Day 114: Ocean Blind Tasting

Some people have asked me whether, having rowed on the world’s three major oceans, would I be able to tell one ocean from another if I was plonked blindfold in the middle of one of them. I’ve been thinking about this, and I think I could make an educated guess, with a better than 33% chance of getting it right.

It’s not so much the ocean itself that would give me a clue. Maybe the Indian Ocean is a bit saltier, the Pacific a bit calmer, the Atlantic a bit colder. Nor would it really be the weather – this varies so much according to season and latitude.

It would be the wildlife that would be the biggest clue. I remember the Atlantic mostly for flying fish, which regularly landed on my deck. I’ve seen them on the other oceans, too, but not in such numbers. The Pacific was, of course, memorable for the booby birds, which made such a right royal mess on the fore cabin roof when they moved on board for several weeks.

The Indian Ocean I will remember for the beautiful storm petrels that have been my constant companions, and the “chaps downstairs” – the dorados that perform backflips and bellyflops for me all day long. I watched them for a while at dusk tonight, as they swam laps underneath my boat. One, in particular, would turn on his side as he emerged from beneath the hull, to show a bright flash of silver before he returned to his normal swimming position and reverted to blue. They really are magnificent.

What concerns me more than the difference between one ocean and another is the difference between the oceans now and how they were a hundred years ago. I’m willing to bet they had a lot more fish – of all kinds – in them back then. Whales, sharks, and cod are only the most conspicuous examples of the general depletion of the oceans. When I was at TED Mission Blue in 2010 there was much talk about the need to expand marine protected areas to protect fish and other oceanic life – before it is too late. When I get back to dry land I’ll be checking in with the Blue TEDsters to see what I can do to help.

Other Stuff:

The wind has died right down today. I wish I could say that this has made conditions more comfortable, but in these conditions the boat tends to “wallow”, rocking from side to side, whereas on larger waves she tends to rise and fall but stay relatively level. The rocking is not soothing like a baby’s crib – in fact, it kept me awake quite a lot of last night. Looks like we’re in for another good wallowing tonight.

Daniel – great to hear about you riding your bike to work, and the many benefits it brings you. You find money on the road almost every day? I’m in the wrong job – I’ve been looking for over three months and not found a penny!

Stan – it would be great if we could change human nature so that we would all do the “right” thing, but in the real world, I agree with you that this is unlikely to happen. We do indeed need to change the way that our society looks at waste. In Britain, many years ago, before rubbish trucks came along, there used to be “rag and bone men” who would collect rubbish in their horse-drawn carts. Rags and bones were literally all that was left – and no doubt the bones would have been well boiled for soup before they were tossed out. Very different now.

Claire in LA – thanks for your kind words. Let’s hope the letter helps. A copy will go to Boris Johnson along with other letters coordinated by Greener Upon Thames

Quote for the day: Doing something is a damned sight better than being someone. (Roy Hattersley, British politician)

Photo: the chaps downstairs

Sponsored Miles: Thank you Hans Verwey and Colin Rowland.

  • Anonymous

    Little Sonia was shouting her prayers. “Please God send me a new doll for my birthday.

    “Her mother, overhearing this, said, “Don’t shout dear, God isn’t deaf.”

    “No, but Grandad is, and he’s in the next room,” Sonia replied.

    Cheers Roz, So happy for you… hope your wishes come true!

    Row Girl Row!

  • Erica

    Hi Roz,
    just found out about your amazing venture. I wish you so much good luck, happiness and good weather. Thank you for sharing and making a difference.
    I’ll folow your next ‘stokes’ .
    I try to be as careful as possible with the environment here in Italy and am getting all my friends to either grow their veggies or buy them from respectable organic producers within 15 kms radius. I am succeeding. You have no idea how polluted Italy is. I spent 6 months travelling Southern Italy as a volunteer in organic farms and there was just so much ‘crap’ going on. People buy their organic certificates and use twice as much chemical stuff than traditional agriculture.
    But, hey, as long as some people keep making small constant changes towards a greener place, there is hope.. sorry, you don’t like that concept.. there is a possibility!!

    Take care and enjoy those fabulous ‘chaps downstairs’.

    Erica

  • Anonymous

    Another quote for the day…
    ” ‘Rowing the Atlantic’… a book that I just couldn’t put down. A fantastic read”. Lynne Cox.
    Row well Roz; thanks for a good read, and a better understanding  of your life on board Sedna;-)
     

  • Eric

    Hi Roz,

    I’m not so sure oceans a hundred or so years ago had that much more fish.  One of my more memorable university history course lecture included a reading from an18th century Atlantic passenger’s diary.  The wind failed and left them adrift with rations running low.  They were casting lots on who got to be dinner.  No flying fish to the rescue there. 

    In any case something needs to be done to reel in the fishing industry because certain fish populations are in decline and will effect the rest if they don’t already.  It still boggles my mind grown men and women need to have something explained to them any grade school child that read the “Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” understands.

    Cheers,
    Eric

  • Bruce

    It occurred to me that we’re sort of like the dorado following beneath your boat. There are a lot of us in the sea, but only a lucky few have found you. We’re calling to our friends to check out this cool floaty thing (UncaDoug). It provides shelter and fantastic fishy food. Some of us on occasion do awkward belly flops and make a splash (JAY!), but we mean no harm and we’re good fish. We thank you for the help and we will be grateful to you always. 

  • Anonymous

    “During our routine sweep of the Internet we, the Internet Police,
    have discovered that you have been on your bed in front of your laptop
    computer TOO LONG!
    You are HEREBY ORDERED to clean up that pile of stuff on your bed (yes, we can see you – sit
    up straight!) and after you have logged into the real world for a
    minimum of ten minutes you may log back on to the Internet.
    Failure
    to comply may result in loss of reality, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
    the requirement of a larger boat. The timer starts NOW!
    You’ll thank us for this later.”

    You have experienced the entire world’s oceans! I understand that the New York to England paddle is off? You have other plans?

  • Rita

    John, Roz will fail to comply, unfortunately, as she cannot access the internet. Is there a lighter penalty?

  • Anonymous

    Bruce~

    Amen!

    *S*p*L*a*S*h*!*
    :) Jay

  • Anonymous

    :) :)