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Sky View Of Tomakomai 

iPhoneOgraphy – 21 Dec 2016 (Day 356/366)

Tomakomai (苫小牧市 Tomakomai-shi) is a city and port in Iburi Sub prefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the largest city in the Iburi Sub prefecture and the fifth largest city in Hokkaido.

As of February 29, 2012, it had an estimated population of 174,216, with 83,836 households and a population density of 310.27 persons per km² (803.60 persons per sq. mi.). The total area is 561.49 km² (216.79 sq mi).

The name of Tomakomai is derived from Ainu word “to” and “mak oma nay”, meaning “Marsh” and “River which goes into the depths of the mountain”.

In year 1873 The village of Tomakomai was founded. Later in year 1918 Tomakomai village became Tomakomai town and lastly in year 1948 Tomakomai town became Tomakomai city.

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Let’s Go Skiing

iPhoneOgraphy – 18 Dec 2016 (Day 353/366)

A ski is a narrow strip of semi-rigid material worn underfoot to glide over snow. Substantially longer than wide and characteristically employed in pairs, skis are attached to ski boots with ski bindings, with either a free, lockable, or partially secured heel. For climbing slopes, ski skins (originally made of seal fur, but now made of synthetic materials) can be attached at the base of the ski.

Originally intended as an aid to travel over snow, they are now mainly used recreationally in the sport of skiing.

The word ski comes from the Old Norse word “skíð” which means stick of wood or ski.

In Swedish, another language evolved from Old Norse, the word is “skidor” (pl.).

English and French use the original spelling “ski”, and modify the pronunciation. Prior to 1920, English usage of “skee” and “snow-shoe” is often seen. In Italian, it is pronounced as in Norwegian, and the spelling is modified: “sci”. Portuguese, German and Spanish adapt the word to their linguistic rules: esqui, Schier (a German plural of Ski) and esquí. Many languages make a verb form out of the noun, such as “to ski” in English, “skier” in French, “esquiar” in Spanish, “sciare” in Italian, “skiën” in Dutch, “esquiar” in Portuguese or “schilaufen” (as above also Ski laufen or Ski fahren) in German.

Finnish has its own ancient words for skis and skiing. In Finnish ski is suksi and skiing is hiihtää. The Sami also have their own words for skis and skiing. For example, the Lule Sami word for ski is “sabek” and skis are “sabega”. The Sami use “cuoigat” for the verb “to ski”. The term may date back to 10,000 years before present.

The oldest wooden skis found were in what is today Russia (c. 6300-5000 BCE), Sweden (c. 5200 BCE) and Norway (c. 3200 BCE) respectively.

Nordic ski technology was adapted during the early 20th century to enable skiers to turn at higher speeds. New ski and ski binding designs, coupled with the introduction of ski lifts to carry skiers up slopes, enabled the development of alpine skis. Meanwhile advances in technology in the Nordic camp allowed for the development of special skis for skating and ski jumping.

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Hoshino Resort Tomamu

iPhoneOgraphy – 17 Dec 2016 (Day 352/366)

Ski mountaineering is a skiing discipline that involves climbing mountains either on skis or carrying them, depending on the steepness of the ascent, and then descending on skis. There are two major categories of equipment used, free-heel Telemark skis and skis based on Alpine skis, where the heel is free for ascents, but is fixed during descent. The discipline may be practiced recreationally or as a competitive sport.

Competitive ski mountaineering is typically a timed racing event that follows an established trail through challenging winter alpine terrain while passing through a series of checkpoints. Racers climb and descend under their own power using backcountry skiing equipment and techniques. More generally, ski mountaineering is an activity that variously combines ski touring, Telemark, backcountry skiing, and mountaineering. It is planned by the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA), to make ski mountaineering by itself part of the 2018 Olympic Games.

Military patrol was an official event at the 1924 Winter Olympics, followed by demonstration events at the 1928 Winter Olympics, in 1936 and in 1948. Military patrol is considered to be a predecessors of the biathlon.

From 1992 to 2009, the Comité International du Ski-Alpinisme de Compétition (CISAC), founded by France, Italy, Slovakia, Andorra and Switzerland, sanctioned the European Championship. Then the CISAC merged with the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competitions in 1999, which in 2008 became the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF).

