Blue Exsplorer Magazine №3

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Issue No.3 January - February 2022 www.blueexplorermag.com

OCEAN EXPLORATION, ADVENTURES & EXPEDITION CRUISING MAGAZINE

Inside:

The lady in the ice: Jannette expedition

USS Jeannette was a naval exploration vessel which, commanded by George W. De Long, undertook the Jeannette expedition of 1879–1881 to the Arctic. After being trapped in the ice and drifting for almost two years... .

An Atlantis resemblance: the sunken city of Kekova Kekova is not only known for its gorgeous turquoise sea but also its ancient and mysterious sunken city… page 37

The Mystery of Easter Island

A Historical site, one of the most isolated in the world... page 10

Megalodon, prehistoric beast of the seas

For twenty million years, the world's oceans were home to them until suddenly, they disappeared... page 17

Yonaguni, Japan’s lost Atlantis?

The mysterious Yonaguni monument is a gigantic underwater rock formation cut into a series of immense geometric terraces, with broad, flat horizontal surfaces, and sheer vertical stone risers... page 13


Editor’s Note Dear readers! We continue to develop our magazine and rediscover

our blue planet. We are grateful to everyone who writes reviews to us and we try to make our resource the way you want it to be. As this issue was being drafted, we received the amazing news of the discovery of Ernest Shackleton's ship that sank in the Antarctic in 1915. The wreck of Endurance has been found in the Antarctic, 106

years after the historic ship was crushed in pack ice and sank during an expedition by the explorer Ernest Shackleton. Great find. We would like to congratulate the team on the “SA Agulhas II” on the excellent result of the search expedition and also thank them for the fact that one lost page from the book of oceanic polar research was found... Team of “Blue Explorer Magazine”

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CONTENTS: COVER STORY:

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The Lady in the Ice; Jeannette Expedition

DESTINATIONS:

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The Mystery of Easter Island

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Belitung, surreal island paradise you never knew existed

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The most remote island of Tristan da Cunha

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Santorini, an island of thousands colours

BLUE PLANET:

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Yonaguni, Japan’s lost At lantis?

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Megalodon, Prehistoric Beast of the Seas

HISTORY:

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An Atlantis resemblance: the sunken city of Kekova

WELCOME ON BOARD:

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Coral Adventurer, Built for adventure and crafted for comfort Paving the way to the top of the word

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Cruising the mightiest river on

Earth: Amazon ADVERTISING / EDITORIAL OFFICE: Blue Explorer Pte. Ltd., 111 North Bridge Road, Peninsula Plaza, Singapore 179098 info@blueexplorermag.com Blue Explorer Magazine

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The Lady in the Ice: Jeannette Expedition

The first USS Jeannette, a bark-rigged wooden steamship, was originally HMS Pandora, a Philomel-class gun-vessel of the Royal Naval force. The ship was built in 1861 at Pembroke Dockyard and was acquired in 1875 by Sir Allen Young for his arctic voyages in 1875-1876. The vessel was purchased in 1878 by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., proprietor of the New York Herald; and renamed Jeannette. Bennett was an Arctic devotee, and he gotten the participation and help of the government in fitting out an expedition to the North Pole through the Bering Strait. In March, Congress authorized the specifying of naval officers to the journey, and Lieutenant Commander George W. DeLong, a veteran Arctic explorer, accompanied Bennett to Europe to choose a ship. After Jeannette was chosen and named, DeLong sailed her from Le Havre to San Francisco, California during the summer and fall of 1878. At Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Jeannette was fitted with modern boilers and other gear. Her hull was enormously fortified to allow her to

explore the Arctic icepack. Although privately owned, Jeannette was to sail under orders of the Navy, subject to naval laws and discipline. The crew consisted of 30 officers and men, and three civilians. The ship contained the latest in scientific equipment; in addition to reaching the Pole through Bering Strait, scientific observation ranked high among the expedition's list of goals. Jeannette leaving the port of San Francisco on 8 July 1879, the Secretary of the Navy having added to her original instructions the task of searching for the long-overdue Swedish polar expedition of Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (whose ship Vega had successfully traversed the Northeast Passage). Jeannette pushed northward to Alaska's Norton Sound and sent her last communication to Washington before starting north from St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia on 27 August.

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Under Lt. Cdr. DeLong's direction the ship then set out for the Chukchi Peninsula on the Siberian coast and sighted Herald Island on 4 September. Soon afterward she was caught fast in the ice pack near Wrangel Island at 71°35′N 175°6′E / 71.583°N 175.1°E. For the next 21 months, Jeannette drifted to the northwest, ever-closer to DeLong's goal, the North Pole itself. He described in his journal the important scientific records kept by the party: "A full meteorological record is kept, soundings are taken, US naval officer George Washington de Long in 1879 before leaving on his disastrous expedition to the Arctic (Picture US Naval History and Heritage Command)

astronomical observations made and positions computed, dip and declination of the needle observed and recorded… everything we can do is done as faithfully, as strictly, as mathematically as if we were

at the Pole itself, or the lives of millions depended on our adherence to routine." In May 1881, two islands were discovered and named Jeannette and Henrietta. In June, Bennett Island was discovered and claimed for the U.S. On the night of 12 June, the pressure of the ice finally began to crush Jeannette when they had reached 77°15′N 154°59′E / 77.25°N 154.983°E. DeLong and his men unloaded provisions and equipment onto the ice pack and the ship sank the following morning. The expedition now faced a long trek to the Siberian coast, with little hope even then of rescue. Nonetheless they started off for the Lena Delta hauling their sledges with boats and supplies. After reaching several small islands in the Siberian group and gaining some food and rest, they took to their three boats on 12 September in hope of reaching the mainland. As a violent storm blew up, one of the boats (with Lt. Charles W. Chipp and seven men) capsized and sank. The other two, commanded by DeLong and Chief Engineer George W. Melville with respectively 14 and 11 men, survived the severe weather but landed at widely separated points on the delta.

The crew headed by DeLong began the long walk inland over the marshy, half-frozen delta to hoped-for native settlements, and one by one the men died from starvation and exposure. Finally DeLong sent the two strongest, William F. C. Nindemann and Louis P. NoJeannette crew members survived after an epic escape from the Arctic Pictures George T Andrew US Naval Institute

ros, ahead for help; they eventually found a settlement and survived. DeLong and his 11 other companions died on the Siberian tundra.

Meanwhile, Melville and his party had found a local village on the other side of the delta and were rescued. Melville at that point begun for Belun, a Russian outpost, where he found the two survivors of

DeLong's vessel, Nindemann and Noros, and initiated a group of locals to go with him in search of his Blue Explorer Magazine

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commander. He succeeded in finding their landing place on the Lena and recovered Jeannette's log and other critical records, but returned to Belun on 27 November without finding the DeLong and the rest of the crew. Keeping only two of his party, Melville then turned northward once more, and at last found the bodies of DeLong and two of his companions on 23 March 1882. He built a huge cairn over the grave of his companions, a monuAn illustration of USS Jeanette entering the ice in the Arctic in 1879 from the 1883 book The Voyage Of The Jeanette

ment which has been replicated in granite and marble at the United States Naval Academy. Before leaving Siberia, Melville made an attempt to discover the remains of Jeannette's third boat,

though the chance of survivors was small. He returned disappointed to Irkutsk, the capital of Siberia on 5 July 1882, almost three years since his departure from San Francisco in Jeannette. The results of the expedition, both meteorological and geographic, were important. Melville was rightly honored for his courage and tenacity, and the name of George Washington DeLong is considered among the ranks of the Navy's explorer heroes. Search and rescue attempts included those with the revenue cutter Thomas Corwin and previous steam whaler, Rodgers. They established that the Jeannette had been seen, in great condition and steaming west; that she had not landed parties on Herald or Wrangell Island; and that no survivors had come ashore within reach of their shore search. A party from the Rodgers, upon reaching Srednekolymsk received word of the landing of the Jeannette survivors in the Lena delta; this party at that point traveled to join the Jeannette survivors. On June 18, 1884, wreckage from Jeannette was found on an ice floe near Julianehåb (now Qaqortoq) near the southern tip of Greenland. This proposed to Fridtjof Nansen the theory that the ice of the Arctic Sea was in consistent motion from the Siberian coast to the American coast. To demonstrate this, Nansen arranged and executed the Fram expedition 1893-1896, which affirmed the movement of the Arctic sea-ice.

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Paving the way to the top of the world The Arctic is an otherworldly land of boundless landscapes, eternal daylight in summer, sparkling ice floes and abundant wildlife. No wonder that taking a North Pole cruise is getting to be a development industry in once rarely visited realms. For centuries, adventurers and explorers tried to get to the North Pole by sled, ship, aircraft, dogs and balloons. The truly remote areas and the harsh realities of the Arctic climate defeated every single one of these courageous travelers until as recently as 1948. Even today, reaching the North Pole is a difficult and challenging journey. Only a select few make it each year. Unlike Antarctica, which is on a solid land mass, the North Pole has no true fixed location. It lies on a mass of always-shifting ice chunks in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, few ships actually sail to the pole. But many do get close, venturing within the Arctic Circle, above 66 degrees latitude. The North Pole is special, it is a magical destination for travelers everywhere, not only because of the unique geographical spot it occupies but also because it remains a domain that, for most, exists only in the imagination—fewer people have stood at the North Pole than have at-

tempted to climb Mount Everest. Difficult to reach and singular in its impact, the North Pole transforms the perspectives of everyone fortunate enough to reach it. It is the world’s northernmost point and a prize still zealously pursued by adventurers and explorers today. Not just any cruise ship can sail through the icy waters of the north. Getting to the top of the world requires cruising on an actual icebreaker (as opposed to ice-class ships, which have thickened hulls, among other modifications). On this Arctic adventure, the moveable home base will be the 50 Let Pobedy means 50 Years of Victory. Powered by two nuclear reactors generating 75,000 horsepower and capable of crushing a clear path through multi-year ice up to three meters thick, it is the largest and most powerful icebreaker ever built. Cruising aboard this marvel of engineering is an unforgettable experience in itself. The icebreaker is a working ship, purposeBlue Explorer Magazine

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built to pilot cargo and research ships through heavy ice. It provides a friendly, casual atmosphere with unexpected amenities, comfortable accommodation, and a restaurant serving gourmet cuisine. The ship entered service in 2007 and hasn’t had a rest since. For only five voyages over the months of June, July, and August, the world's most powerful nuclear ice breaker has pause its grueling schedule of escorting cargo and military ships through the ice of the Northwest Passage to make room for 150 tourists. The Prime time to go on a North Pole cruise is July and August when the polar desert shows its colors. Snowfields give way to lush yellow-green mosses. And against all odds in this harsh environment, ground-hugging plants sprout tiny but brilliant blooms. Going earlier or later in the summer might mean not being able to get as far north due to ice, but winter cruising in this

part of the world is growing, too. This incredible adventure starts in Murmansk, Russia. There, the passengers embark and get acquainted with 50 Years of Victory for a roundtrip voyage to the geographic North Pole.

What to Expect on a North Pole Cruise Wildlife watching: Africa has its Big Five. The Arctic has its Big Three: polar bears, walruses and whales. You're unlikely to get up close and personal with polar bears (a good thing; they can be extremely dangerous), but a savvy crew will have their eyes peeled for sightings on distant ice floes. Chances of spotting walruses are good, since they tend to congregate in massive heaps on beaches. Whales, including minke, beluga and even blue whales (the world's largest creature) are a solid bet. Reindeer, ringed seals and a multitude of bird species, from kittiwakes to arctic terns, are a given. Franz Josef Land: This archipelago is a part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012. Its nature sanctuary has a collection of 191 secluded islands in the Russian Arctic. Its remote wilderBlue Explorer Magazine

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ness is home to a variety of iconic High Arctic wildlife, including polar bears. In the surrounding icy waters it is possible to spot seals, walrus, and the elusive bowhead whale. The archipelago also hosts an abundance of nesting Arctic seabirds such as the rare ivory gull. Discovered only 150 years ago, the glaciated archipelago was once an important stopping point for famous polar explorers making the dangerous, death-defying passage to the North Pole. A wealth of wellpreserved historical sites makes this island group a veritable museum of polar exploration. Here the visitors are offered the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at wellpreserved historical sites. The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen come alive at Cape Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbour, and Cape Tegetthoff. Memorials, monuments, crosses, and the remains of dwellings are testimony to incredible historical events that are further illuminated by the expert lecturers. The eerie remains of makeshift dwellings give testimony to the incredible struggles of these early expeditions. Like polar expeditions of the past, excursions in Franz Josef Land are highly dependent on ice and weather conditions.

