A Welsh fisherman needed 90 minutes to land one of the largest skates ever caught, a 235-pound behemoth hooked in the Firth of Lorn, off the Scottish coast.
David Griffiths of Powys, Wales, landed the 7-foot-6-inch fish earlier this month.
He said it broke the British record by nearly 10 pounds, but his catch was not considered official because it was not weighed on dry land, according to the BBC.
Landing the beast was no easy feat. Using mackerel and squid as bait, Griffiths managed to get the skate to within a few dozen feet of the surface before it dove back down, he said.
“The skate has a suction pad and was stuck to the sea bed 500 feet below,” he said. “After about 30 minutes it was within 100 feet of the surface but then decided to go back down – it was a real battle.”
Griffiths, a fishing book publisher, said it took four people to lift the skate onto the boat after he brought it to the surface. He said it was only the second time he had been skate fishing.
After taking a few photos of the fish, Griffiths returned it to the sea.
There are two oft-cited shibboleths regarding the White Star Line’s decision to construct just 20 lifeboats for the RMS Titanic: cost and aesthetics.
There must have been some short-sighted reason to equip a ship that could carry more than 2,200 people with lifeboats that couldn’t even handle 1,200, right?
Not necessarily. We forget that the regulatory and safety environment is, in some ways, very different than it was 101 years ago today, when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, taking more than 1,500 souls with her.
Yet, as Chris Berg of the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, Australia, wrote last year, the Titanic was fully compliant with all marine laws.
The British Board of Trade required all vessels above 10,000 metric tonnes, or just over 11,000 US tons, to carry 16 lifeboats; the White Star Line went above and beyond the minimum by ensuring that the Titanic exceeded that requirements by four boats.
However, the Titanic weighed more than 51 tons, or far more than upper threshold that the Board of Trade used to base its lifeboat requirement upon.
The problem lay not with greed or a lack of foresight on the part of the Titanic’s builders or owners, but in the fact that regulations had not been updated in nearly 20 years and were designed for a different era.
Spanish maritime experts plan to reconstruct a 16th-century Basque whaling galleon, creating a replica of the oldest shipwreck ever found in Canada.
The 90-foot, three-masted San Juan sank in Red Bay in Labrador 450 years ago, just offshore of a 1560s-era whaling station in the Strait of Belle Isle.
The ship was part of a fleet that brought millions of barrels of whale oil to Europe, a treasure every bit as valuable at the time as the gold taken by Spanish conquistadors from more southerly parts of the Americas, according to Postmedia News.
Now plans are in place for the San Juan to be resurrected by a Spanish team which is seeking to construct a full-scale, seaworthy model of the original vessel.
Archaeologist Robert Grenier discovered the wreckage in 1978 and said the reconstruction project will be one of the world’s first, according to the CBC.
“Transforming these 3,000 pieces of wood we found in Red Bay, Labrador, into a very fateful, precise scientific replica of the original – this is more than a dream come true for me,” he said. “This will be the first time that the Spanish or Basque galleon is reconstructed that way in the world.”
There were plenty of hazardous postings during World War I, but serving as bait to lure German U-boats to the surface certainly ranked among the most perilous.
The British navy is believed to have produced between 200 and 300 so-called “Q-ships” during the conflict, vessels specially adapted as decoys and armed with concealed guns. Their goal was to lure enemy submarines to the surface and then attempt to destroy them.
This little-known aspect of the Allied war effort came to the fore last weekend, when researchers announced that they believe they have found the Q-ship HMS Stock Force, sunk in July 1918.
A team of divers spent about four years searching for the Stock Force and discovered the vessel about eight miles from where charts had indicated, at a depth of 200 feet, 14 miles from Plymouth, (England), according to the blog Remembering 1914.
The Stock Force was a former collier which retained the appearance of a merchant vessel and was manned by a Royal Navy crew disguised as merchant sailors.
On July 30, 1918, it was attacked by a U-boat, believed to be the UB 80, off the coast of Devon, and suffered a torpedo strike. However, the British ship then turned the tables on its assailant.
One, the RMS Olympic, enjoyed a long and fruitful career, from 1911 to 1935, before being scrapped.
The other, the RMS Britannic, had a decidedly shorter stint above the waves, sinking on this date in 1916. The Britannic, completed in 1915, never made a single passenger voyage, thanks to the Great War.
Instead, she was pressed into service in late 1915 as a hospital ship, ferrying nurses and other medical staff to the east, and bringing wounded back from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
The Britannic was on her sixth voyage into the Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 21, 1916, when, while steaming at full speed off the Greek island of Kea, she either struck a mine or was hit by a German torpedo. To this day, it’s still unclear what prompted the Britannic’s sinking.
