Hot Debate about the Cold

Sea science is all about what lies beneath the ocean, particularly in the deeper depths. Sea life has always fascinated me and I have always wanted to share my passion with others. If you want to hear about anything from plankton to whales, stick around for a while. How salt water supports life is fascinating to say the least. What happens to different species when the environment changes is also of interest to me. Everything I do and think about seems to come back to this topic. It is a lifetime enterprise to learn even the basics.

As an example of my obsession, one night I was lolling in my friend’s hot tub and we got kind of relaxed. Soon a debate began about what happens to fish when water freezes. We know what happens to humans in warm water as we were experiencing it firsthand. We also have seen what happens to them when they freeze as we have found buried bodies on Mt. Everest. Fish are no different. They must have their narrow range of temperature to survive. When we catch fish right on our deep sea fishing boat, we gut it and freeze it on the spot to ensure maximum freshness. It is hard to eat everything you catch that night. Fish go bad quickly. So we know what happens to the critters when frozen. They look the same and thaw out quite nicely.

Is there anywhere in the oceans of the world where the water is so cold that it does this job itself? If a fish wandered into the arctic zone, would it freeze and die? Could it be revived? I ask myself these questions as I sip a glass of wine with my friend. He looks at me askance. “We are in a hot tub, let’s see what https://www.hottesttubs.com/ has to say” he explained. Of course I know that, I replied. We got into a tiff as we hotly debated about the cold. We were literally hot in the steaming water and also irate at one another. It was ridiculous. I had to know so I vowed to surf the net in search of answers.

Here’s the deal. Scientists in the field know that fish do not in fact freeze in the Arctic Ocean because they have a natural antifreeze in their systems that keeps blood flowing at the prevailing sub-zero temperature. Wow! This temperature is usually 28.6 F all the time (close to seawater freezing point) while fish blood needs 30.4 F. Do they go off course and ice up? No, my friends. They have this special frost protection protein in their blood. Through a chemical process, ice crystallization is prevented, otherwise it would be fatal. Fish do freeze as we know from our fishing expeditions in our ice chest, but if they did in the water, it would itself be frozen solid. There is more to the story but for lack of space, I will stop here.

A Day at the Shore

A day at the shore is no ordinary adventure. Sure everyone is propping up their umbrellas and laying colorful towels on the sand. Kids are filling pails with water to help make sand castles and mothers are getting out the sandwiches and lemonade. The water is populated with people of every age who need to cool off a bit from the hot, blazing sun. They ride the small waves right up to the edge of the sand. More adventurous types are swimming out to the buoys strategically placed every few hundred feet. It is a circus of activity: kids tossing beach balls, dogs running alongside their masters, paws barely skimming the ocean foam.

I like to check the tide pools myself and collect what I find, shells and the like. There is a world to explore that is hidden from the average eye more intent on riding waves and body surfing. You can wander off and find places all your own. I take a special beach bag with me to house my treasures. It has compartments to I can separate one find from another. It is lined and waterproof which is necessary given what I usually find. The bag always ends up full of sand and seaweed debris. There is always a cleanup job to be done when I get home. No matter. I love to sort out what I have collected so I can take a closer look.

I got the beach bag as a gift from someone who knows how I wander and explore at the shore. They got one that is sturdy and durable to withstand the sharp-edged shells that I frequently toss in. And there are a lot of shells. Not that they are the only item to garner along the sand, but that I like to make sculptures out of them. I make a rod out of a strong twig and I take small smooth stones that I have also found on the beach. I make tiny holes in them with a special jewelry making drill. The same goes for the shells. Then I layer the stones and shells in different sizes up the twig almost to the top. If I place more than one of these sculptures side by side it makes for a very nice item of decoration. So the beach bag houses the makings of home-made art work that is the culmination of my day at the beach.

