NOAA Launches Virtual Tours of America’s Marine Sanctuaries

NOAA just made it a lot easier to explore their national marine sanctuaries without obtaining a scuba license. This month, the administration unveiled a virtual dives gallery that allows anyone with a web connection to tour some of the most impressive underwater sites in U.S. jurisdiction.

The online tool showcases the waters of five locations. Users can examine sights that include Tafeu Cove off America Samoa, the barrel sponges of Flower Garden Banks, the coral colonies of Gray’s Reef, the Christ of the Abyss statue off the Florida Keys, and the shipwrecks at the bed of Thunder Bay in Lake Huron.

Diver photographs Christ of the Abyss statue in Key Largo.
Sebastian Carlosena, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Fish and coral at Gray's Reef.
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The 360-degree scenes were stitched together from photos captured by professional divers, and can be viewed with or without VR headsets. "Shooting these images is all about balance," Phil Hartmeyer, a maritime archaeologist at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, said in a statement. "Each virtual dive you see is the result of the camera's settings, diver positioning, and subject framing all being in perfect equilibrium."

NOAA plans to continue building the dives gallery, eventually adding photography from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale, Monterey Bay, Stellwagen Bank, Channel Islands, and Olympic Coast marine sanctuaries, as well as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National, to the collection.

Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Weather Watch
It's So Cold In One Part of Russia That People's Eyelashes Are Freezing
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Oymyakon, a rural village in the eastern Russian region of Yakutia, is one of the coldest inhabited spots in the world. While some schools in the U.S. cancel classes as temperatures approach zero, schools in Oymyakon remain open in -40°F weather. But recently temperatures in the region have dropped too low even for seasoned locals to handle. As AP reports, the chill, which hit -88.6°F on January 16, is cold enough to break thermometers and freeze eyelashes.

Photos shared by residents on social media show the mercury in thermometers hovering at -70°F, the lowest temperature some are built to measure. When thermometers fail, people in Oymyakon have other ways of gauging the cold. Their uncovered eyelashes can freeze upon stepping outside. Hot water tossed in the air will also turn to snow before hitting the ground.

To Oymyakon's 500-odd citizens, the most recent cold snap is nothing out of the ordinary. Temperatures are perpetually below freezing there from late October to mid-May, and average temperatures for the winter months frequently reach −58 °F. On Tuesday, residents were advised to stay inside and stay as warm as possible. Of course, that directive wasn't enough to stop some adventurous locals from sneaking outside for selfies.

[h/t AP]

Even in Real Time, the Northern Lights Look Like a Beautiful Timelapse Video

Nothing compares to seeing the Northern Lights in person, but this video shared by The Kid Should See This is a pretty decent substitute. Though it may look like a timelapse, the footage hasn’t been altered or sped up at all. The undulating green lights you see below are what the aurora borealis looks like in real time.

Astro-photographer Kwon O Chul captured the footage of the meteorological phenomenon in Canada’s Northwest Territories in March 2013. The setting, the Aurora Village in Yellowknife, is a popular destination for tourists coming to see the Northern Lights up close. In the video, you can see how the camp’s glowing teepees complement the colorful ribbon of lights above.

Even if you plan your Northern Lights sightseeing trip perfectly, it’s impossible to guarantee that you’ll get a clear view of the aurora borealis on any given night, since factors like solar activity and weather conditions affect the light show’s visibility. But if you want to know what to expect when the lights are at their peak, take a look at the clip below.

You can check out more of Kwon O Chul's photography on Facebook.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]


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