Hakai Magazine

Mother and calf sperm whales swim in the Caribbean. Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/Corbis
Mother and calf sperm whales swim in the Caribbean. Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/Corbis

Stories from the Seven Seas

A weekly roundup of coastal news.

Authored by

by Colin Schultz

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Hakai Magazine is all about the coast, but other outlets sometimes share our fascination. Every week on Strand we round up our favorite coastal stories from around the web.

Sperm whales speak in local dialects, study finds

by Becky Ferreira for Motherboard

“[A] study published today in Nature Communications confirms that sperm whales, like humans, develop local dialects that help bind their clans together. These dialects are manifested in differing patterns of clicks—or ‘codas,’ as biologists call them—which whales use to solidify relationships within their own clan. It’s like a linguistic ID card, and it supports Sagan’s ‘romantic notion’ that whales have evolved their own unique cultural experience.”

Melting ice isn’t opening Arctic to oil bonanza

by Steven Lee Myers and Clifford Krauss for The New York Times

“The dream of an Arctic Klondike, made possible by the rapid warming of once-icebound waters, has been at the core of Russia’s national ambitions and those of the world’s biggest energy companies for more than a decade. But even as Royal Dutch Shell began drilling an exploratory well this summer off the north coast of Alaska, Russia’s experiences here have become a cautionary tale, one that illustrates the challenges facing those imagining that a changing Arctic will produce oil and gas riches.”

The man who sailed across the Atlantic…without the benefit of fingers

by Sarah Laskow for Atlas Obscura

“Mittenless, in the winter cold, Blackburn’s hands were inevitably going to freeze. He tried protecting one with a sock; it wouldn’t stay on, and it also fell into the sea. Now his foot was more exposed, too. Before both hands became numb, Blackburn decided to make them useful. He curved them around the oar, until they froze. He would still be able to row.”

Satellite company joins project to create unmanned robot ships

by Kelsey D. Atherton for Popular Science

“People take up already limited space on a ship, and they have biological needs that require even more space, so a ship without them can do without a galley, sleeping quarters, storing food for the crew, or anything else related to habitation. That’s a space savings, and also a security benefit: Without on-board crew as potential hostages, pirate attacks become just a material concern, and not a life-threatening one.”

The coming of the glacier men

by Imogen Foulkes for BBC

“All sorts of things have been retrieved from Alpine snow and ice over the year, from the remains of a crashed World War Two American bomber, to a cache of emeralds, rubies and sapphires being carried on an Air India flight which came down on Mont Blanc in 1966.

But over the last two decades the glaciers have retreated more rapidly, says Martin Grosjean, a glacier specialist at the University of Berne’s Oeschger Institute. Even ice which has been permanent for thousands of years has started to melt, giving rise to a new scientific discipline—glacial archaeology.”

Fishing for the first Americans

by Emma Marris for Nature

“The search for these sea-going settlers will not be easy. Much of the evidence that archaeologists seek is deep underwater — or was smashed long ago by the Pacific’s legendary waves. But momentum is building to find those earliest settlers. ‘People are just more optimistic,’ says Quentin Mackie, an archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada. Amanda Evans, a marine archaeologist at the ocean-survey company Tesla Offshore in Prairieville, Louisiana, says that prehistoric underwater archaeology in general is having a moment. ‘This year just seems to be the year that everybody was pushing the ball uphill and it finally crested.’”