Tag Archives: Ocean

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Amazon.com: Moby-Dick (Word Cloud Classics) (9781626860575): Melville,  Herman: Books

Title: Moby-Dick
Author: Herman Melville
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Oceans
Dates read: 5th – 22nd October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1851
5th sentence, 74th page: When Bildad was a chief mate, to have his drab-coloured eye intently looking at you, made you feel completely nervous, till you could clutch something – a hammer or marlingspike, and go to work like mad, at something or other, never mind what.

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“Call me Ishmael” is the iconic opening line of Herman Melville’s classic American novel, Moby-Dick. Ishmael is a seaman aboard the whaling vessel, Pequod, under the vengeful captain, Ahab. Maniacally seeking retribution from the great white sperm whale called Moby-Dick–the whale responsible for the captain’s missing leg–Ahab leads the crew on a quest to kill the infamous beast. A fictional work based on actual events, Moby-Dick is a classic that has been enjoyed for generations, and it’s now available as part of the Word Cloud Classic series, making it a stylish and affordable addition to any library.


I can totally see why this is such a well-known classic. It was a very enjoyable and intense story. And, even though I only gave it 3 stars, I would totally read it again. I felt like throughout this I was actually missing quite a bit… so I would actually quite enjoy re-reading this and picking up on all of the bits and pieces that I missed. Actually, I think that this is one of those stories, that no matter how many times you read it… you’ll always find something new to the story that you just didn’t notice before.

There was a heck of a lot of symbolism throughout this story. More than my puny little brain seemed to be able to comprehend if I’m being honest… although, most of the symbolism that I felt I was picking up on was very homosexual in nature… I’m not sure if that was just the mood I was in though. Or the simple fact that the Whale is a sperm whale (I mean, queue the jokes here).

This isn’t a feel good, comfortable story. At all. Which is probably why I did enjoy it and am likely to reread this. I’m not necessarily big on stories which are all sunshine and lollipops every time I open a book. And at the time of reading this, I was finding that there were a few too many happy, happy stories on my TBR. This was a really good break from that – I loved the discomfort that it left you with.

This may not be my favourite classic. But it was an enjoyable one. It was pleasant and fun, and I can’t wait to pick it up again in the future and learn more about all the parts of this story that I missed…

<- The Prince and Other TalesAnne of Green Gables ->

Image source: Amazon

Rising Sea Levels – Are We the Culprits?

Originally published by ReefWatch SA on 5 May 2016.

Photo: Climate Commission

We’ve all heard a tonne of different reasons for rising sea levels – climate change, a delayed reaction to the last ice age, a natural change in our surrounds and climate (because, after all, the world changes). But what’s the scientific evidence to back this up? Do we really know the reason behind rising sea levels? Is it a little bit our fault, but a little bit inevitable? It’s a constant debate in the media, and I’m sure as ocean lovers (like myself), it is a question that you also ponder. Are rising sea levels my fault, or is it something else?

Well, a recent study has found that it wasn’t our fault pre-1970. CSIRO researchers found that from the 1950s to the 1970s, rising sea levels were mostly caused by a delayed reaction to the warming that followed the ‘Little Ice Age’ (1300 – 1870 AD). This accounted for approximately 70% of the increase in sea levels across the world. However, after 1970, less than 10% of measured rises were due to this delayed reaction. So what, I hear you ask, has caused an increase in sea levels in the past 45 years?

Yes, you guessed it, it turns out that we are, in fact to blame for such a drastic change in sea levels. The effect of humans, via global warming, on sea level rises for the period of about 1870 – 1970 is actually quite low, accounting for only 15% of the problem. But since 1970 this has become over 70% of the driving force behind rising sea levels, and the subsequent loss of homes, infrastructure and coastal stability.

There are a number of reasons why the sudden increase in greenhouse gases and aerosols have increased sea levels but primarily this is because of the increase in temperature. Not only does it lead to the melting of the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic, and glaciers around the world, but it also, quite literally, expands the water. You know how your drink bottle will expand (and sometimes even explode) if you leave it in a hot car all day? Well, the same principle applies here – heat means expansion, and in the case of the ocean, expansion means rising sea levels.

So, it’s because of us that sea levels are rising so drastically. But, as always, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can do your part to help – you may not think that one person’s actions can change the world, but it can. And being one of millions to take a few minor steps in cutting your greenhouse emissions and carbon footprint will make a HUGE difference to our planet – and to the safety of our beloved, Australian coast.

Original research link.

Are the Oceans Becoming Quieter?

Originally published by ReefWatch SA on 31 March 2016.

