Hakai Magazine

Coastal science and societies

The Three Gorges Dam, which holds back China’s Yangtze River, is the largest hydropower dam in the world. Photo by Imaginechina/Corbis
The Three Gorges Dam, which holds back China’s Yangtze River, is the largest hydropower dam in the world. Photo by Imaginechina/Corbis

Stories from the Seven Seas

A weekly roundup of coastal news.

Authored by

by Colin Schultz

Article body copy

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.

The Chinese are obsessed with building giant dams

by Philip Ball for BBC Future

“That a pragmatic and rather ugly – if herculean – feat of engineering is being marketed as a must-see tourist attraction is pretty peculiar, when you think about it. But then you recognise that water, particularly its control, has been at the heart of Chinese statecraft for several millennia.”


What Exxon knew about the Earth’s melting Arctic

by Sara Jerving, Katie Jennings, Masako Melissa Hirsch, and Susanne Rust for The Los Angeles Times

“The gulf between Exxon’s internal and external approach to climate change from the 1980s through the early 2000s was evident in a review of hundreds of internal documents, decades of peer-reviewed published material and dozens of interviews conducted by Columbia University’s Energy & Environmental Reporting Project and the Los Angeles Times.

Documents were obtained from the Imperial Oil collection at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and the Exxon Mobil Historical Collection at the University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History.

‘We considered climate change in a number of operational and planning issues,’ said Brian Flannery, who was Exxon’s in-house climate science advisor from 1980 to 2011. In a recent interview, he described the company’s internal effort to study the effects of global warming as a competitive necessity: ‘If you don’t do it, and your competitors do, you’re at a loss.’”


America’s in the midst of a lobster boom

by Erin Blakemore for Smithsonian Magazine

“There could be another reason why things are looking up for lobsters: Conservation by lobstermen. The lobster industry has been forward-thinking compared to other fishing industries, writes Guilford. In the early 1900’s, lobstermen worked closely with scientists and lawmakers to create and enforce policies that protect breeding lobsters instead of just their babies.

Lobstering is regulated by a number of federal laws, and Maine fisheries and governments cooperate with the help of the University of Maine Lobster Institute. Lobstermen also take an active part in conservation by marking (and refusing to kill) egg-bearing female lobsters.”


Mariners today still use a math genius’ 1802 navigation guide

by Sarah Laskow for Atlas Obscura

“Clifford has a picture he keeps, of a officer re-enlisting in the navy. In the ceremony, the officer has a choice of swearing his oath on a Bible or other meaningful tome. ‘He has his hand on a copy of Bowditch.’

Officially, the book is titled The American Practical Navigator, but it’s more commonly called Bowditch after Nathaniel Bowditch, the young prodigy who wrote the original 1802 edition. For two centuries, copies of this book have settled themselves onto the bridges of ships circling the globe, and helped guide mariners safely from place to place. It has been the foundational text of American shipping, for 213 years, an atypically long reign for a scientific manual.”


El Niño could leave 4 million people in Pacific without food or drinking water

by Ben Doherty for The Guardian

Countries including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands are already feeling El Niño’s impact with reduced rainfall affecting crops and drinking-water supplies. Drought conditions would further complicate the humanitarian situation in countries that are just emerging from the devastation caused by tropical cyclones Pam, Maysak and Raquel.’”