Top of the World Celebration: Once the ship reaches 90ºN, visitors are able to hop out onto the solid ice and mark the occasion with a multicultural ceremony and the hoisting of international flags and gather around with other fellow travelers from all over the globe in a place where no sovereign nation rules, for a barbecue lunch with glasses of champagne to toast the incredible achievement of reaching a destination that few have had the chance to visit. Flight seeing from Sky-High Throughout the expedition: There will be special opportunities for sightseeing tours aboard the ship’s dedicated Mi2 helicopter. Flying high above the frozen landscape, travelers will enjoy unmatched aerial views and can gain a better perspective on the polar region and its remarkable, awe-inspiring expanse. Depending on weather conditions, travelers may also have an opportunity to take a tethered hot-air balloon ride at the North Pole. SoarBlue Explorer Magazine

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ing to a height of 30 meters, this exclusive excursion offers a unique vantage point from which to admire the Arctic’s snow-capped ice ridges and stunning cerulean waters. It’s a thrilling way to cap off an unforgettable visit to the very top of the world. Marvel at the Midnight Sun: Most people have never experienced the Midnight Sun, the mysteriously beautiful phenomenon in which the sun never dips below the horizon line. Even in the darkest hours of night, the sky is filled with the luminous glow of sunset until the sunrise starts the process all over again. The only way to experience this unusual and fantastically photogenic sight is to be above the Arctic Circle. Polar Bears Reign: Many passengers take advantage of the Arctic’s 24-hour daylight to scout for native wildlife. There are multiple opportunities to make landfall by Zodiac or kayak to get an up-close and unfiltered view of the wild north. In these latitudes, it is possible to encounter a number of unique marine mammals that thrive in the frigid, yet surprisingly vibrant habitat. Keep an eye out for iconic animals such as walruses, bowhead whales, various Arctic seal species, and majestic polar bears, the mighty hunters of the north. Free Activities: There will be plenty of free time to walk across the North Pole and photograph it in all its natural beauty and isolation. For the brave souls, there’ll be an option to take a “polar plunge” into the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean. Seawater around the pole doesn’t completely freeze due to its natural salinity, but the chill will still be feeling at a cool 29°F.

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The Mystery of Easter Island Easter Island or Rapa Nui in Polynesian, or Isla de Pascua in Spanish, is one of the most isolated places in the world, with its closest landmass about 4000 kilometers away. The island’s topography is characterized by windswept rolling hills, punctured by the occasional volcanic crater that abruptly ends at the coast with massive white cliffs, some 300 meters in height, with the great ocean pounding tirelessly at their feet. In recent years, Easter Island has drawn more than 100,000 annual visitors, most of whom are lured by its ancient monolithic statues, called moai. Around 1000 moai can be found on the island’s landscape. The stone blocks carved into head-and-torso figures, average 13 feet (4 meters) tall and 14 tons. They were typically mounted on platforms called ahu. The historical sites are scattered throughout the island in the Rapa Nui National Park (there is an $80 entry fee – which helps to pay for restoration and maintenance work – and the park is managed primarily by Rapa Nui residents). One of these sites is Ahu Akivi which consists of a large ahu and seven large moai, all of them facing the sea – this is a unique feature as all other moai on the island face inland. The highlight is Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano, and the site of the quarry and factory where the moai were created. The astounding sight of dozens of maoi heads sticking out from the grassy hillside can be seen. A walk around the quarry provides visitors with a good impression of the various stages of production of the moai. Another spectacular site to see on Easter Island is Ahu Tongariki. This is by far the largest ahu (fifteen moai in a row) with the ocean and cliffs forming a dazzling backdrop. The island boasts a beautiful sandy beach, Anakena beach that is lined by more moai (Ahu Nau Nau). Anakena’s sheltered cove makes it an ideal spot for a swim. The road that leads to the beach passes an ancient ceremonial site that is worth a stop. The site features a globe-like Blue Explorer Magazine

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magnetic stone which locals called the ‘Navel of the Earth.’ Orongo, another ancient ceremonial site on the edges of a volcano, is another highlight. A visit to this site involves a hike to the top of the volcano where visitors are treated to a magnificent view of the large crater. The path continues along with a series of primitive dwellings where the priests used to live, and several large boulders full of rock carvings (petroglyphs). The views of the crater on one side and the deep blue ocean on the other side are simply breathtaking. Much of the history of the island — including that of its sculptures and the Polynesians who discovered it 1,000 years ago — is shrouded in mystery. Many of the descendants of the Petroglyphs at Orongo

Polynesian settlers have fallen prey to tribal fighting, European diseases, and the Peruvian slave trade. Scholars have

puzzled over the moai on Easter Island for decades, pondering their cultural significance, as well as how a Stone Age culture managed to carve and transport statues weighing as much as 92 tons. There have been multiple scientific investigations into whether they might have been moved on a system of wooden sleds and rollers, or piles of rocks, or whether they were walked into place using ropes. For many people, the answer all lies in mana, which is a concept shared among several Pacific cultures (for example, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Maori). In Easter Island, mana has been described as meaning any of the following: knowledge, wisdom, or a source of energy that engenders strength. And while it is said to have been directly inherited by the descendants of a few, deified ancestors, importantly, Navel of the earth

it can also be acquired. Early explorers are said to have been motivated by mana and carving the moai in reverence

to the ancestors was another way to create mana. By doing so, people were also able to create a link between ancestors and current-day descendants. Continuing to honor the moai assures distribution of mana to the people. Mana has long been a motivation for many of the things that the Rapa Nui do. It is said to have secured their prosperity and survival. It is what makes the crops grow, and it makes fish jump into nets and boats. In a subsistence economy, before commerce and tourism came to Rapa Nui, these were of prime importance, and they continue to be important to this day, with parents continuing to teach their children about mana, together with teaching them where to fish or how to ensure a healthy harvest. However, a new study published by Jo Anne Van Tilburg of the Easter Island Statue Project claims to have deciphered the meaning behind the moai. In a study published in Blue Explorer Magazine

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the Journal of Archaeological Science,

researchers

have

claimed the moai served a critical role for the Easter Island people. According to the study, the

moai

were

carved

and

placed all over the island between the 14th and 19th century to boost the fertility of the land. Ahu nau nau

Dr. Van Tilburg and her team examined a particular pair of stone

heads in the Rano Raraku quarry on the east side of the island. The two stone heads were most likely raised between the years 1510 and 1645. About 95 percent of all the moai on Rapa Nui can trace their origin back to the Rano Raraku quarry. Dr. Van Tilburg analyzed soil samples from around the quarry to find evidence of foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, and a tropical plant known as taro. The abundance of foods in the soil around the Rano Raraku quarry suggests the land was an agricultural hotspot for the Rapa Nui. Her most recent discovery was aided by soil specialist Sarah Sherwood and UCLA archaeologist Tom Wake. Dr. Sherwood said: “When we got the chemistry results back, I did a double-take. There were high levels of things that I never would have thought would be there, such as calcium and phosphorous. The soil chemistry showed high levels of elements that are key to plant growth and essential for high yields. Everywhere else on the island the soil was being quickly worn out, eroding, being leeched of elements that feed plants, but in the quarry, with its constant new influx of small fragments of the bedrock generated by the quarrying process, there is a perfect feedback system of water, natural fertilizer, and nutrients.” The expert believes the discovery points to an agriculturally minded civilization that knew how to plant different crops in the same spot repeatedly. Dr. Van Tilburg added: “This study radically alters the idea that all standing statues in Rano Raraku were simply awaiting transport out of the quarry. That is, these and probably other upright Moai in Rano Raraku were retained in place to ensure the sacred nature of the quarry itself. The moai were central to the idea of fertility, and in Rapanui belief, their presence here stimulated agricultural food production.”

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Yonaguni Japan’s lost Atlantis? For decades, people thought that the most impressive natural sight you could see near the Japanese island of Yonaguni was the frenzy hammerhead sharks that circled the shores during the chilly winter months. That all changed in 1987 when local scuba diving instructor and director of YonaguniCho Tourism Association Kihachiro Aratake discovered something underwater that was far more interesting than sharks. It was the mysterious Yonaguni monument. It is a gigantic underwater rock formation cut into a series of immense geometric terraces, with broad, flat horizontal surfaces, and sheer vertical stone risers. The formation is mostly composed of sandstone and mudstone, while various structures connect to the rock beneath them. The most prominent part of the Yonaguni Monument is a giant slab of rock that is nearly 500 feet long, 130 feet wide and 90 feet tall. The distance from the surface of the water to the top of the monument is around 16 feet. The discovery sparked a debate as to whether they are naturally formed or man-made structures created by an ancient civilization. What makes many people — including some scientists — believe that

the monument is more than just a giant piece of rock underwater is the variety of details that point to human influence. There are what looks like couple of pillars, a stone column, and a wall that is 33 feet wide, a road, and even a star-shaped platform. If the monument is indeed man-made or modified by humans, that would date it back to the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years BC, when the sea level was 40m lower than it is now and Yonaguni Jima was part of a land bridge connecting Japan, Taiwan, and China mainland. This would make the monument the oldest man-made artifact on The Earth, significantly predating the pyramids of Egypt. Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist has been studying the object for many years and is convinced that the site was carved thousands of years ago when it was still above water. Precise angles and triangle carvings are unlikely to have a natural origin. He believes that the

structure could be the remains of the Lost Continent of Mu, the Japanese Atlantis. However, other scienBlue Explorer Magazine

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Port of Kubura seen from Irizaki

tists do not agree and insist that geology and strong currents are responsible for the unusual shape of the rock. While it is not officially a sunken city, the Yonaguni Monument certainly draws tourists like one. The site is mostly popular among divers. To reach the island you can sail on a ferry which makes the journey between Ishigaki and Kubura Port on the western end of Yonaguni Island every twice a week. A one way journey takes approximately 4.5 hours. Yonaguni is a tiny speck of an island (28 sq. km.) with a population of less than 2000 people, located 125 km from Taiwan and 127 km from Ishigaki. There are three villages on the island: Sonai, as the most populous village in the north, the fishing village of Kubura in the west and Higawa in the south. Higawa has only around 100 inhabitants. A free community bus runs about once every two hours along the western half of the island and serves the three villages. Besides the public bus, rental vehicles like cars and mopeds are also available on the island. Although it lacks the resorts of the larger Yaeyama islands and its few visitors are mostly divers coming to witness the island's mysterious sunken ruins and hammerhead sharks, the island has beautiful (yet uncrowded) beaches, cultural attractions, and various mysteries of history. Whether you believe the monument is a man-made structure or a natural-

rock formation, it is still an incredible sight. And it is not the only amazing dive site in Yonaguni. Divers have surveyed numerous sites here. Many feature beautiful caverns and caves, pristine coral reefs, and other striking features, such as large fields of anemones and enormous gorgonian fans. And better still, even in November the water temperature is 84 F (29 C), thanks to a warm current that runs up the east coast of Taiwan. Yonaguni has the oceanic climate prevailing and the best time to visit the island is from January until December, when you will have a pleasant or warm temperature and limited until mediocre rainfall. The highest average temperature on Yonaguni is 29°C in July and the lowest is 20°C in January. The island is known for its marine activities as well as for its native fauna; Yonaguni horse. Yonaguni is home to the Yonaguni horse, this pony-sized horse is a native Japanese

breed, typically have brown hair and were originally used as riding horses. Today they are a protected Blue Explorer Magazine

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breed and allowed to roam freely in the three pastures near the villages. Texas gates, a grid of slates above a depression on the road, act as a barrier and deter the horses from leaving the pastures.

Below are some other attractions on Yonaguni Island:

Westernmost Point and Irizaki Lighthouse The western cape of Yonaguni and some stones in the water off the cape make up Japan's westernmost point. As such, it is also the last place in the country to see the sunset. Irizaki Lighthouse and a monument celebrating the extreme point can be found at the cape. Taiwan can be seen just over 100 kilometers across the sea in the distance when visibility is good.

Agarizaki Lighthouse The Agarizaki Lighthouse stands at the opposite end of the island, at the eastern cape of Yonaguni. It is surrounded by spectacular, high sea cliffs that make up the coastline. Iriomote Island can be seen in the distance when visibility is good. The pony-sized, native Yonaguni horses are often seen roaming the pastures around the Agarizaki Lighthouse.