If I don’t find what I want to make my twig stacks as I call them, then I simply try a new location or wait for another day. But I am usually lucky; there are plenty of places to look for bric-a-brac from the sea. You sometimes find a really odd shape that can become a sculpture in and for itself when mounted on a bit of driftwood. I find this hunting for art makings to be a great instigator of fun at the shore.

One if by Air, Two if By Sea

Teaching people sea science from a blog is a bit ambitious as it can get pretty complex. Undersea life is a rather vast enterprise laden with personal and passionate issues. You can get pretty far afield. Since I love the subject, to help readers grasp essentials, Let’s narrow the focus today to fish tank water filters as a microcosm of a larger subject and see how carbon filters work just like they do in normal air purifiers.

If you learn anything, it is that the fish tank is a natural habitat that must be controlled and regulated if the fish are to survive. If this is your hobby, you will want to be knowledgeable and that goes for activated carbon charcoal pebbles that like their air purifier counterparts remove odors, colors, organic pollutants and the like to keep the water crystal clear and healthy for the denizens. Anyone who has lost a fish or two knows how important this is. Keeping the water clean is a regular chore; the more you know about it, the greater the chances for immediate success.

In effect, you are neutralizing and destroying toxic compounds from your tank, making it phosphate free and safe for both fresh and saltwater occupants, since you might well have some of each. It is easy to do, works fast, and is long lasting; so make sure you have some handy next to your tank at all times. You buy the carbon in bulk in a store or on line. Don’t be deterred by the hefty price. Follow the instructions by rinsing the carbon media through until the water runs clear before use. Make sure you buy aquatics carbon just for ponds and aquaria like the brand Aqua-Carb. It is a high capacity carbon media specifically designed to remove organic waste material from ponds and aquarium water. It will reduce yellow and brown tint, improve odor, and reduce overall organic levels in the water. If you have an air purifier at home that works with a carbon filter, this will seem like familiar stuff. When you buy such an appliance you have a choice of method of operation.

As for carbon, activated carbon is the porous material that absorbs volatile chemicals on a molecular basis. The absorption process must reach equilibrium for the machine to completely remove all contaminants. In other words, activated carbon is a process of changing contaminants from a gaseous to a solid phase, when aggravated or disturbed contaminants can be regenerated in indoor air sources. It can be used at room temperature and is often used in conjunction with other filter technology such as HEPA. In tandem with the latter, you can remove particles of all sizes, minute to very large.

The Honeywell air purifier is on all experts’ short list of brands to buy. Along with Holmes, the two make up 50% of all portable and console units. Honeywell is a mass-market brand with a “value” proposition. The brand is available at mass merchants, including Walmart and Target, and widely online. Choosing Honneywell is a vote for quality and solid reputation. The company gibes air purifiers indeed a good name.

My New Reptile Tank

I love the ocean and all its creatures. That includes fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. I like to spend time exploring all the ocean’s inhabitants, either through books, the internet, or up close and personal. One animal that I haven’t known much about is turtles. I do think they are pretty amazing, though! I decided that this was something I correct, and set out to do just that.

I thought about it, finally coming to the conclusion to simply get a turtle as a pet. I thought it would be fun to have around. It would also be a great way to learn more about these cool creatures. I chose a Red Eared Slider after talking to the reptile expert at the pet store and checking out the species available. I also talked to the store employees about what to purchase to create a good reptile habitat, and I wanted to pass the information along if anyone else is interested.

The first thing to get is an appropriate sized tank. Don’t believe the myth that turtles will only grow in proportion to the tank he or she is in. Some species of turtle can actually grow quite big, and sometimes the male or female can grow differently, so do some research or ask questions before you make your choice. Unless you want to continue to buy new terrariums, you will want to take this into account.

Something else to think about is whether your turtle will mostly be a swimmer or if they like to get out and warm themselves, or what’s called basking. If yours is a basking turtle like mine, they’re going to need somewhere to hang out and do what they do. Again, if they are baskers, you are going to need a heat lamp. It keeps them healthy and is vital to their care.

