Raw minerals are found in deposits
which have accumulated for over hundreds of million of years. Over the
continental shelf (the most accessible part of the ocean) are located many
resources of metals and minerals which are unevenly distributed. Extracting
of these minerals is very important because they have become an integral
part in the world of modern technology. Petroleum production on land is
never sufficient and geologists have turned to the seabed to satisfy the
Scuba Diving is an invaluable
tool for geologic research. Underwater geology includes two features –
characterization (mapping and testing parts of the underwater environment)
and experimentation (analysis of geologic processes).
Scientific divers enrich
their knowledge of the shelf’s origin, the tectonics of ocean bottom, the
structure and processes in the formation of sediments and minerals below
the surface. They use underwater drills to extract limestone and clay particles
to learn about the processes that had taken place long ago.
Archaeology is perhaps the
most attractive branch of underwater science which concentrates on the
study of human past judging from material traces such as sunken ships,
(and their treasures), planes and objects. The huge amounts of gold, silver
and jewelry that lie hidden on the bottom of the ocean attract like a magnet
enthusiasts from all over the world. Some seek treasures for the money
and others – for the thrill. Trying to locate a sunken ship with jewelry
on it, is not only a profession but also a passion, a way of life. However,
disappointment is so common that some quit very quickly. In order to find
a ship, divers should have at least a bit of knowledge concerning underwater
navigation and ocean currents. Many hours are spent in libraries skimming
through archives to find old maps, routes of Spanish ships and their diaries.
Even if divers have gathered enough information and prepared all necessary
equipment and devices, there is still a large percentage which depends
on luck. The easiest operation needs also luck to achieve its aim.
Searching for lost sunken cities
and ports is also a very popular branch of the underwater archaeology.
This search is conducted in various parts of the world, especially in the
Mediterranean Sea where the ancient Greeks had developed their civilization.
One place which was long searched for but still not found is the Atlantis.
The Atlantis was an island whose nation was believed to be a utopian commonwealth
– a flourishing and prosperous civilization. An earthquake caused the island
to sink in the ocean with all of its treasures. There are many theories
about its location but obviously none is true. Perhaps, the Atlantis is
simply a dream but who knows? Perhaps one day some of you might find it
the science of exploring and studying caves and their shape, origin, development
and microclimate. It concerns other branches of underwater procedures such
as archeology, geology and biology. Gathering data about underwater caves
helps for determining the effects of pollution and observing the ecology
of cave systems.
Scientific cave divers need
special training and equipment. Cave diving is certainly more difficult
than other types of diving. Divers are confronted with specific problems
when entering the cave. Above all, they are in a confined place which robs
them of the possibility to ascend straight to the surface in a case of
accident. Cavers might even lose their way in some of the cave’s branching.
Their lives depend on the good working order of their equipment and the
immediate help of their buddies. The air-supply should be sufficient not
only for the planned stay in the cave and time for decompression but also
for possible accidents. It might be necessary that two divers breathe from
a single apparatus. A crucial part of the equipment is the inflating life-jacket.
Its purpose is to regulate diver’s buoyancy and keep it neutral. Otherwise,
bad balance might lead to muddling of water and loss of visibility.
There are cases of death
in which experienced divers are the victims. In 1972, two qualified cave
divers entered a cave. They were only in the beginning of the cave passage
when they suddenly realized that they had left some instrument for work
on the surface. They decided one of them to stay and wait until the other
got back. After 5 minutes the diver returned and found his buddy dead (he
was enmeshed in a nylon rope).
In the picture above, you
see divers before entering the cave “Peacock”. The cave is notorious for
its cases of death – 17 for the period 1970-1973. There is a Warning sign
nearby. The dive was successful.
Marine Biology and Ecology
The study of marine flora
and fauna and their adaptation to the changes of water pressure is the
main purpose of divers-biologists. Underwater operations have several advantages
I comparison with sampling from the land. On one hand, it allows to observe
species in operation – behavior, interaction with other fish or plants.
For example, in shellfish studies, some of the most effective methods of
studying the behavior of lobsters are by observing them in their natural
habitat. It is proved that lobsters behave in a different way when they
are in captivity. For instance, lobsters become highly flesh-eating when
there are in the aquarium (rarely do lobsters in their natural habitat
eat fish). Sometimes, to prevent the extinction of a particular species
of fish, biologists build marine artificial reefs where the size of the
fish stock can be restored. What attracts different kinds of fish to this
reef is the rich source of food and the shelter it provides. The reef is
also a perfect opportunity for the marine biologist to discover new species
or count the size of fish population. In the observation of bigger carnivorous
fish at greater depths, scientific divers descend with underwater devices
such as the bathysphere and bathyscaphe which allow them to take notes
about the fish’s behavior and explore the species from proximity.
Divers-biologists also deal
with determining the influence of man on marine life, and more specifically
- the effects on ocean dumping on the flora and fauna.
Does “Torrey Canyon” in
1967, “Amoco Cadiz” in 1978 and “Exxon Vuldez” in 1989 ring the bell to
you? These were dramatic catastrophes in terms of pollution in the world’s
history. Large volumes of oil were dumped in the ocean and timely efforts
and overall cleaning to save marine environment were needed.
Every year, three to four
million tonnes of petroleum are dumped in the ocean. Nobody is guilty but
we are confronted with facts – waste oils, destroying marine life. Scientists
measure the damage and give alarming results.
We cannot avert oil dumping
but we can make efforts to protect the ocean life or what has left of it.
It is not uncommon to read that coral reefs were destroyed by tourists
stepping on corals for fun. Moreover, there are cases in which dolphins
were choked in plastic bags.
Destruction is a part of
the human nature but we should all suppress it in some way! We should all
try to save our oceans and not think of them as garbage cans!