“Jaws” Confidential – WIF @ The Movies

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Surprising Facts

About the

Movie “Jaws”

Jaws is often called the original summer blockbuster, so before the next glut of CGI-laden superhero movies fills screens worldwide, why not read a few lesser known facts about the OG blockbuster that set the precedent that allows them to exist? Starting with…

10. Jaws was a PG Release

Jaws is a film that contains a scene of a man being brutally eaten alive by a shark while screaming (fun fact: the actor supposedly broke his leg during that scene so the screams of pain you hear are real), people having the limbs shorn off, and the most iconic jump scare in cinema history. On top of this, the film also involves scenes involving drinking, smoking, swearing, and at least one instance of a shark eating a chubby kid on a raft. Amazingly, censors of the time saw all this and thought to themselves, yeah, this seems suitable for kids.”

Because yeah, Jaws was a PG rated movie, meaning anyone could go watch this thing so long as they had parental supervision, even if they were still at risk of pooping their pants literally instead of metaphorically. Think about that the next time you go watch an Avengers movie and realize it’s a PG-13 because Sam Jackson says the F-word.

9. It Originally Starred Dwarf Stuntmen

The undeniable star of Jaws is the shark, a role that was variously played by a notoriously unreliable mechanical shark (which we’ll get to in a moment) and several real sharks filmed by the crew. The problem was that the shark, who we’ll just call Jaws even though he had a name (which we’ll also get to), is supposed to be a shark of exceptional size, which kind of created a problem when the crew went to film some real Great Whites and realized they’d look noticeably smaller than their robo-shark. An ingenious solution was found in the form of several midget stuntmen.

The idea was to dress these stuntmen up in the same diving suits as the regular cast and film them next to some average-sized Great Whites, creating a forced perspective that made the sharks look super-huge and buff. To complete the illusion, the production team even built a smaller version of the shark cage seen at the end of the movie that the stuntmen were supposed to float around in. This cage wasn’t built as sturdily as an actual shark cage and as a result, before one of the stuntmen could climb inside it, a Great White tore it to pieces. This led to a total rewrite to ensure…

8. Hooper Survived Because Footage of the Cage Being Destroyed was Too Good Not to Use

The footage of a shark tearing apart the shark cage at the climax of the movie was 100% real and was so good Spielberg insisted that it had to go into the movie. The problem was that the original script called for Hooper to be inside the cage at the time, and for him to be killed in the ensuing attack, just like in the book. Another problem was that after seeing a shark tear apart a shark-proof cage none of the stuntmen would get back into the water.

Not wanting to lose the footage, a hasty rewrite was made to show that Hooper survived by swimming to the bottom of the ocean and hiding from the shark. This change also allowed the editors to use footage of the shark attacking from below (where it’s most obvious nobody is in the cage), framing it as if it’s from Hooper’s point of view as he cowered from the shark in a steadily growing cloud of his own urine.

7. Spielberg Laughed When He First Heard the Theme

John Williams’ theme for Jaws is one of the most iconic in all of cinema. Countless articles and academic papers have been written exploring the deceptive depth of the theme and how it affects those who hear it on an almost primal level. Though considered an integral part of the film’s success today, Spielberg was apparently not all that impressed with the theme when he first heard it, he laughed out loud when Williams played it for him.

You see, Spielberg had assumed that the film’s score would be more akin to that of a swashbuckling pirate movie and thought Williams’ minimalist take on the theme was too Spartan. However, Spielberg deferred to Williams’ judgement for final decision, apparently quipping “okay, let’s give it a shot” when Williams insisted the theme would work. We’re assuming Spielberg has never since question Williams’ judgement after the success of Jaws.

6. The Shark Sank the First Time it was Put Into the Water

As noted previously, the robo-shark used for many of the close-ups in the movie was unreliable to an almost comical degree. This is no better summed up than by what the shark did the very first time it was lowered into the water: it sank like a depressed brick of lead with concrete shoes. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to anybody to check if the shark floated while making it.

Along with sinking, the shark often malfunctioned and would sometimes simply stop working for no reason at all. This not only caused the movie to fall 100 days behind schedule, but also meant that half the shots of the movie involving the shark didn’t have the shark in frame.

Curiously, it’s been noted that the fact Spielberg had to film around the fact the shark wasn’t there most of the time, instead having to suggest its presence, made the movie better. Which kind of makes sense. The reason Jaws is such a scary movie is because there’s a constant threat that the shark could appear at any moment and chow down on your butthole. If the shark had been on screen for 50% of the movie like Spielberg had originally planned, its few sporadic appearances would have had less impact. So yeah, when you watch Jaws and find yourself feeling on edge throughout the entire film, that wouldn’t be the case if the shark had actually worked and you could have seen how crappy it actually looked most of the time.

5. The Shark’s Name was Bruce

 The shark in Jaws is always referred to as either, simply, “the shark” or else Jaws, which is weird since throughout filming his name was Bruce. The name is supposedly a name coined by the the production crew as a nod to Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Raynor who, like the shark, was a bit temperamental.

Spielberg himself wasn’t personally a fan of the name since, unlike the mechanical shark, his lawyer sometimes actually worked. So instead, he came up with an altogether more apt nickname considering the numerous mechanical faults the shark suffered throughout production:  The Great White Turd.

4. Spielberg Spent $3,000 of His Own Money for “One More Scream”

Jaws, hands down, contains one of the single greatest jump scares in cinema history. We’re of course talking about when Hooper finds Ben Gardner’s boat, and a big rubber head comes flying out of a shark shaped hole in the hull. That scene wasn’t in the original cut of the movie and was only added after Spielberg watched the audience reaction to the reveal of the shark at the film’s climax (the bit immediately prior to the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” line), and realized the reaction wasn’t as intense as he’d hoped.

So Spielberg went back to the studio and asked for $3,000 to film another scene with a bigger jump scare and promptly got told not to do one. To be fair to the production company the film was 100 days behind schedule and over budget, so they were within their right to say no, but luckily for us, Spielberg didn’t take no for an answer.

With the studio refusing to pony up the cash, Spielberg decided to film the scene in someone’s pool using his own money. To make the water look more like the kind of place you’d find a sunken boat, Spielberg had the pool filled with milk powder and then put a big tarp over the top to limit the amount of light that got through to the bottom. Admittedly greedy for “one more scream” the director then instructed the sound engineers to make the jump scare happen before the music reached it’s natural crescendo, to make everyone poop their pants the first time they saw it.

3. It Had one of the Widest Releases of Any Film Ever

Jaws was, as noted, one of the first, if not the first, major summer blockbusters. In fact, prior to the release of Jaws and then

Star Wars a few years later, the summer was considered a low period for cinema since it was believed nobody would waste a ball-sweltering summer’s day sitting in a cool, air conditioned cinema. Oh, how wrong they were.

Upon release, Jaws set numerous records for having such a wide release, opening in some 400 cinemas on its first day. But here’s the really crazy part: Jaws was such a massive phenomenon that the number of cinemas screening it across the US more than doubled over the course of two months. This was unheard of back then and rarely, if ever, happens today since most films make the bulk of their money in the opening weekend. It’s a testament then to the sheer inertia of Jaws that after two months at the cinema, demand was still so high 500 more theatres decided to screen it, too.

2. It Kinda Ruined Sharks (and Beaches) for Everyone

As noted in the previous entry, releasing a film during the summer season used to be considered box office suicide since it was believed everyone would be too busy having fun at the beach. Jaws changed all that and during the summer of 1975 beach attendance fell nationwide.

The drop in beach attendance was credited to both the success of the film, which saw millions of Americans flock to cinemas, as well as the fact it kind of made it scary to go into the water. Speaking of which, the film is still criticized today for painting an unnecessarily harsh and objectively incorrect picture of sharks, which hardly ever attack humans. However, the success of Jaws saw shark attacks not only being reported upon more often (creating the false impression that they were more common than they actually are) but also a more negative perception of the animal, which led to many of them being killed for no real reason. All of which kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouths, so let’s end on something a little lighter, specifically that…

1. Michael Caine Loved the 4th Movie

To date Jaws has made more money and has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than all three of its sequels combined. The fourth film in particular has an impressive 0% rating on the website, and is largely considered to be the biggest cinematic turd since the one Jeff Goldblum finds in Jurassic Park.