I did some research before I went to the store and had decided to get both a full spectrum lamp and the best infrared heater that I could find. I bought a timer so that the infrared bulb can come on at night to keep the turtle warm but not create too much light. The full spectrum light replaces the infrared light during the day to simulate daylight for the turtle so that it feels more like a natural daylight/nighttime experience.

I got home and set it all up. I wanted it to sit for a day before I brought the turtle home. I take this very seriously and I really wanted to be sure that everything was working correctly. I was nervous that the timer might not work correctly and it could get too hot for the turtle, which would be incredibly dangerous. However, everything worked perfectly. The tank was warm but not too warm. The broad spectrum light did its job well, and the timer switched it over to the infrared bulb perfectly. The infrared bulb wasn’t bright but gave off enough heat to keep the tank at the proper temperature. I was very happily relieved after my test run.

I go back to pick up the turtle tomorrow. I can’t wait!

I Give Up!!!

We all appreciate convenience, all the more so when we are put out about something that monopolizes our time. Take my old humidifier, for example. I am particularly irked about finding replacement filters that don’t seem to exist anymore. Recently, I noticed that my unit was not operating at an optimal level and I figured it was the filter since the motor was still humming away nicely. I went to four stores to no avail. Then I went online. Surely I would find them there—you can get just about anything on the Internet these days. Nope, no luck.

I was aggravated to say the least. This search was taking way too much of my valuable time. I lost hours in one day. I give up, I cried. After a moment or two, however, I was not about to be defeated and set out to conquer the problem. I would get a new model, and one that did not require this elusive part.

What is a filterless humidifier anyway? Let’s look at Dyson’s hygienic humidification. That sounds enchanting. The appliance looks amazing. It is super modern and sleek featuring a cool oval shape. It is furthermore ultrasonic and cuts down on the breeding of nasty bacteria. (It seems that other models can evaporate water directly from a wet wick which can harbor bacteria.) What else is appealing? The filterless Dyson can kill it all off with ultraviolent cleanse technology. Sounds impressive, right. It means that every drop of water is exposed to a UVC light. The unit projects clean, hydrated air into your room quietly, safely, and effectively.

For your hard-earned money, with this wonderful machine you get humidity and temperature control. It adjusts automatically for the ideal climate, just the way you want it. Electronics are so amazing. You don’t have to oversaturate your environment at all. You decide.

Who wouldn’t want this humidifier in their home? There are other choices, of course, but this one stands out. Whatever you decide, you want advanced technology that eliminates the filter and its lack of cleanliness. The innovation gods have answered man’s need. Filterless systems can keep the air moist and eliminate dust and minerals in the air in a new way by means of an electrostatic charge. Thus, you get much cleaner mist. Wow! Because the humidifier can clean itself, in effect, it will run longer and become more economical. Even if it costs more, it is well worth the investment long term.

Honeywell is another top brand name to look for. No more searching for replacement filters! The cool mist humidifier ideal for Florida has many high points. You can run these babies for up to 30 hours continuously. They are quiet and don’t disturb one’s sleep. Plus, the antimicrobial treated water reservoir ensures a healthy mist injected into the air. If you want adjustable moisture control, you got it.

I think you get the picture, and I am glad that I “gave up” on my replacement filter. I forked over a modest sum to get a new unit.

Diamond in the Rough

My great-aunt died recently and she left me my great-grandfather’s desk. It’s a beautiful piece but it had definitely seen better days. My love of marine science has really taught me to respect even the smallest thing, and it bothered me to see such a nice piece of furniture showing its age so poorly. There were scratches and scuffs, and the wood had changed color slightly in some places where I imagine the sun used to hit it. Plus, as my aunt got older, she was less able to take care of things around her house and it had about ten years’ worth of dust covering it. I took some pictures and went to an antique shop to talk to them about it. The price they quoted me was a little more than I could pay to have it restored. However, the employee on duty was really nice and basically walked me through the whole restoration process, which was incredibly helpful.