Outside Europe, international championships started with the 2007 South American Ski Mountaineering Championship and the 2007 Asian Championship of Ski Mountaineering. The 2012 North American Ski Mountaineering Championship was the first edition of a North American Championship of Ski Mountaineering, sanctioned by the United States Ski Mountaineering Association.

A ski resort is a resort developed for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. In Europe, most ski resorts are towns or villages in or adjacent to a ski area – a mountainous area with pistes, ski trails and a ski lift system. In North America, it is more common for ski areas to exist well away from towns, so ski resorts usually are destination resorts, often purpose-built and self-contained, where skiing is the main activity.

Ski areas have marked paths for skiing known as runs, trails or pistes. Ski areas typically have one or more chairlifts for moving skiers rapidly to the top of hills, and to interconnect the various trails. Rope tows can also be used on short slopes (usually beginner hills or bunny slopes). Larger ski areas may use gondolas or aerial trams for transportation across longer distances within the ski area.

Ski areas usually have at least a basic first aid facility, and some kind of ski patrol service to ensure that injured skiers are rescued. The ski patrol is usually responsible for rule enforcement, marking hazards, closing individual runs (if a sufficient level of hazard exists), and removing (dismissing) dangerous participants from the area.

Some ski resorts offer lodging options on the slopes themselves, with ski-in and ski-out access allowing guests to ski right up to the door. Ski resorts often have other activities, such as snowmobiling, sledding, horse-drawn sleds, dog-sledding, ice-skating, indoor or outdoor swimming, and hot tubbing, game rooms, and local forms of entertainment, such as clubs, cinema, theaters and cabarets. Après-ski (French: after skiing) is a term for entertainment, nightlife or social events that occur specifically at ski resorts. These add to the enjoyment of resort-goers and provide something to do besides skiing and snowboarding. The culture originated in the Alps, where it is most popular and where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. People that browse ski resort & hotel websites will commonly seek mention of the quality of après-ski in the area, and such information is often found. It is therefore seen as an important factor for skiers to consider before booking a holiday. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.

Though the word ‘ski’ is a derivation of the Old Norse ‘skíð’ via Norwegian, the choice of French is likely attributed to the early popularity of such activities in the French Alps, with which it was then linked.

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The Kamikawa Shrine

iPhoneOgraphy – 16 Dec 2016 (Day 351/366)

Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto Shrines.

With a few exceptions, the general blueprint of a Shinto shrine is Buddhist in origin. Before Buddhism, shrines were just temporary structures erected to a particular purpose. Buddhism brought to Japan the idea of permanent shrines and much of Shinto architecture’s vocabulary. The presence of verandas, stone lanterns, and elaborate gates are examples of this influence.

The composition of a Shinto shrine is extremely variable, and none of its possible features are necessarily present. Even the honden or sanctuary, the part which houses the kami and which is the centerpiece of a shrine, can be missing. However, since its grounds are sacred, they usually are surrounded by a fence made of stone or wood called tamagaki, while access is made possible by an approach called sandō. The entrances themselves are straddled by gates called torii, which are therefore the simplest way to identify a Shinto shrine.

A shrine may include within its grounds several structures, each destined to a different purpose. Among them are the honden or sanctuary, where the kami are enshrined, the heiden, or hall of offerings, where offers and prayers are presented, and the haiden or hall of worship, where there may be seats for worshipers. The honden is the building that contains the shintai, literally, “the sacred body of the kami”. Of these, only the haiden is open to the laity. The honden is located behind the haiden and is usually much smaller and unadorned. Other notable shrine features are the temizuya, the fountain where visitors cleanse their hands and mouth and the shamusho (社務所), the office that supervises the shrine. Shrines can be very large, as for example Ise Shrine, or as small as a beehive, as in the case of the hokora, small shrines frequently found on road sides.

Before the forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism (Shinbutsu bunri), it was not uncommon for a Buddhist temple to be built inside or next to a shrine or to the contrary for a shrine to include Buddhist subtemples. If a shrine was also a Buddhist temple, it was called a jingu-ji. At the same time, temples in the entire country adopted tutelary kami (chinju (鎮守/鎮主) and built temple shrines called chinjusha to house them. After the forcible separation of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines (shinbutsu bunri) ordered by the new government in the Meiji period, the connection between the two religions was officially severed, but continued nonetheless in practice.