According to critics the film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and is more painful to sit through than a prostate exam from a pirate with hand tremors. One person who disagrees is Michael Caine, who has said of the film: I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Along with being paid a pretty penny for starring in the film, Caine has praised the fact that it features a realistic romance between two middle aged people (something that’s rarely seen in cinema) and enjoyed that he basically got a free trip to the Bahamas. In case you’re thinking that Caine is only positive about the film because he got a free vacation out of it, starring in the film caused him to miss the 1987 Oscars. And it’s important to note, he actually won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year, for the film Hannah and Her Sisters. In other words, Michael Caine had so much fun pretending to fight a giant, fake shark in a terrible Jaws sequel he didn’t mind not collecting the most prestigious award for acting in person.


“Jaws” Confidential

WIF @ The Movies

Titanic Stories – WIF Into History

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Incredible Stories

of People Who

Survived the Titanic

The Titanic set out to make headlines as the largest ship on Earth, sailing on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic in April of 1912. Instead, it made history of a different sort as one of history’s greatest follies. The ship hit an iceberg on its fourth day – exactly 105 years ago today, to be exact – 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, and sank within two hours and forty minutes. Somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 unfortunate victims, who mostly died by being in extremely cold, 28 degree (Fahrenheit) water. If you thought water couldn’t get colder than freezing, think about salt.

 But looking deeper at the history of the Titanic, you’ll find complex tales of people who acted decisively when an unforeseen catastrophe struck. You’ll see just over 700 stories of people who survived a disaster that might not have made it out of the Atlantic alive if not for a bit of luck. Among those fortunate survivors were…

10. Frank Prentice – Crew (Assistant Storekeeper)

Right before the Titanic made its final plunge into the ocean, the ship’s stern rose perpendicular to the water briefly, before sinking back down. It was there that crewman Frank Prentice, one of the last people to make it off the Titanic alive, decided to jump off with two of his comrades. One of his associates suffered a painful fall by hitting the propeller on the way down, but Prentice made it clear 100 feet down, where he stuck with his dying friend in the water before eventually being picked up by a lifeboat.

Prentice’s story is easy to verify, because his watch stopped at 2:20 a.m. – the exact minute that the Titanic sank. Remarkably, Prentice survived a second shipwreck when serving aboard the Oceanic in the First World War.

9. The Eight 3rd Class Chinese Passengers

One thing you’ll be surprised by, if you read the actual history of the Titanic evacuation, is that it was a highly civilized process. A lot of people followed the orders of the officers and were happy to give up their seats on the lifeboats for women, children, and the less fortunate without being prompted. If you want to hypothetically explore your chances of survival on an early 20th century shipwreck if you threw chivalry out the window, look no further than the eight Chinese passengers who all sailed under a single ticket. The band of Cantonese sailors were put out of work due to the coal strike and were on their way back to Hong Kong.

Their names varied, depending on various immigration records. When the iceberg struck, seven of them simply snuck into the lifeboats before they were prepped for unloading and hid under the blankets. Five made it out alive. The eighth sailor was picked up out of the sea by the life boat 14 (the one that picked up Harold Phillimore – we’ll get to him shortly). Combined with the survival of the Titanic’s sole Japanese passenger, the chances of an Asian surviving the Titanic was a pretty solid 7 for 9.

8. Olaus Jorgensen Abelseth – 2nd Class Passenger

Olaus Jorgensen Abelseth was a Norweigan-born livestock farm herder in South Dakota who was returning from a trip to visit relatives when he boarded the Titanic with five family members. One of the ways that an adult male could have found a place on the lifeboats when the Titanic sank was to have ample sailing experience, since the crew could only be stretched so far on the 20 lifeboats they needed to deploy.

Abelseth had six years of experience as a fisherman and considered answering the call for sailors, but his brother-in-law and cousin said they couldn’t swim so he decided to stay with them to ensure everyone’s survival in his family. When the ship went under, Abelseth got caught up in a line and lost hold of his family members. He swam twenty minutes in the water before finding his way to a lifeboat, and worked to revive boat occupants who had also been in the icy water while on the boat.

7. Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson – 1st Class Passsengers

Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson were sitting in the smoking room when they heard the fatal iceberg collision. After escorting one of their female friends to the lifeboats and helping with the unloading process, they waited on the lower deck as the boats were going down and decided to make a jump onto the last lifeboat as it was being lowered. This was within 15 minutes of the Titanic’s eventual demise, so it was pretty much a “now or never” attitude.

Bjornstrom-Steffanson made it on board but Woolner hit the side of the boat and bounced off. His fingers briefly caught the side but slipped, when Steffansson grabbed him as he was dangling over the ocean. He was eventually helped onto the boat. It must have been a dramatic site.

6. Charles Joughin – Crew (Chief Baker)

Most people in the 28 degree water died of hypothermia within 15 to 30 minutes, but Charles Joughin is a testament that every rule of nature has exceptions. Joughin took to drinking when the Titanic hit the iceberg (although to his credit, he also was quite helpful in throwing deck chairs into the sea so people would have floatation devices) and when the ship went under, Joughin casually swam around for over two hours until making his way to one of the life boats at the crack of dawn.

 Survival experts link Joughin’s success to the way that the alcohol raised his body temperature, and the fact that he claimed to never have his head fully submerged in the water. Some critics doubt just how long Joughin was in the water but the fact remains that eye witnesses on the lifeboat saw him swimming after the ships were adrift.

5. Richard Norris Williams – 1st Class Passenger

Richard Norris Williams was traveling first class to a tennis tournament in the States with his father. After the iceberg hit, the two remained relatively low-key, asking for the bar to be opened up and passing time in the exercise room (they did also stop to rescue a trapped passenger), but that didn’t make the actual sinking any less dramatic. Richard watched his dad crushed by a funnel, before being carried away by the resulting wave to what was known by the ship’s schematics as Collapsible A. It was one of two boats that didn’t have time to be properly loaded.

In this case, the boat capsized before turning right side up and was filled with water. Norris’s legs were so debilitated from the water that the doctor aboard the Carpathia recommended amputation. He decided against it, and eventually worked his legs back to functionality. He ended up continuing a tennis career that saw him winning the 1924 Olympic gold medal. He also served with distinction in World War I.

4. Rhoda “Rosa” Abbott – 3rd Class Passenger

Everyone knows the “women and children” first rule, but what many don’t know is that it was even crueler than you think. If you were 13 or older you were no longer considered a child, and that didn’t sit well with 3rd class passenger and mother Rhoda Abbott, who was not planning on abandoning her two sons, aged 13 and 16. A soldier with the Salvation Army and strong-willed single mother, Rhoda grabbed each one by the hand and jumped over the rail as the ship was going down.

When she emerged, neither of her sons had surfaced with her. They were both taken by the undertow. Like Norris Williams, Abbott surfaced to Collapsible A, which meant that her legs were also in decrepit condition. She spent two weeks hospitalized but holds the distinction of being the only woman to fall into the Atlantic from the Titanic and survive.

3. Harold Charles Phillimore – Crew (Seward)

James Cameron’s creation of Rose Decatur (played by Kate Winslet) is fictional , but her inspiration might have come from Seward Harold Phillimore, who was discovered clinging to a piece of floating debris among a sea of dead bodies by the last lifeboat to go back for survivors.

Phillimore shared the piece of driftwood with another man (unlike Rose, who selfishly let the love of her life go), but over the course of the 45 minutes between the Titanic’s sinking and his eventual rescue the other man (whose name is lost to history) suddenly drifted off into the ocean. Phillimore ended up having a distinguished career on the sea, earning the Mercantile Marine War and General Service medals.

2. Harold Bride – Marconi Wireless Company

Harold Bride was one of two telegraph operators for the Marconi Wireless Company, whose job was mainly to pass along messages between the ship’s passengers and the mainland. But he was also obligated to pass along navigational messages and warnings from other ships. This would make Bride and colleague James Phillips the MVPs for working the telegraph like there was no tomorrow. They were even given permission to abandon their posts, but stayed on until the ship’s very last minutes.

It was only as the water was filling up their room that they started to notice it was time to go. Both men made it onto the ship’s last lifeboat, known by the ship’s schematics as Collapsible B, which was turned upside down in the water. Bride’s feet were so crushed and  frozen he could barely make it up the rescue ladder when the Carpathia came.

