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Dubai is know for its larger-than-life opulence and its love for the biggest and best of everything. They have the world’s largest mall, the world’s tallest building, and now they are planning to build the world’s largest underwater hotel.
From The Independent: The Water Discus hotel has been designed by Polish company Deep Ocean Technology (DOT) with the help of Swiss firm BIG InvestConsult AG. The hotel will comprise of two discs – one under the water, and one suspended above the water. The discs will be connected by five legs, and a vertical shaft in the center housing stairs and a lift.
The underwater section will be up to 10 meters beneath the sea surface, and contain 21 double rooms adjacent to a dive center and a bar. Each room has been designed to ‘integrate with the underwater world as closely as possible’.
The hotels modular design allows it to be moved from place to place. The giant discs are buoyant and can detach from the main structure, becoming “floating island” lifeboats in the event of emergencies. Read more here…
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
Marine Link Press Release
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The state-of-the-art 3-D printer, which is one of four in the United States, provides Carderock with the capability to deliver large, complex ship models. Additionally, the ship models require less assembly time and can be fabricated unattended, 24 hours a day.
“3D printing technology is currently being used in industry to produce parts, structures and models for various applications,” said NSWC Carderock engineer Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez. “For more than a century, Carderock engineers have been at the forefront of technology in delivering ship models in order to build the Navy’s future fleet. This next generation technology provides Carderock unprecedented capability to deliver fabricated ship models faster and at a more affordable cost for the Navy.”
NSWC Carderock engineers and technicians upload computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of a ship model into the 3-D printer. As the printing process begins an epoxy resin is exposed to ultraviolet light, changing its state to a solid. Read more here…
reblogged by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
Robots, once a figment of our imagination, have started to become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. We are used to talking cell phones and driverless trains. But what about pollution-fighting fish robots?
Dr. Huosheng Hu with an early prototype. photo: MotherboardTV
The Shoal Consortium, a group of scientists from University of Essex, the Tyndall National Institute, the University of Strathclyde together with BMT Group, a technology consultancy, and Thales Safare, a unit of Europe’s largest defense electronics group and the Port Authority of Gijon have developed a robotic fish that can detect and report pollution from the source, in real-time.
Luke Speller from the Shoal Consortium explains how it works in this video from BBC News.
Last week, a school of prototype robo-fish was released in the northern Spanish Port of Gijón in the Bay of Biscay. The school of 5-foot long mechanical fish will patrol the harbor, collecting and mapping real-time data of contaminants in the water. The robots detect heavy metals like copper, lead and phenols while operating to depths of around 95 feet. They can also measure oxygen and salinity levels to help monitor the harbor’s environmental health.
Designed to mimic nature, the robotic fish have built-in acoustic sensors so they can “talk” to each other, sonar to “see” and avoid obstacles and a computer brain that tells them where and how best to hunt down sources of pollution.
SHOAL robotic fish released into the wild. photo Luke Speller
From BBC News: Ian Dukes from the University of Essex – another partner in the consortium – says that nature was an obvious inspiration for their robot.
He explains: “Over millions of years, fish have evolved the ultimate hydrodynamic shape, and we have tried to mimic that in the robot. “They swim just like fish; they are really quite agile and can change direction quickly, even in shallow water.”
The dual-hinged fish-tail is very maneuverable, enabling the robo-fish to make tight turns a propeller-driven robot couldn’t manage. This makes them easily able to navigate the ports and avoid ships and the port infrastructure.
They are also less noisy, which is better for marine life. The robo-fish are battery-powered and run for about 8 hours between charges. For now, they have to be picked up by boat, but in the future, the scientists plan to program the fish to automatically return to a charging station when the battery runs low.
Watch more at MotherboardTV about the development of the robo-fish.
SHOAL robotic fish. photo Luke Speller
Currently, divers monitor water quality about once a month – a costly, time-consuming process. The port of Gijón pays 100,000 euro a year for divers to collect water samples which are then sent away for analysis for several weeks. The SHOAL robo-fish monitor the water quality in real-time allowing the port authorities to respond immediately to pollution and start mitigating the effects.
“The idea is that we want to have real-time monitoring of pollution, so that if someone is dumping chemicals or something is leaking, we can get to it straight away, find out what is causing the problem and put a stop to it,” explains Luke Speller to the BBC.