Gunkan and Tategami rocks The coast southeast of Yonaguni's western cape continues to offer a spectacular scenery with rugged terrain, high sea cliffs and numerous notable rock formations. Of interest are the Gunkan-iwa, a stout and imposing rock named after a warship, and Tategami-iwa, a tall candle-shaped rock. There are multiple lookout points along the road. Blue Explorer Magazine

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Tindabana Viewpoint Tindabana is rock outcrop that towers about 85 meters above the village of Sonai.

A

lookout

point

in

the outcrop offers panoramic views of the

village,

the

near-

by Nanta Beach, and the East China Sea. The viewpoint is reached via a 200 meter long walking trail along the cliff from the nearest parking lot.

Atlas Moth Museum The Atlas Moth Museum is located The Turtle, one of the many formations on the Yonaguni Monument

in the middle of the eastern half of Yonaguni. The museum displays the At-

las Moth - or Ayamibabiru as it is known locally - which is the largest moth in the world. The museum introduces the habitat of the tropical moth, and visitors will be able to see them up close as well.

site topography

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Megalodon, Prehistoric Beast of the Seas Megalodon, a compound of Greek root words, means “giant tooth,” is the common name for either Carcharocles megalodon or Otodus megalodon, truly gigantic predatory shark that went extinct long ago. For twenty million years, the world's oceans were home to them until suddenly, they disappeared. This huge sea creature of ancient history has inspired a host of books, documentaries, and blockbuster films, some of which like to imagine that this super predator is still alive today, lurking somewhere out there in the mysterious deep. Megalodon might not even have been the largest predator in the ocean at the time it was alive – the Leviathan whale (Livyatan melvillei) was potentially larger than Megalodon and occupied the same territorial waters. The Leviathan was likely a close ancestor of modern sperm whales, but it was a true apex predator with the largest teeth of any known animal (more than twice the size of the Megalodon's) and used a similar hunting strategy of modern orca whales. The best current estimates put Megalodon at a maximum size of about just under 18 meters in length, with a weight of 30 to 50 tons. It is important to remember that because sharks do not have bone skeletons, no Megalodon skeleton fossil has ever been found and these estimates are based almost entirely on their tooth size and by using the size of their teeth as a comparison to other sharks. Also, keep in mind that Megalodon, like most animals, rarely reached its

maximum size and most of these sharks would have been far smaller. Recent peer-reviewed studies indicate that Megalodon may have been significantly smaller than previously thought, probably reaching 14.2, - 15.3m. We do not need to look back in time to find a predatory whale larger than Megalodon: Presentday sperm whales have been recorded reaching 20.7m - far longer than Megalodon. Unlike some other marine predators from prehistoric times—which were restricted to coastlines or inland rivers and lakes—the megalodon had a truly global distribution. Fossil remains of megalodon have been found in shallow tropical and temperate seas along the coastlines and continental shelf regions of all continents except Antarctica. Scientists have discovered megalodon nursery habitats in Panama, Maryland, the Canary Islands, and Florida. Like the modern-day bull shark, megalodons gave birth in specific

nursery habitats that included protected bays and estuaries. These locations provided the shark pups with Blue Explorer Magazine

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plenty of fish and a safe environment to grow, away from the larger predators of the Open Ocean and offshore zones. Most of what we know about the Megalodon comes from studying its teeth. Nearly the entire skeleton of sharks is made from soft cartilage, it takes special conditions for this to preserve. The teeth, however, are made from a much tougher material known as dentin, which is harder and denser even than bone. While this enables a powerful bite, it also increases the A megalodon tooth next to a tooth of a great white shark

chance that the teeth will fossilize as they are less likely to decompose. Every shark, including

the megalodon, has several rows of teeth lining its jaw. Unlike people, who have a limited number of teeth in their lifetime, shark can lose and replace thousands of teeth in its lifetime. They constantly shed their teeth and replace them with new ones. Megalodon teeth are no different. The largest megalodon tooth measures around 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) in length, which is almost three times longer than those of great white sharks. A more common size for megalodon teeth found is between 3 and 5 inches. Megalodon's prey list is almost identical to the prey of modern killer whales. It fed on other big marine mammals, like whales,

seals, dolphins, dugongs, and turtles. According to Discovery, it may have even eaten other sharks. The megalodon would first attack the flipper and tails of their prey to prevent them from swimming away, then go in for the kill. The megalodon's 276 serrated teeth were the perfect tool for ripping flesh. These sharks also had a ferocious bite. While humans have been measured to have a bite force of around 1,317 newtons, researchers have estimated that the Megalodon jaws on display at the National Baltimore Aquarium

megalodon had a bite force between 108,514 and 182,201 newtons.

While the popular 2018 movie, "The Meg," pits modern humans against an enormous megalodon, it is actually more than likely that the beast died out before humans even evolved. But it is difficult to pinpoint the exact date that the megalodon went extinct because the fossil record is incomplete. In 2014, a research group at the University of Zurich studied megalodon fossils using a technique called optimal linear estimation to determine their age. Their research found that most of the fossils date back to the middle Miocene epoch to the Pliocene epoch (15.9 million to 2.6 million years ago). For comparison, our earliest Homo sapiens ancestors emerged only 2.5 million years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch. Although much rarer than fossilized teeth, fossils also exist of whale bones with Megalodon tooth slashes and bites in them.

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temporary evidence from carcasses or bodies of whales of bite marks or wounds consistent with a large shark like Megalodon. Because no one has discovered any recent evidence of the monster — not even fossils that are any younger than 2.6 million years old — scientists agree that megalodons are long gone. The cooling of the planet may have contributed to the extinction of the megalodon in a number of

ways. Scientists contend that up to a third of all large marine animals, including 43% of turtles and 35% of sea birds, became extinct as temperatures cooled and the number of organisms at the base of the food chain plummeted, resulting in a knock-on effect to the predators at the top. As the adult sharks were dependent on tropical waters, the drop in ocean temperatures likely resulted in a significant loss of habitat. It may also have resulted in the megalodon's prey either going extinct or adapting to the cooler waters and moving to where the sharks could not follow. . Precisely when the last megalodon died is not known. So far, we have only found teeth and vertebrae of megalodons. There’s still lively debate in the scientific community about the modern species of sharks to which megalodon is most closely related. Scientists who have been studying modern sharks are working with paleontologists to study megalodon and

other long-extinct shark species. By asking questions about shark evolution, comparing fossils and modern specimens, and their environments, we can hopefully understand more about these amazing animals.

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Belitung, surreal island paradise you never knew existed Better known as Billiton, Belitung Island, may be a hidden gem right now, but it will not be a secret for long. It is the perfect paradise for your next island getaway with its impeccable pristine beaches, blue waters and natural granite rock structures. It is hard not to linger on its beauty as the island is now determined to reach its goal to become one of world’s best Geoparks. A Global Geopark is a UNESCOdesignated area that contains natural sites with particular geological importance and is intended to be conserved on account of its heritage. Tourism is expected to act as booster to spread knowledge and awareness of this unique natural wonder. Belitung lies midway between South Sumatra and Kalimantan, 340 km north of Jakarta, in the Java Sea, Indonesia. It is a small island flanked by the Gaspar Strait and Karimata Strait. The word Belitung is

taken from the local language means sea slug. Belitung’s population of 270,000 is mainly Malay, with a range of other ethnicities. The island is circular, 85 km across, with low hills, and its major towns are Tanjung Pandan in the west and Manggar in the east. This tiny island paradise is part of the Bangka-Belitung province in Indonesia, which also includes several other smaller islands ripe for exploration. The island is noted for its tin production. Interestingly, BHP Billiton (2001), the world’s largest mining company, had part of its origin in the 1851 Dutch discovery of tin in Belitung. Belitung is blessed with some of the best beaches of the country. The area is made up mostly of small hills, lower plains, and white pepper fields. Mount Tajam is the highest point in the islands and has a height of less than 500 meters. Coastlines alternate between stunning white beaches to mangrove forests. The most distinct features of Belitung’s many beaches are the fascinating granite rock formations along the shallow shores. These rocks can reach the

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size of houses and lie in bold contrast to the white sand. A great number of islets, banks, and reefs lie off the coasts, up to a distance of 30 miles, and only a few are inhabited. Island hopping is a must-do while visiting Belitung Island. The white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are the two main reasons you should rent a boat from Tanjung Kelayang Beach and visit the outlying small islands. A boat that goes for a rental can accommodate up to 10 passengers. An island hopping tour usually stops by at least five islands: Batu Garuda, Batu Berlayar, Lengkuas, Kelayang and Kepayang. The island of Batu Garuda took its name from the large boulders there that resemble the head of the mythical bird. Meanwhile, Lengkuas Island is known for the site of a 19th century antique light house. The L.I. Enthoven Lighthouse was built in Dutch colonial times in 1882 and offers a beautiful overview of the area. Visitors can climb up to the third level to take in a view of the green seas below. Those

who want to witness marine life may snorkel off the eastern and western shores of Lengkuas Island. Kelayang Island is also a must-visit spot during your island-hopping excursion. In addition to its white sand and giant boulders, the island also has interesting caves to explore. If the weather is good, the boat usually takes travelers to Burung (bird) Island and Pasir Island. As with all regions across the archipelago, Belitung has two seasons: the wet season that runs from October to March, and the dry season, from April to September. The best time to visit Bangka Belitung is on the dry season, when it is less rainy, with more sun, smoother seas, and better snorkeling visibility. With the impacts of climate change, however, this is for general reference only, be sure you pack for sudden changes in the local weather.

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Cruise ships to Belitung Island anchor at Tanjung Pandan - port town on the western coast. As the largest town as well as the capital of the Belitung Regency, downtown Tanjung Pandan is quite interesting due to the many Dutch Colonial buildings and shop houses. Most of the governmental buildings are the original Dutch buildings and the Old Dutch tin mining housing compound is still kept up. Traditional Bugis fishing craft and an odd assortment of other boats make the pier and fish market an interesting place. Other Popular areas: Kaolin Lake This is an abandoned kaoline or white clay mine located in Tanjung Pandan that has been transformed into a hotspot for travelers and photographers. Bright turquoise water against a white rugged stone cradle is just a photogenic spot in an unexpected site. It is still restricted to enter the water due to safety precautions, but you will surely get a great experience even if you stay dry. Teluk Gembira Beach The Kaoline Lake

Recently developed, Teluk Gembira Beach is a convenient yet quiet tourist destination that offers a wonderful

view of crystal clear waters beyond a local pier. From the pier, you can hop on a fishing boat and sail to Seliu Island. Penyabong Beach

Sandwiched between the Arumdalu Resort and Teluk Gembira Beach, Penyabong features giant boulders and crystal clear waters and it is even quieter than Teluk Gembira Beach. However, you may need to prepare your own meals and drinks to visit Penyabong Beach, as the beach does not have restaurants or other tourist facilities. Batu Berlayar Island Batu Berlayar means the Sailing Rock. Its name is derived from the shape of the island’s rock formation that resembles a sailing ship. This is a small island that has some secluded spots with tiny beaches and huge granite structures. Getting here needs an experienced boatman, to navigate across the shallow and rocky seabed around the island.

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Lengkuas Island

Tanjung Tinggi A serene and tranquil beach that is perfect for swimming. A few hotels are situated along this lovely waterfront to serve tourists, offering an incredible view just outside the window. Be aware of the wind and current though, they may blow your sunhat away. The Satam Monument This is an iconic monument in the heart of Tanjung Pandan, capital of the district of Belitung, located in the middle of a traffic roundabout of this lovely city. Satam is derived from the word Hitam, meaning Black. It is a kind of black rock that is considered sacred and powerful by the locals but can be bought in many forms of jewelers and other ornamental handicraft. Around this monument are shops and restaurants to indulge your shopping spree for special mementos.

