Sometimes, on a tropical isle, it’s hard to tell the difference. On a blazing day in Bermuda, the brilliant sand and the bright waters seem to meld together seamlessly, with subtle shifts in hue and no clear line of demarcation.
Exactly what shade of blue is the water around Grand Bahama Island, anyway? Of course, the water color changes as you move from deeper water to spots closer to the shoreline. But as you reach the shallow depths near the beach, the water becomes an inexpressibly beautiful shade of blue. Is it azure? Cyan? Aquamarine? Turquoise seems to fit best, but then again a word can’t really capture the sunlight glinting on the water, the different shades created as the waves move past, and glimpses of the ocean bottom appear through the crystal clear water.
Venice is sinking and the surrounding sea level is rising. In the last 100 years, Venice has sunk 11 inches. It doesn’t sound like much, but 11 inches is a lot when every building and square is bordered by canals or open water. If you visit Venice, you quickly realize that water is everywhere. You cannot escape the sound of water lapping against a bulkhead, the smell of water in the canals, or the sight of water as you walk across one of the countless bridges spanning the canals.
The situation has become intolerable. Venice now experiences 100 floods a year. The Venetians and the Italian government have finally taken action. Their plan involves construction of massive inflatable gates that will lie flat on the sea floor under normal circumstances, only to be inflated so as to block sea water from entering the lagoon when water levels rise. The project is, as you would expect, controversial. People have raised questions about its cost, its effectiveness and its environmental impact. Amazingly, due to political wrangling it took four decades for construction on the project to get started — even though the situation is growing increasingly desperate.
Venice is a beautiful city, filled with fabulous architecture, art, and history. Equally important, it is one of those cities that is a testament to the human spirit, human ingenuity, and human perseverance. Imagine building a city on marshland and seeing that city grow and develop to the point where Venice was a major sea power and center of commerce! Everyone should be interested in seeing Venice, in all its glory, preserved — and that means hoping that the project works. Mankind would be poorer indeed if Venice, like fabled Atlantis, were to disappear beneath the waves.
I enjoy stories about unexplained natural phenomena, so I very much like this story about miles of a thick gooey substance floating in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska. Apparently the tests have ruled out any kind of oil or hazardous substance and have indicated that the material is “biological.” What, then, could it be? Could some kind of heretofore unknown plant or aquatic life form from the deep crevices of the ocean have floated to the surface, for example?
It is always exciting to realize that there are still things that we do not know, and still discoveries to be made on planet Earth.