I listened intently to all the instructions that he gave me. Once I got to my car, I wrote as much of it as I could remember down on a receipt I had in my car. I knew one day not cleaning out my car was going to pay off! Then I headed to a home improvement store to pick up everything I thought I’d need for the paint stripping process: sandpaper and paint remover. I used the paint remover and a brush to get the paint off the legs and drawers, but the top and edges needed a little sandpapering to buff out the scratches and dents of many years of use. It felt like a long time, but it felt like studying sea life. I know, I know. What I mean is that when I am looking at, say, an aquarium every day, I start to learn details about each creature’s habits and history. By spending so much time focusing on this desk, I’ve learned an incredible amount about it—little imperfections in its surface, the curves of the wood, the look and feel of the grain.

Once I had the old paint off, it was time to stain the desk. I decided to use my airless paint sprayer because I wanted a nice smooth finish with no brush strokes marring the surface of the stain. I’ve probably got the best airless paint sprayer around—I can just stick a hose into the gallon of stain and turn it on and I’m in business. It has a fantastic pump that forces the paint out at the perfect speed to get a project like this done quickly. It didn’t take long to get the first coat on and before I knew it, I was getting that second coat finished. Oh, it looked so great when I was done!

I put it in my study, replacing my old assembly-required-and-not-quite-wood desk. I very excitedly moved my trilobite fossil on the corner along with my coral reef desk lamp (don’t worry, its faux coral). The soft and warm tones of the stain practically glow under the desk light. It looks amazing and I think my great-grandfather would be proud.

Keeping Guns and the Ocean Clean

I own a handgun and have been cleaning it with an old kit I was given by a friend. This has been expedient as I am pretty busy and cannot just run out to buy a new one. I am not entirely thrilled with the idea of a toxic solution however. I see from the label that the ingredients are not safe from an environmental point of view. When it runs down the drain during the cleaning process, I have horrific visions of it seeping into the ocean. God knows the ocean has enough pollutants already and in point of fact, I have been personally fighting for this cause. A clean up is always in order, but why not prevent the damage in the first place.

I need a biodegradable, hazardless solution and am looking actively for such an animal on line. Of course it also has to be an effective cleaner. Household products have been revolutionized by promoters of more green practices, so why not gun cleaning products?Here’s what I have found. I came across on the Brownell’s website a jar of J-B non-embedding bore cleaning compound. The description says it cuts through the toughest bullet jacket and powder fouling. It is actually a paste more than a solution and thus has some abrasive action that won’t “eat” stock finishes. Now this item has been around since the 1960’s and is unlikely to be very green in spite of the testimonials given about its effectiveness. So let’s move on.

Next I see Break-Free CLP all-purpose cleaner in an aerosol can. It is also a lubricant and preservative. Yikes. This one contains specialized chemicals that displace corrosion, dirt, and firing residue. It may be a superior cleaner, but it will do no good to the ocean and its denizens. Is there no hope? I then come across at Cabela’s website Hoppe’s Elite cleaning kit that “removes all fouling down to the molecular level.” It promises superior lubrication for maximum performance. But at what price? It says it is safe to use on any firearm, but is it safe for the sea? I think I am going to prefer the Remington Pop-up Wipes that are pre-moistened and disposable. Maybe these will go to a landfill instead of into the ocean. The solution inherent in the wipes cleans dirt and grime from exposed metal surfaces on guns and protects against rust, corrosion, and fingerprints. Pretty handy!

I am at my wits end, however, and am about to go crazy when I find Slip’s 725 gun cleaner. Now we are talking. This is a super strength degreaser, but the real news is that it is biodegradable and considered a non-solvent. It is a water-based product that I think I am going to like. It has surfactants and emulsifiers in it, but no harsh chemicals. When you rinse your weapon, nothing horrid goes down the drain.

It is hard to believe that a gun cleaning product can do its job well and still be environmentally friendly. You have to give and take here a little. The point is that you can get closer to the mark of protecting the planet of you are careful about what you buy.