While the primary purpose for the robo-fish is to monitor water pollution, that’s not all the scientists and engineers have planned. The modular design makes it easily adaptable for other uses. The developers hope to refine the robo-fish technology for oil-spill cleanup, maritime search and rescue, and port security.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
New Rules Seek to Prevent Invasive Stowaways
FELICITY BARRINGER, April 7, 2012
Zebra Mussels © Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences
Nearly a quarter-century has passed since an oceangoing ship from Europe docked somewhere in the Great Lakes and discharged ballast water carrying tiny but tenacious zebra mussel larvae from Europe.
Within a few years after they turned up in Lake St. Clair, between Lakes Huron and Erie, the small freshwater mussels and their larger and even more destructive cousins, quagga mussels, had coated lakebeds throughout the region, clogging intake valves and pipes at power, water treatment and manufacturing plants.
The filter-feeding mussels have since helped to upend the ecosystems of the Great Lakes, fouling beaches, promoting the growth of poisonous algae and decimating some native fish populations by eating the microscopic free-floating plant cells on which their food web depends.
“They didn’t just spread — they completely colonized the Great Lakes,” said Andrew Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office.
Yet it was not until last month that the Coast Guard issued a federal rule requiring oceangoing freighters entering American waters to install onboard treatment systems to filter and disinfect their ballast water. The regulation, which largely parallels a pending international standard and another planned by the Environmental Protection Agency, sets an upper limit on the concentration of organisms in the ballast water.
About 12,000 oceangoing ships moving through United States waters will be covered by the Coast Guard rules; hundreds reach the Great Lakes system through the St. Lawrence Seaway. Until now, they were only required to flush their tanks at sea, a system called ballast water exchange.
The goal of the new rule is not to vanquish quagga or zebra mussels — scientists assume they are here to stay — but to bar entry to other invasive species like the so-called killer shrimp that are spreading through Europe.
“Some things it’s too late for,” said Andrew Cohen, director of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions in Richmond, Calif. “We’re not going to keep quagga mussels and zebra mussels from coming to the U.S. They’re here, and we’re not going to get rid of them.”
But “the damage to come may be worse than we’ve seen,” said Dr. Cohen, who added that ballast water is a potential source of microscopic invaders like infectious or antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have sometimes reached North American waters.
Scientists have tracked at least 329 invaders in marine environments worldwide; ecosystems have been disrupted from the Great Lakes to San Francisco Bay, where the Asian clam is implicated in a collapse of fish stocks, to Lyttelton Harbor in New Zealand, where an invasive fanworm, a prodigious filter feeder, outcompetes local shellfish.
Yet environmentalists, who have long sought a tough ballast rule, worry that the Coast Guard rule and the other proposals are too weak and that the rollout of enforcement will be far too slow to do much good.
For now, the Coast Guard requires only new ships to install the filtering and disinfecting equipment; others can wait until the next time they enter dry dock for maintenance or repair, which may happen only every five years or so. Because some ships do not fall under the rule until 2016, it could be 2021 before they comply.
“The industry’s had fair warning that this was coming,” said Thom Cmar, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council who focuses on Great Lakes ecosystems issues. “To give an even further compliance extension on top of what’s already been a long period of delay is unjustified.”
The original proposal by the Coast Guard called for a reappraisal and tightening of standards in 2016; that was dropped, angering the environmentalists and some scientists. They say that onshore treatment plants could be 1,000 times as effective than onboard technology.
Land-based systems could filter ballast with dense and heavy material like sand, they say, a process that is likely to be difficult to replicate on a ship, at least not without crowding out cargo. Most shipboard systems — some 60 have been developed to date — mix and match different filtration methods, usually pumping water through filtered pipes. Then they treat the ballast water with chemicals or ultraviolet light.
New action this week by the State of New York underscores the need for national standards to address the issue of ballast water treatment, notes Erik Hromadka, CEO of Global Water Technologies.
The Coast Guard points out that a network of onshore treatment centers for ballast water has not been developed. Even if it were, said Richard Everett, the project manager at the Coast Guard’s Office of Operating and Environmental Standards, “It’s a question of whether we can require a ship to discharge to shore.” Dr. Cohen said he and other colleagues on a panel advising the E.P.A on the issue had told the agency that the panel did not think present shipboard technology to be the best treatment, in part because land-based technologies can be more effective.
