10 Things You Never Knew About the Pacific Ocean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Things You Never Knew About the Pacific Ocean

As a source of oxygen and food, a means of climate regulation and transportation, and the supporter of one of the world’s biggest economies, it’s safe to say that oceans are our livelihood. With all the oceans do for us, it may be surprising to learn that humans have only discovered about 5% of what lies beneath. With so much left uncovered, it’s clear there’s a lot more to explore.

While we wait for the remaining 95% of the oceans to be discovered, let’s delve deeper into the biggest and baddest of them all — the Pacific Ocean. Here are 10 things you might not know about the Pacific Ocean.

It’s the Biggest Ocean in the World

Credit: nektofadeev/Shutterstock

We just said that, but it deserves to be stated again for the record. The Pacific Ocean spans from California to China, covering an incredible 60 million square miles. Let’s put that size into perspective; if you accumulated all the world’s landmasses together, the Pacific Ocean would still be bigger.

It’s Also the Deepest Ocean in the World

Credit: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock

Just as impressive as its size is the Pacific Ocean’s depth. The deepest point was found in 2010 in the Mariana Trench, an impossibly deep channel that bottoms out at just over 36,070 feet (roughly 7 miles deep). And just to put that into perspective, Mount Everest could be placed in the trench and still be covered by about a mile of water.

It Was Named for Its Pleasant Demeanor

Credit: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Despite its vast size and depth, the Pacific Ocean is also known, at times, for its peaceful waters. In fact, it was these characteristics that inspired Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to name the ocean“Pacific” — meaning “calm” or “peaceful” — as he sailed through a serene patch of water in 1520.

It’s a Force of Nature

Credit: Phillip B. Espinasse/Shutterstock

With its sprawling size and warm waters, the Pacific Ocean is the breeding ground for some of the strongest hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons our planet has ever seen. Not only that, the Pacific Basin (aka The Ring of Fire) is a hub of seismic activity. The majority of earthquakes and volcanic activity take place along these tectonic plates.

It’s the Home of the Blob

Credit: Irina Markova/Shutterstock

Global warming is a growing problem, but do you know specifically how climate change has hurt our greatest ocean? There are many telltale signs, but perhaps the most shocking was the Blob, a mass of warm water that had harmful effects on the Pacific between 2014 to 2016. Residing in the Pacific Northwest, the Blob claimed responsibility for the death of hundreds of sea creatures. Many fear the Blob is a sign of what’s to come if humans don’t do their part to combat climate change.

It’s an Island Paradise

Credit: TWEITH/Shutterstock

The Pacific Ocean encompasses roughly 25,000 islands, most of which are south of the equator. That’s more than all the other islands in all the other bodies of water in the world combined. That’s good news for all you traveling beach bums out there — it means there’s no shortage of tropical destinations to choose from!

It’s a Goldmine and a Dumping Ground

Credit: Rich Carey/Shutterstock

The Pacific Ocean houses both treasure and tragedy. Australia, Japan, Panama, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea all harvest pearls from the Pacific. On the contrary, the largest man-made dump in the world — dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — also exists in the Pacific Ocean. Located halfway between California and Hawaii, this pile of rubbish is twice the size of Texas and is mostly made up of microplastics and old fishing gear.

It Keeps Ancient Secrets

Credit: Hoiseung Jung/Shutterstock

Exploring underwater cities may seem like something better suited for a science fiction movie. However, there have been some real-life discoveries of past civilizations that now lie beneath the surface of our oceans. The most intriguing of these sites is in the Pacific Ocean. The underwater pyramids of Yonaguni Jima have scholars baffled and divers totally awe-struck. Some believe the ruins were once part of Mu,the legendary lost continent swallowed by the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago.

It’s a Satellite Cemetery

Credit: TheOldhiro/Shutterstock

Point Nemo is widely acknowledged as the most remote place on earth. Located smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and 1,450 nautical miles from any landmass, many nations deorbit their satellites and old spacecrafts over this point. The space junk plummets into a watery grave, never to be seen or heard from again.

It’s Shrinking

Credit: canadastock/Shutterstock

As big, beautiful and mighty as it is, the Pacific Ocean is actually shrinking. As North America moves away from Europe, the size of the Atlantic Ocean slowly increases while the size of the Pacific decreases. The change is small — the Pacific Ocean loses approximately one inch per year.

New species of glow-in-the-dark shark found in Gulf of Mexico

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

New species of glow-in-the-dark shark found in Gulf of Mexico

A new species of shark has been identified in the Gulf of Mexico by a team of researchers, and the creature has one very distinctive feature — it glows in the dark. The glowing shark measures just 5.5 inches long, according to a study published in the Zootaxa journal.

The researchers from NOAA and Tulane University determined the small kitefin shark, which was found in 2010, is an American pocket shark based on five features, they explained in a Tulane press release. It has two pockets near its gills that secrete a luminous fluid, which could help the shark attract prey.

front-view-pocket-shark533.jpg
A small glow-in-the-dark shark was first discovered in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. A group of researchers, two from Tulane University, eventually determined this is a new species of pocket shark. MARK DOOSEY

The only other known variety of pocket shark was discovered in the eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979. That shark is now in the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported,” Mark Grace of NOAA’S NMFS Mississippi Laboratories said in the press release. “Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”

While this shark was caught in 2010 during a mission to study sperm whale feeding, Grace first came across it in 2013 while examining specimens that were collected during the NOAA survey. Grace and researchers at Tulane then began studying the shark, examining its external features as well as taking X-rays and CT scans. Researchers also got help from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, which produced X-rays 100 billion times brighter than the X-rays used in hospitals.

Researchers identified several notable differences between the original Pacific Ocean pocket shark and the newly discovered species from the Gulf of Mexico. While both species both produce the glowing fluid, they have a different number of vertebrae, different teeth, and the Gulf specimen has light-producing photophores that cover much of the body.

“The fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf — especially its deeper waters — and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery,” Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, said.

Travel to the deepest point on Earth

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

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Travel to the deepest point on Earth

Earth is a cornucopia of extremes—extreme temperatures, extreme habitats, and extreme beauty and wonder. One of the most intriguing extremes on Earth is the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point on the planet.

The Mariana Trench is full of secrets. What humans do know about its depths continues to puzzle and amaze, from the creatures that live there to the natural phenomena that occur on the sea floor.

Travel to the deepest point on Earth, and do it from the comfort of your home. Here’s a quick dive into the Mariana Trench.

What is the Mariana Trench?

Credit: NASA

The Mariana Trench (also called the Marianas Trench) is a deep, crescent-shaped cleft in the floor of the western Pacific Ocean. The trench is located approximately 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands, a string of islands south of Japan and east of the Philippines.

The Mariana Trench is one of many subduction zones—areas where two tectonic plates collide and one sinks below the other—on the ocean floor. It is wider than 50 kilometers (31 miles) at its widest point, stretches nearly 1,585 miles from end to end, and the deepest point in the trench (the Challenger Deep) is estimated to be almost seven miles. To put that in perspective, if Mount Everest were dropped into the ocean at the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, it would still sit under more than a mile of water. Water above the Mariana Trench exerts a pressure of 15,750 psi, more than 1,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.