As he passed a dead body getting up the ladder, he later realized that it was his comrade Phillips, who had passed during the night. Bride didn’t like talking about the Titanic because he was “deeply disturbed by the whole experience, particularly by the loss of his colleague and friend Jack Phillips.”

1. Charles Lightoller – 2nd Officer

Charles Lightoller started a life on the sea with an apprenticeship at the age of 13 and had already been to hell and back by the time he sailed with the Titanic as its second officer. By the time he signed on to the White Star line, he had already survived a shipwreck in Australia, a cyclone on the Indian ocean, and had to hitchhike all the way from Western Canada to England when he was unsuccessful in prospecting for gold in the Yukon and completely broke.

 When the ship hit the iceberg, Lightoller was one of the first to start lowering lifeboats. At around 2:00 a.m. (20 minutes before the sinking), he was ordered by his superior officer to get into the lifeboat, to which he replied, “not damn likely.” He eventually swam to the overturned Collapsible B and maintained order and morale among survivors who had all been thrown into the Atlantic, and prevented it from capsizing by having the men rock from side to side. Lightoller was the very last person to be rescued form the Titanic nearly four hours after the Carpathia picked up its first survivor. As the most senior officer to survive, he was also the star witness at the congressional hearing.

Titanic Stories

– WIF Into History

Do You Hear What I Hear? – WIF Mystery

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Bizarre/Mysterious

Noises No One

Can Explain

Best Sound Waves GIFs | Gfycat

Mysterious sounds trigger something primitive in our brains. They take us right back to our hunter-gatherer days, when deciphering a weird ‘bloop’ in the jungle might have helped us survive (as it may be a new type of predator). While that’s hardly the case anymore, that part of the brain still works the same way.

Mysterious sounds still pique our interest in a way that other senses don’t. There’s something plain creepy about a sound whose origins you can’t completely ascertain, made even creepier by just how many sounds there are nowadays; from classified radio signals to industrial machines most of us haven’t even heard of. Most of them, however, could be explained by ‘everyday things making everyday noises you just hadn’t noticed before’.

It gets weird, though, when a sound is heard multiple times by multiple people, and none of them can establish where it’s coming from. Some of the most bizarre sounds we’ve ever heard still remain unexplained.

10. The Upsweep

In case it’s not clear from the world map, the Pacific Ocean is humongous, so much so that we still find new islands there we had no idea existed. That’s why any mysterious sound emanating from any part of it is even creepier, as we just don’t know what all lies in its vast, uncharted depths.

The Upsweep – as it’s informally known – is one such sound coming from somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, though we have no idea where. It was first discovered in 1991, and sounds like a long chain of random bursts of frequency. What makes it even weirder is the strength of its source, as the sound could be heard throughout the Pacific. While we do know that it’s coming from a region with a lot of seismic activity, its precise source remains unknown.

9. The 52-Hertz Whale

In 1989, America’s underwater system of microphones meant to detect submarines – also known as SOSUS – accidentally caught a mysterious sound that was strikingly similar to the sound of a whale. Except that it wasn’t like any whale we know of.

For one thing, the frequency of the sound was measured at 52 hertz, which doesn’t match any known whale species. More importantly, though, in all of the readings, the geographical location of the source has never been the same, suggesting that it’s a whale that has been roaming the oceans around the world since at least 1989.

For those who don’t know, individuals from every whale pod sing at a unique frequency and pitch, which is how they identify their own. The fact that we’ve only heard one source of this sound suggests that this whale isn’t just unique in its singing frequency, but it’s also alone. That is, of course, if it’s even a whale and not some deep sea creature we haven’t yet discovered.

8. JULIA

First recorded in 1999, JULIA is a name given to yet another sound caught by American hydrophones meant to detect submarines and other suspicious underwater vehicles. The recording sounds like a muffled scream in the ocean to us, though it was apparently so strong that it could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.

According to the team that analyzed it, it sounds a lot like a broken-off iceberg grinding against the ocean floor, which is a fairly common occurrence, especially toward the poles. That’s just a guess, though, as we’ve never been able to confirm the exact location of its source, and that’s what makes it so mysterious.

7. UVB-76

First reported in 1973, UVB-76 is the name of a shortwave radio station a bit north of Moscow. That would be it – as the USSR was full of towers transmitting coded messages throughout the Cold War – except this one didn’t stop doing so even after the dissolution of the empire. What’s more mysterious is the fact that the sounds haven’t stayed the same throughout its history.

It started with beeps at regular intervals until 1992, when it changed to buzzes. Occasionally, it would be interrupted by a Russian male voice narrating a series of random words or numbers. All of that was until 2010, when the continuous beeps and buzzes just stopped one day, though they still come back for short durations every now and then. Since then, casual listeners have caught other seemingly-unrelated voices on the transmission, like Russian folk songs, random knocks and shuffles, and series of numbers and letters that seem to have nothing to do with each other.

Of course, it may just be an active military transmission, though that’s only based on the guess that the sound is, in fact, coming from a military base and not something else entirely.

6. The Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon are two statues of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. They depict the pharaoh seated in a resting position and facing the river Nile, though we’re not sure why there are two of them (they look the same!).

The statues are also the center of one of the most enduring mysteries of sound of all time. According to records by quite a few reliable and unrelated sources, the statues started making a peculiar sound around 27 BCE, usually at dawn. It only started after they were damaged by an earthquake, leading many to believe that the newly-formed cracks were somehow contributing to it. However, that was hardly enough to explain the wildly different sounds mentioned in the records; from a loud bellowing of some sort of an animal to the sound made by the breaking of a lyre string (an ancient Greek instrument).

5. The Lincolnshire Poacher

The Lincolnshire Poacher is an informal name given to another possible shortwave numbers station from the Cold War era that refused to die down after the dissolution of the USSR. Unlike UVB-76 – which is almost sure to be located somewhere around Moscow – the exact location of this one is unknown, though observers suspect that it’s a British-controlled base in Cyprus.

Throughout the duration of its continuous transmission every day – starting some time in the 1970s and ending in 2008 – the signal would begin with the first verse of the English folk tune of the same name, followed by unique messages that went on for exactly 45 minutes. Unlike robotic signals from other stations, though, this one sounded like it was narrated by a live voice every time it aired, making it even creepier.

4. Saturn

Most people may not realize that a huge part of the background static we hear on Earth is actually the sound of space, as there are many asteroids, planets and other huge bodies that make a lot of noise. The loudest of them, however – at least in our immediate vicinity – has to be Saturn.

Unlike most other planets in the Solar System, Saturn emits a mysterious routine burst of radio waves known as the Saturn Kilometric Radiations. First recorded in detail by Cassini, the burst seemed to be normal radiation coming from the planet’s rotation at first, except that the waves coming in from both of its poles are not consistent with each other. That suggests that both of the planet’s hemispheres are spinning at a different rate, and that’s impossible. Moreover, the position of those waves changes throughout the day, moving from north to south and then back to north as the day comes to end. That means that the two halves of the planet aren’t just spinning at a different rate, they’re also doing so interchangeably and regularly, which just doesn’t make sense.

3. The Taos Hum

Taos is a small town in New Mexico that also serves as a popular skiing destination. It’s also the site of one of the most peculiar continuous sounds ever reported, though much like all of the other weird sounds on this list, no one has ever been able to pinpoint its exact source.

Simply known as the Taos Hum, it was first discovered in 1992. Residents have reported it in a variety of seasons, times of the day and locations around the town, and eerily, no two accounts describe the same sound. A study even installed recorders in the homes of the people who had claimed to have heard it, though it couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

2. Mysterious Booms Across the USA

It’s weird enough when you hear a mysterious sound around your house no one can explain, though it’s plain creepy when multiple people in multiple towns across the country hear the same sound. That’s exactly what’s been happening in small towns across the USA for the past few years. Quite a few people from different states have reported hearing loud booms that seem to be similar in description, though their source still remains a mystery.

What’s surprising is that the affected states – such as Colorado, Michigan, California, New Jersey – are spread out across the country, with seemingly no connection to each other. Possible explanations range from exploding asteroids to a top-secret military experiment, though none of them are confirmed yet.