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The most remote island of Tristan da Cunha In 1506 a Portuguese sea-captain called Tristao da Cunha came across a group of six little islands far out in the Atlantic between South Africa and South America. The largest of them, which he named after himself, has a volcano in the middle. It was the British military, however, who secured the political future of

Tristan da Cunha, when, on 14th August 1816 a garrison aboard HMS Falmouth took possession of the island on behalf of King George III. Population slowly formed from members of a temporary British garrison, shipwrecked sailors, and other Europeans, as well as women from other islands. By 1886 there were 97 inhabitants, clustered at the settlement of Edinburgh on Tristan da Cunha. Every inhabitant of Tristan da Cunha—269, at last count—lives in the island's only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. Established in the early 19th century, the village is located on the north coast and home to 70 families, all of whom are farmers. Electricity is supplied by diesel generators. The island's lone road, a narrow, winding path, is flanked by bungalow-style cottages, potato patches and roaming cows. The looming volcanic cliffs and low-lying mist create a secluded, hazy setting. For visitors, a stay on Tristan da Cunha might be not be a typical island vacation. There are no restaurants. There are no hotels. Credit cards are not accepted, the beaches are not safe for swimming, and every month brings between 17 and 26 days of rain. Precisely in the middle of the island lies a giant volcano. But Tristan da Cunha is enticing because it offers something that no other island destination can: the most extreme isolation. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, the 8-mile-wide British overseas territory is the most remote populated island in the world. The nearest mainland city, 1,743 miles east, is Cape Town in South Africa. The journey from there takes seven days by boat—traveling by air is not an option, as there is no airport on the island.

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The gateway to the island sits a mere 2800km away in South Africa. Vessels leave from Cape Town to make the often arduous six-day crossing to the island. Boats making the trip vary in the summer months, and the spiffy new SA Agulhas II research vessel visits each September. There are a few cruise ships that visit the Tristan da Cunha islands most years, and others that visit from time to time, usually during island hopping voyages between the islands of the South Atlantic. They normally visit during the austral summer when the weather is better and there is more chance of seeing Tristan wildlife, especially if the visit is timed to coincide with the breeding seasons. As the harbor is too small for ships to dock, passengers land in zodiacs or tenders, although sea conditions may sometimes prevent this. Very large cruise ships tend not to try to land passengers, but islanders will normally come aboard to talk and sell postcards and souvenirs. In any case, the islands and their rugged coasts are sights you will never forget. But for the rest, a rough-and-ready voyage awaits. There are certain cruises which are epic in nature, and are done more for adventure than for comfort for the joy of the unvarnished experience. Eight times a year, cargo and fishing boats leave Cape Town’s gleaming harbor to tackle the rolling waves to Tristan. On board amenities are few – a sole bathroom shared by the half-dozen passenger cabins, a TV room where surprisingly varied meals are served, a couple of chairs on the deck and plenty of banter with the crew heading off to the crayfish-rich waters around Tristan. Tristan da Cunha is a peaceful, pared-back existence with few anxieties—unless the volcano erupts. Such was the case in 1961, when earthquakes, landslides, and an eruption from one of the north vents sent the entire population fleeing to England via Cape Town. Now that the volcano has calmed down, life on Tristan da Cunha is an exercise in patience and planning. There is a grocery store, but or-

ders must be placed months in advance so the goods can be loaded onto scheduled fishing vessels and delivered. Harsh weather can cause delays by making it impossible to land on the island. A hospital equipped with x-ray machines, a labor ward, operating theater, emergency room and dental treatment facilities takes care of most health concerns, but patients needing more specialized treatment must be evacuated to South Africa or the UK. In addition to farming, residents sustain themselves by selling souvenirs, handcrafts, and rare Tristan da Cunha postage stamps online. Among the more distinctive souvenirs is the traditional "love socks" knitted by island women—the size and number of stripes on each pair of socks denotes a particular meaning, from "friends forever" to "head over heels in love."

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In a massive win for conservation, the tiny island of Tristan da Cunha is creating a marine protection zone that will make it the largest sanctuary in the Atlantic and the fourth-largest in the world. Except being the most remote inhabited island on Earth (according to the local tourist board and no less an authority than the Guinness Book of World Records), soon Tristan da Cunha will have another unique claim to make when it becomes the largest fully protected marine park in the Atlantic. In November 2020, the government of Tristan da Cunha made the announcement saying that the protected area will span almost 700 000 sq km, making it almost three times larger than the UK, and will protect 90% of the waters around the island chain by making them a “no-take zone,” in which bottom-trawling fishing, deep-sea mining and other harmful activities will be banned. The archipelago is home to many unique species including Southern right whales and their calves, the elusive shepherd's beak whale, sevengill sharks, the globallythreatened blue-nose albatross, and the Atlantic petrel, as well as 80% of the world's population of subAntarctic fur seals, and 90% of the world's population of Northern rockhopper penguins. Tens of millions of seabirds feed here too. The sanctuary will go a long way in safeguarding local and visiting wildlife and will help the UK reach its target of protecting 30% of the world's oceans by 2030 through its Blue Belt Program.

Stepping back in time is a big part of travelling to Tristan. In the end, of course, Tristan’s main attraction is its solitude. Walk the lanes of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas (referred to locally as simply ‘The Settlement’), seek out the resident rockhopper penguins with their striking carnival-like plumage, or sit and chat with affable locals over tea and cake. The journey to get here might be a little grueling, but then no one ever said that time travel would be easy.

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Oxagon, a future floating home for the visionary Jules Verne once wrote a science fiction novel called L'Île à hélice' (Propeller Island) −also pub-

lished as The Floating Island, or The Pearl of the Pacific− exploring the concept of floating, aquatic island cities. Key reason to think about this concept is the fact the Earth is mostly covered by water, and all of the ocean surface is still available. For the moment construction on water is still very expensive, obviously because we are earthlings and almost everything we use and produce comes from land. We did not even explore enough of the oceans and there are more people that landed on moon than that visited the deepest point of ocean. Still, oceans can and will be the next step in our future development. Squeezed between rising populations, rising seas, and threatened ecosystems, cities need new options, including a sustainable, real-world approach to the formerly fanciful vision of offshore communities. One of this ambitious futuristic new megacity city project plans has been proposed in Saudi Arabia as NEOM, an acronym for New Future, combining the ancient Greek prefix Neo for new with the M as an abbrevia-

tion for the Arabic word Mustaqbal which means future. NEOM would be a 25.900 square kilometers citystate located in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province near Jordan in Egypt. This is a city built from scratch that if all goes to plan, it will be 33 times the size of New York city. With $500 billion going into its development there are some huge plans in place for the city of the future. First of all, “The line”, it is called “The line” basically because its literally a hundred-mile line.

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spanning multiple communities and ecologies and connected via an ultra-high-speed transit system underground. The city will be powered by 100% renewable energy with business regulations aiming to promote regenerative and sustainable practices. Developers claim that all essential daily needs will be within a fiveminute walk because the city is going to be built around people and not cars, in fact there will be no cars or traditional roads for that matter. Residents will live on the ground layer amongst open spaces, gardens, parks, and the natural environment. Underground will be a business-based layer containing offices, retail, and restaurants. And under that will be a transit layer where freight will also move all out of sight. Finally, everything will incorporate artificial intelligence and robotics in order to learn and improve services to business and the people living in the communities on the line. According to Joseph Bradley, NEOM’s head of technology and digital “we’re fundamentally building the world’s first cognitive city.” Project Neom was conceived by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and is the flagship project of his 13-year plan to modernize the conservative kingdom, named “Vision 2030”. For most of its history Saudi’s economy was based around oil. NEOM is one part of the kingdom’s plan to diversify itself away from the oil-based economy. The Kingdom has turned to tourism and technology as part of their future strategy. This project includes $810 billion of investment in culture, entertainment and leisure development over the next decade with the goal to have 100 million visitors of the kingdom by 2030. Neom is financed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (FIP). Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is chairman of Neom and the FIP.

As part of the kingdom’s NEOM project, The Crown Prince has announced the formation of OXAGON. The development is a mega-project of an eight-sided industrial carbon emissions-free city floating on the Red Sea. It will feature a port and a logistics hub and will be a “comprehensive cognitive city” focused on robotics and artificial intelligence, as described by the official Saudi Press Agency. Vishal Wanchoo, CEO of Oxagon, and head of engineering at Neom, expresses the hopes behind the latest massive project for the kingdom and challenges the sceptics who claim the development is not achievable, particularly after previous efforts to build economic and financial free zones struggled to take off. Half of Oxagon will float on the Red Sea, which on average is 500 metres deep. Oxagon planned to func-

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search centers, education zones, and tourist attractions. Comprising a large area in the southwest corner of NEOM, the core urban environment is centred around an integrated port and logistics hub that will house most of the city's anticipated population. The unique octagonal design minimizes the impact on the environment and provides optimal land use, with the remainder exposed to preserve 95% of the natural environment. The floating city limits coastal sprawl, while creating waterfront communities that can be efficiently cooled and controlled using the ocean’s natural moderating affects. And by moving research and technology offshore, Oxagon will leverage the power of the Red Sea to drive innovation in ocean exploration, marine transportation, food production, and tourism. The hallmark of this city is the largest floating structure in the world, which will become the centre of the NEOM Blue Economy and achieve sustainable growth. These are expected to include sustainable seafood production, biotech development, and synergies in emerging technologies between land-based and marine industries. The site would rely on wind farms, solar power, and cutting-edge technology that transforms water into oxygen and hydrogen for fuel. Plans include flying drone taxis, a Jurassic Park–style amusement park with robotic dinosaurs, and the highest density of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. The region's stark landscape would be transformed by cloud-seeding machines, the world's largest coral garden, glow-in-the-dark sand, and a giant artificial moon that lights up nightly.

The onshore development at Oxagon is expected to be completed by 2030. At the moment as construction was originally reported to start in the first quarter of 2021, the regions are being developed where 1,500 Neom employees are already working and living on site. Now that it's finally underway, the next step for the site is to get the city-state declared a 'free zone' with different laws than the rest of Saudi Arabia. Officials claim that it may be accomplished as early as the first few months of 2022. They also said that the containerisation of the port is likely to begin in 2022 when they will also be building the advanced integrated port logistics facilities. They aim to have their logistics solutions facilities in place by 2025 as they

continue to progress and deploy new technologies such as state-of-the-art high-speed rail and aerial taxis. Blue Explorer Magazine

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Through Oxagon, there will be a fundamental change in the way the world views manufacturing centres. Oxagon will build the world's first integrated port and supply chain ecosystem for NEOM across seven priority manufacturing clusters: renewable energy, autonomous and sustainable mobility, modern construction, water innovation, sustainable food production, health and wellbeing, and technology and digital, setting global benchmarks in technology adoption and environmental sustainability. Oxagon will tap into Industry 4.0 to become a revolutionary city for innovators. Its ambition to balance technology, economy, and environment within a well-functioning city will attract, retain, and promote innovators from all around the world.

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Santorini, an island of thousands colours

The most prominent of the Greek islands and part of a group of islands called Cyclades, Santorini, is straight away recognizable for its geological caldera, an enormous rectangular lagoon with steep cliffs on three sides in the sea, formed in the wake of a catastrophic volcanic eruption more than 3500 years ago. Although the nickname Santorini has stuck, the island is officially called Thera. Got its name shortened from Italian “Santa Irini” or Saint Irene, from the name of the old cathedral in the village of Perissa, Santorini is also best loved for its whitewashed, cube-shaped buildings ornamented with blue accents, and tangerine sunsets that light up the sky and sea. But Santorini is more than just an appealing feature. The heavenly destination located at the south Aegean Sea, witnessed one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. The volcano's upsurge was felt across the Aegean, sending a 150m-tall tsunami rolling to Crete, 70km south. Some archaeologists say the disaster may have brought an end to the flourishing Minoan civilization, which began in Crete and spread to other Aegean islands. There are plenty of historical sites preserving evidence to take the visitors back to the disastrous eruption; The Archaeological Museum of Thera, the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, the Minoan Bronze Age ruins at the Akrotiri Archaeological Site and a visit to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni are all solid selections. There is no way to deny it- Santorini is a super touristy destination. In fact, it is one of the world’s top tourism destinations. 10% of all tourists that visit Greece end up in Santorini, with 2 million people flocking to the island every year. Not to mention the majority of the tourists arrive in the three or four months of summer. But just because an island is touristy does not mean anyone should automatically not go there. The fact that tourists flock to a certain spot usually mean it has something spectacular to offer. And there is no denying that Santorini is an ultimate getaway destination. The small island has deep traditional roots, breathtaking views around every corner and is bursting with unique flavors. It offers many romantic settings and has plenty of natural landscapes to enjoy. Perhaps, best of all, there is a way to enjoy the island on any kind of budget,

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Santorini is a huge island. It is a 40 minutes fly from Athens international Airport or an average 6 to 8 hours boat ride from the port of Piraeus. When deciding where to stay visitors are usually faced with two choices; to stay along the beaches that are located on the east and southern sides of the island, or to stay in the cliff top villages with a view of the volcano and mostly submerged islands slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. The capital Fira, Oia and Imerovigli, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon, the volcanic rocks, and the world famous Santorinian sunset. Apart from the breathtaking views and the amazing sunsets Santorini is well known for the local wines which have been internationally awarded. Today, the 75sqkm Island is home to some 14sqkm of vineyards, most of which grow assyrtiko. The native grape is now found across Greece, producing white wines that are full-bodied, dry and, unsurprisingly, have a slightly mineral taste. Beaches on Santorini come in a variety of hues. In fact, a glance at a map looks like a passage from a Dr Seuss book: Red Beach, White Beach, and Black Beach. The pebbles and sand come from hardened lava, and the colours vary depending on which geological layer has been exposed. The hue of the massive rocks at Red Beach in the island's southwest comes from iron deposits. One of the best ways to see Red and White Beach, as well as Santorini’s famous volcano is by hopping on a boat trip. Santorini has ferry connections to basically all of the islands in the Cyclades. The best trips leave in the afternoon and end with guest being able to watch the sunset over Oia from the boat. The view of the villages on the tops of the cliffs from the boat was simply stunning as much as the view underwater. Recommended dive sites offers a wreck near the volcano, caverns, reefs, as well as wall diving, octopus are not uncommon here too. Top sites for snorkeling include Mesa Pigadia beach, South of Oia, as well as Perissa Rock. The beach on Thirasia also has some reasonable snorkeling. Caldera Beach, near Akrotiri, has a few amazing snorkeling spots.

Besides the gifted villages that provide outstanding views on the caldera, the architecture of Santorini is also astonishing. The Cycladic architecture is characterized by simplicity and grace, free from complex additions. It comes in proportion with the surroundings and the aura of the Greek islands. It likewise is accordant to the environment and the conditions of the island and tailored to the needs of its residents. The whitewashed houses usually accompanied by blue doors and windows are evidently in absolute concordance with the light blue sky and the vast Aegean Sea. This harmony has been established many years ago for various purposes. Nowadays, these colors constitute the hallmark of Cyclades and represent Greece, as they also match its flag. As for utility reasons, the white color of the houses is of paramount importance. The ideal climate of Santorini offers hot summers and the bright sun is present several months of the year. The inhabitants, in order to confine the heat in the interior to a significant extent, had

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venting the houses from getting warm and that was a basic goal of the traditional architecture. Making the houses heat resistant, the summers are much more tolerable and pleasant. The best time to visit Santorini is from September to October and April to May when the weather is warm and the crowds are scarce. In winter average highs only reach the 50s and the region sees plenty of precipitation. However, all that rain does make for a very flowery and warm spring season. Room rates tend to plummet because crowds will be at a low in this season also in the spring as well, though tourists will begin invading the islands on May.

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Cruising the mightiest river on Earth: Amazon Exploring the mysterious Amazon River Basin—one of Earth’s most exotic natural realms and our planet’s largest rain forest ecosystem—is an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rising in the Peruvian Andes, the Amazon River winds its way east over the northern part of South America until reaching the Atlantic Ocean. Stretching for more than 4,345 miles across Peru and Brazil, it is the longest river in the entire world. It carries into the Atlantic a higher volume of water than the earth’s top-10 largest rivers flowing into the ocean combined. It also happens to wander through some of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet with stunning plant and wildlife that simply cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. This makes it an amazing experience for adventure travelers looking to take a river cruise into a region that even to this day remains largely unexplored by humankind. The Amazon has been named as one of the world's new seven wonders of nature. The region stretches over more than 2 million square miles of South America and remains one of the world's greatest

mysteries. For time it has been described as the cradle of evolution, an ancient, almost mythical ecosystem which richness and wonder continues to lure adventurous travelers from all walks of life. With entire indigenous communities that have never been contacted by modern society, ancient ruins that remain unexplored, and thousands of species that have yet to be discovered. Cruises here give you an up-close sampling of this untamed jungle, acquainting you with its wildlife, communities, and how people are working to conserve this fragile yet vital natural sanctuary. River cruising has become the preferred option among other approaches to explore and discover the richness of the Amazon Jungle in terms of Wildlife, Primary Forest hiking, canoeing, swimming and more. There is quite a respectful variety of cruise options to choose from: from small cozy yachts like the

Acacia (Per) or the Desafio (Brazil) to medium-size vessels like the Anakonda (Ecuador) or the Aria (Peru) Blue Explorer Magazine

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to wonderfully sculpted large motor-vessels like the Iberostar (Brazil). Also, cruises can be distinguished by category by their level of comfort, social areas, and types of cabins, amenities, and overall service on board. All this surely gives you best cruise option based on your preferences and level of commodities required to have a true-Amazon experience with just the right level of comfort to enjoy a complete experience. There is no best time to visit the Amazon – the rainforest really is a year-round destination. Wildlife viewing and weather patterns are not especially different from one season to the next. Expect heat, humidity, and rain year round. The lodges that are further south (i.e. in Bolivia and Peru) tend to have a slightly wetter season from December to April and a slightly drier season for the opposite months. These lodges will likely be a bit less crowded during the wetter season. Overall, the subtle weather differences from one season to the next in the Amazon do not need to dictate your plans. Instead, plan your Amazon tour around the dates that best fit your own schedule and that coordinate best with the weather considerations at other destinations that you are visiting on the same trip (i.e., Machu Picchu, Galapagos, etc.). The Amazon River wind its way through nine countries, but not all stretches are navigable well to tourism. There are many cruise itineraries featuring the Amazon River, ranging in duration from three nights to more than 70 but discerning travelers seeking an Amazon Cruise expedition should consider three countries: Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. The number and range of cruising options varies by country, and each destination has its own unique appeal. Peruvian Amazon Amazon River cruises are most commonly taken from Peru and generally depart from Iquitos, the main jungle port city of Peru. Most of the cruises here range from 4 days up to a comprehensive 8-day river cruise. Besides exploring different tributaries, these cruises include a tour of the Yacapana Isles, famed for their population of iguanas, and take passengers to see the Yarapa River's freshwater dolphins, to

visit Madgalena village (home to gigantic water lilies) and to meet the Cocama Indians of Puerto Prado. Enjoy rainforest hikes, canoe rides, and witness the “Jungle of Mirrors” as you navigate the still waters of the protected Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Spanning more than 5 million acres, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the largest protected flooded forest in the world, a haven for pink river dolphins, slow-moving sloths, playful capuchin monkeys and a wealth of incredible flora.

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Brazilian Amazon Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon Rainforest and the widest selection of Amazon River Cruise vessels,

ranging

from

deluxe

cruise ships to charming traditional wooden riverboats. Most of the Amazon-specific itineraries originate in Manaus or Rio de Janeiro, sailing up the Amazon to the port of Macapa. Manaus is the Amazon's farthest navigable port faAmazon river seen from space

mous for its grandiose Teatro

Amazonas opera house. The city, which takes his name from the local Manaos tribe, is a good base for riverboat excursions to witness the Meeting of the Waters and visit nearby Terra Nova Island, home to a spectacular collection of gigantic water lilies and to small rural community, which supplements its living by showing its simple lifestyle to tourists. Multi-day itineraries into the Brazilian Amazon allow you to spend plenty of time on the water—whether canoeing the small tributaries of the Rio Negro or speed boating through the jungle—with the option to spend the night on a small cruise vessel or in one of many area jungle lodges or campsites. No matter where you choose to sleep at night, these trips often include rain forest hikes, visits to local indigenous villages, and plenty opportunity to spot wildlife, including alligators, piranha, and nocturnal wildlife. Ecuadorian Amazon As one of the world's 17 mega-diverse countries, Ecuador is an excellent choice for an Amazon River Cruise, a wildlife hotspot home to a wide variety of species, many of them endemic. Discover the natural wonders of Yasuni National Park in Ecuador's mystical "Oriente" region, as you follow in the footsteps of the original Amazon explorer himself, Francisco de Orellana. You can also visit the Galapagos Islands. It is feasible to combine the 2 cruises to make for the perfect Ecuador experience.

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An Atlantis resemblance: the sunken city of

Kekova Hidden just below the waters around Turkish island are the ruins of a once great city; the ancient Lycian sunken city of Simena, is often referred to as Kekova. The principle of a sunken city is that it lies underwater, and as a result, it is mostly invisible. But in Kekova some parts are barely submerged, and the crystal clear water on top gives them a mysterious touch. The city ruins clearly visible just a few meters underneath the waters of the Mediterranean. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place, with water a jeweled shade of blue. It’s also fragrant, as “Kekova” derives from the Turkish word for thyme. On top of the shoreline, further houses, a few Lycian tombs with their unique arched roofs, and the remains of an early church are able to be seen. The boat trip around Kekova is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful ones. Nature is

stunning, history distinctly visible; therefore, a visit to Kekova is just one continuous astonishing moment. The ancient city of Kekova was once of two parts - an island and a coastal part of the mainland. On the mainland the charming fishing village of Kaleköy ("castle village") stands today, their building mingling with ancient and medieval structures. The top of the village is dominated by a well-preserved castle built by the Knights of Rhodes partially upon ancient Lycian foundations. Inside the castle is the smallest amphitheater of Lycia. At the eastern end of the village is a Lycian necropolis with a cluster of some very nice sarcophagi overlooking the sea and surrounded by ancient olive trees. Near the harbor of Kaleköy is another sarcophagus, popping up from the water.

Across the bay, along the island are the half-

submerged ruins of the residential part of Kekova. Kekova is a long and narrow island. It’s a steeply built

500-meter-wide town, 7.5 km long, directly opposite of Kaleköy and Üçağız villages. In some parts of the Blue Explorer Magazine

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island, which has a very steep hill of 188 meters in length, the depth of the water can reach 105 meters. The island is now uninhabited, occasionally a villager rows across to harvest the wild thyme that gives the island its name. Located near Demre district of Antalya on the Mediterranean Coast, the island is best reached by boat from the Demre Harbor in Cayagzi. Demre has an interesting history. It is the Lycian Town of Myra, home to St. Nick (or Santa Claus). Many Christian Greeks populated the area until the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. Since the historical studies have not been completed yet, the history of the island cannot be determined exactly. However, it has been observed that the characteristics here were formed during the Lycian period. Later, in the Hellenistic period, different building elements were added to the island. Kekova was never used as a settlement at any time in history. It did not carry the characteristics of a city like any other nearby ancient cities. With its fine, long structure, it has been evaluated as a breakwater protecting the ancient cities of Kaleköy and Üçağız against the waves. For this reason, a “dead sea” was formed just behind Kekova. Therefore, instead of being used as a city, Kekova undertook a shipyards function. Having served as shelter for marines for a long time in the Lycian era, Kekova was considered a base for intensive shipbuilding and repair. It was also used by the Byzantines as a military base for a while. The ruins are along the northern shore of Kekova, partly submerged 6m below the sea and referred to as the Batık Şehir (Sunken City). They are the result of a series of severe earthquakes in the 2nd century AD; most of what visitors can still see is a residential part of the ancient site of Simena. Foundations of buildings, staircases, moorings and smashed amphorae are visible. The coastlines are rich in terms of ar-

chaeology. While it is possible to boat or kayak around the area, and dive nearby, under-water

exploration

has

been

banned since 1986 as part of a series of measures to protect the lost city’s heritage, something the Turkish government takes seriously. In 1990 the Turkish government declared Kekova Island and the surrounding region to be a Specially Protected Area, preserving it from further de-

velopment. UNESCO also lists it as a “tentative” candidate for World Heritage status. Blue Explorer Magazine

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The only way to explore Kekova Island is from the water. The most popular time to visit Kekova Island is during the summer months, when lower water levels and higher visibility offer the best views of the underwater ruins. Visitors will find various options for boat cruises, kayaking excursions, and glass-bottom boat tours. A cruise to Kekova Island is a must for history buffs, especially those interested in Turkey's ancient ruins. The surrounding area offer quite enjoyable opportunities for daily boat trips. Typical boat tours range from hour-long excursions to fullday cruises that include lunch and snorkeling stops. Many travelers combine a cruise to Kekova Island with visits to nearby attractions such as the Myra ruins and the St. Nicholas Church in Demre. Excursions usually set out from the villages of Kalekoy, Ucagiz, and Kas. Apart from the beautiful sunken city in the iridescent turquoise waters, Kekova is also famous for its countless coves and bays as well as the Kaleköy village with its historic fortress. The waterfront restaurants adorned with flowers, the small houses with terracotta roofs, and narrow streets are also standouts in this idyllic village by the water. As for the fortress, it sits on the remains of another Lycian structure built by the Knights of Rhodes. A Hiking the Lycian Way Kekova Island is also one of many points of interest along the Lycian Way, a 315-mile (507kilometer) hiking trail that runs along the Mediterranean coast from Fethiye to Antalya is an epic path, taking an average of 29 days to trek, although it's also possible to enjoy shorter hikes along the route. Additional highlights include the Butterfly Valley, Patara Beach, and the top of Mt. Olympos. Kekova is the one of main points in the yachting routes of Turkey (known as "Kekova Roads"). This territory since ancient times to the present day is considered to be very safe harbor for ships. The Roman pirates were approaching here in the past and today Kekova is a very popular anchorage for sailors who enjoy the history together with the nature.

