The Pirate Plank » Life on the Sea

Pirates

Feb 27
Posted by Thomas Baurley Filed in Cultural Issues, Life on the Sea, Pirates

When one thinks of “Pirates” they immediately conjure up the image portrayed by Disney and fabled adventure books of either Captain Hook and Tinker Bell, or Johnny Depp and the “Pirates of the Carribean”. Pirates of the Carribbean is by far the most popular portrayal, and there today is an over-glorification of these dastardly criminals. But they were not only criminals, but a anarchistic society and sub-culture. In basic definition, A pirate is a person who commits acts of piracy, usually at sea, without authorization of a country, King/Queen, or army to do so. Of course soldiers throughout history, Ancient mariners fighting for their countries would loot, raid, conquer, maim, and kill hundreds if not thousands in their wakes of invasion. But those actions were deemed “ok” by historians since it was under the authority of a “nation”. These seaward scumbags however were classified just as such because they did the acts independently for their own greed or want of treasure. Truth be told, it was survival and independence, the poor striking against the rich. They often started out as young sailors, struggling to survive, realizing “thievery” was a quick and easy route to making it. Others were captured crew who were pushed into the life of piracy, often as slaves or indentured servants at best. Others were recruited in harbors as crew for a ship sometimes with the art of piracy being known or often not revealed that was what one was getting into.

Some say that Pirates were documented as early as the 14th century BCE with “the Sea Peoples” who were thought to have come from the Aegean Sea as well as Ancient Greece. The Fomorians of Ireland were a legendary race of Giants who were portrayed as “pirates”. Pirates and Piracy has existed from the beginning of time. The earliest records were that of Dionysus the Phocaean in 494 BCE and lasting right up to the modern day with Abduwai Muse in 2009 CE. However, when we think of Pirates – it extends from either the Middle Ages (400 CE – 1585 CE), on into the Rise of the English Sea Dogs and Dutch Corsairs: (1560 CE – 1650 CE), the Age of the Buccaneers: (1650 CE – 1690 CE), Golden Age of Piracy: (1690 CE – 1730 CE), and After the Golden Age: Pirates, Privateers, Smugglers, and River Pirates: (1730 CE – 1885 CE). Of course the “Vikings” as well were “Pirates” of sorts, though they operated with authorization of their peoples in Norway, Denmark, etc. so it draws a gray line. Every coastal country had its own sea-faring raids, invasions, and activities that were controversially criminal.

The term “Pirate” denotes an individual who participates in “Piracy”. Piracy is a sea-born offence against the universal laws of society, equating to “theft”, “robbery”, “looting”, or “crime”. Pirates are seamen who have turned to crime – robbing, attacking, seizing, capturing, or destroying other ships and their crew at high seas or within the coastal harbors. They were also known for their acts of theft, smuggling, and slave trade all for their own personal interests rather than for a company or country. They were punished as criminals for their crimes against society. They were not without their popularity and many of these pirates were high-profile and influential which often led to the death penalty when caught and penalized. The legality of their actions however was the biggest distinguishing factor separating them from privateers, buccaneers, or servants of a royal fleet. The acts led to a sub-culture, a band of individuals that joined together creating crews and legions. The acts turned lifestyle and evolved into action not just for wealth, but for independence, anarchy, fighting the mainstream, and for the hunger of adventure, fame, and danger. It was a manifestation of freedom in their minds and souls, some would say was in their blood and spirit. They were portrayed as free spirits, united with others of like-minds, usually men who loved women, booty, liquor, songs, and sword fighting. Today they are romanticized and seen as a glamorous rebellious culture even though historically they were not. Their lives were historically cruel, short, violent, and abrupt. There were also numerous female pirates who made their mark in history.

Today, Children all over the world celebrate Pirates, pretending to be them, fight them, hunt for treasure, and it is fun and games to them. The dastardly history is white-washed and the sense of adventure glorified. In some ways Pirates are equated to Robin Hoods of the Sea. They are seen as icons of fighting against the dictators and oppressive governments.