1. Aurora Borealis

Anyone who has had the chance to see the Aurora lights for themselves knows that they’re one of the most spectacular natural occurrences that can be witnessed on Earth. Caused by solar winds abnormally charging up particles in the atmosphere, they’re only found in high-latitude regions near the poles, like Scandinavia and Canada in the north, and Chile, New Zealand and Argentina in the south.

That’s just about the visuals, though, as according to some recent research, Aurora lights make a distinct sound, too. It’s like a hiss, except we don’t really know what causes it. Researchers think that it has something to do with the charged up particles that cause the lights in the first place, though honestly that would be our first guess, too. Other than that, it’s not clear what the sounds are, or even how they’re able to travel hundreds of miles through the atmosphere to reach the ground.


Do You Hear What I Hear?

WIF Mystery


Travel Agents Need Not Apply – WIF DNA Travel

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Places Where

People Have

Rarely Been

Through technological advancement and good old-fashioned human stubbornness, much of the Earth has been mapped and human boots have touched down on virtually every continent, island, desert, forest, and icy plain… or have they?

It might surprise some people to learn that there are still vast areas of the Earth left uninhabited, explored, or even mapped properly. While it is true that much of the Earth has been surveyed, vast portions of wilderness in Chile haven’t been, a handful of mountain summits remain untouched, countless cavern systems have gone unexplored, and the ocean floor remains a vast, alien world left unmapped by humans.

Here are the top 10 places where people have never been. (Except Photographers)

10. Muchu Chhish, Pakistan

In 2003, Bhutan banned all climbing, but some expeditions have been able to obtain permits. In 2014, English mountaineer, Pete Thompson, attempted to scale the mountain, hoping to reach the summit. Thompson expected to have to climb the final 1,453 meters without ropes, but the presence of hard ice derailed his plan to reach the top, forcing him to turn back at the 6,000-meter mark.

Prior to Thompson’s attempt, a Spanish team was rumored to have made it all the way to 6,650 meters and remains the highest point on the mountain anyone has reached.

Pakistan is home to 108 peaks taller than 7,000 meters, and many of these peaks belong to the Karakoram mountain range, of which 40 to 50 percent is covered in glaciers. This mountain range is so large that it borders China, India, Pakistan, and even extends to Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Karakoram range is also one of the world’s most geologically active areas, as the range was created by the interaction of the Indo-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate.

9. 90% of the Ocean Floor

Earth’s ocean floor is a vast, alien world, which remains almost entirely unexplored by humans. While satellites have managed to map almost 100 percent of the ocean floor at low resolutions, more than 80% of it has yet to be explored or mapped at higher resolutions.

James Cameron famously explored a portion of the Pacific Northern Valley, known as Challenger Deep with a one-man submersible. Challenger deep is thought to be the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed, reaching a depth of 10,920 meters. Cameron’s dive managed to reach an impressive depth of 10,908 meters, setting the world record.

One of the main reasons why so much of the ocean floor has yet to be mapped is due to the difficulty of developing vessels which can survive the immense pressures and conditions present in the deepest parts of the ocean floor. The deepest portions of the Mariana Trench experience a pressure of eight tons per square inch, enough to crush the human body into a messy pulp.

Before the first divers made their first journey into Challenger Deep more than 50 years ago, it was thought that the bottom of the ocean was a muddy, lifeless desert. But since then, we’ve learned that the reality is quite the opposite. Life thrives in our oceans, and if we could explore these seemingly alien worlds, we might find new extremophiles and unknown lifeforms. A prospect that has many scientists excited.

8. Northern Forest Complex, Myanmar

The Northern Forest Complex in Myanmar remains one of the largest areas of uninterrupted wilderness in South Asia, extending across lowland forests, and wetlands filled with coniferous trees (meaning they have scale-like or needle-shaped leaves). And just above the Northern Myanmar tree line are the majestic, jagged snow-covered mountain peaks.

The region boasts some of the greatest biodiversity in South Asia, many areas remaining virtually untouched by human explorers. It’s believed that numerous species of tigers, elephants, and birds make up a significant portion of that biodiversity.

The heart of the forest is nearly 13,679 kilometers and is the world’s largest tiger reserve.

Despite the relative scarcity of human life in the forest, about 1 million people live around the forest’s borders, living both inland and on the adjacent coast.

Though much of the forest remains under environmental protection sanctions, many of those sanctions are expiring, which some experts suggest could lead to disaster for the future of the forest complex’s continued biodiversity. Illegal animal tracking continues to be a problem, China being a major player in the trade of exotic animals taken from the area.

7. Namibia Desert

The Namibia Desert is one of the most hostile places to life on Earth, and it’s currently thought to be the world’s oldest desert. Because of the extreme heat and arid conditions, the region remains almost entirely uninhabited.

The Skeleton Coast is as deadly as it is beautiful, with white sprawling sands and shipwrecks from bygone eras littering its shores as if warning of the dangers the desert might contain should it be visited by unwary travelers.

Despite this, the Namib Desert and the Skeletal Coast are home to a surprising array of wildlife, such as baboons, leopards, cheetah, and brown and spotted hyena, and hippos have been spotted from time to time wading in the waters of the Skeleton Coast.

The only real traffic the area experiences is due to important trade routes.

6. Hang Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Hang Son Doong Cave was first discovered in 1990 by a local farmer named Ho Khanh, who was seeking shelter from a passing storm in the jungle. Ho Khanh noticed that clouds and the sound of a rushing subsurface river was coming from a massive hole in the limestone in the jungle. He survived the storm but got lost making his way out of the jungle, and the location of the cave was thought to have been lost for 18 years.

Fortunately for us, he rediscovered the entrance to the cave in 2008 while hunting. The cave is now thought to be one of the largest in the world, stretching an impressive five kilometers long and reaching heights of 200 meters. The first expedition to the cave, led by a group of UK divers, was unable to map the entire cave system, due to lacking the proper equipment to continue.

The cave is home to an impressively unique eco-system, featuring its own localized weather system. Extremely rare limestone cave pearls remain scattered throughout the cave, resting in dried pools, and it’s also home to the largest stalagmite ever discovered, measuring in at a staggering 80 meters.

Because of the delicate eco-system, people are not allowed to enter Son Doong Cave, and much of it remains unexplored. It is thought that the system could be even larger than original estimates suggested.

5. Sakha Republic, Russia

Despite being the largest administrative subdivision in the world, and the largest part of the Russian Federation, the Sakha Republic is a frozen wasteland, where ancient, extinct animals have long been preserved in permafrost. It gets as cold as -43.5 degrees Celsius in the winter, and only 19 degrees in summer. It’s one of the least populated places in the world, home to less than 1 million people despite being large enough to fit several countries inside of it.

Russian folklore tells that God flew over this immense expanse of frozen land, carrying Earth’s treasures, and because of the extreme cold, his hands froze, causing him to drop those treasures all throughout the Sakha Republic. The region is home to some of the richest deposits of natural resources, making up 82% of diamonds, 17% of gold, 61% of uranium, and 5% of iron ores in Russia.

Vast portions of wilderness in the Sakha Republic have been left completely unexplored by man.

4. Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan

Considered to be the world’s tallest “unclimbed” mountain by many, Gangkhar Puensum’s peak has never been scaled, and it’s unlikely that anyone ever will if the government has anything to say about it. The peaks of Gangkhar Puensum are sacred to the people of Bhutan, and it’s considered an extreme taboo for anyone to attempt to scale its slopes and peaks.

But ordinances and taboos can’t stop everyone, and since part of the mountain extends across the Chinese border, the first and only attempt to assail it was led by a Japanese climbing team in 1998. They were stopped short of their goal to explore the uncharted mountain by political fueled outrage from Bhutan.

The mountain remains untrodden by humans.

3. Karjiang I, Tibet

When viewed from a distance, Karjiang mountain looks like a taller, icy mountain was smashed in by an asteroid, creating a large crater around which the sharp, frozen peaks point inward. Like most mountains in Tibet, it’s an incredible sight. With a height of 7,221 meters, Karjiang’s first peak remains one of the tallest unclimbed peaks in the world.

The Karjiang mountain rests near the Bhutan-China border in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The last serious attempt to reach its summit was by a Dutch expedition in 2001. At some point in their climb, the Dutch explorers had to turn back due to harsh weather conditions, though they did manage to reach an elevation of 6,820 meters, climbing Karjiang III, before retreating.