The ship’s captain, White Star veteran Charles Bartlett, reacted quickly and coolly, ordering the watertight doors closed and directing that a distress call be sent out immediately. He also ordered the crew to uncover the boats and that the ship’s siren sound the general alarm.
Lest one thinks there remain few living creatures on our planet that man has not studied in detail, a whale previously only known through bone samples was recently found in New Zealand, where a mother and her calf were examined.
The whales were found stranded on Opape beach in New Zealand in December 2010. The whales died, but researchers were able to collect measurements and tissue samples which helped them identify the species.
The whales were initially misidentified as the much more common Gray’s beaked whales, but their true identity came to light following DNA analysis, which is done routinely as part of a 20-year program to collect data on the 13 species of beaked whales found in New Zealand waters, according to the Daily Mail.
A team of researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland sequenced two mitochondrial DNA regions and compared them to existing bone specimens and found that the pair were never-before-seen spade-toothed whales, according to Scientific American.
The adult female was more than 17 feet long and the young male was more than 11 feet long.
Lost amid the hubbub surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is the remarkable achievement the ship’s building represented.
A product of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, the Titanic’s creation represented a remarkable transformation for a country just a couple of generations removed from the Great Potato Famine that claimed more than 1 million lives and induced another 1 million-plus to emigrate.
But, as the Irish Times explains, Protestant Belfast was much different from the Ireland of the southern, Catholic portion of the island realm.
“It had grown at a phenomenal rate, surging past Dublin in 1891 to become Ireland’s largest city, and then growing by another 35 per cent in the last decade of the 19th century alone,” according to the publication.
Belfast had the world’s “largest rope works, tobacco factory, linen spinning mill, tea machinery works, dry dock and aerated water factory.”
There was no chance that southern Ireland, lacking the above globally significant industry, could have produced the Titanic.
After a half century of searching for additional Viking outposts in North America, it appears researchers appear to have finally hit pay dirt.
Evidence recently uncovered on Canada’s Baffin Island, north of the Arctic Circle, strongly points to the discovery of another Viking colony, it was announced earlier this month.
A team led by Memorial University professor Patricia Sutherland was digging in the ruins of a centuries-old building on Baffin Island when they came across blade-sharpening tools called whetstones.
Wear grooves in the whetstones bear traces of copper alloys such as bronze – materials known to have been made by Viking metalsmiths but unknown among the Arctic’s native inhabitants, according to National Geographic.
The find bolsters the case that Norse seafarers from Greenland — hundreds of years after their ancestors abandoned the famous L’Anse aux Meadows settlement in Newfoundland around 1,000 A.D. — were trading goods and even inhabiting sites on Baffin Island, according to Canada.com.
Norwegian researchers Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad discovered and excavated the Viking base camp at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in the 1960s, marking the first confirmed Viking outpost in the Americas.
Porcelain from the Ming Dynasty – prized for its craftsmanship – was sublime in its beauty, particularly the blue-and-white wares that represented state-of-the-art ceramics.
By the 14th century, the Chinese were mass producing fine, translucent, blue and white porcelain, a development made possible by the combination of Chinese techniques and Islamic trade, according to Robert Finlay in his 2010 work, The Pilgrim Art. Cultures of Porcelain in World History.
The latter was crucial because it brought with it cobalt from Persia.
To get an idea of the rarity of cobalt blue, its value was about twice that of gold. This so-called “Islamic Blue,” when combined with the translucent white quality of Chinese porcelain, produced a highly prized product, Finlay added.
And if the head of a Portugal-based marine-archaeology company has his way, the world will be seeing a great deal of original Ming Dynasty-era porcelain in the coming years.
That’s because Nikolaus Graf Sandizell, chief executive of Arqueonautas Worldwide SA, plans to retrieve some 700,000 pieces of fine bowls, dishes and cups that have sat on the bottom of the ocean for the past 400 years.
Nearly a century after being set adrift, a bottle with a message has been recovered in the North Sea.
Andrew Leaper, skipper of the Shetland fishing boat “Copious,” made the discovery back in the spring when hauling in his nets off the coast of Shetland. He recently learned that the message in the bottle had been adrift for 97 years and 309 days.
That surpassed the previous record by more than five years, according to Guinness World Records.
Labeled as drift bottle 646B, the record-breaking bottle contained a postcard asking the finder to write down the date and location of the discovery and return it to the “Director of the Fishery Board for Scotland,” according to DiscoveryNews.
The postcard promised a reward of six pence, the publication added.
The water-tight glass bottle was released on June 10, 1914, by Captain C.H. Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation.