Archive for May, 2017

Why should we care about the ocean?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts


The world ocean provides so many benefits. Here are ten things the ocean does for humans and the planet:

- The air we breathe: The ocean produces over half of the world's oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.
- Climate regulation: Covering 70 percent of the Earth's surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.
- Transportation: Seventy-six percent of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation.
- Recreation: From fishing to boating to kayaking and whale watching, the ocean provides us with many unique activities.
- Economic benefits: The U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependant businesses employ almost three million people.
- Food: The ocean provides more than just seafood; ingredients from the sea are found in suprising foods such as peanut butter and soymilk.
- Medicine: Many medicinal products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight cancer, athritis, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What are the Totten Beacons?



In 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce de León sailed into the strong currents of the Florida Straits. Little did he know that within a few years, these uncharted waters, which fed into the Gulf Stream, would become a major international shipping route to and from Europe and the New World.

As Europeans explored and colonized the Americas, they took advantage of the Florida Straits' winds and currents. The winds changed direction often, however, easily pounding countless vessels against miles of treacherous submerged coral reefs off the southern Florida coast.

By 1852, Lieutenant James B. Totten, the U.S. Army's assistant to the Coast Survey, had installed 15 wooden signal poles in the reefs to create more accurate charts of the Florida Keys. Local mariners quickly recognized that the poles themselves helped them safely navigate the reefs, and by 1855, Totten and his team installed a second generation of 16 poles using a more permanent material—iron. The "beacons" each displayed a letter, starting with "A" and ending with "P." Today, remnants of Totten Beacons are protected as historical resources by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What is a tide gauge?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


A tide gauge, which is one component of a modern water level monitoring station, is fitted with sensors that continuously record the height of the surrounding water level. This data is critical for many coastal activities, including safe navigation, sound engineering, and habitat restoration and preservation.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What are brain corals?

This item was filled under Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life


The cerebral-looking organisms known as brain corals do not have brains, but they can grow six feet tall and live for up to 900 years! Found in the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, brain corals display what is known as Meandroid tissue integration. This means that the polyps, which are the basic living unit of corals, are highly associated to one another. Their tissues are more closely connected than those of other corals and are not separated by skeletal structures. Many researchers think that the more integrated a coral's polyp tissue is, the more advanced the coral species.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What is a catcher beach?



Not to be confused with a dumping ground or heavily trashed public beach, a catcher beach typically receives its accumulations of debris due to its shape and location in combination with high-energy waves, storms, or winds. Awareness and common knowledge of these types of areas vary significantly by state, although many states have a good understanding of where catcher beaches are located. In many cases, catcher beaches are found in remote areas that are difficult to access and can be challenging in terms of debris cleanup and removal.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What is a King Tide?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is "pulled" back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Earth is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What is the difference between local sea level and global sea level?

This item was filled under Basics, Facts, Ocean Observations, Tides and Currents


Global sea level trends and relative sea level trends are different measurements. Just as the surface of the Earth is not flat, the surface of the ocean is also not flat — in other words, the sea surface is not changing at the same rate at all points around the globe. Sea level rise at specific locations may be more or less than the global average due to many local factors: subsidence, ocean currents, variations in land height, and whether the land is still rebounding from the compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

Where do I get real-time and forecast coastal conditions?



NOAA's nowCOAST is a GIS-based webmap service that provides frequently updated ocean observations along with coastal and marine weather forecasts 24 hours a day. The free online map offers point-and-click access to 60 NOAA data products and services all in one place. With nowCOAST, you can get a one-stop-shop look at coastal conditions — real-time and forecast — before you do or plan anything on the water.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

What is the fastest fish in the ocean?

This item was filled under Facts, Ocean Life


Clocked at speeds in excess of 68 mph, some experts consider the sailfish the fastest fish in the world ocean. Easily recognized, sailfish are named for the spectacular sail-like dorsal fin that extends for nearly the entire length of their silver-blue body. Additionally, the sailfish's upper jaw is far longer than its lower jaw, forming a distinctive bill that looks like—and sometimes acts like—a spear.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...

How does sea ice affect global climate?

This item was filled under Facts, Ocean Observations, Ocean Science, Places


Sea ice is frozen water that forms, expands, and melts in the ocean. It is different from icebergs, glaciers, ice sheets, and ice shelves, which originate on land. For the most part, sea ice expands during winter months and melts during summer months, but in certain regions, some sea ice remains year-round. About 15 percent of the world's oceans are covered by sea ice during part of the year.

While sea ice exists primarily in the polar regions, it influences the global climate. The bright surface of sea ice reflects a lot of sunlight out into the atmosphere and, importantly, back into space. Because this solar energy "bounces back" and is not absorbed into the ocean, temperatures nearer the poles remain cool relative to the equator.

Continue reading →

...

Continue reading...