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Coral Adventurer. Built for adventure and crafted for comfort Coral Adventurer launched in May 2019, the-state-of-the-art Coral Adventurer is the latest addition to the Coral Expeditions fleet and delivers a uniquely Australian expedition experience. Arrived in April 2019 to homeport in Darwin, Coral Adventurer is specially designed for expedition cruising. The Coral Adventurer provides a very comfortable base for exploration. The ship also has dedicated to scientific research facilities and equipment. Her stabilizers ensure smooth sailing, whilst her shallow draft and advanced navigation and propulsion systems allow access to areas that are simply unreachable by larger ships. The vessel is a new expedition cruise ship being built by Norwegian company Vard. It will be the fourth expedition cruise ship to join the Coral Expeditions’ fleet, which also includes Coral Discoverer, Coral Expeditions I and Coral Expeditions II. Vard was awarded a contract for construction of the vessel in September 2017. Being constructed at Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam, the Coral Adventurer is the result of a happy marriage of modern shipbuilding technology and cruising, Australian style. Coral Adventurer was purpose-built for the Australian cruise market. Coral Expeditions pioneered Kimberley Cruising back in 1996, and even now, over twenty years later, their ten night Darwin to Broome (and vice versa) expedition remains one of the most comprehensive adventures on the Kimberley Coast. Utilizing Coral Adventurer’s flexible range of excursion craft, passengers can expect to see all of the region’s highlights, from Montgomery Reef and world-famous Horizontal Falls through to King George and Mitchell Falls and Aboriginal art on Bigge Island and Raft Point. Coral Expeditions’ leaders and lecturers are acknowledged as some of the ‘best in the businesses and guests will appreciate their engaging personalities and outstanding local knowledgeable. These experts in their fields will ensure guests to truly know the Kimberley, its history, geology, wildlife and legends.

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As a newest addition to the Kimberley cruising fleet, this 120-passenger ship is a culmination of two years of design and three decades of passion for expedition cruising Coral Adventurer delivers on the latest trends in expedition cruising, whilst maintaining Coral Expeditions’ unique blend of Australianservice and laid-back onboard atmosphere. At an overall length of 93.4m, a draught of 4.5m and gross weight of 5,536t, the Coral Adventurer offers all the flexibility and accessibility of much smaller ships, along with amenities and comforts anyone would expect to find on much larger vessels. Its interior spaces have been designed by Brisbanebased design firm Arkhefield, which drew inspiration from the company’s Australian roots and the exotic locations the ship will visit. There is also a wide selection of specially commissioned indigenous artworks in the ship’s common areas. The ship Coral Adventurer was designed for ocean cruising to more isolated and shallower tropical destinations. The boat conforms to the highest maritime standards for operational redundancy, build quality, environmental compliance and safety. One of the unique features on this shallow-drafted ship is its tendering system, allowing passenger tendering (embarkation or disembarkation) within just 20 min. Through hydraulic lifts, tenders (aka "Xplorer" / 65-passenger aluminum boats) are lifted out of the water, making boarding/de-boarding operations more efficient, without the need of gangways, ramps or stairs. Built for discovery, the shallow draft of the ship enables the ship to go closer to shore in comfort and with no difficulty. Another best feature on the vessel is the elevator. The elevator accesses the main decks of the vessel comfortably, accommodating four to six people. These two features ensure that everyone can move about the ship and join in on all the activities with ease. Travelers interested in Coral Adventurer’s inner workings are invited to take an engine room tour. On select Indonesia and Pacific Island departures, those interested in the native cuisine may accompany

a chef on a market tour. Coral Adventurer’s six Zodiacs are raised and lowered from the Bridge Deck, enabling more intrepid exploration. On select Indonesia and Pacific Island departures, kayaks and/or a -bottom boat are also on board. Cabins and Deck Plan Aboard Coral Adventurer’s 58 staterooms and two suites are a spacious and stylish ‘home away from home’, with more than 50% featuring their own private balconies. No matter which stateroom grade is selected, passengers will enjoy a choice of Junior King or twin beds, a comfortable sofa, air-conditioning and well-appointed private en suite. Coral Adventurer features one suite category and four stateroom categories, all outside and above deck with portholes or view windows and en suite bathrooms.

All cabins are serviced daily with optional laundry service available at an added fee. All staterooms are Blue Explorer Magazine

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twin share and feature Australian decorations that complement the informal yet upscale atmosphere found throughout the ship. Common to all cabins are a wardrobe, desk, arm chair and ample storage space. Entertainment facilities on Coral Adventurer Coral Adventurer will feature a large dining area as well as multiple bars. The full-capacity (single-seating) dining room restaurant is furnished with communal "wine table" topped with Australian stone. The restau-

rant serves buffet breakfast and lunch, along with multi-course table d’hote dinners. Meals are prepared with Australian produce and many locally-sourced (itinerary-based) ingredients. Dietary requirements or restrictions are catered to with 2 weeks’ notice. The wine list is an abbreviated selection which reflects the variety of Australian wine. Australian and New Zealand spirits are also offered, including barrels of slowly ageing Tasmanian single-malt whiskey. A lecture lounge will be available with multimedia systems presenting daily expedition updates, tour briefings and media presentations. The vessel will also have an onboard library with materials about the destinations and wildlife. All off-ship excursions are accompanied by the expedition team. A navigator

lounge in the bridge deck will serve as a good viewpoint of the ship operations for the guests. A multipurpose space, the Barralong Room, will operate as part of an ongoing partnership with the Australian Geographic Society and institutional partners to host interpretive activities and projects that connect guests in an engaging format throughout their cruise. Coral Adventurer itineraries Coral Expeditions itineraries feature cruises around deserted islands and pristine reefs in destinations not popular for day trippers and large liners. Company's Great Barrier Reef (Coral Sea) itineraries depart from the Queensland ports Darwin to Cairns. The cruise ship embarked on her inaugural voyage from Singapore on 24 April 2019. It initially sailed on a 19-day voyage from Singapore to Darwin, followed by an 11-

day journey in Darwin. It then sailed on a 26-day voyage between Cairns and Darwin, where passengers Blue Explorer Magazine

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had an option to disembark in Wewak. It also sailed on an 18-day voyage from Darwin to Singapore, covering popular destinations such as the Thousand Islands, and national parks Karimun Jawa and Pulau Moyo. MS Coral Adventurer itinerary program is based on Asia-Pacific cruises to Kimberley region, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and South Pacific Islands. Ship's itinerary program for 2020 includes Spice Islands, Komodo and Krakatau (Indonesia), Pulau Alor. Two transition cruises leave from Darwin (17-day to Singapore, January 15) and the reverse from Singapore (18-day to Darwin, departure February 2). In the Coral Expeditions 2021 program were added new Coral Adventurer itineraries

visiting

the

East

Indies

(Southeast Asia). New destinations included Indonesia's Misool Island (Raja Ampat), Alor Island (Lesser Sunda Islands), Buton Island (Sulawesi), Lamalera (Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara), Kelimutu volcano (Flores Island, Indonesia), Banda Neira (Banda Islands), Lembeh Island (North Sulawesi), Bunaken Island (Bunaken National Marine Park). Some of the itinerary options included: 10-day "Island Realms of the East Indies" (Darwin NT Australia to Benoa Bali) 10-day "Ancient Kingdoms of the East Indies" (Benoa Bali to Singapore) 12-day "Raja Ampat and Spice Islands" 14-day "Into the Wilds of Borneo" 14-day "In the Wake of the Makassans" 20-day "Circumnavigation of Sulawesi"

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Sunbathing Sunfish Known as the heaviest bony fish in the entire world, the ocean sunfish or commonly known as Mola has earned some bad reputations for being the weirdest looking ocean creature. However, this animal has so many unique characteristics which include sunbathing! Also known as Mola mola, ocean sunfish appeared between 45 and 35 million years ago, after the dinosaurs disappeared and at

a time when whales still had legs. Mola comes from a Latin word which means millstone that refers to the fish’s disc-like physique. It also carries different name as another reference to its shape: moonfish. In other countries, i.e., Dutch, its common name is maanvis, in Portuguese its peixe lua, Poisson lune in French, and pez luna in Spanish. In Germany, this strange looking animal is known as Schwimmender Kopf or swimming head, while in Polish, it is called samoglow, meaning head alone or only head as they believe it has no true tail. It is called sunfish as this animal loves sunbathing at the surface of the water and looks like dead fish lying on their sides, sometimes flapping their dorsal fin. This sunbathing is common activities for them after diving in the deepest parts of the ocean to hunt for prey. It is to reheat the body after diving deep in the water. Sadly, ocean sunfish are prone to infestation by parasites, thus other reason for sunbathing is to attract seabirds from above or fish from below to clean their skin of parasites. This solitary animal can also be found in groups when being cleaned by other fish. Ocean sunfish has rough texture and rounded body with a sparkle gray color. Its distinctive figure is literally at their head as it resembles a fish head with a tail and its main body is flattened. This largest teleost in the ocean has small mouth with a beak-like tooth plate in each jaw with pointed pharyngeal teeth to chomp on jellyfishes. When its dorsal and ventral fins extended, ocean sunfish will be highly tall due to the long-shape body. Molas can be found in the temperate and tropical regions of Mediterranean, Atlantic, India and Pacific Oceans. They often been caught during the summer months like June and July where the water temperatures are between 13°C and 17°C. They are migrating to higher latitude during the spring

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and summer months to feed on migrating zooplankton. Their movement is unique as it has no common tail. As they are lacking in tail, they depend on the powerful dorsal and anal fins for agile propulsion. They flap their fins in a synchronous motion to allows them to swim on their side. They even jump out of the water in an apparent effort to detach parasites. They have been found diving below the thermocline during the day to avoid predators. This dependable animal might dive up to 2600 feet and usually hang out at 160 to 650 feet depths. Sunfish is a predator that feds on small fishes, larvae, squids, and crustaceans. Nearly over 1/7 of Mola mola’s diet is basically sea jellies and salps, once thought to be the primary pray of this gigantic animal. They are considered as strategic top-down control of jellyfish population which can influence the direct occurrence of jellyfish blooms. Mola juveniles have always been caught by California sea lions in Monterey Bay. Their natural predators are those top ocean hunters such as sea lions, killer whales, and sharks. Sunfish have quite similarities with pufferfish, porcupinefish and filefish that comes from the order Tetradontiformes. They can grow up to 10 feet long with 5,000 pounds. They are exactly heavier than SUV car! The body shape of this largest bony fish is compressed ovular which can reach 3.1 m in length and 4.26 m in height. They are scale-less, have thick and rubbery skin with irregular patches of tubercles over their body. They have white belly and sometimes with white splotches on their fins and dorsal side. Female Molas are known to be bigger than males. Females’ can produce more eggs compared to any other known vertebrate like hagfish, lampreys, cartilaginous and bony fish. They can lay up to 300 million at a time. Ocean sunfish is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most eggs. It is believed that they have multiple spawners as oocytes in the ovaries was developed in different stages. Ocean sunfish development consists of two larval stages. The most important part is the first tetradon-like stage

where the larvae are round, and spines protrude from the edges of their body. During this moment, they have well-developed tail. Later, the second larval stage bring the tail completely absorbed which make the spines disappear. Larvae size is only 0.25cm in length and grown at a logical rate, average 0.02 to 0.42 kg/day. There are limited resources regarding the reproduction of ocean sunfish, but best believed that they have paired courtship. Some individuals are certain spawning in the Sargasso Sea. Their eggs are very small, with an average diameter of 0.13 cm. Research found in Japan that the spawning activity is thought to occur between August and October. Their growth rate, lifespan, reproductivity remains undetermined and mystery.