Pirates ate what most seamen ate – and it was always dependent on food supplies or conditions of their stock. Sometimes it was dependent on what they raided from other ships or towns. Food often molded or rotted, and sometimes their foodstuffs were questionable. Often they had livestock on board, eating meat, bread, dairy, and produce. They often cured their meats (salt) and fermented their vegetables. Common were salted meats, sea biscuits, sauer kraut, and bone stock soup. Oddly they didn’t fish all that much and seafood was not as common in the diet as one would think. They drank a lot of alcohol, often from raids, and in the Carribean known for their love of rum. Beer, ale, brandy, mead, and wine were common drinks.

Pirates didn’t often bury treasure. While some did, overall the “treasure” was perishable and needed on a daily basis. Because they were hunted criminals, their careers didn’t last long, and neither did their lives. They actually lived to their own rules, morals, and standards. It was not uncommon for pirate crew members to agree to a code of conduct and often had to sign in agreement. They had their own rules and punishments for lying, stealing, fighting, or acting against one another while on board their ship. Sometimes these punishments were severe, but they rarely if ever “walked the plank”. The few case examples of that kind of punishment was after the Golden Age of Piracy. Punishments were often beatings, whippings, knee hauling, dragged by the ship, or marooned on an island. Their ships were well run with a clear division of labor and officers in charge who were respected and held in high regard. The captain decided where to go and when to attack, the Quartermaster would issue punishments and settle grievances, ran the ship’s operations, and divided the treasure. Other common roles were boatswain, carpenter, cooper, gunner, and navigator. While many Pirates started from a poor life of suffrage, some were social elites who came from wealthy families. Lastly not all Pirates were criminals – like the Vikings, they were serving their nations or people, and during wartime and battles of one country to another, Piracy was enacted and Pirates were often hired as mercenaries. Some nations issued letters of Marque and Reprisal allowing ships to attack enemy ports and vessels leading to plunder and captivity. These were somewhat differentiated though and called privateers.

Check back for this is a work in progress.

Pirates! Exhibit (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=36331); Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver, Colorado, USA. http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28273 | The Great Walkabout: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?page_id=114. From Colorado Springs to Australia, Europe, and back. Photos taken March 5, 2011. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2011 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. Pirates: http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=4261.

Article by Thomas Baurley on 2/27/18.

References/Recommended Reading:

  • Canfield, Nicole 2005 Owlcation: The Life of a Pirate. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Life-of-a-Pirate-What-They-Ate-What-They-Did-For-Fun-and-More
  • Minister, Christopher 2017 ThoughtCo: 10 Facts about Pirates. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-pirates-2136238.
  • Way of the Pirates n.d. “Pirates”. Website referenced 2/27/18 at http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/types-of-pirates/pirates/
  • Wikipedia n.d. “List of Pirates:. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pirates.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Piracy”. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy

Read the rest of this entry »

MATH Marine Anthropology Modules

Nov 19

The Posts on this page are the summaries for the courses developed by Marine Archaeologist Yvonne-Cher Skye while living aboard the Mary and Bill of Rights in Chula Vista, California, U.S.A.. It consists of 21 aspects of Marine Anthropology which can be taught in a seminar single-day format or over an 18-week semester.

The supplemental materials will be available for purchase via paypal or credit card on her webpage located at the YGFI- Your Girl Friday International Website.  Links to individual modules and their introductions will be posted on this page, as well as on the Skye Research Page on YGFI’s website.

To gain a better understanding of the courses that are offered, please read the introduction page here.

Follow the links to the other posts which will provide links to the specific page on the website to purchase that module.  At the present time, they are provided as an entire package, which includes:

  • Course Outline
  • Glossary
  • Module
  • Notes
  • References available
  • Websites
  • Summary of course to promote to students and the public
  • Handouts
  • Video list of related topics

As well as each document is available for single purchase.

