Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ocean changes unsettling to solo sailor - "There's no more sea life"

A Canadian sailing in a solo around-the-world race says he is disturbed by the "horrendous" conditions he has encountered in the southern oceans — including the near absence of large sea life.

Derek Hatfield has rounded the planet alone twice before but this trip through the southern ocean has been a relentless stream of extreme storms and deepest calms.

"The conditions are — to put it bluntly — horrendous," adds Hatfield.

...

Hatfield's most disquieting observation so far has been the almost complete absence of sea life.

He says he saw just one dolphin in the second leg of the Velux 5 Oceans race between Cape Town, South Africa, and Wellington, New Zealand.

"The lack of sea life is just horrendous, how it's changed in the last 10 years, going from daily visits from whales and dolphins to non-existent," laments Hatfield.

Dr. Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre confirms that what Hatfield is seeing — or rather, isn't seeing — is in keeping with anecdotal evidence he has heard about the Southern Ocean.

"There are accumulating accounts of no marine life," he says.

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