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpheidae

Original research article: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1826/20153046

If you love marine life (which you obviously do since you’re getting the Reef Watcher), then you’ve heard about ocean acidification. Actually, I think that just about everybody has heard about it. And every time we turn around, scientists have discovered a new problem associated with it. Or at least that’s how it seems because it turns out that ocean acidification is now silencing our oceans. Who knew?

To make more sense of this phenomenon, you probably need to know what sounds we’re talking about. And weirdly enough, you’ve probably all heard them – you just haven’t realised what you are listening to. It’s shrimp. Snapping shrimp to be exact. This video explains it really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCW789vj7t4&feature=youtu.be

Basically, it’s the crackling sound that people sometimes hear near and within the ocean – that’s snapping shrimp. They are one of the loudest invertebrates in the ocean and create the ‘snapping’ or crackling sound by closing their claws very fast. This creates an air bubble that can release a sound of up to 210 dB! That’s the equivalent of an earthquake with a Richter scale of 2.0 and is louder than a rocket launch! And at 194 dB, sound waves become shock waves! They normally use this phenomenal talent to catch prey or scare off predators. But this sound is important in another way – baby fish also use this sound to navigate the sea.

Not only will snapping shrimp be in more danger if they don’t ‘snap’ frequently, but it could also have larger effects on the ecosystem. If baby fish can’t navigate through the oceans, then they are far more likely to become someone else’s lunch. Sound is the most reliable way to navigate in the water since light and smells can become distorted in the currents. Sound also travels thousands of kilometres, unlike water, which travels a few metres.

How is a rising CO2 level in the water changing the sound I hear you ask? Well, three researchers from Adelaide University, Mr. Tullio Rossi, Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken and Professor Sean Connell, studied the snapping shrimp surrounding volcanic vents in three locations off the coast of New Zealand. These vents are natural sources of CO2 and give us a fairly important insight into the effects that ocean acidification could have. The CO2 levels around these areas are equivalent to what scientists have predicted will be observed in 2100.

It was found that snapping shrimp made a smaller and less frequent noise when they were in locations with more CO2. No physical differences were found in these shrimps, meaning that something about this level of carbon dioxide within the water affects their behaviour. In other words, more carbon dioxide means less noise. If the world keeps warming as it has, this will turn our happy, clappy reefs into silent, directionless areas.

Not an outcome anybody wants.

Cuttlefish Choose Their Battles Wisely

Originally published by ReefWatch SA on 5 August 2015.

Photo by Carl Charter

All animals have to reproduce. It’s how the next generation is created and how an animal’s genetics are passed on. But how do two male cuttlefish fight for a mate? Most fish don’t have to compete, as they release clouds of sperm and eggs into the water and fertilisation occurs. Most large land mammals have epic battles that end in the crashing of two large bodies together, and some whales have marathon races that last for hours, so that the female can determine the fittest and most suitable mate.

Giant Australian cuttlefish don’t have the ease of releasing clouds of eggs and sperm into the water and nor do they have the capacity to gauge their opponents’ capabilities like a mammal or bird, or so we thought. A recent study from Macquarie University has found that male cuttlefish do, in fact, ‘size up’ possible rivals before engaging in combat and react accordingly. This ability to size up rivals means that only 20% of all male interactions actually end in physical combat.

By applying game theory, behaviouralists in Sydney were able to measure and witness the ways in which the male cuttlefish’s actions changed dramatically according to the length of its rival. Whilst this has been recorded when small, unpaired males are faced with much, much larger, paired males, it wasn’t known how far this behavioural adaptation carried through their activities. In other words, if a submissive, unpaired male was faced with another small, unpaired male that was obviously shorter than it (measured by the mantle length), then the first male would put on an aggressive display. This consists of flashing colours along their sides, the waving and stretching of tentacles and swimming towards the interloper. But, if that same male was approached by a male that was longer than it, it immediately stops the light display and removes itself from the situation.

But why should we care? It’s long been known that many species of mammal and bird when engaging in male-male conflict will employ ‘resource-holding potential’ theory. In other words, if the other male is bigger, nastier and scarier, the smaller one will admit defeat and try its luck elsewhere. If two males are of similar size and strength, then they will commit to combat and the winner is left with his choice of females while the loser, yet again must admit defeat and leave.

The fact that ‘resource-holding potential’ is evident in Australian cuttlefish tells us a number of things about these fascinating creatures. For starters, it is just another piece of behavioural evidence that shows how intelligent these colourful and intriguing creatures are. This ability to judge another and compare a rival to oneself is also a very good indication of analytical capabilities. And lastly, the ability to judge a rival and assess your chances of winning in combat shows that this behavioural capability may have evolved because of selection pressures across many different groups of animals.

So there you go, even male cuttlefish measure one another up before starting a fight.

Academic Paper Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347215002237