The purpose of these modules is to provide an unique educational opportunity which does not require formal educational training to conduct the course.  The idea of providing so many supplemental materials is to ensure satisfaction of the attendees of the course, as well as the boards or governing bodies of any organization that chooses to add these courses to their existing programs.  As stated in the introduction module this is only the skeleton of the courses, and it can stand alone as an introductory course, further more advanced courses will be developed in the future.

Ms. Skye has also developed modules for Climatology, Marine Science, and soon to be announced.

MATH 001 In the Beginning – Summary

MATH 002 Fabled Lands – Summary

MATH 003 Legendary Voyages – Summary

MATH 004 Sea Quests, Famous Expeditions and Explorers – Summary

MATH 005 Maritime History – Summary

MATH 006 Nautical Custom – Summary

MATH 007 Life at Sea – Summary

MATH 008 Famous Captains – Summary

MATH 009 Mutinies – Summary

MATH 010 Big Ships – Summary

MATH 011 Death and Disaster – Summary

MATH 012 Navigable Waters – Summary

MATH 013 Castaways and Survivors – Summary

MATH 014 Criminals – Summary

MATH 015 Myths – Summary

MATH 016 Mysteries – Summary

MATH 017 Monsters – Summary

MATH 018 Wraiths of the Sea – Summary

MATH 019 Superstitions and Beliefs – Summary

MATH 020 Famous Ships – Summary

MATH 021 Battles – Summary

Female Pirates to Know

Oct 27
Posted by lfpl Filed in Life on the Sea, Pirates

cross-posted from 9 Female Pirates you need to know: http://mentalfloss.com/article/58889/9-female-pirates-you-should-know

9 Female Pirates You Should Know

   by Kristy Puchko
IMAGE CREDIT:
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

When you think of pirates, you’re likely picturing bearded buccaneers or peg-legged scalawags with names like Blackbeard, Barbarossa, and Calico Jack. While most pirates were men, there were women in these ranks of raiders who were just as merciless, notorious, and feared. Spanning the globe and centuries, we introduce you to the infamous she-pirates of the seven seas.

1. ANNE BONNY

 

Born Anne Cormac in 1698, this Irish lass with luscious red locks and a dangerous temper became an icon of The Golden Age of Piracy (1650s-1730s) after marrying small-time pirate James Bonny. Anne’s respectable father disowned her over the marriage, so she and her new husband moved to a portion of the Bahamas nicknamed the Pirates Republic, a sanctuary of sorts for scalawags. But the Bonnys were not happily married for long.

They divorced, and she took up with Calico Jack Rackham, first as his lover, then as his first mate of the ship Revenge. In October of 1720, she and the rest of Rackham’s crew were captured despite Bonny and her bosom buddy Mary Read’s valiant attempts to fight off the advancing English forces. Bonny blamed Rackham for their capture. Her last words to him in prison are recorded as, “Sorry to see you there, but if you’d fought like a man, you would not have been hang’d like a Dog.”

He was hanged, but Bonny’s pregnancy earned her a stay of execution. However, no historical record of her death sentence was found. Some speculate that her affluent father paid a handsome price to have her set free.

2. MARY READ

 

Best mate of Anne Bonny was Mary Read, an Englishwoman born the bastard of a sea captain’s widow. While Bonny was said to wear clothes that identified her as female, Read had a long history of masquerading as male that dates back to her youth. Her mother would dress Read as her late older brother to wheedle money from the dead boy’s paternal grandmother. Years later, she joined the British military as Mark Read. She found love with a Flemish soldier, but upon his untimely death Read headed to the West Indies. As fate would have it, her ship was taken by pirates, who pushed her to join their ranks.

Cross-dressing as a man, Read set sail with Anne Bonny and Calico Jack on the Revenge in 1720. Some stories suggest that only Bonny and Jack knew of Read’s womanhood, and only because the latter grew jealous when the former flirted with “Mark.” Later that year, a third in their crew would learn Read’s secret, and she claimed him as her husband.