We still know very little about the Mariana Trench. That’s most likely due to the trench only being accurately measured in 1951 and the inhospitable nature of the ocean at that depth.

Discovering and exploring the Mariana Trench

Credit: Philippe Kurlapski / Wikimedia

The Mariana Trench was first discovered by the British Survey ship HMS Challenger in 1875. The greatest depth recorded at the time was only 8,184 meters (5 miles or 26,850 feet). It wouldn’t be properly measured for another 100 years.

In 1951, the HMS Challenger II used echo sounding to find an even deeper point in the Mariana Trench, and the Challenger Deep was named after the ship that discovered it.

Man’s curiosity tends to lead him to strange places, and it was this curiosity that led Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh to the ocean floor (10,916 meters) of the Challenger Deep in their submersible the Trieste in 1960.

There have been only three other missions to the depths of the Challenger Deep since the initial trip taken by the Trieste. The next two were unmanned (in 1996 and 2009), and the last was taken by film director James Cameron in 2012 aboard the Deepsea Challenger.

While humans may not travel to the Mariana Trench and the Challenger Deep often, scientists are using advanced technology to help us understand the mysteries hidden in its depths.

Surprises found in the Mariana Trench

Credit: 3dmentat / depositphotos

It’s no wonder that man hasn’t ventured to the sea floor of the Mariana Trench. Immense pressures and cold temperatures make it an inhospitable place for creatures as soft and warm as humans. That said, those who have been to the bottom of the trench were surprised to find some forms of life living at such depths.

Piccard and Walsh reported seeing large creatures—flatfish and shrimp—living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but those reports were never confirmed and were later questioned.

Cameron’s solo trip to the Challenger Deep was more revealing, and video evidence confirmed that there were a few strange-but-recognizable creatures living in the high-pressure environment. No sea monsters or giant squid were spotted, but the following creatures were confirmed:

  • Amphipods – Shrimp-like crustaceans were found in abundance swimming around the waters of the Challenger Deep, some more than a foot long.
  • Echinoderms – Small, stick-like sea cucumbers were spotted on the sea floor.
  • Foraminifera – Amoeboid protists that live under calcium carbonate shell layers on the ocean floor.
  • Xenophyophores – Massive single-celled organisms living on the floor of the Mariana Trench.
  • Jellyfish – Surprisingly, a jellyfish was spotted floating by in the captured footage.

Continued exploration of the Mariana Trench

Credit: YukoF / shutterstock

Again, it’s not easy to rove and explore the sea floor of the trench or the Challenger Deep. But scientists are certain there are still a number of undiscovered creatures waiting to be found.

China’s trade war song goes viral, anti-US sentiment becomes visible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

China’s trade war song goes viral, anti-US sentiment becomes visible

The privately-produced song has more than 100,000 views on WeChat and is just one of many signs of brewing anti-American sentiment on Chinese social media as trade talks falter.

WORLD Updated: May 21, 2019 16:03 IST

Dandan Li
Dandan Li
Beijing, China
China-US trade war,anti-US sentiment,privately-produced song
Other plans include displaying the Chinese flag around National Day on October 1 and organizing teenagers to participate in themed summer camps.(AFP File Photo)

Perhaps nothing captures the growing anti-US sentiment in China better than a song about the trade war that is going viral in Beijing: “If the perpetrator wants to fight, we will beat him out of his wits.”

This privately-produced song has more than 100,000 views on WeChat and is just one of many signs of brewing anti-American sentiment on Chinese social media as trade talks falter.

State media has carried commentaries urging unified resistance to foreign pressure, including an editorial from the nationalist Global Times calling the trade dispute a “people’s war” and a threat to all of China.

Even seafood hasn’t escaped sharper rhetoric. Guangdong province’s Communist Party Youth League issued a WeChat post calling for China to eat more tilapia — a farmed fish now subject to higher US tariffs.

Trade War

The song, simply called “Trade War,” is set to the tune of an anti-Japanese song from the 1960s film “Tunnel War” — in which a Chinese town defends itself from invasion.

It begins with a male chorus singing “Trade war! Trade War! Not afraid of the outrageous challenge! Not afraid of the outrageous challenge! A trade war is happening over the Pacific Ocean!”

“I chose ‘Tunnel War’ because that is reminiscent of the similar situation that China is facing today,” the song’s producer and lyricist Zhao Liangtian told Bloomberg News on Monday. “Since the trade war broke out, I felt the urge to do something.”

On Tuesday, Chinese state media continued the belligerent rhetoric against the US.

‘Facing the US which is going against the trend of the times, China resolutely showed the sword,’ said an analysis from state-owned Xinhua News Agency that was republished widely in domestic media. ‘We are forced to take necessary measures and are prepared for a protracted war.’

A commentary in the People’s Daily warned that attempts to deprive the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people of their right to development and impede the historical process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation would be like ‘a mantis trying to stop a car with its arms.’

Silver Screen

China’s official entertainment industry is also caught in the crossfire.

The state-run China Central Television’s movie channel changed its May 16 prime-time schedule from live-streaming the red carpet of Asian Movie Week to a old propaganda film called ‘‘Heroic Sons and Daughters,’’ about the China-US conflict during the Korean War. It’s played a Korean War movie each night during prime time every night since.

A television series called “Over The Sea I Come to You,” about a father who accompanies his son to study in the US, was pulled off-air and replaced at the last minute. The show was set to premiere on Zhejiang Television and elsewhere May 19, according to a station announcement from earlier this once.

However — at least so far — US cultural products are still available. The worldwide blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” is still in theaters and is the third-highest grossing film in Chinese box office history.

Rallying Patriotism

Starting Monday, Chinese radio and television stations will be required to play the country’s national anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” at 7 a.m. each morning through the end of the year, according to an official notice.

That order is only one small part of a national patriotic education plan, co-published by the party’s Central Committee and State Council, celebrating the coming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic Of China.

The plan also aims to “encourage and mobilize the whole party, army and people of all ethnic groups to rally more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core,” a reference to China’s leader.

Other plans include displaying the Chinese flag around National Day on October 1 and organizing teenagers to participate in themed summer camps that will lead them to “experience revolutionary feelings and inherit red genes.”

Waxing Poetic

Zhao, the ‘‘Trade War’’ lyricist, is a retired official in Yanting county, in China’s southwest Sichuan province. He’s also an accredited member of the Poetry Institute of China, which is affiliated with the Communist Party’s propaganda department.

Zhao wrote the song’s lyrics last year and circulated them online, but said they had gone largely unnoticed until the negotiations went awry. He said some of his anti-US poems had been censored by authorities in the past.

After President Donald Trump threatened fresh tariffs earlier this month, Zhao sensed China’s government had changed its attitude. He paid 1600 Yuan ($232) — a third of his monthly paycheck — to finally produce his song. Other retirees sang the chorus.

In the current climate, the payoff has been immediate. “I have received many phone calls in the past days from people to show support for my work,” Zhao said.