While Karjiang I remains indominable, Karjiang II’s summit was reached in 1986 by a party of Japanese explorers led by N. Shigo.

The difficult with Karjiang I is that its slopes are prone to avalanches and the ever-shifting weather patterns make it nearly impossible to predict what conditions will be present during an expedition.

2. Greenland Northern Islands

Greenland is the world’s largest island, and it’s home to stunning glaciers and ice covered mountains which stab up from the Earth like jagged blades. The country is recognized as an autonomous part of Denmark, and most of it is uninhabited, featuring less than 58,000 residents. Greenland’s untamed landscapes tell a story dating back nearly 3.8 billion years and the few travelers that are able to venture there tell of how geological time seems uniquely evident when looking upon the country’s vast glaciated peaks and immensely diverse landscapes.

In 2005, melting polar ice revealed new islands, which escaped categorization when Greenland was first mapped nearly a century prior. The discovery of new lands connected to the immense island is just one of many secrets which could be revealed if climate change continues unimpeded. Scientists are very concerned that global warming could lead to the melting of the glaciers which cover most of the island’s interior.

The country’s largest geological feature, the Jakobshavn Glacier, moves at an incredible speed of 30 meters a day, faster than any other glacier on Earth.

It’s thought that this ice sheet was the source of the iceberg which sunk the Titanic.

1. Northern Patagonia, Chile

The vast wilderness of Northern Patagonia is home to temperate rainforests, glaciers, fjords, and hot springs, and it’s one of Chile’s least populated regions. While the Los Glaciares Park in Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile continue to be tourism hubs, outside of that area the wilderness remains largely unexplored. As many of the tourist sites touting the desirability of the area for its appeal to outdoorsmen attest, the safety of the average hiker depends greatly on which trails they choose to take. There are vast regions so inhospitable, that even the toughest explorer might have issues navigating the terrain.

The Aysen Region features hanging glaciers, immense fjords which take on complex patterns, stunning blue caverns, and steaming, dangerous rainforests.

The area is only accessible by the Carretera Austral, the name given to Chile’s Route 7 highway.

The ice fields are so vast, in fact, that they’re comparable to those found in the arctic circle and prove incredibly difficult to map properly.


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By the Sea, By the Contentious Sea – WIF @ War

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Largest Battles

Ever Fought

at Sea

The fate of nations and empires have depended upon control of the high seas throughout civilization. From well-populated coastlines to the most remote ocean depths, sunken vessels lie dormant in a vast watery graveyard, serving as a reminder of the countless battles waged.

Here’s a rundown of some largest and most decisive naval battles that not only changed the tides of war but altered the course of world history.

8. Battle of Lepanto

Long simmering tensions between the Ottoman Empire and Catholic states in the Mediterranean reached a boiling point when Muslim forces captured the Venetian island of Cyprus in 1570. This following year, roughly 500 ships clashed at the Battle of Lepanto, marking the last major engagement powered mostly by oar-driven vessels in the Western world.

Viewed by both sides as a religious mandate, the conflict saw the formation of the Holy League, a coalition assembled by Pope Pius V, consisting of Spain, Venice and the Papacy. Although they would face a battle-tested Turks led by Ali Pasha, command of the alliance was handed to John of Austria, an ambitious tenderfoot with a checkered past.

As the illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and half-brother, King Philip II of Spain, “Don Juan” led a charmed life as a member of the House of Habsburg. The 24-year-old playboy was not the Pope’s first choice to lead the Holy League’s fleet, but when Phillip agreed to finance the righteous rumble, the young admiral received the nod. Miraculously, he exceeded all expectations.

The Ottomans sailed westward from their naval station in southwestern Greece near Lepanto (today Nafpaktos) into the Gulf of Patras. There, they collided with the Christian fleet equipped with more than 200 galleys and bolstered by 44-gun Venetian galleasses (much larger galleys).

By the time fighting ceased, the Holy League had captured 117 Turkish galleys and liberated around 12,000 enslaved Christians. Moreover, the victory effectively thwarted Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean.

7. Battle of Jutland

Big, bloody, and befuddled is one way to summarize the First World War‘s biggest sea skirmish. ‘Stalemate’’ is another. Fought over 36 hours beginning on May 31, 1916, the Battle of Jutland involved more than 250 ships and 100,00 men and produced the only instance in which British and German ‘dreadnought’ battleships directly engaged each other.

Under the command of Admiral Reinhard Scheer, the German High Seas Fleet attempted to cripple the Royal Navy by luring Admiral Sir David Beatty’s battlecruiser force out into the open. However, the British caught a whiff of the plan and quickly dispatched Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet that had been stationed at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.

The two belligerents then tangled northwest of the Danish peninsula, where the outgunned Germans managed to inflict severe damage, sinking the HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary, which exploded when enemy shells hit their ammunition magazines. Although the British lost more ships and twice as many men, both sides claimed victory. Fittingly, the muddled outcome mirrored the same futility found on land in trench warfare.

The German fleet was forced to return home, having failed to break the Royal Navy’s blockade of the North Sea. The retreat reaffirmed Britain’s stranglehold on vital shipping lanes, a critical factor that contributed to Germany’s eventual defeat two years later.

6. Battle of the Masts

In one of the first major naval engagements between Muslim forces and the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Battle of the Masts unfolded off the coast of southern Anatolia in 655 CE. The fight for control the Mediterranean saw both sides suffer heavy casualties, resulting in what has been hailed as “The first decisive conflict of Islam on the deep.”

The Rashidun Caliphate, having recently conquered Egypt and Cyprus, then set its sights on bringing Byzantium under Muslim control. Led by Abu’l-Awar, 200 Arab boats sailed north towards the harbor of Phoenix (modern day Finike), where they encountered the 500-ship Byzantine navy, commanded personally by Emperor Constans II.

Fuelled by hubris and a vast numerical superiority, Constans (Constantine the Bearded) didn’t bother to bring his fleet into formation and instead plowed straight into the enemy. Big mistake. The blunder created heavy congestion, nullifying the Byzantine advantage as a clutter of masts flying either a cross or a crescent would give the battle its name. Constans barely escaped the carnage by switching uniforms with one of his officers. The result also marked the beginning of significant Muslim influence on the Mediterranean.

5. Battle of the Philippine Sea

Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan is credited with discovering a previously uncharted body of water that he named ‘Pacific’ for the calmness of the water. Ironically, the exploration soon led to his violent death, slain by natives in an archipelago that came to be known as The Philippines. Some 400 years later, the same area saw more mayhem with the largest aircraft carrier battle in history.

The Battle of the Philippine Sea began on 19 June 1944 and rapidly progressed in favor of the Allies. A total of fifteen aircraft carriers from the U.S. Fifth Fleet’s Fast Carrier Task Force (T.F. 58) flexed plenty of muscle as part of the most extensive single naval formation ever to give battle. The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) quickly became overwhelmed, losing three aircraft carriers and 395 carrier-based planes. American airmen described the action as a “turkey shoot” that included six confirmed kills in eight minutes by Navy pilot Lieutenant Alexander Vraciu.

By comparison, U.S. losses were light in comparison with one battleship damaged and 130 aircraft destroyed. The Japanese not only lost one third of its carriers but nearly all of its carrier-based aircraft. Remarkably, the depleted Japanese forces would continue fighting to the bitter end for another 14 months.

4. Battle of Actium

The stakes couldn’t have been any higher as opposing naval forces led by Mark Antony, and Octavian squared off for control of the Roman Republic on September 2, 31 BCE. The evenly matched sea battle involved 800 ships, colliding near the Greek peninsula at Actium.

The assassination of Julius Caesar some 13 years earlier still weighed heavily on both sides, adding to the high drama. The famed general was Octavian’s great-uncle, and Antony formed a personal and military partnership with Cleopatra of Egypt, who just happened to be Caesar’s former flame.

According to historian Plutarch, the fighting quickly took on the characteristics of a land battle in which the two sides launched flaming arrows and heaved pots of red-hot pitch and heavy stones at one another’s decks. Antony’s large, well-armoured galleys were equipped with towers for his archers, large battering rams, and heavy grappling irons. Octavian counter-attacked with a fleet of smaller vessels provided greater speed and maneuverability, tactics that ultimately won the day.