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In the meantime, ocean sunfish is considered a delicacy in some other parts of countries including Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. In European countries, the government has banned the sale of fish and fishery products which derived from the family Molidae as they often been caught in gillnets. The bizarre fact of the ocean sunfish is that they have been used as payment for taxes by Japanese shoguns. In addition, they also used in Chinese medicine and contain the same toxin as puffers and porcupine fish. There is no known shelf life of the ocean sunfish, yet a member of the same family, sharp-tail mola have a lifespan of 82 to 105 years. It is difficult to captive this animal in an aquarium as it has high demanding requirements for care. Molas are something of a star at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the only facility in North America which exhibiting the bizarre looking fish. For instance, the Kaiyukun Aquarium in Osaka, the Lisbon Oceanarium in Portugal, and Denmark Nordsoen Oceanarium have exhibiting the interesting animal to the public which gain more attractions than sharks. In Kamogawa Sea World, an ocean sunfish named Kukey, started captivity in 1982, holds a world record of 2,993 days living for eight years with 187cm in size at the time of death. In Southern California, 29% of the catch belongs to ocean sunfish when targeting swordfish. Ocean sunfish are considered vulnerable like cheetahs, polar bears, and giant pandas. They are friendly to humans and not many consider them a delicacy, hence the biggest threats are due to boat hit or being caught in fishing gear. Most of this creature is shy yet can be frequently seen swimming with divers in some locations.

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Bermuda Islands, much more than the mystifying triangle

Known as the "Isle of Devils,” the string of islands of Bermuda, is a history-filled paradise as a welcoming stepping-stone in the Atlantic. The unfortunate nickname came from tales of eerie spirits inhabiting the islands— now thought to be the loud indigenous callings of howling winds (thanks in part to its sometime stormy weather) and wild birds encircling treacherous ring of coral reef (most likely the Bermuda Petrel or Cahow) that tormented many approaching ships. Certainly, the impression of being haunted was attached, but the reality in the Bermuda is 180 degrees different: bathed in the balmy turquoise waters of the Sargasso Sea, the archipelago is ringed by treacherous reefs that make it one of the world's top diving destinations. First discovered by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez in the early 1500s, Bermuda became a strategic site for ships sailing between Europe and the New World. The islands’ treacherous reefs and occasional stormy conditions prevented many from considering visiting, never mind settling. But that is until the fateful day in 1609 when Sir George Somers and the crew of the British ship Sea Venture wrecked on the reef off Bermuda's shores on its way to Jamestown, Virginia in the aftermath of a hurri-

cane and decided to stay. Within three years, Bermuda became a British territory, and it has remained one to this day. When you hear 'Bermuda', your mind may immediately drift to a mysterious place called the Bermuda Triangle. Make no mistake, Bermuda Islands meant here is an island nation of 65,000 people in the waters of the North Atlantic. The state is located about 1,050 km east of North Carolina, United States. Yes, indeed, the name 'Bermuda Triangle' itself cannot be separated from

the state of Bermuda - the enigmatic 'triangle' is Blue Explorer Magazine

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formed from imaginary lines between Bermuda, Miami in Florida, and Puerto Rico. Although often thought of as a single island country, Bermuda consists of 181 islands of which 7 of them are the main islands that are grouped and connected to each other by bridges. Bermuda's largest island called Main Island —where the capital city Hamilton is located— extends up to 22.5 km with a width of 1.6 km. About three-fifths of the total population of Bermuda Islands are native Africans or half-bloods. They were immigrants from the West Indies, Cape Verdeans, as well as descendants of slaves brought from Africa before the abolition of slavery in 1807. Meanwhile, the Caucasian people (of European descent) make up one third of the total population, including those of British, American, and Portuguese descent. Bermuda Islands relies heavily on the tourism sector. As a matter of fact, today, tourism is its second-largest industry. Despite its remote location, according to a report done by the Bermuda tourism authority, Bermuda welcomed over 808,000 visitors in 2019. This was the third consecutive year of exceeding previous tourism numbers, with cruise ships being the main source of tourism. The islands, shaped like a fishhook, are especially famed for the beauty and uniqueness of its pink beaches. The pink sand is formed from the collision of coral and shells. Indeed, its capital Hamilton, is a vision of pastel houses to match the famous pink beaches such as the Horseshoe Bay. Surrounded by sparkling blue, the waters in Bermuda are warm due to the location of the archipelago which is between tropical and subtropical climates. Another worth mentioning beach is the Tobacco Bay, where snorkelling is the main attraction. If you are visiting Bermuda between March and April, you are in extra luck for a once-in-a-lifetime experience as this is the time when there is plenty of sea life to experience such as a whale-watching, and they are always putting on a show. If you are more into a challenge, going underground to see the 62 meters deep Crystal and Fantasy Caves is worth a try. These massive underground caves were discovered by two young cricket players in 1907. But the most exceptional exploration adventure in Bermuda Islands comes with the diving spots of the sunken shipwrecks that is also used for coral reefs planting.

Bermuda is different from most other island nations due to its stately demeanour. The archipelago is the oldest continually populated British settlement in the world. Thus, various historical sites with deep colonial heritage and stunning colonial architecture that witness the development of the archipelagic country can be found surrounded by fortifications. One of them is St. Fort. Catherine which is located in St. George, a UNESCO world heritage site. St. George retains the charm of its earliest days in the 1600s. Many of the buildings there are still stand strong today, including the Old Rectory and the Old State House, as well as the oldest Anglican Church that still in continuous use, St. Peters. The church was built in 1620, inside you will find an altar carved in 1615 by Bermuda’s first governor and a throne that is believed to have been salvaged from a shipwreck. You can also visit the National Museum of Bermuda opened in 1974. Despite its tiny size, the museum displays exhibit on the history of the islands, especially

it is maritime history, dating back to more than 500 years ago. Additionally, Bermuda is known for having Blue Explorer Magazine

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more golf courses per acre than any other place on Earth, used for professional tournaments where famous golfers like Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods have teed off. There is no better way to soak up the Bermuda sun than playing a round of golf on one of its five golf courses.

Photo: Cruise ship docked at one of the piers in Bermuda via Shutter Stock

No matter your interests, company, or abilities, from historical wonders to natural beauty, Bermuda has it all. The islands have something to offer everyone. There are endless adventures, landscapes to explore, nature to experience, and mouth-watering cuisine to be enjoyed. The island nation is one of those

islands that are truly beautiful year-round and is known for being a relatively safe country, in fact, it is much safer than the US. Crime is rare and the people are extremely welcoming and friendly. You could visit any month. However, there are less busy times of the year, such as the off-season in the winter months. The majority of people will visit Bermuda during the summer. But if you are coming without a cruise, the best time to visit is late spring, between April and May before the busy tourist season begins. Even though the islands of Bermuda are located about a thousand miles east of the Caribbean, these isolated islands are still considered to be in "Hurricane Alley" and are vulnerable to powerful storms. The probability of a hurricane making a direct hit is very unlikely since Bermuda is so small, but it is common for at least one storm per season to get dangerously close. The cruise liners will have sailings at the perfect months for the best weather. There are three cruise ports in Bermuda. The Royal Navy Dockyard is

the largest with two piers, “Kings Wharf,” and “Heritage Wharf.” Hamilton Port is in the capital area of Hamilton and is the closest dock to the busy areas of Bermuda. St. Georges Port is located on St Georges Harbour, at the eastern end of Bermuda, however, this port can only take small to medium-sized ships.

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Cetaceans stranding: humans are partly to blame Cetacean stranding, more commonly referred to as beaching, refers to the phenomenon of dolphins and whales stranding themselves on beaches. Its recently reported that worldwide, about 2,000

whales and dolphins die from stranding every year, with most resulting in the death of the animal. Some whale and dolphin species are more prone to mass beaching. Toothed whales (include dolphins, porpoises, and all whales with teeth) are the most commonly affected. When they are stranded, they will experience severe dehydration, overheating, depression and suffocation. Their very heavy body makes it difficult for them to return to the sea. New Zealand and neighbouring Australia are hotspots for mass whale stranding, thanks to large colonies of pilot whales living in the deep oceans surrounding both island nations. In Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, the most recent mass stranding involved approximately 470 pilot whales In September 2020. At least 380 had died, and only 20 remained well enough to rescue. But the largest

mass stranding in modern recorded history was 1,000 whales on the shores of the Chatham Islands, a New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean in 1918. There have also been cases of cetacean single stranded on shore after being previously injured in a collision with a boat, fishing net, or shark attack. The wound then became infected and made the animal sick. Another factor that might cause this Pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit on February 10, 2017 ©Anthony Phelps/Reuters

could also be because they took shelter from

other larger predators up to shallow water. Or Blue Explorer Magazine

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as they ventured too far into shallow areas when hunting for prey. However, the stranding of these mammals that resulted in mass deaths is a complex story related to the disruption of the navigation system when they swim, both by nature and human activities. Like migratory birds, some species of cetacean also travel large distances each year. In winter, they migrate from the cold northern seas to the warmer waters of the south. Vice versa, whales and dolphins in southern waters will move north in the same season. It was only a few months later that they would begin their return journey. How do they navigate their long migratory journey? Small-toothed whales such as dolphins have powerful underwater sonar. On the way, they will emit sound waves in the form of clicking sounds. When these sound waves hit an object, they are reflected back as echoes to their ears. The faster the sound returns, the closer prey, obstacles, or shore are. This sonar also keeps the whales from stranded on the beach. However, in the case of large baleen whales, underwater sonar is not as sophisticated as that of small-toothed whales. Under certain circumstances, underwater sonar may not function properly, especially if there are shallow or semi-circular bays, sandy underwater

©Liz Carlson

embankments, or mud banks. This type of beach and obstacles makes the echo received by the whales unclear, so the warning system on the whale fails. Other types of whales, such as pilot whales, do not just use underwater sonar to navigate −small fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field function like map. They depend on the Earth's magnetic field lines, as their migration routes are often parallel to those lines. Significant changes to the Earth's magnetic field causing by solar storms and the increasing activity of sunspot is believed to be the caused of their navigational errors resulting them to get lost and stranded. However, all these reasons have not been studied in depth. For example, in relation to the social behaviour of many species of whales, which roam in groups and are guided by a leader. The strong social bonding of some species of whales can cause mass stranding. Whales that strand in groups are usually deep-water species with highly evolved social structures. When the leader loses orientation, due to confusion or parasite attacks his ears, it is un-

able to hear the echo of the clicking sound that is sent. And unfortunately, the party behind it will follow in the wrong direction. If the leader of the group were stranded in shallow water, the members of its group would follow, even when it meant death. In addition to natural factors, underwater noise resulting from human activities (such as: sounds from ships, icebreakers, drilling activity, or military sonar equipment) also interferes with the navigation of whales and dolphins, causing them to be disoriented and eventually stranded. In the ocean the speed of sound propagation can reach 1,500 meters per second, about four times faster than the propagation of sound in air. For some marine biota such as whales, dolphins, and even small invertebrates such as shrimp, crabs, and sea urchins, they use sound to get food, to communicate, and to regulate themselves to maintain group relationships, all of which are basically done to survive in the ocean. According to re-

search by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the biggest source of noise polBlue Explorer Magazine

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lution in the oceans comes from the

activities of submarine sonar test systems, oil company ships at sea, and traffic from cargo ships. Another study was also conducted by NOAA by sending a microphone to the deepest ocean floor, namely the Mariana Trench with a depth of 10,984 meters below sea level which shows that the seabed is not Beached dolphins in Chah-e Mobarak, Jask (October 2007)

silent. Loud noise in the ocean has

become a major conservation concern as humans introduce sounds of varying intensities and frequencies into the marine environment from different technologies and even explosions. Seaquakes are another source of intense underwater sound and those might also lead to physical damage or behaviour resulting in stranding, although no one has yet produced a statistical link between the two. Although completely inaudible to the human ear, ocean noise pollution causes serious problems that will continue to grow. Imagine being a sea animal that must communicate amid noise but cannot do anything to stop it. Disruption to the way whales and dolphins communicate is a hindrance to their efforts to survive, so it is time to take steps to resolve this global crisis. It was reported in 1995 that the New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DoC) was looking

at two lines of research for directing pilot whales away from potential stranding areas. In January, a bubble net or "air curtain" was used for the first time in Golden Bay. This comprised air compressors and a perforated hose which was draped two or three metres below the surface. The bubble "wall" acted as a barrier and reflected the whale’s sonar back to them. It had reasonable success in turning whales at sea, but once the whales discovered the wall was an illusion then its effectiveness was reduced. It was a mixed success, possibly useful as a short-term measure. In future the bubble net is likely to be most effective in herding refloated whales out to sea after a stranding. The second avenue that DoC was investigating was to use the same mechanism that draws so many whales onto the shore in the first place - the animal's own distress signals. DoC was hoping to record pilot whale distress calls and use the recordings to attract refloated whales away from danger areas.