(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text, only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: May 21, 2019 12:21 IST

Blind Japanese Sailor Completes Non-stop Pacific Voyage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Blind Japanese sailor completes non-stop Pacific voyage

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto arrived at port in Fukushima in his 12-metre (40-foot) sailboat on Saturday morning, around two months after he left California.

WORLD Updated: Apr 21, 2019 13:16 IST

Agence-France-Presse
Agence-France-Presse
Tokyo
japanese sailor,pacific voyage,ocean
A blind Japanese sailor completed his non-stop Pacific voyage on Saturday, local media reported, becoming the first sightless person on record to navigate a vessel across the vast ocean.(Mitsuhiro Iwamoto/Facebook)

A blind Japanese sailor completed his non-stop Pacific voyage on Saturday, local media reported, becoming the first sightless person on record to navigate a vessel across the vast ocean.

Mitsuhiro Iwamoto arrived at port in Fukushima in his 12-metre (40-foot) sailboat on Saturday morning, around two months after he left California.

Iwamoto, a 52-year-old San Diego resident, sailed from the US city on February 24 with Doug Smith, an American navigator who verbally helped him by offering information such as wind directions.

This was his second attempt after his initial voyage was cut short six years ago when his yacht hit a whale and sank.

“I’m home. Thank you,” Iwamoto told the welcoming party after his yacht sailed into Fukushima, ending a journey of some 14,000 kilometres (8,700 miles).

“I didn’t give up and I made a dream come true,” Iwamoto was quoted by Japan’s Kyodo News as saying.

It was the first Pacific crossing by a blind sailor, Kyodo News said.

Iwamoto, who lost his sight at the age of 16, made the voyage to raise funds for charity, including efforts to prevent blinding diseases, according to his website.

First Published: Apr 20, 2019 12:22 IST

Strong chance of a new El Niño forming by early 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Strong chance of a new El Niño forming by early 2019

El NiñoImage copyright NOAA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image caption An image showing the 2015 El Niño with rising temperatures in the Pacific

The World Meteorological Organization says there’s a 75-80% chance of a weak El Niño forming within three months.

The naturally occurring event causes changes in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean and has a major influence on weather patterns around the world.

It is linked to floods in South America and droughts in Africa and Asia.

El Niño events often lead to record temperatures as heat rises from the Pacific.

According to the WMO update, sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific have been at weak El Niño levels since October. However the atmosphere has not yet responded to the extra warmth that’s produced by the upwelling seas.

Scientists have been predicting the likelihood of a new event since May this year, with confidence increasing.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology are now estimating that an El Niño event will start in December. US forecasters are saying there’s a 90% chance of the event starting in January.

El NiñoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDroughts in some places and floods in many others are linked to El Niño

The WMO models are say that a fully fledged El Niño is estimated to be 75-80% likely between December and February 2019.

At this point, the WMO says its predictions for the event range from just a warm-neutral condition through to a moderate strength event with sea surface temperatures peaking between 0.8C to 1.2C above average.

The chance of a strong event are currently low.

“The forecast El Niño is not expected to be as powerful as the event in 2015-2016, which was linked with droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world,” said Maxx Dilley, director of WMO’s Climate Prediction and Adaptation branch.

“Even so, it can still significantly affect rainfall and temperature patterns in many regions, with important consequences to agricultural and food security sectors, and for management of water resources and public health, and it may combine with long-term climate change to boost 2019 global temperatures,” he said.

In terms of food security, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have issued a report detailing the countries that could suffer food shortages as a result of the event.

Related Topics

Science & Environment

Guam: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Pacific Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guam

Introduction Guam was ceded to the US by Spain in 1898. Captured by the Japanese in 1941, it was retaken by the US three years later. The military installation on the island is one of the most strategically important US bases in the Pacific.
History Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, reached the island in 1521 during his circumnavigation of the globe. General Miguel López de Legazpi claimed Guam for Spain in 1565. Spanish colonization commenced in 1668 with the arrival of Padre San Vitores, who established the first Catholic mission. The islands were then governed as part of the Spanish East Indies from the Philippines. Between 1668 and 1815, Guam was an important resting stop on the Spanish trade route between Mexico and the Philippines. Guam, along with the rest of the Mariana and Caroline Islands, was treated by Spain as part of their colony in the Philippines. While Guam’s Chamorro culture is unique, the cultures of both Guam and the Northern Marianas were heavily influenced by Spanish culture and traditions.[2]

The United States took control of the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War. Guam came to serve as a station for American ships traveling to and from the Philippines, while the northern Mariana islands passed to Germany then Japan.[2] During World War II, Guam was attacked, and invaded, by the armed forces of Japan on December 8, 1941. Before the attack, most of the United States citizens were transported from the island and away from imminent danger. The Northern Mariana Islands had become a Japanese protectorate before the war. It was the Chamorros from the Northern Marianas who were brought to Guam to serve as interpreters and in other capacities for the occupying Japanese force. The Guamanian Chamorros were treated as an occupied enemy by the Japanese military. After the war, this would cause some resentment by the Guamanian Chamorros towards the Chamorros in the Northern Marianas. Guam’s occupation lasted for approximately thirty-one months. During this period, the indigenous people of Guam were subjected to forced labor, family separation, incarceration, execution, concentration camps and prostitution. Approximately a thousand people died during the occupation according to Congressional Testimony in 2004. The United States returned and fought the Battle of Guam on July 21, 1944, to recapture the island from Japanese military occupation. To this day, Guam remains the only U.S. soil, with a sizable population (in the thousands), to have ever been occupied by a foreign military power – the Japanese Imperial Army. The U.S. also captured and occupied the Northern Marianas. After the war, the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which established Guam as an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, provided for the structure of the island’s civilian government, and granted the people United States citizenship.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines
Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 144 47 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 541.3 sq km
land: 541.3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: three times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 125.5 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; generally warm and humid, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season (January to June), rainy season (July to December); little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic origin, surrounded by coral reefs; relatively flat coralline limestone plateau (source of most fresh water), with steep coastal cliffs and narrow coastal plains in north, low hills in center, mountains in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Lamlam 406 m
Natural resources: fishing (largely undeveloped), tourism (especially from Japan)
Land use: arable land: 3.64%
permanent crops: 18.18%
other: 78.18% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: frequent squalls during rainy season; relatively rare, but potentially very destructive typhoons (June – December)
Environment – current issues: extirpation of native bird population by the rapid proliferation of the brown tree snake, an exotic, invasive species
Geography – note: largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago; strategic location in western North Pacific Ocean
People Population: 173,456 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 28.6% (male 25,686/female 23,938)
15-64 years: 64.5% (male 57,023/female 54,872)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 5,592/female 6,345) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.8 years
male: 28.5 years
female: 29 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.4% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 18.56 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.56 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.073 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.039 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.881 male(s)/female
total population: 1.037 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.76 years
male: 75.69 years
female: 82.01 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman

Mysterious great white shark lair discovered in Pacific Ocean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE NEWSPAPER)

 

Mysterious great white shark lair discovered in Pacific Ocean

Photo of Peter Fimrite
A scientific mission into the secret ocean lair of California’s great white sharks has provided tantalizing clues into a vexing mystery — why the fearsome predators spend winter and spring in what has long appeared to be an empty void in the deep sea.
A boatload of researchers from five scientific institutions visited the middle-of-nowhere spot between Baja California and Hawaii this past spring on a quest to learn more about what draws the big sharks to what has become known as the White Shark Cafe, almost as if they were pulled by some astrological stimulus.
The sharks’ annual pilgrimage to the mid-Pacific region from the coasts of California and Mexico has baffled scientists for years, not just because it is so far away — it takes a month for the sharks to get there — but because it seemed, on the surface, to be lacking the kind of prey or habitat that the toothy carnivores prefer.

