Dedicated to all 2004 December 26th Boxing Day Tsunami Victims, those injured, and those otherwise affected.
The terrible devastation and the aftermath of this catastrophe cuaght on tape. Sri Lanka and Thailand were severely impacted by the tsunami on December 26, 2004. Tsunami Thailand 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Surprisingly, some islands right in the middle of the tsunami were not badly affected. It turns out their atolls, or coral reefs, absorbed much of the wave. The coral ridges protected them. In many regions of the Asian waters, there is a practice some fishermen use, of dynamiting the natural coral reefs to bring up fish. These barriers to the tsunami were no longer in place to deflect the water.
The disaster promoted a global outpouring of sympathy, with governments, individuals and corporations pledging more than $13 billion in aid. According to UN database, nearly two years after donors pledged billions to help the victims only half the money had been spent. Of the half a million people left homeless by the disaster, only a third have been permanently rehoused.
The public response to the tsunami was very untypical. A combination of events - the dramatic nature of the huge wave, its occurrence at Christmas, the size of the disaster, the fact that so many Westerners died, the availability of spectacular video footage and the extensive TV coverage that secured - meant that the global public gave far more than ever before. The money went to aid agencies that were too small to mastermind such a mammoth task. Oxfam has spent more than $280 million on disaster recovery work and is now more than three-quarters of the way through its response plan. Aid workers have helped more than 2.3 million people across seven countries to get back into their homes.Despite the outpouring of generosity from aid agencies and individuals, recipient countries say pledges by some governments have still not been honoured.
The earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing more than 225,000 people in eleven countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.5 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.
The disaster is known by the scientific community as the Great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake,and is also known as the Asian Tsunami and the Boxing Day Tsunami. Thailand: 5,395 dead, 2,993 missing. Many of the missing are presumed dead. Maldives: 82 dead, 26 missing.
The latest disater to hit Asia, Cyclone Nargis struck May 2008, bringing winds of up 120mph and flooding to the badly affected Irrawaddy Delta region, Burma Myanmar. The cyclone had left twice as many people vulnerable as the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The first ever all-glass undersea restaurant in the world opens its doors for business at the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. It will sit five meters below the waves of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by a vibrant coral reef and encased in clear acrylic offering diners 270-degrees of panoramic underwater views.
"We have used aquarium technology to put diners face-to-face with the stunning underwater environment of the Maldives", says Carsten Schieck, General Manager of Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. "Our guests always comment on being blown away by the colour, clarity, and beauty of the underwater world in the Maldives, so it seemed the perfect idea to build a restaurant where diners can experience fine cuisine and take time to enjoy the views - without ever getting their feet wet."
Created by MJ Murphy Ltd, a design consultancy based in New Zealand, Ithaa's distinctive feature is the use of curved transparent acrylic walls and roof, similar to those used in aquarium attractions. "The fact that the entire restaurant except for the floor is made of clear acrylic makes this unique in the world," continues Schieck, "We are currently planting a coral garden on the reef to add to the spectacular views of the rays, sharks and many colourful fish that live around.
Two species of tropical octopus have evolved a neat trick to avoid predators - they lift up six of their arms and walk backward on the other two.
The Indonesian coconut octopus, Octopus marginatus, scoots along the ocean floor using the tips of its arms. (Video by Bob Cranston/Sea Studios, Inc.; Rights protected clip. Not to be copied.)
More video: The octopus Octopus aculeatus maintains its algae-like camouflage while walking backwards on two arms, using the outer part of each arm like a conveyor belt. (Video by Crissy Huffard/UC Berkeley)
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This first report of bipedal behavior in octopuses, written by University of California, Berkeley, researchers, will be published in the March 25 issue of Science.
When walking, these octopuses use the outer halves of their two back arms like tank treads, alternately laying down a sucker edge and rolling it along the ground. In Indonesia, for example, the coconut octopus looks like a coconut tiptoeing along the ocean bottom, six of its arms wrapped tightly around its body.
UC Berkeley graduate student Crissy Huffard clocked the two-legged speed of one coconut octopus at two and a half inches per second, while a second individual zoomed along, backwards, at five and a half inches per second. This is faster than they can crawl, but probably slower than they jet around.
The other type of octopus, which camouflages itself as algae in tropical waters from Indonesia to Australia, looks like a sea monster scooting along the sea floor on two legs. Huffard filmed this creature off Australia's Great Barrier Reef easily rolling over rocks and other obstacles.