The practice of marking sacred areas began in Japan as early as the Yayoi period (from about 500 BC to 300 AD) originating from primal Shinto tenets. Features in the landscape such as rocks, waterfalls, islands, and especially mountains, were places believed to be capable of attracting kami, and subsequently were worshiped as yorishiro. Originally, sacred places may have been simply marked with a surrounding fence and an entrance gate or torii. Later, temporary buildings similar to present day portable shrines were constructed to welcome the gods to the sacred place. Over time the temporary structures evolved into permanent structures that were dedicated to the gods. Ancient shrines were constructed according to the style of dwellings (Izumo Taisha) or storehouses (Ise Grand Shrine). The buildings had gabled roofs, raised floors, plank walls, and were thatched with reed or covered with hinoki cypress bark. Such early shrines did not include a space for worship. Three important forms of ancient shrine architectural styles exist: taisha-zukuri, shinmei-zukuri and sumiyoshi-zukuri They are exemplified by Izumo Taisha, Nishina Shinmei Shrine and Sumiyoshi Taisha respectively and date to before 552. According to the tradition of Shikinen sengū-sai (式年遷宮祭), the buildings or shrines were faithfully rebuilt at regular intervals adhering to the original design. In this manner, ancient styles have been replicated through the centuries to the present day.

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Torii The Japanese Gate

iPhoneOgraphy – 15 Dec 2016 (Day 350/366)

A torii (鳥居, literally bird abode) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines, and a small torii icon represents them on Japanese road maps. They are however a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple’s own shrine, called chinjusha (鎮守社, tutelary god shrine) and are usually very small.

Their first appearance in Japan can be reliably pinpointed to at least the mid-Heian period because they are mentioned in a text written in 922. The oldest existing stone torii was built in the 12th century and belongs to a Hachiman Shrine in Yamagata prefecture. The oldest wooden torii is a ryōbu torii at Kubō Hachiman Shrine in Yamanashi prefecture built in 1535.

Torii were traditionally made from wood or stone, but today they can be also made of reinforced concrete, copper, stainless steel or other materials. They are usually either unpainted or painted vermilion with a black upper lintel. Inari shrines typically have many torii because those who have been successful in business often donate in gratitude a torii to Inari, kami of fertility and industry. Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto has thousands of such torii, each bearing the donor’s name.

The Japanese torii is derived from the Indian Torana which also inspired the Chinese Paifang.

The function of a torii is to mark the entrance to a sacred space. For this reason, the road leading to a Shinto shrine (sandō) is almost always straddled by one or more torii, which are therefore the easiest way to distinguish a shrine from a Buddhist temple. If the sandō passes under multiple torii, the outer of them is called ichi no torii (一の鳥居, first torii). The following ones, closer to the shrine, are usually called, in order, ni no torii (二の鳥居, second torii) and san no torii (三の鳥居, third torii). Other torii can be found farther into the shrine to represent increasing levels of holiness as one nears the inner sanctuary (honden), core of the shrine. Also, because of the strong relationship between Shinto shrines and the Japanese Imperial family, a torii stands also in front of the tombs of each Emperor.

Whether torii existed in Japan before Buddhism or, to the contrary, arrived with it is, however, an open question. In the past torii must have been used also at the entrance of Buddhist temples. Even today, as prominent a temple as Osaka’s Shitennō-ji, founded in 593 by Shōtoku Taishi and the oldest state-built Buddhist temple in the world (and country), has a torii straddling one of its entrances. (The original wooden torii burned in 1294 and was then replaced by one in stone.) Many Buddhist temples include one or more Shinto shrines dedicated to their tutelary kami (“Chinjusha”), and in that case a torii marks the shrine’s entrance. Benzaiten is a syncretic goddess derived from the Indian divinity Sarasvati which unites elements of both Shinto and Buddhism. For this reason halls dedicated to her can be found at both temples and shrines, and in either case in front of the hall stands a torii. The goddess herself is sometimes portrayed with a torii on her head. Finally, until the Meiji period (1868 -1912) torii were routinely adorned with plaques carrying Buddhist sutras. The association between Japanese Buddhism and the torii is therefore old and profound.

Yamabushi, Japanese mountain ascetic hermits with a long tradition as mighty warriors endowed with supernatural powers, sometimes use as their symbol a torii.

The torii is also sometimes used as a symbol of Japan in non-religious contexts. For example, it is the symbol of the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment and the 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and of other US forces in Japan.

