Photographer captures fury of Pacific Coast storm


The above photograph, taken by photographer Larry Gerbrandt, shows Santa Cruz Lighthouse during a California winter storm earlier this year.

The spectacular image was named the best photo of 2016 by the National Weather Service Forecast Office for the San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey area.

Gerbrandt, of San Juan Bautista, Calif., said he checked the tide tables and learned not only when high tide would take place along the Monterey Bay, but that a so-called “king tide,” or very high tide, would occur. In addition, the tide was likely to be enhanced by a winter storm passing through the area.

Gerbrandt, an experienced photographer, was able to shoot at 1/4000th of a second, freezing the water in way most cameras can’t capture.

Despite the preparation, it still took Gerbrandt more than 1200 shots to capture the winning photo.

Santa Cruz is where your intrepid blogger attended high school, and where I still go every so often to visit Madre y Padre Cotton Boll.

I remember occasional storms of this magnitude. The tremendous roar of pounding surf, cascading whitewater rushing over cliffs and rocks, and salt spray being blown hundreds of feet off the water always left one awe-struck by the mighty fury of the ocean.

Rare earth mineral reserve found off Japan

In a find that could help lessen China’s stranglehold on the world’s rare earth mineral supply, Japan announced Friday it had discovered a deposit large enough to supply the needs of its own high-tech industries for more than 200 years.

Nearly 7 million tons of rare earth minerals – used in such items as iPods, wind turbines and electric cars, have been located under the seabed near a far eastern Japanese island, Tokyo University professor Yasuhiro Kato told Agence France-Presse.

The samples, taken from an area near Minamitorishima island, approximately 1,250 miles southeast of Tokyo, contained a substantial amount of the element dysprosium, a rare earth element used in the manufacture of hybrid cars, according to the wire service.

“Specifically on dysprosium, I estimate at least 400 years’ worth of Japan’s current consumption is in the deposits,” said the professor, who examined mud samples taken from the seabed at a depth of around 18,000 feet.

Despite their name, nearly all the 17 elements classified as rare earths elements are relatively plentiful in the Earth’s crust.

However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found in concentrated and economically exploitable forms.

China is the world’s largest producer of rare earths, generating more than 97 percent of the world’s supply, according to CNN.

Continue reading

Search for the great white (killer) whale

Call them Ishmael.

A group of Russian scientists plan to embark on a journey next week to find the only all-white, adult killer whale ever seen.

But unlike Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick, researchers from the universities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg simply want to study the rare and elusive mammal.

Nicknamed “Iceberg,” the alabaster orca was sighted near the Commander Islands in the North Pacific in August 2010, living in a pod with 12 other family members, according to Agence France-Presse.

Judging from its towering, six-foot dorsal fin, Iceberg was deemed to be at least 16 years old, said Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project.

“This is the first time we have ever seen an all-white, mature male orca,” Hoyt told the wire service. “It is a breathtakingly beautiful animal.”

The scientists refrained from releasing photographs of Iceberg until they were able to study him further, “but we have been looking for him ever since,” said Hoyt.

Continue reading