All at Sea

My last oceanography expedition was phenomenal. Life at sea teaches many lessons. Sure, there were some rough seas and less than perfect accommodations, but in the name of science you put up with some adversity. It is all par for the course. After all, a science ship is not a luxury liner. All in all, however, I managed to make do with the various amenities offered; and they weren’t half bad. Follow along with me for a mental tour of my floating surroundings.

Large ships seem ample until you are on them for some time. Then they become small. Be that as it may, if you walk around a ship of this nature, you will sooner or later come across the engine room. Take a look inside. The Chief Engineer may give you a briefing and some pointers. Amble onward and you eventually get to a laundry area and gym. You have to abide by their hours. Fortunately for us exercise buffs, there is gear for weight and endurance training. The usual suspects are there: treadmill, rowing machine, exercise bike, and stair stepper. Mosey a little further for the main lounge next to the conference room, stocked with movies and books.

Now we get to the cabins. Mine has two bunk beds, a head and a shower. Pretty basic. Not surprisingly, it comes equipped with TV/VCR, and an Internet connection. It is modest sleeping quarters so you tend to want to get out and go to the dayroom if you have leisure time. If you want to log data, you can do it from several locations and access the general computer system. You can also do it from the very same cabin.

When you are hungry, it is time to visit the mess hall open twenty-four hours a day. It is on the starboard side of the main deck. Food is adequate if not occasionally tasty. Dietary needs are accommodated. If you are a late-night snacker, there is always something available.

One of the comforts of home not provided is a good pillow, so I brought my special pillow for stomach sleepers along for the ride. I have gotten rather used to it, so tucking into my tote was a prerequisite for being ready. It is amazing how small it can fold up to be. You get blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and towels, so this is the only extra you need to take with you. Sleeping in a different bed can be a challenge until you get used to it, so having a good pillow will make you feel more at ease.

You have to keep a regimen while onboard a science ship as in the military. No tardiness or excuses are allowed. If your sleep patterns don’t fall into place, you will be tired and weary each morning, unable to focus and concentrate. It pays to pay attention to this problem before you head out to sea. I have my plan of attack in my luggage and it always provides the rest I need. People say when you board a ship, you should leave your prior life on land. For me, this is not possible!

The Great Barrier Reef

Many things have been discovered in our oceans by divers, from lost sunken ships, buried treasures of old, to possible proof of ancient civilizations. But one thing that has fascinated me for years is the Great Barrier Reef. You can find images online of beautiful and vivid coral, fish, and other amazing aquatic life. Its on my list of places to see before I leave this world.

Being the world’s largest reef system it is home to over 2,900 separate reefs with more than 900 islands covering the expanse of the reef. In fact, the reef is so large that it can be seen from space. It is home to thirty different species of porpoises, whales and dolphins, 17 species of sea snakes and over 1,500 species of fish. In fact, 10% of our world’s entire species of fish are found within the Great Barrier reef. And lastly, about 330 different species of ascidians, also known as sea squirts, reside on the reef system.

Its not only people who come to visit the reef either. It has been recorded that 6 species of sea turtles visit the reef to breed, and 215 species of birds come to roost or nest on the surrounding islands.

I bet you’re wondering how such a huge host to living things was formed? The Great Barrier Reef is an ancient place that is mainly composed of coral; live coral that dies and becomes a foundation for more live coral to grow. There are generations of coral formed on the reef and it has been dated as far back as 20 million years. The huge stone walls of the reef are covered in all form of living organisms, such as anemones, algae, crustaceans, sponges, coral, starfish, snakes, turtles, worms. Fish and a plethora of plant species.

In recent decades we have heard a lot about the fate of the Great Coral Reef and the many things that threaten its delicate ecosystem. Climate change is the largest of these threats with warmer temperatures in the ocean putting a significant amount of stress on the coral, causing the coral to bleach. Coral bleaching is when the coral expels all of the algae that symbiotically loves within the coral system from it tissues, causing the coral to turn white. In 1998 and 2002 there was a mass coral-bleaching event that took place. The 2002 event was the worst resulting in over 50% of the coral to experience some degree of bleaching.

