Thursday, January 31, 2013

Boat Race

Our assignment was to build a boat with the maximum dimensions being 5 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches and the fastest boat to cross the shallow pool using only a hair dryer will get an A, so Joe and I decided to use a styrofoam block as out building block.
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Then, we needed a way to hold 20 marbles without having them roll
around, causing our boat to sink, so using a ruler, we divided the
block into 10 equal squares, and within each square, a hole to hold
two marbles each.
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That was the easy part of the design. Next, we needed to decide on
where to attach a sail to our boat, so we decided that placing the
sail a little more forward than half would be effective.

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After attaching the sail, we tested the boat, however, it proved
unsuccessful. Thinking about it, Joe and I realized that our boat kept
turning because the air, was trapped against the sail too much,
turning the boat into the wall, so we decided on a triangle sail

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The new sail made the boat go in a straighter path, however, we still
needed a keel to stabilize our boat, so we used pop-sickle sticks.
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However, this proved not to be as stable as we hoped to, so we
attached more pop-sickle sticks and we got the desired effect.
Hopefully, tomorrow when we race our boats Joe and I get an A! Wish us

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-Victoria Mehlhaff-

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Favorite Marine Animal: The Vampire Squid

Deciding what my favorite marine animal is was a difficult decision because I find so many marine animals fascinating, however, I finally decided on the Vampire Squid, also known as the Vampire Squid From Hell because of the fact that not much is known about it and because of its odd appearance. The scientific name for the Vampire Squid is Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. Although it looks as though it came from a horror movie, the Vampire Squid actually only grows to be about six inches in length. The vampire squid is an ancient species and is the only surviving member of the order Vampyromorphida. It is a unique member of the cephalopod family in that it shares similarities with both squid and octopi. In fact, it was originally and mistakenly identified as an octopus by researchers in 1903.

Vampire Squids have large fins at the top of its body that resemble ears. These fins serve as its primary means of propulsion as it flies through the water by flapping them.The Vampire Squid can also use jet propulsion and is gelatinous, relating more to jellyfish than squids.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the vampire squid

The vampire squid's eight arms are connected with a webbing of skin, which makes it look more like an octopus than a squid. When threatened, the squid can draw its arms up over itself and form a defensive web that covers its body. Each of the eight arms is lined with a single row of suction cups and rows of soft, fleshy spines known as cirri. It is these spines, along with the cape-like webbing and red eyes that give the vampire squid its unusual name.

Vampire squid are found throughout the deep oceans of the world in most tropical and temperate regions at depths of between 300 feet and 3,000 feet. They live in the oxygen minimum layer of the ocean where virtually no light reaches. Vampire Squids tend to prefer a temperature between 35 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

The vampire squid's body is covered with light-producing organs called photophores. This gives the squid the unique ability to "turn itself on or off" at will through a chemical process known as bioluminescence. Thankfully, the Vampire Squid is not endangered nor is it a threat to human life.

Types of Oceanographers and Their Instruments

There are many different types of oceanographers, including Biological, Chemical, Physical, Geological, Geophysical, and Oceanographic Engineers.

Biological Oceanographers study living organisms in the ocean including plant (flora), animals (fauna), and environmental aspects of life in the ocean. Similarly, Biological Oceanographers' work also includes, but is not limited to, developing ecologically sound methods of harvesting seafood and studying biological responses to pollution. Instruments Biological Oceanographers use, but are not limited to, include the plankton net, which are nets with a bottle at the end of the net to help concentrate plankton and other organisms to make it easier to study them under a microscope, which is also an instruments Biological Oceanographers use.
    Plankton Net Microscope

Chemical Oceanographers study the chemical composition of water, the chemical reactions that occur both in the ocean and the sea floor, and the temperature of the water. Also, their work includes the analysis of seawater components, desalination of seawater, and studying the effects of pollutants. Chemical Oceanographers often work together with Biological Oceanographers on studies of living systems. Instruments used include thermometers, CTD, and Nansen Bottle. The CTD fills with water to sample the chemical components. The Nansen Bottle is similar to the CTD in that it also fills with water to be sampled.
CTD Nansen Bottle

Physical Oceanographers study the winds, waves, tides, and the affect on the ocean, the changes and motions of sea water, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc. Similarly, Physical Oceanographers also study the ocean-atmosphere relationship that influences weather and climate, the transmission of light and sound through water, and the ocean’s interactions with its boundaries at the sea floor and the coast Instruments include drifter, FLIP, which stands for Floating Instrument Platform, and current meters. FLIP is a ship that is shaped like a baseball bat and is 355 feet long. Each compartment of the elongated structure fill with water, causing the ship to become vertical, thus enabling it to be able to study the ocean's waves without being as influenced by waves as much as traditional ships are.
Geological Oceanographers study the physical features on the ocean floor, bathymetric maps, volcanoes, and hydrothermal vents. Studies of the physical and chemical properties of rocks and sediments give us valuable information about Earth’s history. The results of their work help people understand the processes that created the ocean basins and the interactions between the ocean and the sea floor. Instruments used to gather all this information include dredge, push core sampler, and bathymetric maps. Bathymetric maps are designed to show the different depths of the ocean in different areas by outlining the regions of varying depths as shown below.

Bathymetric map

Geophysical Oceanographers study features below the ocean floor, look for oil and gas deposits, and search for fossil fuels beneath the ocean floor. Geophysical Oceanographers employ the principles of physics, mathematics, and chemistry to study the Earth’s surface and also its internal composition; ground and surface waters; atmosphere; oceans; and its magnetic, electrical, and gravitational forces. The instruments used include oil rigs and drilling ships. Drilling ships are used to obtain fossil fuels such as oil from deposits under the ocean floor for profit.

  Drilling Ship

Oceanographic Engineers develop technology for oceanographic research and development, and oceanographic equipment like oil rigs and FLIP. Instruments used  by Oceanographic Engineers include models and computers.

Oil Rig Model

Marine Policy Specialists combine their knowledge of oceanography and social sciences, law, and/or business to develop guidelines and policies for the wise use of the ocean and coastal resources. Marine policy requires a knowledge of a sound understanding of oceanographic issues.

-Victoria Mehlhaff-

Monday, January 28, 2013

    Bob Ballard discusses many benefits to exploring the ocean, convincing me to concur with his stance, that yes, it is important and even imperative that we explore. Throughout the entire video, he bombards you with facts as an attempt to express how strongly he feels on the subject, and one can't help but agree with him.
Bob Ballard
    The fact that 50% of the United States is completely underwater flabbergasted me. I was completely stunned, however, what confounded me more so was the fact that not much time nor effort is put into exploring our oceans. With all the natural resources just sitting at the bottom, i.e. methane volcanoes, why not use them?
  Methane Volcano
    Fossil fuels are finite resources and sooner or later we're going to run out. However, if we obtain the resources on the bottom of the ocean, it will be later rather than sooner. I just cannot fathom why, if 72% of the earth is covered by ocean, we do not explore it. Oceans and space are the final frontiers, we must explore the unknown and reap the benefits. 
-Victoria Mehlhaff-