But the researchers made a remarkable discovery. Instead of blank, barren sea, the expedition, led by scientists with Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, found a vast community of tiny light-sensitive creatures so tantalizing that the sharks cross the sea in mass to reach them.

The primary lure, scientists believe, is an extraordinary abundance of squid and small fish that migrate up and down in a little understood deep-water portion of ocean known as the “mid-water,” a region skirting the edge of complete darkness that could provide an immeasurably valuable trove of information about the ocean ecosystem and climate change.

“The story of the white shark tells you that this area is vitally important in ways we never knew about,” said Salvador Jorgensen, a research scientist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and one of the expedition’s leaders. “They are telling us this incredible story about the mid-water, and there is this whole secret life that we need to know about.”

The researchers’ focus, a 160-mile-radius subtropical region about 1,200 nautical miles east of Hawaii, was essentially unknown to science until marine scientist Barbara Block, of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, began attaching acoustic pinger tags to white sharks 14 years ago.

Block discovered that the local sharks, known as northeastern Pacific whites, feed on elephant seals and other marine mammals in the so-called Red Triangle, between Monterey Bay, the Farallon Islands and Bodega Head, from about August to December. She also tracked their movements into San Francisco Bay and around Guadalupe Island, in Mexico.

But then, each December, the acoustic tags showed a mass movement out to sea that was as confusing to the researchers as it was surprising.

Block found that the sharks were leaving the food-rich waters along the West Coast to spend spring and most of the summer in a patch of open ocean about the size of Colorado, a place that looked in satellite images like an empty, oceanic Sahara desert.

She named it the White Shark Cafe even though she wasn’t sure whether the sharks went there for food or sex.

To find out, Block organized the month long expedition in April and May aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor, which was equipped with high-tech instruments, sail drones and a remotely operated submarine. Last fall, before departure, her team of scientists tracked down 36 local sharks using acoustic signals and fitted them with high-tech satellite monitoring tags with locator beacons programmed to pop off and float to the surface during the cafe expedition.

The scheme worked. The researchers got data from 10 of the 22 tags that floated up and signaled the Falkor that they had detached and were bobbing around ready to be collected, an exercise that Jorgensen called “a white shark treasure hunt.” The scientists also obtained recorded information on shark movements and behavior over the previous months from six other great whites through radio uplinks. The rest only transmitted their location or were not recovered.

A great white shark was seen chomping on the carcass of a whale on July 19, 2018 by the crew of an All Water Charter boat.

Video: All Water Charter

The data on the recovered tags documented highly unusual diving behavior at depths scientists had rarely before seen in white sharks.

On the way to the cafe, the sharks made periodic dives 3,000 feet deep, a surprising discovery given that the big fish normally wouldn’t be able to stay warm enough to digest food in such cold, pressurized depths. The sharks, researchers found, were using warm circular currents to get down the water column, suggesting they were following prey. Still, it isn’t clear what they were eating.

Know your great white sharks

Great white sharks, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, are protected under state legislation that makes it illegal to fish for them. The trade in shark parts — mainly jaws and fins — is also illegal internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

They average 15 to 16 feet in length, but can grow much larger. The biggest white shark ever recorded was caught in 1939 and it was 21 feet long and weighed 7,300 pounds.

Starting in late summer and fall, an estimated 220 white sharks feed offshore of the Farallon Islands, Año Nuevo and Drakes Bay, but at least 20 have been documented over the years inside San Francisco Bay, including one seen devouring a seal in 2015 just a few feet off Alcatraz Island.

Female sharks typically visit the Gulf of the Farallones in alternate years, suggesting that their migration pattern is tied to a two-year reproductive cycle.

DNA testing has shown the sharks off the coast of California are genetically unique compared with other great whites.

Researchers tagged 37 great white sharks last year and have given them names including Torpedo, Scargirl, Sicklefin, OrcaFin and ShawShark Redemption. The oldest and longest studied shark is a 16-foot, 3,158-pound great white named Tom Johnson, which was first seen off the Farallon Islands in 1987.

The only reported fatal human-shark encounter off San Francisco shores occurred in May 1959, when 18-year-old Albert Kogler Jr. died after he was attacked in roughly 15 feet of water while swimming off Baker Beach.

Eleven people have been killed by sharks off the California coast since the first documented attack on a human in Pacific Grove in December, 1952. The body of a probable 12th victim was never found, so he isn’t counted.

Sources: Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station; Monterey Bay Aquarium; Schmidt Ocean Institute; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Once they reached their destination in late winter and early spring, the animals engaged in “bounce dives” down to 1,400 feet below the surface during the day and 650 feet at night, Jorgensen said.

In April, the male sharks started behaving very differently from the females, moving individually up and down the water in a V-shape as many as 140 times a day, Jorgensen said. The females, on the other hand, continued their previous behavior, diving deep during the day and shallow at night, he said.

The scientists still haven’t figured out the disparate gender behaviors.

“Either they are eating something different or this is related in some way to their mating,” Jorgensen said.

What’s clear so far is that, like the hidden community of specialized wildlife in the Sahara, the shark cafe is a swirling mass of tiny phytoplankton, fish, squid and jellies. They move up and down in a soupy layer deep under water, a kind of twilight zone just below where sunlight stops penetrating the ocean depths.

“It’s the largest migration of animals on Earth — a vertical migration that’s timed with the light cycle,” Jorgensen said. “During the day they go just below where there is light and at night they come up nearer the surface to warmer, more productive waters under the cover of darkness.”

It’s a surreal deep water world populated by bioluminescent lantern fish and other species that have evolved amazing adaptations to darkness, Jorgensen said.

Scientists in recent years have discovered hundreds of new species in deep water zones like this one. The uniquely abundant mass of fish draws all kinds of predators, like small cookie cutter sharks, which have evolved light-emitting organs called photophores on the underside of their bodies that act, to prey, like invisibility cloaks.

The white sharks aren’t the only large predators tracking the mid-water creatures. Squid-eating big eye tuna, blue and Mako sharks also frequent the cafe. Jorgensen said these larger fish may be what the white sharks eat, but there isn’t any definitive evidence of that.

“What we’ve learned through the progression of our research is that this mid-water layer is extremely important for white sharks,” he said. “They are swimming in these layers, tracking (prey) day and night. … It’s a game of hide-and-seek.”

