Happy New Year 2014! As we enter the new year, even the most diligent marine scientists may find themselves shaking off their Christmas cookie comas and wondering what happened in the world of oceanography over the past few weeks. Accordingly, here are 3 recent marine science news stories to bring you up-to-date for 2014.
1. Beached whales in the Everglades. During December, a pod of 51 pilot whales became stranded in a remote beach in the Florida Everglades. This resulted in the deaths of dozens of whales; the remaining whales were ultimately guided back to the open water by a boat. As is typically the case when whales beach, scientist cannot explain what prompted the whales to swim into such shallow water. Since this was a rather large event, it may prompt renewed investigation into whale behavior.
Image from Time.
2. Akademik Shokalskiy stranded in Antarctica. The Russian research vessel Shokalskiy became trapped in Antarctic ice on December 24, and has been the subject of considerable news coverage since. The 52 people aboard the vessel, operated by the Australian Antarctic Expedition, were transported to a rescue ship, the Aurora Australis, on January 2. Passengers were flown proximate to the Aurora Australis by a helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, then ferried to the rescue ship. However, it now appears that the Xue Long may have difficulty moving through the ice to leave the Antarctic, prompting the Aurora Australis to linger on stand-by in case the Chinese vessel needs assistance. Although the situation has become increasingly complicated, it is encouraging to see nations cooperating and volunteering their nautical resources to facilitate rescue.
Image from Huffington Post.
3. Closing of Canadian marine libraries. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada recently announced that the agency will be closing seven of eleven marine libraries by 2015. All copyrighted material has been digitized, and the department intends to digitize all remaining documents before the libraries’ closures. The decision has been expressed as consolidation in reaction to budget cuts and resource limitations. Scientists have voiced concern that invaluable material will be lost in the shuffle of closing the libraries, especially since Canadian news outlets have published photos of library books in dumpsters. Despite the prevalence of digital media in today’s culture, it is unnerving to observe the disappearance of traditional libraries, particularly those facilities dedicated to science.