Strict adherence to a nineteenth-century treaty gave the tip of this Canadian peninsula to the U. Still, Maple Beach on the east side lets you country hop with impunity past a plaque that denotes the national border. The U.
Sea Otter Facts
Rock columns just offshore form sea stacks, or tiny islands that hold little more than a few scraggly trees up top and basking sea lions at their base. For all its glorious remote beaches, the Olympic National Park manages to offer a few jewels close to the parking lot. The wide sands of Ruby Beach are only a quarter mile from Highway , and at Kalaloch, to the south, there are only a few feet between pavement and dunes. The Pacific Ocean beach is a Washington state highway for stretches south of this mid-peninsula spot—keep it to 25 miles per hour—but Copalis is more.
The shipbuilding town of Westport hums with working-class grit, and cottages circle the busy marina. The Army Corps of Engineers has to fill the area with dredged material after storms since it washes away so fast. The jetty also blocks the seasonal drift of sand north and south along the coast. Though they suck for playing volleyball, the small-stone beaches tend to support more marine animals, since they provide hiding spots from predators.
Much of the Long Beach peninsula tip is reserved for snowy plover restoration, but trails wind toward beaches with silk-soft sand and unlike the rest of Long Beach, there are no cars turning doughnuts here. On a coast better known for hand-caught razor clams and bins of saltwater taffy than fine dining, the Depot restaurant is a welcome diversion.
About a dozen tables crowd the old Clamshell Railroad station, where chef-owner Michael Lalewicz panfries local oysters and piles Willapa Bay clams and wild razor clams into a well-balanced chowder. When Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean in , did they immediately start building beach forts out of driftwood?
As idyllic as the cove and black river sand are, the name comes not from paradise comparisons but the death of a Hawaiian sailor nearby. Sand The black grains on Waikiki Beach are from the black basalt that washed down the Columbia River fairly recently; the sand color will change seasonally, getting blacker during the high runoff in spring. Offshore oil rigs pump petroleum from wells drilled into the continental shelf.
About one-quarter of all oil and natural gas supplies now comes from offshore oil deposits around the world. Offshore drilling requires complex engineering. Depending on how far out on the continental shelf an oil platform is located, workers may have to be flown in. Underwater, or subsea, facilities are complicated groups of drilling equipment connected to each other and a single oil rig.
Subsea production often requires remotely operated underwater vehicles ROVs. Some countries invest in offshore drilling for profit and to prevent reliance on oil from other regions. The Gulf of Mexico near the U. Offshore drilling is a complicated and expensive program, however. There are a limited number of companies that have the knowledge and resources to work with local governments to set up offshore oil rigs.
Most of these companies are based in Europe and North America, although they do business all over the world. Some governments have banned offshore oil drilling. They cite safety and environmental concerns.
There have been several accidents where the platform itself has exploded, at the cost of many lives. Offshore drilling also poses threats to the ocean ecosystem.
Spills and leaks from oil rigs and oil tankers that transport the material seriously harm marine mammals and birds. The fur of otters and seals are also coated, and oil entering the digestive tract of animals may damage their organs. Offshore oil rigs also release metal cuttings, minute amounts of oil, and drilling fluid into the ocean every day.
Drilling fluid is the liquid used with machinery to drill holes deep in the Earth. This liquid can contain pollutants such as toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Pollution Most oil pollution does not come from oil spills, however. It comes from the runoff of pollutants into streams and rivers that flow into the ocean. Most runoff comes from individual consumers. Cars, buses, motorcycles, and even lawn mowers spill oil and grease on roads, streets, and highways.
Runoff is what makes busy roads shiny and sometimes slippery. Storm drains or creeks wash the runoff into local waterways, which eventually flow into the ocean. The largest U. In comparison, American and Canadian consumers spill about 16 million gallons of oil runoff into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans every year. For centuries, people have used the ocean as a dumping ground for sewage and other wastes.
In the 21st century, the wastes include not only oil, but also chemical runoff from factories and agriculture. These chemicals include nitrates and phosphates, which are often used as fertilizers. These chemicals encourage algae blooms. An algae bloom is an increase in algae and bacteria that threatens plants and other marine life. Algae blooms can spread across hundreds or even thousands of miles. Another source of pollution is plastics. Most ocean debris, or garbage, is plastic thrown out by consumers.
Plastics such as water bottles, bags, six-pack rings, and packing material put marine life at risk. Sea animals are harmed by the plastic either by getting tangled in it or by eating it.
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An example of marine pollution consisting mainly of plastics is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Most of this debris comes from the western coast of North America the U. Because of ocean currents and weather patterns, the patch is a relatively stable formation and contains new and disintegrating debris. The smaller pieces of plastic debris are eaten by jellyfish or other organisms, and are then consumed by larger predators in the food web.
Another source of pollution is carbon dioxide. The ocean absorbs most carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide forms many acids, called carbonic acids, in the ocean.
Ocean ecosystems have adapted to the presence of certain levels of carbonic acids, but the increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in ocean acids. This ocean acidification erodes the shells of animals such as clams, crabs, and corals. Global Warming Global warming contributes to rising ocean temperatures and sea levels. Warmer oceans radically alter the ecosystem. Global warming causes cold-water habitats to shrink, meaning there is less room for animals such as penguins, seals, or whales. Plankton, the base of the ocean food chain, thrives in cold water.
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Warming water means there will be less plankton available for marine life to eat. Melting glaciers and ice sheets contribute to sea level rise. Rising sea levels threaten coastal ecosystems and property. River deltas and estuaries are put at risk for flooding. Coasts are more likely to suffer erosion.
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Seawater more often contaminates sources of fresh water. All these consequences—flooding, erosion, water contamination—put low-lying island nations, such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, at high risk for disaster.
Formed by the Ocean
To find ways to protect the ocean from pollution and the effects of climate change, scientists from all over the world are cooperating in studies of ocean waters and marine life. They are also working together to control pollution and limit global warming. Many countries are working to reach agreements on how to manage and harvest ocean resources. Although the ocean is vast, it is more easily polluted and damaged than people once thought. It requires care and protection as well as expert management. Only then can it continue to provide the many resources that living things—including people—need.
The distance between Easter Island and New Zealand, the longest length of the Polynesian Triangle, is one-quarter of the Earth's circumference, more than 10, kilometers 6, miles. Polynesians successfully traveled these distances in canoes. It would be hundreds of years before another culture explored the ocean to this extent. Ocean Seas The floors of the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea are more like the ocean than other seasthey do not rest on a continent, but directly on the ocean's basalt crust. International Oil Spill The largest oil spill in history, the Gulf War oil spill, released at least 40 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf.
Valves at the Sea Island oil terminal in Kuwait were opened on purpose after Iraq invaded Kuwait in The oil was intended to stop a landing by U. Marines, but the oil drifted south to the shores of Saudi Arabia. A study of the Gulf War oil spill conducted by the United Nations, several countries in the Middle East and the United States found that most of the spilled oil evaporated and caused little damage to the environment.
The Most Coast. Canada has , kilometers , miles of coastline. Short But Sweet. Monaco has 4 kilometers 2. No, the Toilet Doesn't Flush Backwards in Australia The Coriolis effect, which can be seen in large-scale phenomena like trade winds and ocean currents, cannot be duplicated in small basins like sinks.