When the Revenge was captured by pirate hunter Captain Jonathan Barnet, Read joined Bonny in “pleading the belly.” But pregnancy from her unnamed husband would not save her. She died on April 28th 1721, from a violent fever in her prison cell. No record is made of the burial of a baby. Some suspect Read and the infant died during childbirth.

3. SADIE THE GOAT

 

American pirate of the 19th century, Sadie Farrell earned her unusual nickname for her violent modus operandi. On the streets of New York City, Sadie won a reputation as a merciless mugger by head-butting her victims. It’s said that Sadie was chased out of Manhattan when a fellow female tough, Gallus Mag, brawled with her, biting off Sadie’s ear.

To flee the city, she wrangled a new gang to steal a sloop in the spring of 1869. With a Jolly Roger flapping above them, Sadie and her crew became pirates that swept the Hudson and Harlem Rivers for booty. She’d lead raids on the farmhouses and posh mansions that dotted the river’s side, occasionally kidnapping folks for ransom. By the end of summer these raids became too risky as the farmers took to firing upon the sloop as it drew near. So, Sadie the Goat returned to the mainland, where she made peace with Gallus Mag, who returned to Sadie her lost ear which had been pickled for posterity.

Known now as “Queen of the Waterfront,” Sadie took her dismembered ear and placed it in a locket, which she wore around her neck for the rest of her days.

4. QUEEN TEUTA OF ILLYRIA

 

One the earliest recorded female pirates was actually a pirate queen. Once her husband Agron died in 231 BC, Teuta of Illyria became queen regent, as her stepson Pinnes was too young to rule. During her four years of reign over the Ardiaei tribe of what is now the Western Balkans, Teuta encouraged piracy as a means of fighting back against Illyria’s domineering neighbors. This not only meant the plundering of Roman ships, but also the capturing of Dyrrachium and Phoenice. Her pirates spread out from the Adriatic Sea into the Ionian Sea, terrorizing the trade route of Greece and Italy. While Teuta’s seafaring tribesman brought her kingdom great wealth and power, they also won her a great enemy.

Romans sent representatives to Teuta for a diplomatic meeting. She scoffed at their pleas, insisting that her tribe sees piracy as a part of lawful trade. From there diplomacy went out the window. It’s unknown what the Roman reps said next. But one ambassador was killed, while the other was imprisoned. So began a war between Rome and Illyria that lasted from 229 BC to 227 BC, when Teuta was forced to surrender on terms that cut down her power and forced her tribe to pay annual tribute to Rome.

Though she continued to rail against Roman rule, she lost her throne. The rest of her life was lost to history.

5. BACK FROM THE DEAD RED

Born the daughter of a Frenchman and a Haitian woman in 17th century, Jacquotte Delahayestole untold fortunes and captured the imaginations of many seafaring storytellers. This buccaneer lost her mother to childbirth and her brother was mentally handicapped, and once her father was murdered Delahaye was left alone to care for him. Legend has it that piracy is how she managed to do just that.

Her nickname comes from the most popular aspect of her story, which claims this red-haired pirate faked her own death to escape the government forces that were closing in on her in the 1660s. From there, she took up a new identity, living for several years as a man. Finally, when the heat died down she resurfaced with her catchy new moniker Back From the Dead Red.

6. THE LIONESS OF BRITTANY

Jeanne de Clisson’s tale is one of tragedy, revenge and the showmanship. As the wife of Olivier III de Clisson, Jeanne was a happily married mother of five, and a lady of Brittany, France. But when land wars between England and France led to her husband being charged with treason and punished with decapitation, she swore revenge on the France’s King Philip VI.

The widowed de Clisson sold all of her land to buy three warships, which she dubbed her Black Fleet. These were painted black, draped with blood red sails, and crewed with merciless privateers. From 1343-1356, the Lioness of Brittany sailed the English Channel, capturing the French King’s ships, cutting down his crew, and beheading with an axe any aristocrat who had the misfortune to be onboard. Remarkably, despite all her theft and bloodshed, de Clisson retired quietly. She even remarried, settling down with English lieutenant Sir Walter Bentley.