Scientists say this little understood mid-water zone is a biological laboratory that, with more research, could lead to biomedical breakthroughs and yield clues to how the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide and how species adapt to climate change. There is also concern that it is ripe for exploitation, particularly long-line and drift net fishing.

Triggered by some cryptic mechanism, the sharks leave their mid-ocean sanctum during the summer and begin to gather along the coast of California around August.

Block said researchers will not know whether the sharks were feeding, mating or doing both during their time in the White Shark Cafe until the analyses are completed.

“We now have a gold mine of data. We have doubled the current 20-year data set on white shark diving behaviors and environmental preferences in just three weeks,” Block said. This “will help us better understand the persistence of this unique environment and why it attracts such large predators.”

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:[email protected]. Twitter: @pfimrite

Norfolk Island: The History Knowledge And Known Truth About

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Norfolk Island

Introduction Two British attempts at establishing the island as a penal colony (1788-1814 and 1825-55) were ultimately abandoned. In 1856, the island was resettled by Pitcairn Islanders, descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions.
History Early history

Norfolk Island was first settled by East Polynesian seafarers either from the Kermadec Islands north of New Zealand or from the North Island of New Zealand. They arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing. Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, and they also left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn. The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery.

The first European known to have sighted the island was Captain James Cook, in 1774, on his second voyage to the South Pacific on HMS Resolution. He named it after the Duchess of Norfolk, wife of Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk (1685-1777). The Duchess was dead at the time of the island’s sighting by Cook, but Cook had set out from England in 1772 and could not have known of her May 1773 death.

Cook went ashore on Tuesday 11 October 1774, and is said to have been impressed with the tall straight trees and flax-like plants. He took samples back to the United Kingdom and reported on their potential uses for the Royal Navy.

Andrew Kippis as the biographer of this voyage puts it as follows:

As the Resolution pursued her course from New Caledonia, land was discovered, which, on a nearer approach, was found to be an island, of good height, and five leagues in circuit. Captain Cook named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of the noble family of Howard (Fn.: It is situated in the latitude of 29° 2′ 30″ south, and in the longitude of 168° 16′ east). It was uninhabited; and the first persons that ever set foot on it were unquestionably our English navigators. Various trees and plants were observed that are common at New Zealand; and in particular, the flax plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any other part of that country. The chief produce of the island is a kind of spruce pine, exceedingly straight and tall, which grows in great abundance. Such is the size of many of the trees that, breast high, they are as thick as two men can fathom. Among the vegetables of the place, the palm-cabbage afforded both a wholesome and palatable refreshment; and, indeed, proved the most agreeable repast that our people had for a considerable time enjoyed…

At the time, the United Kingdom was heavily dependent on flax (for sails) and hemp (for ropes) from the shores of the Baltic Sea ports. Any threat to their supply endangered the United Kingdom’s sea power. The UK also relied on timbers from New England for mainmasts, and these were not supplied after the American War of Independence. The alternative source of Norfolk Island for these supplies is argued by some historians, notably Geoffrey Blainey in The Tyranny of Distance, as being a major reason for the founding of the convict settlement of New South Wales by the First Fleet in 1788.

James Cook said that, “except for New Zealand, in no other island in the South Sea was wood and mast-timber so ready to hand”.

John Call, member of Parliament and the Royal Society, and former chief engineer of the East India Company, stated the advantages of Norfolk Island in a proposal for colonization he put to the Home Office in August 1784: “This Island has an Advantage not common to New Caledonia, New Holland and New Zealand by not being inhabited, so that no Injury can be done by possessing it to the rest of Mankind…there seems to be nothing wanting but Inhabitants and Cultivation to make it a delicious Residence. The Climate, Soil, and Sea provide everything that can be expected from them. The Timber, Shrubs, Vegetables and Fish already found there need no Embellishment to pronounce them excellent samples; but the most invaluable of all is the Flax-plant, which grows more luxuriant than in New Zealand.”[4]

George Forster, who had been on Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific and had been with him when he landed on Norfolk Island, was at the time professor of natural history at the University of Vilna (or Vilnius) in Polish Lithuania: Forster discussed the proposed Botany Bay colony in an article written in November 1786, “Neuholland, und die brittische Colonie in Botany Bay”. Though unaware of the British intention to settle Norfolk Island, which was not announced until 5 December 1786, Forster referred to “the nearness of New Zealand; the excellent flax plant (Phormium) that grows so abundantly there; its incomparable shipbuilding timber”, as among the advantages of the new colony.

The proposal written by James Matra under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks for establishing a settlement in New South Wales, stated that Botany Bay was: “no further than a fortnight from New Zealand, which is covered with timber even to the water’s edge. The trees are so big and tall that a single tree is enough to make a mast of a first rate man of war. New Zealand produces in addition flax, which is an object equally of utility and curiosity. Any quantity of it might be raised in the colony, as this plant grows naturally in New Zealand. It can be made to serve the various purposes of cotton, hemp and linen, and is easier manufactured than any of them. In naval affairs, it could not fail of being of the utmost consequence; a cable of ten inches (250 mm) being supposed to be of equal strength and durability to one of European hemp of eighteen inches.

In 1786 the British Government included Norfolk Island as an auxiliary settlement, as proposed by John Call, in its plan for colonization of New South Wales. The flax and ship timber of New Zealand were attractive, but these prospective advantages were balanced by the obvious impossibility of forming a settlement there in the face of undoubted opposition from the native Maori. [7] There was no native population to oppose a settlement on Norfolk Island, which also possessed those desirable natural resources, but the island was too small of itself to sustain a colony. Hence the ultimate decision for a dual colonization along the lines proposed by Call.

The decision to settle Norfolk Island was taken under the impetus of the shock Britain had just received from the Empress Catherine of Russia. Practically all the hemp and flax required by the Royal Navy for cordage and sailcloth was imported from the Russian dominions through the ports of St. Petersburg (Kronstadt) and Riga. Comptroller of the Navy Sir Charles Middleton explained to Prime Minister Pitt in a letter of 5 September 1786: “It is for Hemp only we are dependent on Russia. Masts can be procured from Nova Scotia, and Iron in plenty from the Ores of this Country; but as it is impracticable to carry on a Naval War without Hemp, it is materially necessary to promote the growth of it in this Country and Ireland”. [8] In the summer of 1786 the Empress Catherine, in the context of tense negotiations on a renewed treaty of commerce, had emphasized her control over this vital commodity by asking the merchants who supplied it to restrict sales to English buyers: “the Empress has contrary to Custom speculated on this Commodity”, complained the author of a subsequent memorandum to the Home Secretary. “It is unnecessary”, said the memorandum, “to remark the Consequences which might result from a prohibition of supply from that Quarter altogether”. [9] This implicit threat to the viability of the Royal Navy became apparent in mid-September (a month after the decision had been taken to settle Botany Bay) and caused the Pitt Administration to begin an urgent search for new sources of supply, including from Norfolk Island, which was then added to the plan to colonize New South Wales.

