Boardwalk Nights

I took this picture in the front row car of the Great White Shark roller coaster in Wildwood, New Jersey. We go down the shore every year, and this picture reminds me of all the fun times I have with … Continue reading

Caribbean post 4: Navigation

One of the most important aspects to my recent trip to the British Virgin Islands was navigation.  It was an interesting and important process to determine the direction and distance we needed to travel.  Four different tools were used to navigate, charts, parallel rules, dividers, and of course.

The most important tool was the Chart.  The chart is a map that shows the islands themselves, and the hazards that could hinder us, like shallow water and rocks.  It is on the chart that I mark out the path that I drew with the parallel rules as a straightedge including details like direction and distance.  Which I found using other tools.

To find the direction I used parallel rules.  This tool is a pair of plastic straightedges that are attached together with metal rods so that when you move them apart from each other, they will remain parallel.  To find the direction to head, I lined up the path I drew on the chart with one of the straightedges, with the other lined up with one of the compasses on the map.  The compass is labeled with numbers 1 through 360 going around it, so that East is 90º, South is 180º, and so on. The number that the other side of the parallel rules lines up with is the direction.

Dividers are the tools used to determine the distance to travel before making a turn.  And repeat the cycle with the parallel rules.  Dividers work similarly to scissors, as they open and close, but stay the same distance apart when the tool is picked up.   Measure the distance of the leg you are about to travel on, and place the divider on the distance scale.  This is measured to nautical miles unless it says differently.

Navigation was a vital part in my family’s vacation, because it was essential to find our way around.

Caribbean post 3: Snorkeling

A great portion of our trip in the British Virgin Islands was spent snorkeling.  It was a new experience for me, but I quickly got the hang of it.  Almost every stop we made had snorkeling involved.

 

There are many reefs scattered around the islands.  The fish come in so many beautiful colors.  They lived among many different species of coral, which has been living in the reef for a long time.  As I swam above the fish, they were fine with sharing the reef with a larger creature, only when I swam towards them would they swim away.

 

Another place we snorkeled at, but was not a reef, was the wreck of the Rhone.  This 310 foot long ship had tipped over in a hurricane.  The captain thought that the storm had passed after they were in the eye of the storm, so he sailed for open water.  Which resulted in the end of the ship.  Today it is one of the most popular shipwrecks to dive at.  I actually dove down to touch the propeller of the ship, in just my snorkel gear.  My ears felt like they were being crushed because of the depth, but it was a great feeling after to have reached my goal.

 

Whether exploring a reef or a shipwreck, snorkeling was a major part of my vacation in the Caribbean.

Top 5 Spookiest Deep Sea Creatures

This week I have the word “deep” to write about.  Just like last month, I will start off March with a top five.  There are a wide variety of strange creatures that dwell deep below the surface of the ocean.  They are all adapted to finding food in the dark depths of the sea, and generally seem a bit spooky.  Without any more delay, let’s jump right into the top five spookiest creatures of the deep ocean.

5.) Fangtooth Anoplogaster Comuta

Its name says it all!  The fangtooth is definitely a creepy fish worthy of the top five.  Its teeth are long and slender, which it uses to help catch its prey when it wanders closer to the surface of the water during nighttime. They are the only creatures in this top five that do not use bioluminescence to catch prey.  Ironically, they are also some of the deepest dwelling fish in the world.  During the day, it stays in the shadows of a 16,000 foot depth to avoid its predators.  This is important seeing as it is only capable of growing just a bit over a half foot long.

4.) Gulper Eel Eurpharynx Pelecanoides

A gulper eel is classifiable by its pelican-like mouth that allows it to swallow food much larger than its size, which is a whopping 6 feet long.  The gulper eel lives as deep as 6,000 feet, where it attracts fish with bioluminescence.

3.) Viperfish Chauliodus Sloani

The top three fish are all very terrifying, and resemble how people might depict a sea monster.  However, I had to choose, and the viperfish came out on the bottom of the close round between the viperfish, and the second place creature.  Even though the viperfish is only 1 foot long, its ferocious appearance makes it look evil.  It has sharp teeth of varying length, which gives it a savage appearance.  The viperfish lives anywhere from 250 to 5000 feet below sea level, though some make it down to 9,000 feet.  Just like the gulper eel, the viperfish uses light to attract prey.

Viperfish Photo Credit: estherase

Viperfish
Photo Credit: estherase

2.) Deep Sea Anglerfish Melanocetus Johnsoni

In a close race with the viperfish, the anglerfish has more of the spooky aspect.  Many people out there know of the anglerfish from the children’s film, Finding Nemo, and I’m amazed that it has come up somehow in two blog posts within a month of each other.  A female anglerfish grows to be about 5 inches, which also happens to be about the size of a clownfish.  Though, in the movie, the anglerfish appeared much larger than Merlin.  The male anglerfish is black, opposed to the female coloring of brown and has a huge mouth, which earned him the title of “Black Devil,” though he is only half the size of the female.

1.) Deep Sea Dragonfish Grammatostomias Flagellibarba

These fish are truly terrifying.  The bizarre look about them really can throw you off.  Though they only grow 4 to 6 inches long, pictures of them could really make you jump.  They live as far down as 5,000 feet and are well adapted to this environment.  They have a controllable light that they can blink, wave, or do anything to attract smaller fish, which they then devour.  To hide themselves after eating a glowing meal, they have a lightproof stomach, to prevent themselves from attracting predators.

All of these fishes are very eerie, but well adapted to their environment.

Fun fact: The difference between plural fishes and plural fish is that fish refers to the same type of fish. Continue reading

Not Quite New England!

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This view is from Sam’s Chowder House in bright and sunny Half Moon Bay, California. This is paradise, with a great meal and sunshine for days this is certainly the spot to be. Sam’s is right on a public beach giving a beautiful beach setting completing a great meal at a local restaurant. Continue reading

Down by the Bay

Photo Credit: Steve Simonsen

Photo Credit: Steve Simonsen

Have you ever imagined being in warm ocean water, at the darkest hours of the night, while the ocean sparkles around you? Its no dream, its a bioluminescent bay. Eight miles off of Puerto Rico is an island called Vieques. On Vieques is one of the best bioluminescent bays in the world. In the bay there are microscopic creatures (flagellates) that respond to touch by lighting up. With millions of these turquoise christmas lights, it feels magical. Kayaking in a lagoon in the middle of tropical paradise is amazing. Like seeing a deer in the middle of a forest. After kayaking to the middle of the protected lagoon, we were encouraged to jump into the waters. Unforgettable experience. Warmth enwrapping your body as it slides into the lukewarm waters. Small waves bouncing up and down showing different views of the sliver of a moon. Lifting your arm felt like picking up millions of diamonds. Sliding down your arm with a tingling feeling, one could not describe. Since we have been there, two shark attacks have occurred. We were one of the last people to have gone swimming there, which just brings more to the experience. With waters like that, who could resist? Continue reading