-deep canyon after leaving the Egyptian port of Safaga, the ship used her sophisticated multibeam echo sounder to create the 3D images, allowing the ocean floor to be seen for the first time.

Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, Commander Derek Rae, commented these features could be the result of ancient rivers scouring through the rock strata before the Red Sea flooded millennia ago.

Some may be far younger - and still in the process of being created by underwater currents driven by the winds and tidal streams as they flow through this area of the Red Sea, carving their way through the soft sediment and being diverted by harder bed rock.

Or there is always the possibility that they are a combination of the two.

It is almost certain that this is the closest that humans will ever get to gaze upon these truly impressive sights hundreds of meters beneath the surface.

Full story...


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05 March 2013

Sharks at risk of extinction from overfishing, say scientists

The Guardian - 

Sharks risk being driven to extinction due to overfishing, with almost 100 million killed each year, scientists have warned.

Many species of shark need better protection to prevent their extinction within coming decades, researchers warned in advance of a global conference on the trade in threatened species.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will consider greater protection of vulnerable sharks, including porbeagles, oceanic whitetip and three types of hammerhead to preserve their populations.

Sharks are caught for their fins for use in shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia.

The fins are cut off with the dead carcass being thrown back into the sea.

Sharks grow slowly and take years to reproduce, which makes them vulnerable to overfishing.

The researchers estimated that global reported catches, unreported landings, discards and sharks caught and thrown back after their fins were cut off – a process known as finning – added up to 97 million fish caught in 2010.

Full article...


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13 February 2013

Internal Ocean Waves Spotted From Outer Space

Douglas Main -

Below the whitecaps breaking on the sea surface, so-called internal waves ripple through the water.

These waves can travel long distances, but rarely does evidence of their existence surface — unless you're looking down from space, that is.

This photograph, taken on Jan. 18 by a crewmember on the International Space Station, shows internal waves north of the Caribbean island of Trinidad, as featured by NASA's Earth Observatory.

From space, the appearance of the waves is enhanced due to reflected sunlight, or sunglint, aimed back at the space station, making the waves visible to an astronaut's camera.

The most prominent waves can be seen in the upper left of the photograph, moving in from the northwest due to tidal flow toward Trinidad, according to the Earth Observatory.

Another set can be seen moving in from the northeast, likely created at the edge of the continental shelf, where the seafloor abruptly drops off, the site reported.

Internal waves are seen throughout Earth's oceans and atmosphere, according to MIT's Experimental and Nonlinear Dynamics Lab.

They are created by differences in density of water layers (from changes in temperature or salt content, for example) when that water moves over a feature such as an underwater mountain or a continental shelf.

The waves are huge, with heights up to 100 meters (about 330 feet) and widths that span hundreds of miles, according to a 2010 MIT press release on a new method for studying the waves.

A plume of milky sediment can also be seen moving to the northwest in the photograph.

The sediment is carried by the equatorial current, which flows from east to west, starting in Africa, and is driven toward the Caribbean by strong easterly winds, according to the website.


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