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Machine Full Of Beverages

iPhoneOgraphy – 13 Dec 2016 (Day 348/366)

A vending machine is a machine that dispenses items such as snacks, beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets to customers automatically, after the customer inserts currency or credit into the machine. The first modern vending machines were developed in England in the early 19th century and dispensed postcards.

The earliest known reference to a vending machine is in the work of Hero of Alexandria, a first-century AD Greek engineer and mathematician. His machine accepted a coin and then dispensed holy water. When the coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever. The lever opened a valve which let some water flow out. The pan continued to tilt with the weight of the coin until it fell off, at which point a counterweight snapped the lever up and turned off the valve.

Coin-operated machines that dispensed tobacco were being operated as early as 1615 in the taverns of England. The machines were portable and made of brass. An English bookseller, Richard Carlile, devised a newspaper dispensing machine for the dissemination of banned works in 1822. Simeon Denham was awarded British Patent no. 706 for his stamp dispensing machine in 1867, the first fully automatic vending machine.

The first modern coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England in the early 1880s, dispensing postcards. The machine was invented by Percival Everitt in 1883 and soon became a widespread feature at railway stations and post offices, dispensing envelopes, postcards, and notepaper. The Sweetmeat Automatic Delivery Company was founded in 1887 in England as the first company to deal primarily with the installation and maintenance of vending machines.

The first vending machine in the U.S. was built in 1888 by the Thomas Adams Gum Company, selling gum on New York City train platforms. The idea of adding games to these machines as a further incentive to buy came in 1897 when the Pulver Manufacturing Company added small figures, which would move around whenever somebody bought some gum from their machines. This idea spawned a whole new type of mechanical device known as the “trade stimulators”.

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Walking On The Snow

iPhoneOgraphy – 09 Dec 2016 (Day 344/366)

Snow pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when it precipitates from clouds and accumulates on surfaces, then metamorphoses in place, and ultimately melts, slides or sublimates away. Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts, seasonally, and causes runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater.

Major snow-prone areas include the Arctic and Antarctica, the upper half of the Northern Hemisphere, and alpine regions.

Scientists study snow at a wide variety of scales that include the physics of chemical bonds and clouds; the distribution, accumulation, metamorphosis, and ablation of snowpacks; and the contribution of snowmelt to river hydraulics and ground hydrology. In doing so, they employ a variety of instruments to observe and measure the phenomena studied. Their findings contribute to knowledge applied by engineers, who adapt vehicles and structures to snow, by agronomists, who address the availability of snowmelt to agriculture, and those, who design equipment for sporting activities on snow. Scientists develop and others employ snow classification systems that describe its physical properties at scales ranging from the individual crystal to the aggregated snowpack. A sub-specialty is avalanches, which are of concern to engineers and outdoors sports people, alike.

Snow affects such human activities as transportation: creating the need for keeping roadways, wings, and windows clear; agriculture: providing water to crops and safeguarding livestock, and such sports as skiing, snowboarding, and snow machine travel. Snow affects ecosystems, as well, by providing an insulating layer during winter under which plants and animals are able to survive the cold.

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Otaru Canal, Japan

iPhoneOgraphy – 08 Dec 2016 (Day 343/366)

Otaru (小樽市 Otaru-shi) is a city and port in Shiribeshi Sub prefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently grown as a bedroom community.

As of 31 July, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 131,706 with 67,308 households and a population density of 541.71 persons per km (1,403.0 persons per sq. mi.). The total area is 243.13 km (93.87 sq mi). Although it is the largest city in Shiribeshi Sub prefecture, the subprefecture’s capital is the more centrally located Kutchan.

Otaru is a port town on the coast of the Sea of Japan in northern Shiribeshi Sub prefecture. The southern portion of the city is characterized by the steep slopes of various mountains, notably Tenguyama; and the altitude of the land sharply drops from the mountains to the sea. The land available between the coast and mountains has been almost completely developed, and the developed part of the city on the mountain slopes is called Saka-no-machi, or “Hill town”, including hills named Funamizaka (Boat-view Hill) and Jigokuzaka (Hell Hill).

The city was an Ainu habitation, and the name “Otaru” is recognised as being of Ainu origin, possibly meaning “River running through the sandy beach”. The very small remaining part of the Temiya Cave contains carvings from the Zoku-Jōmon period of Ainu history, around A.D. 400. Otaru was recognised as a village by the bakufu in 1865, and in 1880 the first railway line in Hokkaido was opened with daily service between Otaru and Sapporo.