The need for an alternative source of supply of naval stores to Russia is indicated by the information from the British Ambassador in Copenhagen, Hugh Elliott, who wrote to Foreign Secretary, Lord Carmarthen on 12 August 1788: “There is no Topick so common in the Mouths of the Russian Ministers, as to insist on the Facility with which the Empress, when Mistress of the Baltic, either by Conquest, Influence, or Alliance with the other two Northern Powers, could keep England in a State of Dependence for its Baltic Commerce and Naval Stores”.[10]

On 6 December 1786, an order-in-council was issued designating “the Eastern Coast of New South Wales, or some one or other of the Islands adjacent” as the destination for transported convicts, as required by the Transportation Act of 1784 (24 Geo.III, c.56) that authorized the sending of convicted felons to any place appointed by the King in Council. Norfolk Island was thereby brought officially within the bounds of the projected colony.

An article in The Universal Daily Register (the forerunner of The Times) of 23 December 1786 revealed the plan for a dual colonization of Norfolk Island and Botany Bay: “The ships for Botany Bay are not to leave all the convicts there; some of them are to be taken to Norfolk Island, which is about eight hundred miles East of Botany Bay, and about four hundred miles short of New Zealand”.

The advantage of Britain’s new colony providing an alternative source to Russia for naval supplies of flax and hemp was referred to in an article in Lloyd’s Evening Post of 5 October 1787 which urged: “It is undoubtedly the interest of Great-Britain to remain neutral in the present contest between the Russians and the Turks” and observed, “Should England cease to render her services to the Empress of Russia, in a war against the Turks, there can be little of nothing to fear from her ill-will. England will speedily be enabled to draw from her colony of New South Wales, the staple of Russia, hemp and flax.”

First penal settlement

Before the First Fleet sailed to found a convict settlement in New South Wales, Governor Arthur Phillip’s final instructions, received less than three weeks before sailing, included the requirement to colonize Norfolk Island to prevent it falling into the hands of France[citation needed], whose naval leaders were also showing interest in the Pacific.

Phillip’s instructions given him in April 1787 included an injunction to send a party to secure Norfolk Island “as soon as Circumstances may admit of it…. to prevent its being occupied by the Subjects of any other European Power”. This could only have been a reference to the expedition then in the Pacific commanded by Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse. The Daily Universal Register of 11 November 1786 had stated: “the Botany Bay scheme is laid aside, as there is a strong presumption that a squadron from Brest are now, or soon will be, in possession of the very spot we meant to occupy in New Holland”. This may have been a reference to a report from the British Ambassador in Paris, who had believed that when Lapérouse’s expedition set out from Brest in August 1785 it had as one of its objectives the establishment of a settlement in New Zealand to forestall the British.

Lapérouse did attempt to visit Norfolk Island, but only to investigate, not to take possession. He had instructions to investigate any colonies the English may have established and learned of the intention to settle Botany Bay and Norfolk Island from despatches sent to him from Paris through St. Petersburg and by land across Siberia to Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where he received them on 26 September 1787, just four days before his departure from that port.[12] His ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe, anchored off the northern side of the island on 13 January 1788, but at the time high seas were running that made it too dangerous for the two ships’ boats that were put out to attempt a landing: “It was obvious that I would have had to wait maybe for a very long time for a moment suitable for a landing and a visit to this island was not worth this sacrifice”, he recorded in his journal.[13] Having noted that the island was still uninhabited, he was presumably the less inclined to risk a landing when there was no English settlement there to report on.

When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.

A “Letter from an Officer of Marines at New South Wales, 16 November 1788”, published in the London newspaper, The World, 15 May 1789, reported the glowing description of the island and its prospects by Philip Gidley King, but also drew attention to the fatal defect of the lack of a safe port: “The said Island lies near Port Jackson, and is nearly as large as the Isle of Wight. Lieutenant King, who was sent with a detachment of marines and some convicts, to settle there, gives the most flattering portrayal of it. The island is fully wooded. Its timber is in the opinion of everyone the most beautiful and finest in the world…they are most suitable for masts, yards, spars and such. The New Zealand flax-plant grows there in abundance. European grains and seeds also thrive wonderfully well on Norfolk Island. It only lacks a good port and suitable landing places, without which the island is of no use, but with them it would be of the greatest importance for Great Britain. How far these deficiencies can be improved by art and the hand of man, time must decide.”

It was soon found[citation needed] that the flax was difficult to prepare for manufacturing and no one had the necessary skills. An attempt was made to bring two Māori men to teach the skills of dressing and weaving flax, but this failed when it was discovered that weaving was considered women’s work and the two men had little knowledge of it. The pine timber was found to be not resilient enough for masts and this industry was also abandoned.

More convicts were sent, and the island was seen as a farm, supplying Sydney with grain and vegetables during its early years of near-starvation. However, crops often failed[citation needed] due to the salty wind, rats, and caterpillars. The lack of a natural safe harbour hindered communication and the transport of supplies and produce.

Manning Clark observed that “at first the convicts behaved well, but as more arrived from Sydney Cove, they renewed their wicked practices”. These included an attempted overthrow of King in January 1789 by convicts described by Margaret Hazzard as “incorrigible rogues who took his ‘goodwill’ for weakness”. While some convicts responded well to the opportunities offered to become respectable, most remained “idle and miserable wretches” according to Clark, despite the climate and their isolation from previous haunts of crime.

The impending starvation at Sydney led to a great transplantation of convicts and marines to Norfolk Island in March 1790 on HMS Sirius. This attempt to relieve the pressure on Sydney turned to disaster when Sirius was wrecked and, although there was no loss of life, some stores were destroyed, and the ship’s crew was marooned for ten months. This news was met in Sydney with “unspeakable consternation”.[14] Norfolk Island was now further cut off from Sydney which, with the arrival of the Second Fleet with its cargo of sick and abused convicts, had more pressing problems with which to contend.

In spite of this the settlement grew slowly as more convicts were sent from Sydney. Many convicts chose to remain as settlers on the expiry of their sentence, and the population grew to over 1000 by 1792.

Lieutenant governors of the first settlement:
6 March 1788–24 March 1790: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King (1758–1808)
24 March 1790–Nov 1791: Major Robert Ross (c.1740–1794)
4 November 1791–Oct 1796: Lieutenant Philip Gidley King
October 1796–Nov 1799: Captain John Townson (1760–1835)
November 1799–Jul 1800: Captain Thomas Rowley (c.1748–1806)
26 June 1800–9 September 1804: Major Joseph Foveaux (1765–1846)
9 September 1804–January 1810: Lieutenant John Piper (1773–1851)
January 1810–15 February 1813: Lieutenant Thomas Crane (caretaker)
15 February 1813–15 February 1814: Superintendent William Hutchinson

Norfolk Island was governed by a succession of short-term commandants for the next eleven years, starting with King’s replacement, Robert Ross 1789-1790. When Joseph Foveaux arrived as Lieutenant Governor in 1800, he found the settlement quite run down, little maintenance having been carried out in the previous four years, and he set about building it up, particularly through public works and attempts to improve education.[15]

As early as 1794 King suggested its closure as a penal settlement as it was too remote and difficult for shipping, and too costly to maintain. By 1803, the Secretary of State, Lord Hobart, called for the removal of part of the Norfolk Island military establishment, settlers and convicts to Van Diemen’s Land, due to its great expense and the difficulties of communication between Norfolk Island and Sydney. This was achieved more slowly than anticipated, due to reluctance of settlers to uproot themselves from the land they had struggled to tame, and compensation claims for loss of stock. It was also delayed by King’s insistence on its value for providing refreshment to the whalers. The first group of 159 left in February 1805 and comprised mainly convicts and their families and military personnel, only four settlers departing. Between November 1807 and September 1808, five groups of 554 people departed. Only about 200 remained, forming a small settlement until the remnants were removed in 1813. A small party remained to slaughter stock and destroy all buildings so that there would be no inducement for anyone, especially from another European power, to visit that place.