The Great Barrier Reef’s health has also been affected by the run-offs of river catchments that have pollution in them. Tourism can also be a problem, with over 2 million people visiting the reef each year, and needs to be closely monitored to keep this delicate ecosystem safe. Many groups are working to help keep this beautiful underwater wonder safe and in good health. It would be a shame for us to lose something so wonderful that is an extremely important asset to our planet.

Problems Our Oceans are Facing

Problems Our Oceans are Facing

Talking about the Great Barrier Reef and its delicate nature made me think about all of our planet’s oceans and some of the problems they are facing as well. I mean the oceans are part of our biggest resource for sustaining life on this planet. Its where we get food, water and natural resource found beneath its depths. The oceans have the possibility to give us many eco-solutions but right now they are dealing with some major stress factors. Some may think that the negative impact on the oceans won’t affect us so much, but it affects the life in the sea that can have a huge impact on life on dry land too. Here are some of the biggest issues our oceans are dealing with;

Dying Coral Reefs

Its not just the Great Barrier Reef that is under stress here. I’m talking about all coral reefs needing protection. They support such an enormous amount of sea life that in turn support bigger sea creatures and us human beings.

Pollution

Did you know that there is a vortex of trash spinning around in the Pacific Ocean, now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? I mean this thing is said to be the size of Texas and its planted right smack in the middle of the ocean. Its made up of all rubbish that is unable to decompose naturally, such as plastics, chemical sludge and debris that has gotten trapped in the mess by the waters currents. It was Charles Moore who came across this heap of floating trash in 1999. Lately, this area has gotten a lot of attention from eco organizations who are working to launch clean-up efforts.

Marine life can be greatly affected by what gets dumped into the waters as well. Old fishing equipment that can still snag and kill marine life, plastic rubbish that can trap, choke and kill fish, toxic chemicals that kill off the ecosystem are just a few of the consequences.

Overfishing/Unsustainable Fishing

Its not just the fact that we are overfishing, but how we do it. Many destructive methods are used in catching fish, like bottom trawling for instance. This method destroys the sea bed and any habitats living there, as well as catches a lot of fish and sea animals that are not wanted. Those get thrown aside and wasted. Far too many fish are being drawn from the oceans as well, with many of the species in our waters being added to the endangered species list. We are basically fishing ocean life into extinction. When one species dies out it affects the whole chain of life by starving other species.

Dead Zones in the Ocean

Another effect of global warming are dead zones in the ocean. These are areas that are unable to support life due to a lack of oxygen content. So far there are about 400 known dead zones to exist and this is a rapidly growing number. It seems that the pesticides and fertilizers we use, that run off the land and into the oceans play a large part in the creation of dead zones.

The bottom line is, we need our oceans and the life it supports, which in turn helps to support us. Part of the solution is learning about what is happening and then being aware of the effects our carbon footprint has on a larger scale. I know that I want to be able to show my kids and grandkids, maybe even great grandkids the beauty and wonders of the oceans. I just hope they will still be around by then!

Facts About the World’s Oceans

world-ocean

I want to share some of the fun and interesting facts that I have learned about the oceans of the world. We have 5 oceans that currently cover the surface of our planet; the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Southern and Arctic oceans.

The Pacific Ocean

The largest of our five oceans, the Pacific blankets over 30% of the surface of our planet. The furthest depth to be recorded in the Pacific Ocean is 35,827 feet (10,920m) and has been named Challenger Deep. This spot is situated close to Guam. The Pacific is also home to the biggest coral reef to be found in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, which can be found just off of the coast of Australia.

The word Pacific itself comes from the Latin word for peaceful, pacificus. One fact I find somewhat amusing is that the Pacific Ocean is also home to the famous Ring of Fire, where a ring of volcanoes sit…not a very peaceful ring.