And what to do if you find a live stranded or injured whale, dolphin, or porpoise on the beach or in the shallows? Stranded cetacean usually does not have much time. They must be helped immediately by cooling their bodies and keeping them moist by constantly dousing them with water. At the same time, push them as quickly and gently as possible into deeper waters so they can swim again. Some whale rescuers suggest that if the leader of a pod is put to sea, then the other whales will follow. The problem here is that it is usually impossible to read the social dynamics of any pod. As pilot whales are socially matriarchal, the leader will usually be female, but it is difficult to identify the leader of a pod. There may be more than one, the pod may have several subgroups within it, and the leader will not necessarily be at the front.

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Tobago, a truly authentic Caribbean Covering an area of 300 km² and is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) long and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) wide, Tobago is the smaller, sleepier, more rustic, and less populated twin island nation

of Trinidad and Tobago. Although considered one country, there are so many differences between the two islands. Travelers often overlook Tobago for its better-known twin, Trinidad — but this tiny island is a true Caribbean gem. Like its southern sister island, Tobago was also discovered by Columbus, however, unlike most other islands in the Caribbean, there was never a serious attempt at colonization, although Britain, France, the Netherlands and even Latvia fought for the right to own the island for centuries. In 1888, Tobago joined Trinidad and became a self-governing territory within the British West Indies Federation. In the early 60s, Tobago, together with Trinidad, sought the right of internal selfgovernment, and in 1962, the two islands received complete independence. As a volcanic origin, Tobago is primarily hilly and mountainous. The southwest of the island is flat and consists largely of coralline limestone. More than a third of Tobago's population lives in its ad-

ministrative center - Scarborough, which is also the island's main port. Laid-back Scarborough is the perfect jumping off point to explore the island, but it also offers plenty of ways to leisurely spend away the day. The town lies in the foothills with a lighthouse and an old English fort built in 1779. For a long time, Tobago was practically unknown to tourists but recently it is developing at an incredible speed, showing an almost double the number of guests every year. The island is intimate, the culture is chill, the locals are friendly, and it’s very easy to get around. Picture ©Patrizia Cocca

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an cousins, the untouched nature of Tobago has helped the island's tourism industry to grow very actively, and this is not surprising - Its north coast is full of secluded coves and virgin forests waiting to be explored, and its south coast unlocks incredible snorkel and dive sites, including Buccoo Reef, Flying Reef, and Bon Accord Lagoon. And because it’s not yet a tourist town, the food caters to the locals—meaning you’re not getting watered-down resort fare. You’ll find spicey and chile-laden goat curry spots, as well as Italian food in tree houses, excellent takeout kebab, and freshly grilled seafood served beachside. Tobago is hot and humid all year round with an average temperature of about 27ºC. In this tropical climate, rain is possible at any time, although the wet season is generally thought to run from the end of May to November. Most visitors go to the island between December and April. During these months, the magic of carnival is everywhere, the trees are in full bloom and the weather is at its most forgiving with long hours of sunshine, very little rain and cool nights. Tobago is so low-key that there are essentially no travel books available on the country. Despite that, there's no shortage of things to do on the unspoilt island of Tobago no matter what type of Caribbean holiday you're looking for. Here are the very best reasons why Tobago is the perfect holiday destination for you: Spend a chill day at the beach The beaches in Tobago are pristine—you can’t go wrong making a pit stop at whatever beaches you spot in your area. The most popular is Mount Irvine Beach, adjacent to a golf course and known for its excellent surfing. Englishman’s Bay is another good option, a crescentshaped of soft yellow sand and deep blue water where you can spot leatherback turtles chilling on the sands. If you’re looking for hidden treasure, drive 45 minutes up to Castara, a tiny but stunning spot with gorgeous views of the forests below. Visit Pigeon Point Heritage Park

Pigeon Point, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea, is the most photographed spot in Tobago. The powdery white sandy beach and the calm turquoise water with a backdrop of palm trees swaying in the breeze draw crowds of locals and tourists alike. This family-friendly enclave offers multiple activities in one spot—there are cute little shops, lots of great cafes for snacking, and a lifeguard-tended beach area, complete with a highly Instagram-able thatched-roof jetty. Go around Buccoo Reef Book a glass-bottom boat from Pigeon Point Heritage Park, and you can spend a day going around Buccoo Reef, a designated marine park containing hundreds of colorful species of fish and coral (Jacques Cousteau named it the third most spectacular reef in the world). There are loads to see, so it’s the ideal

spot to go snorkeling. Make sure your boat makes a stop at the surreal Nylon Pool, a one-meter-deep enBlue Explorer Magazine

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clave in the middle of the reef whose sheer waters and white sand prompted Britain’s Princess Margaret to name the pool after her nylon stockings. Experience magical underwater world at Speyside Buffeted by Atlantic currents, the Speyside area on the island’s north-eastern edge is the place to experience the best of Tobago’s famous drift diving. Here, currents propel you effortlessly along the rich sloping reefs that surround the area’s offshore islands. Speyside offers divers the best visibility in Tobago. It’s home to the island’s most impressive coral, as well as offering the best chances of spotting hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks and even the elusive manta rays. Snorkel Over Unspoiled Coral Reefs The coral reefs found just off the coast at Speyside, Charlotteville, and Castara are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the Caribbean. You don’t have to venture very far offshore before you see massive manta rays, colorful parrot, angel, damsel, and butterfly fish, majestic sharks, and even the odd turtle. Spend hours exploring this spectacular underwater world. Surf at Mount Irvine Beach From November to February, the big breakers at Mount Irvine Beach make it the perfect spot for surfing. Enthusiasts from all over the world are drawn here for the relaxed vibe and challenging conditions. The water is initially shallow and there is a reef directly offshore. The skill is not just in catching a wave, but in negotiating your way in so as not to damage your surf fin on the coral. No protective footwear is allowed. This is to stop over-eager surfers jumping in and damaging the coral. For non-surfers, Mount Irvine Beach offers excellent swimming all year round. There are showers and changing facilities, as well as a bar/ restaurant which serves ice-cold drinks and simple lunches. Hike through the Tobago Forest Reserve

As the oldest protected forest reserve in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the spot to go on a hike in Tobago. 14,000 acres were designated a protected Crown Reserve by the British in 1776. This was thanks to scientist Stephen Hales who feared that plantation owners were encroaching into the forest and endangering the entire eco-system of the island. The main trek is short and accessible, weaving through a few miles of untouched forest. It’s worth hiring a trained guide who can point out the various herbs, spices, and native fruit trees that are abundant throughout the trail. The hike ends at Argyle Falls, where you can lounge in natural rock tubs surrounded by idyllically green trees. Take a Trip to Little Tobago Little Tobago, aka ‘Bird of Paradise Island’, is a 2km² rocky outcrop off eastern coast of Tobago. It has

long been a bird-watchers dream. David Attenborough no less, filmed parts of his ‘Trials of Life’ series Blue Explorer Magazine

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Giant squid: the ghost of the Deep For thousand years, Architeuthis, or most well known as the giant squid, has captured human imagination. They were identified as sea monsters or viewed as a fanciful part of maritime lore. For a long time, people who spotted them floating, dead at sea or washed up on shorelines could not figure out what they were. Rare glimpses of this colossal sea creature inspired both fear and fascination. People produced fantastic explanations for what their astonished eyes saw—or thought they saw. Movies, books, and popular myths highlighted encoun-

ters with this enormous, hungry sea creature brandishing many tentacles. Even science fiction writers have gotten in on the act. In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne describes a giant squid that is distinctly kraken-like. It "could entangle a ship of five thousand tons and bury it into the abyss of the ocean." It turns out that

the giant squid of myth is not a beast at all. Only since the late 19th century has

The Kraken illustration Credit Nikoretro Flickr

sufficient scientific prove accumulated to replace the myths with fact. The giant squids are deep-ocean dwellers, making them difficult study subjects. They are elusive and rarely observed alive, but are famous for their immense size, growing up to 43 ft (13 m) in length and weighing up to 606 lb (275 kg). Indeed, the giant squid is one of the largest known invertebrate species living today, second only to the colossal squid. There is some debate about the number of varied species of giant squid. However, the most recent genetic evidence suggests that there is only one known species, Architeuthis dux. One hypothe-

sis for how giant squid evolved to grow so enormous is that the tremendous size leaves it with Blue Explorer Magazine

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few predators in the deep water. However, those predators still exist—most notably the sperm whale. Scientists have found giant squid beaks, as well as other undigested pieces of giant squid, in the stomachs of sperm whales. Additionally, beach-stranded sperm whales have been found with sucker marks on their skin, battle scars large enough that only a giant squid could have caused them. Giant squid are thought to swim in the ocean worldwide, based on the beaches they have washed upon. However, they are rarely found in tropical and polar areas. They commonly wash up on the shores of New Zealand and Pacific islands; make frequent appearances on the east and west sides of the Northern Atlantic, and the South Atlantic along the southern coast of Africa. In late 1873, Reverend Moses Harvey of Newfoundland, an amateur naturalist and writer with an intense interest in curiosities from the sea, bought a dead giant squid for $10 from a fisherman who caught it by accident. Harvey immediately displayed it in his living room, draping the head and arms over the sponge bath for easy observation. It was the first complete giant squid specimen ever put on display, and it became a turning point in the understanding of giant squid. Professor A.E. Verrill of Yale University used Harvey’s “curiosity” to provide the first accurate description and scientific illustration of the giant squid. After years of searching, in 2012, a group of scientists from Japan's National Science Museum along with colleagues from Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the Discovery Channel recorded the first video of a giant squid swimming in its natural habitat, off Japan’s Ogasawara archipelago. For that expedition, the team developed a new camera system called Medusa. It employs red light, which most sea creatures cannot see, and, at the end of a mile-long plastic line, an optical lure in the form of a ring of LED lights that resembles a bioluminescent jellyfish. The species was first recorded live in 2006, after researcher suspended bait beneath a research vessel off the Ogasawara Islands to try and hook a giant squid. As the camera whirred, the research team pulled a 24-foot (7-meter) squid to the surface alive enabling people around the world to finally see a living, breathing giant squid. Seven years after scientists caught the elusive deep-sea cephalopod on video, they saw another, and it was on the Medusa’s fifth deployment. At first, the animal stayed on the edge of the screen, suggesting that a squid was stalking the LED bait, pacing This 1874 photo of a squid draped over a bathtub was the first ever taken of a giant squid- It belonged to the Reverend Moses Harvey of Newfoundland-(From Verrill, A.E., 1882, Report on the Cephalopods

alongside it. And then the entire creature emerged from the center of the dark screen: a long, undulating animal that suddenly opened into a mass of twisting Blue Explorer Magazine

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arms and tentacles. Two reached out and made a grab for the lure. For a long moment, the squid seemed to explore the strange non-jellyfish in puzzlement. And then it was gone, shooting back into the dark. Deep-sea researchers frequently point out that science knows less about the still largely unexplored deep waters beyond human vision than it does about the surface of Mars. The giant squid has long been an exemplar of this reality: a gigantic creature, yet known to humans only because dead specimens washed ashore or huge squid beaks were found in the stomachs of sperm whales, the animals’ primary predator. The new video, recorded at a depth of 759 meters, in a spot where the ocean bottom lies at 2,200 meters, offers rare and useful clues to the animal’s habitat and hunting methods. Still, scientists have little idea how the species as a whole is faring, especially as the oceans it calls home are rapidly warming and acidifying. But the new video sighting, brief as it is, joins the 2012 footage as an enormous addition to the limited knowledge of giant squids: a tiny glimpse into how a famous but mysterious creature lives in a world that is usually beyond our sight. After over 150 years since it was first sighted by the HMS Daedalus, the mysterious creature still eludes scientists. There is still little known about their daily behavioral or social patterns, eating habits, where or how often they mate or where they travel on a typical day or year. But one thing for sure, giant squid is clearly not quite the scary monster they have been painted as. They only attack their direct prey, and are not naturally aggressive to human beings. This magnificent creature is more the gentle giant.

Head taxidermist at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Christophe Gottini, carries out restoration work

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