The conquering hero would take the name “Augustus” to become Rome’s first Emperor, launching a prosperous reign that lasted 40 years. As for Antony and Cleopatra, things didn’t end well. The star-crossed lovers fled back to Egypt, where they committed suicide. The tragic romance later spawned a Shakespeare play and slew of big-budget Hollywood flicks. Reviews were mixed.

3. Battle of Salamis

Centuries of fighting between the Greeks and Persians produced one of the more spirited rivalries in ancient warfare. Following their victory at Battle of Thermopylae and the sacking of Athens, forces led by King Xerxes I of Persia looked to expand further with an amphibious invasion in 480 BCE. Historians have long debated the size of the Persian armada, but some accounts list a surplus of well over 1,000 ships.

Facing total ruin, the Greeks hatched an ingenious trap by luring the enemy into a narrow and winding strait between the island of Salamis and the Greek mainland. The defenders occupied a position next to an inlet perpendicular to the entrance with a fleet of 370 triremes and began ramming and boarding Persian vessels in the congested waterway.

As panic ensued, the numerically inferior Greek force sank more than 300 of Xerxes’ ships. The defeat forced the Persian to put the invasion on hold — a significant turning point in the Greco-Persian war that saved Hellenic culture from annihilation.

2. Red Cliffs

In the waning days of the Han Dynasty in China, a classic battle occurred featuring a smaller force overcoming tremendous odds to defeat a much larger navy. A trio of warlords had been vying to seize power in the winter of 208 AD, before finally erupting in one of the more spectacular naval engagements in ancient history.

Troops under Cao Cao prepared to invade the southern territory surrounding the Yangtze River Valley with a massive armada and 250,000 men. In response, Liu Bei and Sun Quan hastily formed a coalition with a combined force of 50,000 troops. However, the undersized alliance relied on a cunning battle plan based on deception — a ruse that worked to perfection.

While feigning surrender, the defenders floated several dozen ships filled with oil and straw towards Cao Cao’s fleet, which had been bunched together in a narrow space near an area known as the Red Cliffs. A favorable wind helped propel the ‘defectors’ ships’ forward as fire quickly spread throughout the invader’s entire formation, resulting in chaos and panic among Cao Cao’s men. The Southern allies exploited the advantage, unleashing the bulk of its navy to destroy the retreating enemy.

The outcome determined new borders of the Three Kingdoms period. Red Cliff would also inspire countless works of art, including a 2007 blockbuster film directed by John Woo.

1. Battle of Leyte Gulf

Considered by many historians as the largest naval battle of all time, the Battle of Leyte Gulf involved a series of engagements between the United States, and Japan fought off the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar, and Luzon. The Americans’ plan was designed to achieve two main objectives: liberate the Japanese-occupied Philippines while regaining strategic bases in the Pacific to hasten the end of World War II.

By October 1944, the once-mighty Imperial Japanese Navy had been severely weakened from previous campaigns. Nonetheless, they still managed to assemble a formable array of heavy-gun warships as well as the first use of organized kamikaze attacks. The Allies countered with the full juggernaut of the U.S. Third and Seventh Fleets with a combined total of about 200,000 personnel.

The battle stretched over three days in which the Japanese suffered catastrophic losses, crippling its ability to fight as an effective naval force for the remainder of the war. Twenty-six Japanese ships and around 300 planes were destroyed — either by anti-aircraft fire or kamikaze attacks — and more than 12,000 Japanese sailors and airmen died. During an interrogation after Japan’s surrender, Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, the Navy Minister, said of Leyte, “I felt that that was the end.”


By the Sea, By the Contentious Sea

WIF @ War

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

…It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both helicopters; fire and oil are a dangerous mix…

Oil rig fire distortion by Adam Miller

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy the square shooter from South Texas?

It turns out that the bad guys saw that Coast Guard boat bounding through the waves a few miles north. The men who pour out the slide-by doors don’t look anything like polished military men, perhaps the pilots were but not these guys. There are two blindfolded individuals being prodded to the leeward column ladder, likely for a quick transfer. But by the time the awkward exchange can take place, the Monsoon steams onto the scene, all the while firing warning shots and smoke capsules at the sea surrounding the rig.

All that unexpected action a few hundred feet below causes the scampering swarm to reverse their direction back to the helicopter. They may have had what they thought was solid plan, but they were just running out of time. So back on the helicopter they go, piling in in a big-time hurry, except that one of their detainees bolts, running as fast as he can for the derrick and finding good cover there among the pile of eight inch pipes. That bolting delays the whole process.

Roy Crippen has seen enough to know that it is Gus McKinney who broke free and it is Deke about to be spirited away. He drops his chopper down to about thirty feet above the Russian built military machine, blocking their exit. It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both machines; fire and oil are a dangerous mix.

By that time, fifteen Coast Guard infantry have gained the deck and bring the situation into reasonable control. With guns down and arms held high the entire force of kidnappers is laid low.

Slippery Gus storms out to hug his brother who claims, “You kept us on the ground Gus, way to go!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Disney’s BOLT

Episode 127


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 126

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 126

…The Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon is still 10 nautical miles away, so please be careful.

U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon – RaVell Fine Art Studio

— A needle in a haystack. That is an apt odds-against appraisal of Roy Crippen’s odds in locating either the helicopter or the boat carrying the McKinney boys. But Roy knows the Gulf like some people do their backyard pool, having seen it all in his fishing boat or 300 miles above aboard the International Space Station and now taking his sweet whirlybird up to its 4,000 foot ceiling for his best view. There are few boats less than 200 feet out in the northerly chop and most of the oil derricks have their crew choppers parked, waiting for the first shift to end, with the second shift still on the mainland.

“There has been a possible sighting, 120 miles due south of Biloxi Mississippi, by the Deep Water Neptune, a BP rig. They are being boarded by what they believe are pirates,” Braden King’s temporary replacement is on the ball.

Pirates of the Caribbean, great, is the Black Pearl flying the Jolly Roger with Captain Jack Sparrow denuding them of their oil?” Every seafaring lad had seen those old Johnny Depp movies. “Did you say the Neptune; I think I know the day foreman there. Tell anyone who cares that I’m a 25 miles southeast and closing in.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Monsoon is still 10 nautical miles away, so please be careful.

Careful is the operative word, seeing that all he has for guns is an old Colt 45, given to him by his grandfather

 A sizeable ship has docked alongside the Deep Water Neptune, without permission or explanation. If the crew suspects pirates, look for some armed resistance on their part. And had it been the ship alone, the rough and tumble brutes could hold their own. All three legs of the platform are secured.

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy and his six-shooter to the rescue?

Sadly no, it is not the square shooter from South Texas. This twin-rotary ransacker is armed with a potent arsenal from which to subdue the rig. After strafing the deck, clearing it of resisters, the camouflaged war bird sets down with a resounding clumsy thud, plainly bottoming out, perhaps because the folks inside were in a panic.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Black Pearl from ANDONOV ART Fine Art / Photography

Episode 126


page 120

By the Wonderful Sea – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Remarkable Ocean

and

Sea Settlements

Ocean cities. Settlements in seas. Famed writer Jules Verne was on to something with “Propeller Island,” after all. (see below)

In this account, we explore some of the most ingenious ways in which human settlements have taken a marine form that thrive in modern times, while paying respects to some real-life versions of Atlantis found below the waves.

10. MS The World

The brainchild of Knut U. Kloster, MS The World is remarkable and globally unique condo at sea. With everything from sports facilities to a grocery store, this “largest residential yacht on the planet” is an apartment ship with 165 residential apartments, in total measuring 644 feet, 2 inches long and 98 feet wide. A board of directors elected by the residents, plus committees, plan out the ship’s travel routes, budgeting and on-board activities, along with shore stops.

The attractive vessel is a place to reside, with its fully livable apartments that range from its little studio residences to middle ground studio one or two-bedroom apartments, regular two-bedroom apartments, all the way up to three-bedroom suites with a full range of amenities. One to three expeditions (typically informed by 20 or more relevant experts, for planning) take in culture, scenery, and natural history of places like Madagascar, the British Isles/Hebrides, and the Northwest Passage.

9. Kansai International Airport

A masterpiece of Japanese engineering, Kansai Interntional Airport, opened in 1994, is an airport in the middle of the sea. Well, in the middle of Osaka Bay, offshore of Japan’s main island, Honshu, to be exact. Originally planned to be floating, the airport was instead built on sand, creating a runway-shaped construction surrounded by water, with all the amenities expected at an airport.

