Recent events that have impacted or been impacted by the ocean

By Maria Grund ’14 and Anna-Maria Thalassinos ’14

Image Courtesy University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Rip Currents

A rip current is a “narrow, fast moving belt of water traveling offshore,” according to the National Weather Service. They form when waves move from deep water to shallow water and break on the shore. The difference in the strength of the waves causes a rip tide. These currents can pull a human being out further into the ocean, but despite myths, they will not pull people underwater. However, they are the leading ocean hazard with roughly 100 people dying from them every year, according to the NWS. These deaths are usually the result of people being weak swimmers and not being able to return to shore. One such instance is Indiana football player Isaac Griffith who was caught in a rip current recently and almost drown. He was released from the Sarasota Memorial Hospital on March 23 after being put in a medically induced coma, according to Sports Illustrated.

Image Courtesy National Geographic

Deepsea Challenger

The DeepSea Challenger is a submarine created to explore the bottom of Challenger Deep, the lowest known point on Earth, almost seven miles below sea level. Despite being 24 feet long, the interior cabin is only 43 inches wide, according to National Geographic. This is due to the large amount of pressure on the Challenger as it descends to the ocean floor. The Challenger is a one-person ship whose pilot is James Cameron, the director of Avatar and Titanic. The DeepSea Challenge was his eighth ocean expedition, according to National Geographic following multiple for Titanic.

Image Courtesy Marine Insight

Garbage Patch

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, an international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, lost contact with air traffic control on March 8. Since its disappearance, there have been many instances where reporters have announced the findings of debris from the plane, only to discover that the debris is in fact garbage. According to a CNN article by Tom Cohen, if there is one aspect of this search that has been made clear, it is that the ocean is full of garbage. According to Cohen, Conservation International senior scientist M. Sanjayan has warned for years that human abuse of the ocean’s ecosystem causes major problems for ocean life as well as the people that depend on it. “It isn’t like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Sanjayan said. “It’s like looking for a needle in a needle factory. It is one piece of debris among billions floating in the ocean.”

Image Courtesy Science Daily

New Creatures

A new type of ocean creature has been discovered by German scientists in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. Referred to as the glasshead barreleye, this seven inch long fish has a cylindrical eye that points upward to observe its prey, or even potential mates. According to a March 24 article in IB Times by Zoe Mintz, this eye contains mirror-like retina capabilities of detecting bioluminescent flashes, which provides the fish a larger field of vision. Additionally, Mintz wrote that the finding of the fish’s reflector eye came as a surprise because they are primarily only found in invertebrates, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Although the glasshead barreleye is referred to as “the fish with four eyes,” the fish actually has two eyes that are split into two connected sections, which then appears to look like four eyes.

Rip Tide Photo: Image courtesy Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Deepsea Challenger Photo: Image courtesy National Geographic

Garbage Patch Photo: Image courtesy Marine Insight

New Fish Photo: Image courtesy Science Daily