The shippers themselves prefer a single worldwide standard. Paul A. Londynsky, vice president for safety, quality and environmental affairs at the Matson Navigation Company, which is based in Oakland, Calif., said: “We go to multiple jurisdictions, multiple destinations. The idea of having a single standard to meet is much better.”
“We think what the Coast Guard is proposing is very reasonable and certainly very achievable over time,” Mr. Londynsky added. One Matson ship has been working with a new onboard system for cleaning ballast water; Mr. Londynsky said the current generation of ships had no mechanism for discharging ballast to a shore-based site for filtering.
Whether or not onboard systems are optimal, large international companies have already sunk considerable capital into developing them. “There’s a huge investment gone into getting that right, getting that system within the tight space,” said Frederick Royan, a research analyst at the market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
The new standards from the Coast Guard, the E.P.A. and the International Maritime Organization are expected to spawn a booming global market in such technology, the firm says. Frost & Sullivan predicts that ballast-water management technologies and their corporate backers will compete for an estimated $35 billion in sales over the next decade as the rules take effect.
The E.P.A.’s standard is likely to be made final later this year; the international standard has yet to muster the required support from 30 countries representing 35 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage.
“It’s a huge cottage industry waiting to happen,” said John Berge of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. “Whoever can come up with the best mousetrap certainly has a lot of business opportunities.”
Regardless of the financial implications, Tom Nalepa, a biologist working with invasive species on the Great Lakes, is worried about the biological ones if the rule is inadequate.
The chief threat on his mind is Dikerogammarus vellosis, an aggressive freshwater shrimp that feeds on other shrimps and disrupts food webs. Native to Eastern Europe, it has made its way to Western Europe in recent years. “Dikerogammarus vellosis is a killer shrimp,” he said. “If that gets into North America and the Great Lakes, it’s going to cause as many changes as the zebra mussel.”
Mariners along the U.S. east coast can download a new iPad/iPhone application that warns them when they enter areas of high risk of collision with critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The free Whale Alert app provides one source for information about right whale management measures and the latest data about right whale detections, all overlaid on NOAA digital charts.
“Whale Alert represents an innovative collaboration to protect this critically endangered species,” said David Wiley, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary research coordinator and project lead. “Whale conservation is greater than any one organization and this project shows how many organizations can unite for a good cause.”
A key feature of Whale Alert is a display linking near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to an iPad or iPhone on a ship’s bridge showing the whale’s presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “The idea that right whales are directly contributing to conservation through their own calls is pretty exciting,” said Christopher Clark, whose team at the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology helped develop the acoustic detection and warning system.
North Atlantic right whales, which live along North America’s east coast from Nova Scotia to Florida, are one of the world’s rarest large animals and a species on the brink of extinction. Recent estimates put the population of North Atlantic right whales at approximately 350 to 550 animals. Collision with ships is a leading cause of right whale death.
“Massport is proud to be part of this effort. We are working with our cruise and shipping vessel partners to educate mariners about the whales, and the importance of this great new tool,” said Michael Leone, port director for the Massachusetts Port Authority. “The maritime community has always sought ways to increase right whale survival. Whale Alert does this by using science and technology to let mariners know where their vessel is in relation to the whales and conservation measures.”
The link to the listening network is only part of what Whale Alert does. The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and digital nautical chart technologies to alert mariners to NOAA’s right whale conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity. NOAA, through its NOAA Fisheries Service, is the U.S. agency with responsibility for protecting and recovering this endangered species.
“Endangered right whales are particularly vulnerable to being hit and killed by ships, but we can save them,” said Patrick Ramage, global whale director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare and one of the collaborators on Whale Alert. “Right whales need dramatic conservation progress to survive. This new iPad app gives these whales a fighting chance.”
“The app also moves whale conservation into the 21st century,” said Brad Winney co-founder of EarthNC, the developer of the Whale Alert mobile application. “Whale Alert highlights the powerful role today’s web and mobile based technologies can have in the preservation efforts of endangered species worldwide.”
Whale Alert has been developed by a collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector industries, led by scientists at NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Collaborating organizations include the sanctuary, Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, EarthNC, Excelerate Energy, EOM Offshore, Gaia GPS, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries Service, National Park Service, Cape Cod National Seashore, NYK Lines North America, United States Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Whale Alert can be downloaded free of charge from the App store. More information on Whale Alert and the groups responsible for its development can be found at http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/protect/whalealert.html