World's Largest Wave Machine Planned
Wear Blue for Oceans Day
Choose your favorite hue of blue to support the world's oceans today. Wear Blue For Oceans Day is Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. Event organizers are asking Americans to wear blue to show support for a federal ocean, coastline and Great Lakes protection policy. Take a closer look at the creatures that inhabit the ocean deep, and find out why these ecosystems are worth protecting.
National Snow and Ice Data Center, Getty Imag
Arctic seals depend on the frigid waters and floating ice sheets of the Arctic Ocean for hunting and breeding. Seal pups need at least 12 days on the ice to nurse before they are strong enough to venture out.
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A humpback whale breaches the waters of the Icy Strait near Alaska. A network of mostly freshwater rivers and seas, this fragile ecosystem is slow to recover from disruptions or damage.
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A school of sardines swims off the coast of Canada. Most of the largest fisheries in the world rely on sardines to feed profitable, top predator fish such as tuna.
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East Pacific Ocean
Giant kelp float freely near Anacapa Island, Calif. in the Pacific Ocean. Kelp forests are vitally important because they create shelter and provide nutrients for fish and algae.
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West Pacific Ocean
A giant squid attacks a bait squid being pulled up by a marine research team off the Ogasawara Islands, south of Tokyo, in 2006. The giant squid is still a bit of a mystery to marine biologists, who have only begun to understand this elusive beast in recent years.
South Pacific Ocean
Regal Angelfish and Moorish Idols, with a school of Bigeye Scad in the background, swim gracefully over coral reef near West Papua, Indonesia in the South Pacific. Coral reefs not only attract a rich and colorful variety of sea creatures; they also actually generate life, as reported in a recent Discovery News story.
East Indian Ocean
A sea star waits patiently for a meal on a reef near Komodo Island, Indonesia. Discovery News' Michael Reilly recently found out that starfish and other ocean dwellers are aiding in the fight against global warming by sucking millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
North Indian Ocean
An ocean shelf looms through the crystal clear waters near the Maldives. These calm waters are home to thousands of animals, including whales and dolphins.
This great white shark closes in for the kill near North Neptune Island in south Australian waters. A top predator of the oceans, the great white is already endangered as a result of poaching and habitat loss.
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Southern Ocean, Antarctica
Warming has carved out fantastic icebergs and icy chunks from the Collins Ice Cap in Antarctica. The continent holds almost two-thirds of the world's fresh water. Melting ice could mean not only a loss of habitats for wildlife, but also for humans as rising sea levels flood coastal cities and towns. "Wear Blue for Oceans" Day events and rallies will be held in 10 cities across the nation, including Washington D.C., San Francisco, New Orleans, and Anchorage, Alaska. To learn more about the campaign and how you can help, visit their website.
The world’s largest wave-making machine and pool (not counting the world’s oceans) is being planned for Meadowlands in New Jersey, a short drive from Manhattan. According to a surfing industry report, American Wave Machines (AWM) owner Bruce McFarland has announced that his company has been contracted to build a pool that will generate seven-and-a-half foot waves and allow surfers rides from 10 to 12 seconds long in a pool about the size of a football field.
Boulder Beach wave pool at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. (Greg Salter, Wikimedia Commons)
Don’t confuse this with the wave pools in which you may have been jostled around last summer (see the typical water park “washing machine” in the image at right). The common water park wave pool makes lousy waves that are of no use to serious surfers. New facilities by AWM and others have taken artificial surfing to a professional level.
This means the waves have to rise tall, curl, and then break in a hollow manner that creates a moving tube. That is no small engineering feat and there are different approaches to it. There have been all all kinds of ideas and patent applications thrown about in recent years.
Several cresting wave machines already allow indoor and landlocked surfing at wave parks around the world. But it takes a lot of money to build these machines, so it’s a tough thing to get off the ground.
For example, a 5-foot barreling wave with 32-feet of carving face currently under construction at SkyVenture in Nashua, N.H., is costing in the millions to build. The announcement of the surf park in New Jersey has already seen its share of backlash from critics skeptical of the investment. They are also difficult to maintain, as the current closure of the surf pool in Dubai demonstrates.
Still, having access to controlled waves is beneficial for both beginner and more advanced surfers. American Wave Machines is one of the top five companies — along with Wavegarden, Kelly Slater Wave Company, and Webber Wave Pools — developing high-quality waves that may in a decade from now put surfing in the Olympics.
Video: Wavegarden’s demo center in Northern Spain (not open to the public).
Top Image: A young man catches a wave in the water of an artificial wave built as part of a promotional event between Terminal 1 and 2 at Munich’s international airport August 21, 2011. (Michael Dalder/Corbis)