Believed to have died in 1359, some say she has since returned to de Clisson Castle in Brittany, where her grey ghost walks the halls.

7. ANNE DIEU-LE-VEUT

Also from Brittany was this French woman, whose name translates to Anne God-Wants, a title said to speak to her tenacious nature. She came to the Caribbean island of Tortuga in the late 1660s or early 1670s. From there she suffered some rocky years that made her a widow twice over, as well as a mother of two. But as fate would have it, her second husband was killed by the man who’d become her third. Dieu-le-Veut insisted on a duel with Laurens de Graaf, to avenge her late mate. The Dutch buccaneer was so taken by her courage that he refused to fight her, and instead offered her his hand. They married on July 28th, 1693, and had two more children.

Dieu-le-Veut set sail with de Graaf, which was considered odd as many seamen considered women on ships bad luck. Yet Dieu-le-Veut and de Graaf’s relationship has been compared to that of Anne Bonny and Calico Jack, in that they were inseparable partners who sneered at superstition. Like many pirates, their story is one that becomes fractured in its final chapter.

Dieu-le-Veut’s legend has this brassy broad taking over as captain when de Graaf was struck down by a cannonball blast. Others suggest that the couple fled to Mississippi around 1698, where they may or may not have continued to pirate. And still other tales claim that Dieu-le-Veut’s pugnacious spirit lived on in her daughter, who was said to raise eyebrows in Haiti by demanding a duel with a man.

8. SAYYIDA AL HURRA

 

A contemporary and ally of the Turkish pirate Barbarossa, Sayyida al-Hurra was a pirate queen and was the last woman awarded the title of al Hurra (Queen), following the death of her husband who had ruled Tétouan, Morocco. In fact, her real name is unknown. Sayyida al Hurra is a title that translates to “noble lady who is free and independent; the woman sovereign who bows to no superior authority.”

She ruled from 1515-1542, controlling the western Mediterranean Sea with her pirate fleet while Barbarossa roamed the eastern side. Al Hurra’s inspiration to take to piracy came from a wish for revenge against the “Christian enemy” she felt had wronged her years before when Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ran her Muslim family out of Granada. She was a feared figure for the Spanish and Portuguese, whose historical records are peppered with paperwork involving reports about her exploits and ransoms.

At the height of her power, al-Hurra remarried to the king of Morocco, yet refused to give up her seat of power in Tétouan. But in 1542, she was given no choice when her son-in-law overthrew her. The Yemen Times weighs in on her final chapter, writing, “She was stripped of her property and power and her subsequent fate is unknown.”

9. CHING SHIH

 

One of the most feared pirates of all time was this menace of the China Sea. Born in humble beginnings as Shi Xiang Gu, she was working as a prostitute when pirates captured her. In 1801, she married the notorious Chinese pirate Zheng Yi (a.k.a. Cheng I), who came from a long line of fearsome thieves. Yi’s Red Flag Fleet was immense, made up of 300 ships and somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 men. But all this was at risk of falling apart when he died on November 16th, 1807.

Gu became known as Ching Shih, which meant widow of Zheng. She was quick to seek the backing of her in-laws in her bid for leadership of the Red Flag Fleet. To help her maintain the day-to-day concerns of a sprawling pirate army, Ching Shih enlisted the help of Chang Pao, a fisherman’s son who had been adopted by Yi. They proved a great team, and by 1810 the Red Fleet is said to have grown to 1800 sailing vessels and 80,000 crew members. To manage so many, Ching Shih essentially set up her own government to establish laws and even taxes. Yet she was no soft touch. Breaking her laws lead to decapitation. She was revered and feared as far away as Great Britain.

In 1810, Ching Shih and her fleet considered getting out of the piracy business when amnesty was offered. However, to get it a pirate must bend the knee before government officials. This was considered a sign of shameful surrender, but Ching Shih found a clever way to compromise. With Pao and 17 women and children in tow, she marched into the office of official Zhang Bai Ling, and asked that he marry her and her first mate. He did, and the newlyweds knelt to thank him. Ching Shih retired with her dignity and all her ill-gotten loot, which some have suggested makes her the most successful pirate of all time. She lived to the age of 69.