An Imperial decree in July 1899 established Otaru as an open port for trading with the United States and the United Kingdom.

The city flourished well as the financial and business center in Hokkaido as well as the trade port with Japanese ruled southern Sakhalin until the 1920s. Otaru was redesignated as a city on August 1, 1922.

On December 26, 1924, a freight train loaded with 600 cases of dynamite exploded in Temiya Station, damaging the warehouse, the harbour facilities and the surrounding area. Local officials stated that at least 94 were killed and 200 injured in this disaster.

Since the 1950s, as the coal industry around the city went into a decline, the status of economic hub shifted from Otaru to Sapporo.

A canal adorned with Victorian-style street lamps runs through Otaru. The city attracts a large number of Japanese tourists as well as Russian visitors.

Otaru is well known for its beer, and Otaru Beer, next to the canal, is a popular restaurant with a medieval theme. Otaru is also known for the freshness of its sushi. The town also has substantial shopping arcades and bazaars, but fewer than nearby Sapporo.

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A Place I Call Paradise

iPhoneOgraphy – 11 Nov 2016 (Day 316/366)

A seaside resort is a resort town or resort hotel, located on the coast. Sometimes it is also an officially accredited title, that is only awarded to a town when the requirements are met (like the title Seebad in Germany).

Where a beach is the primary focus for tourists, it may be called a beach resort.

The coast has always been a recreational environment, although until the mid-nineteenth century, such recreation was a luxury only for the wealthy. Even in Roman times, the town of Baiae, by the Tyrrhenia Sea in Italy, was a resort for those who were sufficiently prosperous Mersea Island, in Essex, England was a seaside holiday destination for wealthy Romans living in Colchester.

The development of the beach as a popular leisure resort from the mid-19th century was the first manifestation of what is now the global tourist industry. The first seaside resorts were opened in the 18th century for the aristocracy, who began to frequent the seaside as well as the then fashionable spa towns, for recreation and health. One of the earliest such seaside resorts was Scarborough in Yorkshire during the 1720s; it had been a popular spa town since a stream of acidic water was discovered running from one of the cliffs to the south of the town in the 17th century. The first rolling bathing machine were introduced by 1735.

In 1793, Heiligendamm in Mecklenburg, Germany was founded as the first seaside resort of the European continent, which successfully attracted Europe’s aristocracy to the Baltic Sea.

The opening of the resort in Brighton and its reception of royal patronage from King George IV extended the seaside as a resort for health and pleasure to the much larger London market, and the beach became a centre for upper-class pleasure and frivolity. This trend was praised and artistically elevated by the new romantic ideal of the picturesque landscape; Japan Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon is an example of that. Later, Queen Victoria’s long-standing patronage of the Isle of Wight and Ramsgate in Kent ensured that a seaside residence was considered as a highly fashionable possession for those wealthy enough to afford more than one home.

The extension of this form of leisure to the middle and working class began with the development of the railways in the 1840s, which offered cheap and affordable fares to fast growing resort towns. In particular, the completion of a branch line to the small seaside town Blackpool from Poulton led to a sustained economic and demographic boom. A sudden influx of visitors arriving by rail provided the motivation for entrepreneurs to build accommodation and create new attractions, leading to more visitors and a rapid cycle of growth throughout the 1850s and 1860s.

The growth was intensified by the practice among the Lancashire cotton mill owners of closing the factories for a week every year to service and repair machinery. These became known as wakes weeks. Each town’s mills would close for a different week, allowing Blackpool to manage a steady and reliable stream of visitors over a prolonged period in the summer. A prominent feature of the resort was the promenade and the pleasure piers, where an eclectic variety of performances vied for the people’s attention. In 1863, the North Pier in Blackpool was completed, rapidly becoming a centre of attraction for elite visitors. Central Pier was completed in 1868, with a theatre and a large open-air dance floor.

Many popular beach resorts were equipped with bathing machines because even the all-covering beachwear of the period was considered immodest.

By the end of the century the English coastline had over 100 large resort towns, some with populations exceeding 50,000.