The Atlantic Ocean 

Next is our Atlantic Ocean, which is the second largest on the planet but only half the size of the Pacific Ocean. It sits between the continents of Europe, Africa and America and covers around 20% of the surface of the Earth. This ocean has been expanding in size however, spreading its way along the mid-Atlantic coastline. It has been recorded to move 1 to 3 inches per year due to the tectonic plates shifting away from each other.

The Atlantic Ocean is home to many islands, such as the Bahamas, Spain’s Canary Islands, Portugal’s Azores, the Cap Verde Islands, and Greenland, the largest island to be found on the planet.

The Indian Ocean

We can find the Indian Ocean between Asia/Australia and Africa. This is the world’s third largest ocean that covers about 28,350,000 square miles (1/5) of the Earth’s surface. And it connects a record number of countries and islands. It is also the warmest of our 5 oceans but because of its temperature it can only support a limited amount of sea life.

It is the most important route of transport for moving oil because of it bridges the gap between countries rich in oil, such as Asia and the Middle East. You can see oil tankers here every day, each carrying around 17 million barrels of oil in its crude form.

The Indian Ocean is where you can find the breeding grounds for humpback whales and a fish that was long believed to be extinct, the Coelacanth.

The Southern Ocean

We find the Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, situated around the South Pole just off of Antarctica and just across what is known as the Antarctic circle. It is our 4th largest ocean at 35 million square km, but there have been arguments through the decades regarding where this Ocean’s boundaries really lie, with some geographers feeling that there really is no Southern Ocean, so to speak, but rather that it is just extensions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

This is the home for the world’s largest species of penguin, the Emperor Penguin, and the wandering albatross. It is where we find 90% of the ice on our planet and the surrounding continent is the coldest, windiest and driest to be found in the world.

The Arctic Ocean 

Over in the North Pole, and just across from the Arctic circle is where we will find the Arctic Ocean. The ice that covers the Arctic Ocean has been slowly shrinking by around 8% per decade. Many explorers visited the areas around the Arctic Ocean and you can find a number of ground features that are names after some of them, such as Mendeleyev Ridge and the Nansen Basin.

The Arctic Ocean is also home to many polar bears and the Lion’s mane jellyfish, which is known to grow as large as 8 feet across. It survives on the fish and plankton found in the Atlantic’s depths.

How Our Oceans Where Formed

For my first blog post I wanted to talk about how our beautiful oceans came into being. The oceans make up about 2/3 (or 70%) of the Earth’s surface. However, the Earth itself is much older than the oceans that have formed on it. That’s right! About 4.5 billion years ago, this planet was a dust bowl. It wasn’t until around 3.8 billion years ago that the oceans started to form. So how did that happen?

Well, there are a two main theories out there regarding how these bodies of water came into being. The first one is a theory that, when the Earth was formed, water was part of the process. But the water itself came from deep within the Earth. So the belief is that the water was always there, it just needed time to rise to the surface and gather into pools that would continue to grow.

The second theory is that the Earth was not formed with water at all. So where on Earth did all of that water come from? It is believed that water was brought to this planet via other sources as they crossed our planet’s path when it was very young.

The majority of science follows the first theory though, so let’s have a look at that. Earth was believed to be a boiling hot and arid planet when it started out. Materials and gases where trapped in its atmosphere but it was far too hot for any liquid water to form. It would have just boiled away into steam and gas again.

However, over time the Earth started to cool. Once temperatures hit below boiling point, all of that water vapour began to fall as rain. It is said that it continued to fall for centuries. As it did this, water was able to remain in its liquid state on the ground, draining into all of the Earth’s hollows until they grew into what we know as our oceans today. It’s the force of gravity that keeps our oceans from departing from this planet.