September 19, 2014 – 10:00am 

Gulf fisherman: “There is no life out there”

Oct 29

Gulf fisherman: “There is no life out there”

By (cross-posted from Grist post at http://grist.org/news/gulf-fisherman-there-is-no-life-out-there/)

Fried oyster sandwich
jshyun
There are many ways of preparing oysters. BP has the recipe for destroying them.

If it’s true that oysters are aphrodisiacs, then BP has killed the mood.

Louisiana’s oyster season opened last week, but thanks to the mess that still lingers after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, there aren’t many oysters around.

“We can’t find any production out there yet,” Brad Robin, a commercial fisherman and Louisiana Oyster Task Force member, told Al Jazeera. “There is no life out there.” Many of Louisiana’s oyster harvest areas are “dead or mostly dead,” he says.

 

In Mississippi, fishing boats that used to catch 30 sacks of oysters a day are returning to docks in the evenings with fewer than half a dozen sacks aboard.

It’s not just oysters. The entire fishing industry is being hit, with catches down and shrimp and shellfish being discovered with disgusting deformities. One seafood business owner told Al Jazeera that his revenue was down 85 percent compared with the period before the spill. From the article:

“I’ve seen a lot of change since the spill,” [Hernando Beach Seafood co-owner Kathy] Birren told Al Jazeera. “Our stone crab harvest has dropped off and not come back; the numbers are way lower. Typically you’ll see some good crabbing somewhere along the west coast of Florida, but this last year we’ve had problems everywhere.”

Birren said the problems are not just with the crabs. “We’ve also had our grouper fishing down since the spill,” she added. “We’ve seen fish with tar balls in their stomachs from as far down as the Florida Keys. We had a grouper with tar balls in its stomach last month. Overall, everything is down.”

According to Birren, many fishermen in her area are giving up. “People are dropping out of the fishing business, and selling out cheap because they have to. I’m in west-central Florida, but fishermen all the way down to Key West are struggling to make it. I look at my son’s future, as he’s just getting into the business, and we’re worried.”

Ecosystem recovery is a slow process. Ed Cake, an oceanographer and marine biologist, points out that oysters still have not returned to some of the areas affected by a 1979 oil well blowout in the Gulf.  He thinks recovery from the BP disaster will take decades.

Maritime Navigation:

Feb 23
Posted by lfpl Filed in Life on the Sea, Navigation and Measure

091712-052

Navigation:

http://www.piraterelief.com/plank/?p=271

” Navigation: Ship pilots of the 1500s had few tools to help them navigate unfamiliar waters. Pilots had to be familiar with astronomy, maps, math, physics, and seamanship to direct the ship successfully. Shifting winds and currents, and sometimes hurricanes made navigation difficult.

The Cross Staff: was used to measure the angle between the horizon and the sun or North Star. Combining this information with data from astronomical tables provided the latitude.

The Hourglass: A sand clock or hourglass was used to measure time. It took thirty minutes for the sand to empty from the upper to the lower chamber. The clock was turned upside down to repeat the process.” ~ Diorama/display in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo 091712-53.jpg) Navigation: http://www.piraterelief.com/plank/?p=271.


091712-053

Date with disaster: Adventurers sail through wave of tsunami debris

Aug 7

shared via WordPress “ShareThis” plug-in:
from http://grist.org/pollution/date-with-disaster-adventurers-sail-through-wave-of-tsunami-debris/

By Jim Meyer

Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen

The Pacific Ocean is a pretty darned big place. The hull of the 72’ former racing yacht, Sea Dragon, not so much, especially when crammed full of research equipment and 14 full-sized human-type people not necessarily accustomed to the rigors of the open ocean. But that’s just what the intrepid team of oceanic avengers from the 5Gyres Institute are up against as they race across the Pacific on a collision course with the great field of debris washed away from Japan by last year’s devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Imagine cramming into an RV and driving from Nome, Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego with the cast of Road Rules Season 9. (That would be the Maximum Velocity Tour, but I’m sure you knew that, gentle reader.) Now try to imagine that the I-5 is heaving 30 to 40 feet into the air, is full of sharks, and generally wants you dead. Add to that, Theo won’t stop spraying you with the super soaker he brought for some reason, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the potential horror involved here.