From 15 February 1814 to 6 June 1825 the island lay abandoned.

Second penal settlement

Commandants of the second settlement:
6 June 1825–March 1826: Captain Richard Turton
March 1826–August 1827: Captain Vance Young Donaldson (1791–?)
August 1827–November 1828: Captain Thomas Edward Wright
November 1828–February 1829: Captain Robert Hunt
February 1829–29 June 1829: Captain Joseph Wakefield
29 June 1829–1834: Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset (1782–1852)
1834: Captain Foster Fyans (1790–1870) (Acting)
1834–April 1839: Major Joseph Anderson (1790–1877)
April – July 1839: Major Thomas Bunbury (b. c1791)
July 1839 – March 1840: Major Thomas Ryan (b.c1790) (Acting)
17 March 1840–1844: Captain Alexander Maconochie (1787–1860)
8 February 1844–5 August 1846: Major Joseph Childs
6 August 1846–18 January 1853: John Giles Price (1808–1857)
January 1853–September 1853: Captain Rupert Deering
September 1853–5 May 1855: Captain H. Day
5 May 1855–8 June 1856: T.S. Stewart (Caretaker)

In 1824 the British government instructed the Governor of New South Wales Thomas Brisbane to occupy Norfolk Island as a place to send “the worst description of convicts”. Its remoteness, seen previously as a disadvantage, was now viewed as an asset for the detention of the “twice-convicted” men, who had committed further crimes since arriving in New South Wales. Brisbane assured his masters that “the felon who is sent there is forever excluded from all hope of return” He saw Norfolk Island as “the nec plus ultra of Convict degradation”.

His successor, Governor Ralph Darling, was even more severe than Brisbane, wishing that “every man should be worked in irons that the example may deter others from the commission of crime” and “to hold out [Norfolk Island] as a place of the extremest punishment short of death”. Governor George Arthur, in Van Diemen’s Land, likewise believed that “when prisoners are sent to Norfolk Island, they should on no account be permitted to return. Transportation thither should be considered as the ultimate limit and a punishment short only of death”. Reformation of the convicts was not seen as an objective of the Norfolk Island penal settlement.

The evidence that has passed down through the years points to the creation of a “Hell in Paradise”. A widespread and popular notion of the harshness of penal settlements, including Norfolk Island, has come from the novel For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, which appears to be based on the writings and recollections of witnesses and from the fictional writings of Price Warung.

Following a convict mutiny in 1834, Father William Ullathorne, Vicar general of Sydney, visited Norfolk Island to comfort the mutineers due for execution. He found it “the most heartrending scene that I ever witnessed”. Having the duty of informing the prisoners as to who was reprieved and who was to die, he was shocked to record as “a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and that each man who heard of his condemnation to death went down on his knees with dry eyes, and thanked God.”

The 1846 report of magistrate Robert Pringle Stuart exposed the scarcity and poor quality of food, inadequacy of housing, horrors of torture and incessant flogging, insubordination of convicts, and corruption of overseers.

Bishop Robert Willson visited Norfolk Island from Van Diemen’s Land on three occasions. Following his first visit in 1846 he reported to the House of Lords who, for the first time, came to realise the enormity of atrocities perpetrated under the British flag and attempted to remedy the evils. Willson returned in 1849 and found that many of the reforms had been implemented. However, rumours of resumed atrocities brought him back in 1852, and this visit resulted in a damning report, listing atrocities and blaming the system, which invested one man at this remote place with absolute power over so many people.

Only a handful of convicts left any written record and their descriptions (as quoted by Hazzard and Hughes) of living and working conditions, food and housing, and, in particular, the punishments given for seemingly trivial offences, are unremittingly horrifying, describing a settlement devoid of all human decency, under the iron rule of the tyrannical autocratic commandants.

The actions of some of the commandants, such as Morisset and particularly Price appear to be excessively harsh. All but one were military officers, brought up in a system where discipline was inhumanely severe throughout the period of transportation. In addition, the commandants relied on a large number of military guards, civil overseers, ex-convict constables, and convict informers to provide them with intelligence and carry out their orders.

Of the Commandants, only Alexander Maconochie appeared to reach the conclusion that brutality would breed defiance, as demonstrated by the mutinies of 1826, 1834 and 1846, and he attempted to apply his theories of penal reform, providing incentives as well as punishment. His methods were criticised as being too lenient and he was replaced, a move that returned the settlement to its harsh rule.

The second penal settlement began to be wound down by the British Government after 1847 and the last convicts were removed to Tasmania in May 1855. It was abandoned because transportation to Van Diemen’s Land had ceased in 1853 and was replaced by penal servitude in the United Kingdom.

Settlement by Pitcairn Islanders

On 8 June 1856, the next settlement began on Norfolk Island. These were the descendants of Tahitians and the Bounty mutineers, resettled from the Pitcairn Islands, which had become too small for their growing population. The British government had permitted the transfer of the Pitcairners to Norfolk, which was thus established as a colony separate from New South Wales but under the administration of that colony’s governor. They left Pitcairn Islands on the May 3, 1856 and arrived with 194 persons on June 8.

The Pitcairners occupied many of the buildings remaining from the penal settlements, and gradually established their traditional farming and whaling industries on the island. Although some families decided to return to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1863, the island’s population continued to slowly grow as the island accepted settlers, often arriving with whaling fleets.

In 1867, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission of the Church of England were established on the island, and in 1882 the church of St. Barnabas was erected to the memory of the Mission’s head Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, with windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. In 1920 the Mission was relocated from the island to the Solomon Islands to be closer to its target population.

Twentieth century

This stamp was issued in 1981 to commemorate the first landing of an aircraft at the island, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth “Mme Elijah”, at Cascade Bay on March 28, 1931.

After the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Norfolk Island was placed under the authority of the new Commonwealth government to be administered as an external territory.

During World War II, the island became a key airbase and refuelling depot between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. Since Norfolk Island fell within New Zealand’s area of responsibility it was garrisoned by a New Zealand Army unit known as N Force at a large Army camp which had the capacity to house a 1,500 strong force. N Force relieved a company of the Second Australian Imperial Force. The island proved too remote to come under attack during the war and N Force left the island in February 1944.

In 1979, Norfolk was granted limited self-government by Australia, under which the island elects a government that runs most of the island’s affairs. As such, residents of Norfolk Island are not represented in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, making them the only group of residents of an Australian state or territory not represented there.

