My friend Ethan sent me an NPR story today about the deepest fish ever filmed, the “snail fish” at over 7,700 kilometers under the sea. Scientists drop a submersible in the water from a boat, it drifts down five hours into the trench, and comes up with footage that they eagerly await. It’s interesting to me how the visual documentation (and video here, in particular) plays such a large role in proving the existence of species that are out of our reach.
An article from February 7, 2008 in the Economist reports several undersea cable failures (or sabotages) in the course of a week. In response, bloggers circulated conspiracy theories: were the cables really destroyed by ships’ anchors or are submarines to blame? Though these are ultimately discounted by the author, who ends with “It may be rare for several cables to go down in a week, but it can happen,” the article brings up a number of questions:
Just how susceptible are underwater cables to attack? (Because on one hand, “big oceans are criss-crossed by so many cables that a single break has little impact” but on the other, “75m people from Algeria to Bangladesh saw internet links disrupted or cut off”.)
And how much does economic and political stability rely on these cables? The author seems to think that stability will increase, but we just as often see increased instability in the expansion of global networks.
In any case, yet another instance that place and infrastructure do matter.
Yesterday in the news: the first six legged octopus. From the BBC article:
“Octopuses need subdued lighting and flash photography can be fatal. But a quick-thinking staff member snapped the best picture he could before Henry found a different resting place with his legs tucked beneath him.”
This is the picture circulated with the news story: a privileged view of the hexapus’s underside.
What is the effect of our media practices (especially the lighting that we need to render images) on these animals?