Limpets and tsunamis – micro and macro oceanography

image of tsunami

There have been two mesmerising programmes on the BBC this week about oceans. Both (at time of writing) are still on i-player.

At the macro end of the scale, what would happen if a volcanic eruption on the Canary island of La Palma triggered a mega tsunami? Using boffins and their ripple tanks (yeah – brought back happy memories of physics O level), footage of the Japanese and other tsunamis and dramatised ‘reconstructions’ (actually preconstructions), the programme charted how a tsunami would obliterate cities in North Africa and Portugal and travel across the Atlantic to wipe out many of the Caribbean islands before laying waste to lots of big cities in the USA, including Noo Yawk and Boston.  It would kill tens of thousands of people and disrupt the world economy. Let’s hope we are prepared for it but it doesn’t happen.

At the micro end of the scale there was also a fantastic programme about the life of rockpools, including footage of limpets (that have been around for 500 million – yes, 500 million) fighting with starfish, mussels ganging up on dog whelks that drill through the shells to suck up the juicy insides, fish that live out of water until the tide comes in again and transsexual crabs. It’s a dog (whelk) eat dog world down there. It was spellbinding stuff and I made a special effort to hop around the edge of the rockpools at dusk yesterday when exiting the surf, lest I crush any critters.

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  • not yesterday
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  • Exotic location
  • Standing stones
  • Surrealism
  • Vapourous ships of the dawn
  • Metal detectors behind me
  • Hands up this is a stick up
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  • The architect of the tide
  • Bird botherer
  • Serene scene

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