Scientist, adventurer, and Gulf War veteran Marcus Eriksen previously floated the length of the Mississippi on a raft made of plastic bottles and sailed from California to Hawaii on a boat made of trash to raise awareness of the pollution problem facing us all. What he saw changed his life. “I couldn’t believe how much waste was littering our coast lines,” he says.

Eriksen and his wife, Anna Cummins, co-founded the 5Gyres Institute in 2009 to study the Earth’s 5 great subtropical gyres – enormous, slow-moving whirlpools on the ocean’s surface – and raise awareness of the horrifying levels of garbage floating within. These great pelagic depressions (I think I just named Jimmy Buffet’s next album) serve as the Earth’s mighty bellybuttons, collecting all sorts of unwanted refuse, the vast bulk of it, plastic.

The most infamous of these gyres holds The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and while the notion of an island of garbage a thousand miles across is an exaggeration, what is actually out there might be far more insidious. “Those 5 gyres make up about 21 percent of the planet’s surface, and they are covered in this thin confetti of plastic,” says Eriksen, who has trolled for trash across the high seas.

This confetti, made of particles the size of fish-food, is often coated with a thin layer of industrial chemicals and petroleum, creating little poison pills that fish in turn eat and absorb. But very little is known about how this stuff travels, and that’s where the tsunami debris comes in.

Some of the debris has already made landfall in North America, most notably a Harley Davidson discovered on a Canadian beach earlier this year (perhaps the first time a Harley has made it over 4,000 miles without breaking down) and shockingly, a 66 foot-long concrete dock covered in millions of invasive organisms that washed up on the Oregon coast.

But according to Eriksen, this debris is only the vanguard. “The stuff washing up in British Columbia right now, that is the stuff affected by wind,” he says, speaking via satellite phone, noting that anything peeking above the surface of the Ocean acts as a sail, speeding its journey east. “But what’s subsurface, what’s beneath the waves, hasn’t made its way across yet.”

For an organization dedicated to studying the effects of plastic pollution in the sea, last year’s catastrophe provided a unique opportunity. “You don’t often get a chance to take an entire city, put it in the ocean, and see what happens to all the stuff,” Eriksen says. “That’s what happened here.”

Eriksen and his team of scientists, journalists, and environmentalists sailed from Yokahama Japan on June 10. They sailed half way across the ocean until finding their first piece of tsunami debris on June 17, then turned south to travel the length of the debris field. “What’s left behind is going to be plastics and anything that’s trapping air, say lightbulbs, car tires still on the rim, insulated refrigerators, boat hulls,” Eriksen says.

Eriksen says the stuff should help answer some questions: “What’s the impact on marine life? How much is out there, and what kind of pollutants are sticking to the materials that are left behind? Are there going to be mountains of trash washing up along the Hawaiian beaches a year from now?”

In the meantime, Dr. Eriksen and his shipmates are bunking a foot from their boat-mates, spending a goodly portion of their days heaving along with their storm-tossed decks, and all in the name of a cleaner, plastic-free sea. Follow the adventures of these ocean adventurers at the fantastic 5Gyres blog.

Jim Meyer is a Baltimore-based stand-up comedian, actor, retired roller derby announcer, and freelance writer. Follow his exploits here.

swinging cot

Jul 13
Posted by lfpl Filed in Life on the Sea, Parts of the Ship

Aboard many of the tall sailing ships were portable “hammock” beds, similar to “camp beds” that were usually used for officers, captains, first and second mates, or militia on board. These were more comfortable that cloth hammocks, giving more stability with the “cot” construct. They were simple construct, temporary, and could be moved or relocated. These were generally consisting of a foldable lightweight wood or metal frame, covered with canvas, linen or nylon suspended from the roof which made it swing.