The development of the seaside resort abroad was stimulated by the well developed English love of the beach. The French Riviera alongside the Mediterranean had already become a popular destination for the British upper class by the end of the 18th century. In 1864, the first railway to Nice was completed, making the Riviera accessible to visitors from all over Europe. By 1874, residents of foreign enclaves in Nice, most of whom were British, numbered 25,000. The coastline became renowned for attracting the royalty of Europe, including Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

Continental European attitudes towards gambling and nudity tended to be more lax than in Britain, and British and French entrepreneurs were quick to exploit the possibilities. In 1863, the Prince of Monaco, Charles III and François Blanc, a French businessman, arranged for steamships and carriages to take visitors from Nice to Monaco, where large luxury hotels, gardens and casinos were built. The place was renamed Monte Carlo.

Commercial seabathing also spread to the United States and parts of the British Empire such as Australia, where surfing became popular in the early 20th century. By the 1970s cheap and affordable air travel was the catalyst for the growth of a truly global tourism market which benefited areas with a sunny climate, such as the mediterranean coasts of Spain, Italy and southern France.

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The Maldives Sea Water

iPhoneOgraphy – 29 Oct 2016 (Day 303/366)

A sea is a large body of salt water that is surrounded in whole or in part by land. More broadly, “the sea” is the interconnected system of Earth’s salty, oceanic waters – considered as one global ocean or as several principal oceanic divisions. The sea moderates Earth’s climate and has important roles in the water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. Although the sea has been travelled and exploredsince prehistory, the modern scientific study of the sea – oceanography – dates broadly to the British Challenger expedition of the 1870s. The sea is conventionally divided into up to five large oceanic sections – including the International Hydrographic Organization’s four named oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic) and the Southern Ocean; smaller, second-order sections, such as the Mediterranean, are known as seas.

Owing to the present state of continental drift, the Northern Hemisphere is now fairly equally divided between land and sea (a ratio of about 2:3) but the South is overwhelmingly oceanic (1:4.7). Salinity in the open ocean is generally in a narrow band around 3.5% by mass, although this can vary in more landlocked waters, near the mouths of large rivers, or at great depths. About 85% of the solids in the open sea are sodium chloride. Deep – sea currents are produced by differences in salinity and temperature. Surface currents are formed by the friction of waves produced by the wind and by tides, the changes in local sea level produced by the gravity of the Moon and Sun. The direction of all of these is governed by surface and submarine land masses and by the rotation of the Earth (the Coriolis effect).

Former changes in sea levels have left continental shelves, shallow areas in the sea close to land. These nutrient-rich waters teem with life, which provide humans with substantial supplies of food – mainly fish, but also shellfish, mammals, and seaweed – which are both harvested in the wild and farmed. The most diverse areas surround great tropical coral reefs. Whaling in the deep sea was once common but whales’ dwindling numbers prompted international conservation efforts and finally a moratorium on most commercial hunting. Oceanography has established that not all life is restricted to the sunlit surface waters: even under enormous depths and pressures, nutrients streaming from hydrothermal vents support their own unique ecosystem. Life may have started there and aquatic microbial mats are generally credited with the oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere; both plants and animals first evolved in the sea.

The sea is an essential aspect of human trade, travel, mineral extraction, and power generation. This has also made it essential to warfare and left major cities exposed to earthquakes and volcanoes from nearby faults; powerful tsunami waves; and hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones produced in the tropics. This importance and duality has affected human culture, from early sea gods to the epic poetry of Homer to the changes induced by the Columbian Exchange, from burial at sea to Basho’s haikus to hyperrealist marine art, and inspiring music ranging from the shanties in The Complaynt of Scotland to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship” to A-Mei’s “Listen of the Sea”. It is the scene of leisure activities including swimming, diving, surfing, and sailing. However, population growth, industrialization, and intensive farming have all contributed to present-day marine pollution. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is being absorbed in increasing amounts, lowering its pH in a process known as ocean acidification. The shared nature of the sea has made overfishing an increasing problem.

Both senses of sea date to Old English; the larger sense has required a definite article since Early Middle English. As the term has been applied over time, there are no sharp distinctions between seas and oceans, although seas are smaller and are – with the notable exception of the Sargasso Sea created by the North Atlantic Gyre – usually bounded by land on a smaller scale than multiple continents. Seas are generally larger than lakes and contain salt water, but the Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake. There is no accepted technical definition of “sea” among oceanographers. In international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that all the ocean is “the sea”.

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