Nature, Science, Transport

Whalers, Cartographers and Disappearing Islands

discovery channel ship

discovery channel ship (Photo credit: the queen of subtle)

This week has seen much confusion for oceanographers in the Pacific.  Scientists from the University of Sydney tried to visit Sandy Island between Australia and New Caledonia, identified on everything from marine charts to Google Earth it was nowhere to be found and the ocean beneath its supposed location was 4,500 feet deep.

That’s a lot of island to lose – an exceptional case of coastal erosion perhaps?  Or maybe one of the errors that map makers have deliberately added to maps to show who’s copied their work?

Probably the best solution has been proposed by Shaun Higgins from Auckland Museum who has found records from the whaling ship Velocity which recorded the island around 1876.  It is possible that the crew were mistaken about what they saw or where they were.  Since then it has been applied to all other maps of the area.  Google has removed the island from its database stating to AFP that they welcome feedback and “continuously explore(s) ways to integrate new information from our users and authoritative partners into Google Maps”

Whatever the cause it’s an error that has lasted until today, demonstrating the vastness of our Earth’s oceans and how much there’s still to find, or not as the case may be.

[Gizmodo UK, Discovery News]


A Slower Pace

Aerial view of Moyenne Island, Seychelles

Aerial view of Moyenne Island, Seychelles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If modern life is all rush, rush, rush for you then you might not want to see this.

The BBC reports on an 86 year old Yorkshireman who has, for many years, lived alone on a tiny island in the Seychelles he bought in 1962.  Over the years he has spent his time reintroducing the indigenous giant tortoises to the island  of Moyenne which has now become one of the world’s smallest national parks.

Follow the link for a short interview.

[BBC, via Gizmodo]


Shadows in the Dusk

bats flying at dusk

bats flying at dusk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sit here facing the window, with its little slice of countryside, I occasionally notice a black blur flash past outside.  It, or rather they are a reminder that here on the fringes of this large town nature still has a niche.

This is our neighbourhood’s nightly display of bat aerobatics.

I turn out the lights for a while and stand against the glass, watching them tear past just inches beyond.  As I watch them wheeling and twirling, speeding about against the darkening sky between our oddly shaped collection of buildings I can’t help but be in awe at the precision of their flight, and how they navigate, find and catch their dinner.

Quickly the sky turns inky blue and the bats are fleeting shadows against unnatural light from other windows and lamps.  I wish them goodnight and come back to my desk.