Radioactive bluefin tuna crossed the Pacific to US – Yahoo! News

May 29
crossposted by WordPress “PressThis” from Yahoo! News ~  

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan‘s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away — the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

“We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that’s still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the FukushimaDai-ichi reactors.

But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.

One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico.

Five months after the Fukushima disaster, Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances — ceisum-134 and cesium-137 — that were higher than in previous catches.

To rule out the possibility that the radiation was carried by ocean currents or deposited in the sea through the atmosphere, the team also analyzed yellowfin tuna, found in the eastern Pacific, and bluefin that migrated to Southern California before the nuclear crisis. They found no trace of cesium-134 and only background levels of cesium-137 left over from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.

The results “are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who had no role in the research.

Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren’t able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.

“That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing,” Fisher said.

Pacific bluefin tuna are prized in Japan where a thin slice of the tender red meat prepared as sushi can fetch $24 per piece at top Tokyo restaurants. Japanese consume 80 percent of the world’s Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.

Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.

The Linesman bronze sculpture by Dony Mac Manus

May 17
Posted by lfpl Filed in Life on the Sea, Photogalleries

The Linesman bronze sculpture by Dony Mac Manus

The Linesman bronze sculpture
* by Dony Mac Manus * Dublin, Ireland *

As the flavor of Dublin is famous for with its statues, sculptures, and artwork … “The Linesman” begs no difference in popularity. This beautiful bronze sculpture by Dony Mac Manus is classified as a “figurative public sculpture” and is located on the Campshire along the City Quay (N 53° 20.826 W 006° 14.946 / 29U E 683109 N 5914411) being un-veiled in 1999 as a commission by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority from the artist to commemorate the tradition of docking in the area which disappeared after the arrival and containerisation of shipping cargo symbolizing life along the Quays of the River Liffey. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Review by Leaf McGowan.

The Linesman bronze sculpture by Dony Mac Manus

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Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: 5/3/11 – Brisbane Lights

May 3
Posted by lfpl Filed in Expeditions, Life on the Sea

 

 

Travels Down Under:
Brisbane Lights …

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
* Brisbane, Queensland, Australia *

A pleasant sleep in his own make-shift room at his fellow Burner’s Lady Carol’s home, Sir Thomas Leaf awoke early for his shift as tour guide aboard the HMB Endeavour. Morning was busy as hustle/bustle in the city was teeming with activity as Lady Carol offered Sir Thomas a faithful steed (mountain bike) to commute into work on. Brisk fresh winter in the tropics bicycle ride across the Victoria bridge, on into the metropolis, down the Queen Street Mall, and over to the tall ship of Captain Cook’s. Checking in with the other guides, Sir Thomas donned his vest, had a cup o’ tea, and was out to meet the masses of school children excited to board Captain Cook’s vessel and learn about the discovery of Terra Incognita. Not much of a break as he speedily scarfed down some raw fish at the sushi bar across the way on a 15 minute break for lunch before greeting tourists once again for their history lesson of high seas adventures. His relief never rotated in the morning, so it was non-stop activity, a late and reduced lunch, with non-stop on the feet activity all day long. After a good day’s work, Sir Thomas admired the river and watched as a Pelican landed near the docks searching for fish. That evening the city of Brisbane was sparkling and calm with a sense of royal prestige as he rode his steed back down Queen’s street across Victoria bridge, and over to his host’s homestead. The lit up ferris wheel from South Banks parklands was a beautiful site to behold. At the homestead, he enjoyed a movie with the family and some socializing. Good times … Good times.

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[ Chronicles: Fish Dinners ]

(note: this is an actively written blog. If links are broken or come to blank pages,
it means the page hasn’t been written yet. Check back soon.
Meanwhile entertain yourself by going backwards into the blog below)

Remainder of the Story, Photos and videos below the cut:

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