All of those billions of years ago, the seas more than likely covered our entire planet and reached depth unknown as water kept falling and collecting. It wasn’t until things settled a bit and geological processes started to take over to raise the lands that would shape and divide this huge body of water covering the planet.

It was the tectonic plates and a lot of shifting that played a big role in shaping the surface of the Earth and its oceans. It was around 120 millions years ago that the oceans we know as the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic took shape as landmasses broke apart.

One aspect of the formation of the oceans, that remains partly misunderstood, is how each ocean got its specific characteristics, like its salt content. Where did all of that salt come from? The theory here is that it was the volcanic activity releasing huge amounts of chlorine into the Earth’s atmosphere alongside water in its vapour state combining to create hydrochloric acid. When hydrochloric acid fell back to the ground trapped in rainwater it would flow over the Earth’s surface. This acidic mix would strip away at the rocks and strip out the salts along the way, sodium in particular. When the atoms of sodium mixed with chlorine atoms it created what is now known as our common table salt, sodium chloride. This is the primary salt content found in the oceans today.

Amazing, and at times Bizarre Sea Life

Frilled Shark

As I mentioned earlier, our oceans are home to many familiar and strange creatures, and those are just the ones we have discovered so far. I have to say that, as much as I love the oceans, some of these kind of frighten me. I’ll share some of the creepier ones with you.

The Frilled Shark – this one has been referred to as a living fossil because it shares many of its ancestors’ physical traits from the age of dinosaurs. It likes living in the depths of the ocean, about 5,000 under the surface of the water, so we humans don’t encounter this one often, something I can say I am glad of. It was originally discovered in 2007 in the shallow waters of Japan. However, it died a few hour after being captured and moved to a marine park. These beasties can grow to over 5 feet and are mainly seen (or not seen in most cases) in the depths of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. While little is known about its eating habits, scientist have speculated that it acts much like a snake catching its prey, bending its body back and then shooting forward to swallow its prey whole.

The Vampire Squid – This one sounds like something from a B horror movie or something Captain Nemo would face off against under the sea. It has a tendency to lurk in the light free depths of the ocean, around 10,000 feet below the surface. But that isn’t why it is called a vampire. That name was given to it due to its darkly coloured, webbed arms that it uses to draw over itself like a cloak. They use their eyes, which are said to be the largest peepers to be found on any or Earth’s animals, to navigate in the murky dark. It is found mostly in the tropical and temperate oceans of the world and is able to live on oxygen levels that are quite low. Its this squid’s defence mechanism, however that are most amazing. When under threat, it releases an ink that is bioluminescent to confuse and dazzle its predators while it makes a quick escape. If it knows its been spotted, it will wrap itself up in its “cloak” and virtually disappear from sight.

The Big Red Jellyfish – Its big! And red…and a jellyfish. There is more to it than that however. This jellyfish, part of the jellyfish family known as Ulmaridae, was discovered in 2003 by crew members from MBARI ( Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute ). It is the only one of its kind to be found so far and is the largest to be found around the world. Its scientific name is Tiburonia and it can live at a depth of 2,000 to nearly 5,000 feet bellow the ocean’s surface. It’s been sighted in many areas around the Pacific Ocean in Japan, Monterey Bay, Sea of Cortez and Hawaii. They grow to a diameter of about 30 inches and have a deep red colouring. What makes it really interesting is that it has arms instead of the usual undulating tentacles found on most jellyfish,

The Giant Isopod – This is another one that I could easily see being in a sci-fi movie. There are about 20 species of large isopods, a crustacean that is related to crabs and shrimp. They thrive in the deeper and colder waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and are considered to be scavengers of importance in this deep-sea environment, from as high up as 560 feet to the total pitch darkness of 7,020 feet. I feel a bit bad for it because it is mainly forced to creep along the bottom of the ocean’s floors in the waters that are dark, cold (about 39 °F) and have a very low pressure.

These are just a mere handful of the wonders to be found in the oceans depths, and not all are frightening. They sure do raise a lot of questions for me though, and a few hackles.