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Environmental Monitoring

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July 2013 Issue

Seafarer Receives DEP Permit For Florida Shipwreck
Seafarer Exploration Corp. (Tampa, Florida) has received an environmental resources permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the proposed excavation of a shipwreck site located off of Lantana Beach, Florida.

The site has recently been surveyed using a Geometrics (San Jose, California) G-882 cesium-vapor magnetometer, and the results showed evidence that a large part of the ship lies buried in a relatively compacted area.

Having completed the first phase of the mapping survey and underwater video, Seafarer is preparing to begin digging and identifying the wreck. Items found and documented on the site in past explorations by third parties suggest the wreck could be a French or Spanish ship from the late 1600s, but it will require more work to determine what is actually contained in the site.

Archival research was conducted and divided into two sections: acquiring data on a fleet that sunk off Florida July 31, 1715 and searching for documents pertaining to the Jean Ribault fleet of 1565 that sunk north of Cape Canaveral. The documents will help provide a more accurate interpretation of the cultural history of the Melbourne Beach site.


Research Shows Where Trash Accumulates in Sea
Large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. Plastic bags, aluminum cans and fishing debris not only clutter beaches, but accumulate in open-ocean areas. Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, California, have shown that trash is also accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon.

Video technicians searched MBARIís Video Annotation and Reference System database to find every video clip that showed debris on the seafloor. They compiled data on the different types of debris, as well as when and where the debris were observed.

The researchers counted more than 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris at dive sites from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California and as far west as the Hawaiian Islands.

The researchers focused on seafloor debris near Monterey Bay—an area where MBARI conducts more than 200 research dives a year. In this region alone, the researchers noted more than 1,150 pieces of debris on the seafloor.

Most of the debris—about one third of the total—consisted of objects made of plastic. Of these objects, more than half were plastic bags. Metal objects were the second most common type of debris seen in this study. About two thirds of these objects were aluminum, steel or tin cans.

The researchers found that trash was not randomly distributed on the seafloor, but instead collected on steep, rocky slopes.


Ecoships are Here to Stay
The classification society Germanischer Lloyd (GL) in Hamburg, Germany, said that the trend toward building and operating ecoships, or highly energy-efficient vessels, would continue, given the potential cost savings for the maritime industry.

There were suggestions that the focus on efficiency would fade if bunker prices fell.

Ecoships have cost advantages over existing vessels, found primarily at the design stage by targeting a vesselís real operating profile, wider beam and increased capacity. Another major driver lies in design optimization that focuses on hull lines, propulsion, onboard systems and next-generation engines.

Savings are stable across a range of operating speeds.


Above-Average North Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted
Scientists at the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) in Tallahassee, Florida, who developed a unique computer model to predict hurricanes are forecasting a season of above-average activity.

COAPS has released its fifth annual Atlantic hurricane season forecast for the yearís hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through November 30.

This yearís forecast calls for a 70 percent probability of 12 to 17 named storms, with five to 10 developing into hurricanes, and an average accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of the strength and duration of storms accumulated during the season) of 135.

The COAPS forecast is slightly less than the official NOAA forecast that predicts a 70 percent probability of 13 to 20 named storms, with seven to 11 of those developing into hurricanes this season.

COAPS researchers used a numerical climate model to understand seasonal predictability of hurricane activity. The model is one of only a handful of numerical models in the world being used to study seasonal hurricane activity. The forecast numbers are based on 50 individual seasonal atmospheric forecasts using sea surface temperatures predicted by a NOAA climate model.


Effects of Deepwater Horizon Spill Continue
While the clean-up effort for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was three years ago, Gulf ecosystems are still feeling the impact, according to Chemical & Engineering News. The regionís fish and plant life are experiencing long-term health effects, including harm to insects and microbes.

Of the oil leaked into the water, only about 20 percent was recovered. Most of the spill, 75 percent, found its way into the environment by sticking to the coastline and seafloor, evaporating or dissolving in the water. The remaining 5 percent was burned.

Scientists continue to study the area so future efforts can be more effective. The U.S. Coast Guard provided a response vessel for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers to collect a sample from the wellhead using an ROV. Large quantities of methane were found at more than 80 mole percent.

Much of the remaining oil is degrading slowly, and scientists speculate how the continued presence of the pollution will affect species living in the sediment as well as the larvae of fish.

Several studies will not be released until after the current trial, which will determine if companies were negligent, as well as the amount of oil spilled.


2014:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG
2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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