The airport is connected to Honshu by a narrow strip for rail and road transport, and has been judged as an engineering disaster due it its history of sinkage into the soft sands and mud of Osaka Bay and the subsequent costs. The airport nevertheless received recognition as an American Society of Civil Engineers “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” award recipient in April 2001. The airport notably weathered a 120 mile-per-hour typhoon in 1998 and survived the 1995 Kobe earthquake without destruction despite the thousands of deaths on Honshu.

8. Jules’ Undersea Lodge

While not quite a full city or even a town, Jules’ Undersea Lodge is a most unique hotel that requires SCUBA certification for guest access. Located in Florida, the structure is located 21 feet below the waves. Celebrity visitors to the lodge have included Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler and former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau.

The lodge itself is located in a mangrove environment with 42-inch windows while hot showers, music and movies, beds with a view of wild fish outside, and a kitchen containing a microwave and fridge are present in the lodge. A variety of stay packages ranging from just a few hours to a full overnighter are available, along with dive training if the required certification is not already held by visitors.

7. Palm Islands

The United Arab Emirates is a land home to some of the world’s most remarkable feats of marine engineering. Take the Palm Islands, a set of stunning marine archipelagos with rays and centerpieces that can be most fully appreciated from aerial views or space photographs. The islands include Palm Jumeirah, a precisely palm leaf shaped archipelago, Palm Deira Island, and Palm Jebel Ali, located along the Dubai coastline. Started in 2001, the developments contain a vast array of dwellings and commercial buildings constructed on the rays and stems. Breakwaters protect the construction works on the islands.

The project scale was most impressive. The first of the Palm Islands, Palm Jumeirah, utilized a whopping 3 billion cubic feet of sand, dredged from the Persian Gulf, built into the palm shape with GPS, while mountain rock totaling seven million tons was used to form the seven-mile breakwater protection system. Near the Palm Islands are two more human-made archipelagos, The World, named after its construction in the likeness of a map of the Earth, and The Universe, built to resemble the Milky Way Galaxy.

6. Neft Dashlari (Oily Rocks)

Extending from overturned scrapped tankers and connected by trestles and pipes is an expansive ghost city in the Caspian Sea. Located off the coast of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Neft Dashlari, or Oily Rocks, is one of the strangest urban areas on the planet. A ramshackle yet industriously constructed network of oil drilling facilities, stores, and apartment buildings stands bizarrely perched throughout the settlement. Neft Dashlari gained the amenities of an entire town including stores, educational facilities, and homes, plus libraries and service centers. Dormitories with five stories and hotels were among the grander structures built.

The community was literally built on top of overturned ships, which serve as building foundations. The site holds the Guinness World Record for being the first ever offshore oil platform. Neft Dashlari is now largely abandoned, with only some settlement remaining. A dark episode in the history of Neft Dashlari was the perhaps less than surprising, with the disappearance of three workers following the collapse of living accommodations into the Caspian Sea.

5. The Boat City of Aberdeen Harbour

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, has a complicated cultural history. Aberdeen Harbour exists in stark contrast to the towering and densely clustered skyscrapers for which Hong Kong is famous. Here in the harbor, there are large congregations of boats on which dwellers live and work. Restaurants are included in the amenities offered by the “boat city,” adding significantly to the tapestry of the village as a unique attraction.

Despite some viewing the floating neighborhood as a visual disturbance, the boat city is gaining an established place in Hong Kong’s culture. Movie depictions of Hong Kong make good use of the boat city for both panoramic views and as the setting for great action scenes. In historic times, the pirate life of the boat city was colorful, to say the least.

4. Ko Panyi

The image is incredible. One of Thailand’s most fascinating sights is the aerial view of Ko Panyi. With multi-colored roofs, the buildings of the village on stilts extend outward in a rough question mark shape around the base of a precipitous stony island, formed from a single mini-mountain that rises from Phang Nga Bay. Ko Panyi is in southern Thailand’s Phang Nga Province on the Malay Peninsula, between the Thai border with Myanmar to the north and Malaysia to the south.

A testament to the resourcefulness of its founders, Ko Panyi was established by Toh Baboo, friends and family who were Muslim ocean travelers who arrived around 200 years back but were unable to settle on land as foreigners upon arrival in Thailand. Today, the 300 families numbering almost 1,500 individuals live in the village that clusters around the rock. Dwellings, restaurants, a mosque, and even a floating football pitch are among the features of the village.

3. Fadiouth, Senegal

In the African nation of Senegal, a section of coastline known as Petite Côte is a village of fishers that is divided between a land-based section of settlement, Joal, and a much stranger island portion of the village, Fadiouth. Joal-Fadiouth’s two sections are connected via a wooden footbridge, 1,312 feet in length. Fadiouth is bizarre because it is on an entirely human-made island, and that island is made from discarded yet rather precisely placed seashells.

Over the last century (and more), villagers have been toiling at a two-fold project. On one hand, they have been harvesting marine mollusks for food, and on the other, casting the shells aside. This has created the huge midden that grew into the island supporting Fadiouth. Fastened by mangrove roots and other coastal wetland plants, the shell island resists the tides. The theme everywhere is shells. The famous cemetery is made of shells, while streets and buildings sport shells. The population is Christian and Muslim and is known for its close community held together by residential embrace of religious diversity.

2. Halong Bay Floating Villages

Vietnam is home to a spectacular floating village group that has achieved world recognition for its cultural and architectural uniqueness. Amongst pillar-like mountains that emerge from the waters of Halong Bay are four floating villages comprised of multiple buildings on rafts that form a fishing community. The four villages in Halong Bay contain 1,000 villagers and are named Cua Van, Ba Hang, Vong Vieng, and Cong Tau.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the villages provide a base for fishing lobster, shellfish, finned fish, and squid. Larger vessels resemble land-based houses in their design, while smaller boats are moored to the dwelling boats, which can themselves move around or anchor to neighboring dwellings to allow convenient forays through the bay. The largest village, Cau Van, hosts the Floating Cultural Center, which seeks to preserve the villages under the auspices of the Ha Long Ecological Museum.

1. Urban Rigger

A floating apartment is a novel concept and even more-so when the apartment complex is made of recycled structures. The Urban Rigger project in Copenhagen, Denmark is just such a remarkable development, with 12 studio apartments for students fashioned from shipping containers. Floating by the shoreline in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Refshaleoen, the project was designed by Bjarke Ingels Group after being first dreamt up by Urban Rigger CEO Kim Loudrup, who encountered great challenges in finding his son student housing in Denmark.

Students appreciate the sustainable, livable design of the mini community on the water, the first residents having arrived in 2018. The shipping containers that make up the apartments focus on making the best use of natural light and are fitted with their own bathrooms and kitchens, while common areas include gardens, a gym, and laundry facilities. Residents can go for a swim right from their doorstep.


By the Wonderful Sea

WIF 10 Cent Travel

The Grand Canyon of the Pacific – WIF Oceanography

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 Mysteries of

the Mariana Trench

Space may be the “final frontier,” but it’s far from the most alien one. The oceans are still full of mysteries and strange lifeforms, and nowhere in the wet part of the world is more mysterious than the Mariana Trench. This vast ocean pit in the Western Pacific reveals new secrets whenever a brave explorer ventures in its lethal depths, and continues to amaze even the most jaded ocean researcher. Today, we’ll take a look at some of its strangest aspects and most enduring mysteries.

10. The size of the Mariana Trench

To even comprehend all the weird stuff that’s going on in the Mariana Trench, we must first understand its sheer size. Picture an underwater Grand Canyon. It’s easy to think that the place is just some deep, watery hole where a few creepy bioluminating critters hang about. In reality, however, the Mariana Trench is absolutely massive. It’s no less than 1,580 miles long and 43 miles wide, which understandably makes its exploration an incredibly daunting task even if you ignore the water pressure and the terrifying-looking lifeforms that lurk within its depths, which extend all the way down to roughly 36,000 feet below the surface at the trench’s deepest point, the Challenger Deep.