In 2006, a formal review process took place, in which the Australian Government considered revising this model of government. The review was completed on December 20, 2006, when it was decided that there would be no changes in the governance of Norfolk Island.

Geography Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 29 02 S, 167 57 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 34.6 sq km
land: 34.6 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 0.2 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 32 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: subtropical; mild, little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: volcanic formation with mostly rolling plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Bates 319 m
Natural resources: fish
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: typhoons (especially May to July)
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: most of the 32 km coastline consists of almost inaccessible cliffs, but the land slopes down to the sea in one small southern area on Sydney Bay, where the capital of Kingston is situated
Politics Norfolk Island is the only non-mainland Australian territory to have achieved self-governance. The Norfolk Island Act, passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1979, is the Act under which the island is governed. The Australian Government maintains authority on the island through an Administrator (currently Owen Walsh as Acting Administrator), who is appointed by the Governor-General of Australia. A Legislative Assembly is elected by popular vote for a term of not more than three years, although legislation passed by the Australian Parliament can extend its laws to the territory at will, including the power to override any laws made by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly consists of nine seats, with electors casting nine equal votes, of which no more than two can be given to any individual candidate. It is a method of voting called a “weighted first past the post system”. Four of the members of the Assembly form the Executive Council, which devises policy and acts as an advisory body to the Administrator. The current Chief Minister of Norfolk Island is Andre Nobbs. All seats are held by independent candidates. Norfolk Island has yet to embrace party politics. In 2007 a branch of the Australian Labor Party was formed on Norfolk Island, with the aim of reforming the system of government.

The island’s official capital is Kingston; it is, however, more a centre of government than a sizeable settlement.

The most important local holiday is Bounty Day, celebrated on 8 June, in memory of the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856.

Local ordinances and acts apply on the island, where most laws are based on the Australian legal system. Australian common law applies when not covered by either Australian or Norfolk Island law. Suffrage is universal at age eighteen.

As a territory of Australia, Norfolk Island does not have diplomatic representation abroad, or within the territory, and is also not a participant in any international organisations, other than sporting organisations.

The flag is three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centered in the slightly wider white band.

People Population: 2,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.2%
15-64 years: 63.9%
65 years and over: 15.9% (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.006% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Norfolk Islander(s)
adjective: Norfolk Islander(s)
Ethnic groups: descendants of the Bounty mutineers, Australian, New Zealander, Polynesian
Religions: Anglican 34.9%, Roman Catholic 11.7%, Uniting Church in Australia 11.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 2.8%, Australian Christian 2.4%, Jehovah’s Witness 0.9%, other 2.7%, unspecified 15.2%, none 18.1% (2001 census)
Languages: English (official), Norfolk – a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian
Literacy: NA

Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It

Scientists tagged over 30 great white sharks last fall — more than they had ever done in a single season.

Courtesy Stanford University — Block Lab Hopkins Marine Station

Great white sharks have a “hidden life” that is becoming a lot less hidden thanks to a scientific expedition that has been years in the making.

Scientists used to think the apex predators moved up and down the western coast of North America, snacking in waters with lots of food close to shore. Almost 20 years ago, Stanford marine biologist Barbara Block started putting tags on the sharks that could track their movements.

She and other researchers noticed something surprising — the tags showed that the sharks were moving away from these food-rich waters and heading more than a thousand miles off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.

Satellite images suggested the area was an ocean desert, a place with very little life.

The mystery of what was drawing the sharks to this strange place set new research into motion.

“We wanted to know if there was a hidden oasis that was formed by the currents that we couldn’t see from space,” Block said.

To find out, the scientists tagged over 30 great white sharks last fall — more than they had ever done in a single season. They’ve already gotten to know some of these animals from years of research. They’ve even given them names, such as Eugene, Tilden and Leona.

Then this spring, the research team set off on a state-of-the-art ship called the research vessel Falkor toward the mysterious area, hoping to find the sharks they tagged.

“There’s a lot of expectation when you put technology on an animal and then you take an expensive ship like the Falkor with 40 people to a box in the middle of the ocean and expect that these white sharks are going to be there,” Block said, speaking from the ship.

Sure enough, the animals were indeed swimming to this remote place, which the researchers have nicknamed the “White Shark Cafe.”

“Just as we predicted, the sharks showed up right in the cruise box,” Block added.

Schmidt Ocean Institute YouTube

The tags were programmed to pop off and float to the surface right when the Falkor was there. Each tag that reached the surface gave off a signal — and kicked off what Block called an “open-ocean treasure hunt,” as the team tried to find something the size of a small microphone in an area about the size of Colorado. These sophisticated tags record temperature, pressure, light and time.

“We doubled our current 20-year data set in three weeks,” Block said. The tags have 2,500 days of data at one- to three-second intervals, allowing researchers to see how the white sharks move up and down through the water with unprecedented detail.

In early March, two months before Falkor departed for the same mission, two saildrones were deployed from San Francisco. They have been transmitting data in real time, listening for the acoustic tags that researchers attached to great white sharks and using sonar to detect other creatures deep under the surface.

SOI/Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

The scientists will need time to parse all of this information, including new mysteries such as why male and female sharks move differently through the water. The males move up and down rapidly — sometimes 120 times a day. Females will go up to the shallow water at night, then down much deeper in the day.

“The male white shark and the female white shark are doing completely different things, and that’s not something we’ve seen so much before,” Block said. “We have to spend some time studying these behaviors to try to understand if this is courtship behavior or is this really a feeding or foraging behavior.”

And after the tags popped up, the scientists used a range of techniques to learn about the water nearby. They had a couple of saildrones, which are surface vehicles that can locate plankton and fish. They also gathered DNA from the water to figure out what is moving down there and observed creatures using a remotely operated underwater vehicle and by pulling them up in nets.

“We expected it to be the desert that the textbooks sort of advertised it would be,” said Bruce Robison, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

But this was no desert.

A layer of nutrient-rich plant life exists deeper under the ocean than satellites could detect. Tiny creatures feed on it, and larger creatures feed on them. And up and up. It represents “a complete food chain, a ladder of consumption, that made us believe that there was an adequate food supply out here for big animals like tunas and the sharks,” Robison said.

The scientists found that the “White Shark Cafe,” originally thought to be an ocean desert, actually is home to a diverse food chain.

Schmidt Ocean Institute

Robison was surprised by how diverse the area was, with animals such as fish, squids, crustaceans and jellyfish. They saw totally different patterns of life in sites just a few miles away from one another, an indication of the area’s complexity.

The fact that scientists didn’t even know this area existed until sharks led them there speaks to how much we still don’t know about the ocean. In fact, according to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, humans have explored just 5 percent of it.

“People don’t really get is why it’s like that — it’s because it’s really hard to do,” Block said. She added that there could be more ocean hot spots out there that scientists are not yet aware of.

And Robison said all the information they gathered could help build a case for why the White Shark Cafe should be officially protected by the U.N. cultural agency. UNESCO is considering recognizing and protecting it by making it a World Heritage Site.