The Trench is technically U.S. territory, but since a giant, super-deep ocean hole that contains all sorts of strange ecosystems is obviously fairly vulnerable to human tampering, President George W. Bush declared it a “marine national monument” in 2009. This means that the majority of the Mariana Trench, along with a whole bunch of surrounding seafloor and several underwater volcanoes, are a protected marine reserve.

9. The Mariana Trench mystery sound

One of the strangest things that have emanated from the Mariana Trench hasn’t been a frightening sea monster, though we’d be surprised if the option isn’t on the table whenever the mysterious “bio-metallic” sound that sometimes emanates from the trench is heard. Marine researchers have dubbed this almost mechanical, “twangy” noise “Western Pacific Biotwang,” and it first turned up in 2014 when scientists recorded ocean sounds near the Mariana Trench with diving robots called “passive acoustic ocean gliders.”

The complex, 3.5-second sound turned up several times during the research period, and while it seemed mysterious, the scientists eventually decided that the most likely culprit is a minke whale, a peculiar small whale that can sound like a Star Wars sound effect. However, the minke whales themselves remain largely a mystery to science, and they still have no idea what the call is about, and why it has been recorded year-round.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time the elusive minke whales have puzzled scientists. For 50 years, researchers were puzzled by a strange, duck-like underwater sound that seemed too repetitive and rhythmical to be anything but man-made, and far too loud to be a fish. We didn’t figure out that this “bio-duck” sound was minke whales until 2014.

8. Strange undersea volcanoes

When listing deep-sea dangers, one imagines things like giant sharks and maybe huge octopus creatures. What you wouldn’t expect, though, are massive mud volcanoes, spewing hot mud and rock fragments from the depths of the earth to the, uh, depths of the sea. Still, such natural structures exist within the Mariana Trench, which exists in a spot where the Pacific tectonic plate is pushed downwards by the Philippine Sea Plate. This makes the area a hotspot of volcanic activity, and the mud volcanoes are part of the deal.

Incidentally, these massive geological structures bring warmth to the kinds of depths where very little would otherwise exist. Thanks to the heat and minerals of the mud volcanoes, researchers have found evidence of microbial life as deep as six miles under the Mariana Trench. This is a hint that life may survive in the kinds of extreme environs we’re yet to truly comprehend. As project leader Oliver Plumper puts it: ““This is another hint at a great, deep biosphere on our planet. It could be huge or very small, but there is definitely something going on that we don’t understand yet.”

If that quote wasn’t ominous enough, the Mariana Trench can up its volcano game to an even weirder level: It’s also home to a submarine volcano that spews molten sulphur, and another one where the eruptions are liquid carbon dioxide. Life under the sea may not always be fun, but it’s certainly eventful.

7. The Mariana Trench Megalodon

In 2018, the Jason Statham movie The Meg introduced the world to the novel concept of giant Megalodon sharks lurking in the Mariana Trench. The movie depicts the Mariana Trench having a “fake” bottom, behind which these super-sharks have lurked all along, but apart from that novel feature, the conspiracy theories about Megalodons secretly haunting the seas have been around for quite a while — and what better location for them to hide their existence from puny humanity than the deepest pit in the sea?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your views on massive sharks), this is very unlikely to be true. The Mariana Trench could not even theoretically support a creature as large as the Megalodon, and anyway, the creature used to hang around in fairly shallow, warm waters. But hey, one can always dream, right?

6. The Hadal Deep

The Hadal Deep is technically a joint moniker for the deepest parts of the ocean all around the world, but the Mariana Trench is where it is at its absolute most unforgiving. The zone is named after the Greek mythology’s underworld Hades, and fittingly enough, it’s so intensely hostile to human life that more people have been to the Moon than ventured there. This is a big part of why it holds so many mysteries: To keep people alive (and equipment intact) in the pressures of the Hadal Deep is intensely difficult.

Oh, and here’s where things get really nasty: When it comes to the Mariana Trench, the beginning of the hellish Hadal Deep is pretty much just the halfway point. The Hadal Deep starts at 20,000 feet below the surface, while the deepest (as far as we know) parts of the Mariana Trench are well over 35,000 feet deep. So, before you venture there, maybe do a practice run in one of the other 45 Hadal areas in the world.

Yes, you read that right. There are no less than 46 of these underwater hells scattered around the world, and we’ve barely scratched their surface.

5. Sounds from the Deep

Weird whale noises are one thing, but when scientists managed to capture audio from the deepest ocean pit on the planet in 2016, things got all sorts of creepy. You’d expect that the Challenger Deep would be a serenely quiet place at 6.7 miles beneath the surface, but recordings show that the area is actually chock-full of sounds that seem like something out of a horror movie.

Yes, the deep is full of screeches, moans and rumbles, and while the occasional sound can be traced back to a whale or an earthquake, a whole bunch of them remain a mystery. Perhaps the strangest thing about the recordings is the fact that you can often hear the surface sounds shockingly clearly, and boat propellers and typhoons are clearly audible on some of the tapes. In fact, marine scientists are kind of worried that man-made sounds will only increase in the ocean, even in the pits of the Hadal Deep. So, you know. When the creatures of the deep inevitably rise against us surface dwellers, there’s a fair chance it will be because they’re just coming to complain about their noisy upstairs neighbors.

4. The crazy marine life of the Mariana Trench

Imagine a science fiction monster and there’s a decent chance that a variation of it exists somewhere in the depths of the Mariana Trench. There are relatively huge amoebas that surround and consume their prey like a gelatinous cube monster in Dungeons & Dragons. There are various translucent and bio-luminescent creatures. There are, of course, many-toothed monsters like the freaky anglerfish and the huge goblin shark, not to mention creatures with telling names like “deep sea hatchetfish” and “fanfin sea devil.” What else is lurking down there? Who knows!

To be fair, the marine life of the Mariana Trench is not just pure nightmare fodder. The most fearsome predator of the area is a perfectly unassuming little pink guy called the Mariana snailfish, which gets along simply because it can live a lot deeper than some of its toothier neighbors. As it’s able to exist at a depth of an impressive 26,200 feet, it’s free to feast on smaller marine life without risk of getting eaten itself.

3. The secrets of the ocean floor

In 2012, James Cameron — yes, the Titanic director — climbed into a small specially-made submarine and spent two hours and 36 minutes descending to the lowest point of the Mariana Trench. This was the deepest solo dive in human history, and though Cameron didn’t exactly discover the Kraken, his adventure yielded some mightily interesting scientific results. Apart from various larger and weirder than expected (though not large enough to star in a disaster movie) bottom-dwellers, areas of the trench’s bottom were covered by an “astonishingly bizarre” ecosystem of a thick layer of bacteria that seemed to subsist solely on chemical reactions between the water and the rock.

It’s almost certain that Cameron’s dive was just scratching the surface, too — researchers have estimated that the bottom of the trench might house 50-100 species of xenophyophores (basically giant amoebas) alone, let alone all the other species Cameron saw… and, no doubt, many that we’ve yet to discover.

2. The whole Mariana Trench is a giant mystery

What do we know about the Mariana Trench? At the moment, next to nothing. The researchers keep constantly finding mysterious new species and freely admit that “much of the trench and surrounding areas remain unexplored.”

When you really think about what you’ve read on this list, is it any wonder? It’s almost like our planet custom designed the Mariana Trench to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and made it as difficult as possible for a fragile human being to observe. It’s a place of total darkness, cold, and crushing pressures, populated by alien-looking creatures and constantly bombarded by constant noise from both man-made and natural sources. All in all, there are belief systems out there that have less scary hells.

1. The most horrifying beast in the Mariana Trench

Yes, of course it’s humans. It’s always humans, even in the least people-friendly crevasse on the planet.

In 2019, a diver reportedly discovered several candy wrappers and a plastic bag in the Mariana Trench, a good 35,849 feet under the sea. This means we’ve already managed to contaminate the place that we have barely begun to explore, and it’s getting pretty bad. In fact, a group of experts estimated in 2017 that certain areas of the Mariana Trench are more contaminated than some of the most polluted rivers in China.

Interestingly, many deep sea amphipods hanging around at the bottom of the trench (and the oceans in general) are now stuffing themselves with plastics and microfibers that litter the sea floor. It remains to be seen how this affects them, and what effect their new diet will have on the ocean’s ecosystem in the long run. Experts’ predictions, unfortunately, aren’t too great.


The Grand Canyon of the Pacific –

WIF Oceanography