"This behavior is very exciting," said Huffard, who first noted it five years ago in the coconut octopus but only recently was able to capture both types of octopuses on film. "This is the first underwater bipedal locomotion I know of, and the first example of hydrostatic bipedal movement."
Huffard and coauthor Robert Full, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, think that this bipedal walking is a strategy octopuses use to backpedal away from predators while remaining camouflaged. Octopuses camouflage themselves by changing both color and shape, but when startled and forced to move quickly, they have to give up their camouflage.
Not so when walking.
"This bipedal behavior allows them to get away and remain cryptic," said Huffard.
An octopus is basically a water-filled balloon, but with the fluid contained in muscle cells rather than an open cavity. It keeps its shape not with an internal or external skeleton but by hydrostatic pressure, sometimes called a hydrostatic skeleton or muscular hydrostat. Normally, it crawls over the bottom of the ocean, pushing and pulling with the suckers on its eight arms, or jets backwards through the water. All these movements are accomplished through muscles that squeeze and bend the fluid-filled arms and body.
Full said he was "blown away" when Huffard showed him video of the octopuses last year. He urged her to obtain more video that could be used to more clearly see how they walk, and encouraged her to publish the observations. Full, who looks at many types of animal locomotion and seeks to determine how animals control such movements, sees a revolutionary new principle in how the octopus uses its arms - one that could be used in making soft, squishy robots.
"Understanding behavior like this could usher in a new frontier of 'soft' robotics," in contrast to the rigid robots common today, he said.
"New artificial muscles that can stiffen at will could reproduce this walking behavior," said Full. "The wonderful thing about soft robotics is that it's infinitely adaptable, unlike the few degrees of freedom of rigid robots."
Huffard first noticed the coconut octopus, Octopus marginatus, dancing along the sand in 2000, while helping a film crew obtain octopus footage off the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The octopus, with a head about two inches long, lives on the sandy bottom in water some 20 to 30 meters (60 to 100 feet) deep, among lots of sunken coconuts, and even hides out in the shells of coconuts, drawing two halves around it to hide.
Its weird walking behavior, no doubt noticed by numerous other divers, has apparently never been analyzed in the scientific literature, she said.
"We know so little about these animals," Huffard said, noting that only 200 of perhaps 300 species of octopus from around the world have been described. She herself is writing up descriptions of five new octopuses, one from Hawaii and four from Tonga.
She filed away her observations about O. marginatus, however, to concentrate on her thesis, which involves the behavior of another Indonesian octopus, Octopus (Abdopus) aculeatus. This creature with a head the size of a walnut inhabits the intertidal zone, foraging along sandy bottoms among grasses and hiding out in tidepools or burying itself in the sand at low tide. To camouflage itself, it sometimes coils its two front arms and raises them in a pose that somewhat resembles algae.
Two years ago, while Huffard was visiting her thesis advisor, UC Berkeley integrative biology professor Roy Caldwell, on Lizard Island 45 miles north of Cairns, Australia, she decided to take a look at local members of that same species. She snorkeled out to capture one and, after putting it in a tank at the research station, was surprised to see it also walking on two arms.
"It seemed like it was walking on little conveyor belts," she said. She suspects that the reason she never saw this behavior in O. aculeatus in Indonesia, despite some thousand hours of snorkeling over five years, is that in Indonesia, the currents are often too strong for such behavior.
Both Huffard and Full are interested in how these octopuses control their unusual form of bipedal locomotion. Recent articles shed light on this. Israeli scientists have reported that octopus arms execute incredibly complex curling and bending motions even when cut off. Apparently a nerve ganglion in each arm can send clock-like signals down the arm to produce rhythmic movements, such as bends propagating down the arm, irrespective of whether there is a head and brain to control them. Similar movements seem to be involved in two-legged walking.
"These are stereotyped movements that don't need feedback from the brain," Huffard said.
"A lot of behavior is built into the ganglia of each octopus arm, so that seemingly complex behavior is really simple," Full added. Similar controls could make a soft robotic arm a lot easier to control than it would seem, and make it feasible to build an octopus robot that walks. An article in the Feb. 11, 2005, issue of Nature revealed just such a mechanism.
Huffard's research was supported by an American Malacological Society Student Research Grant. Full is supported by the National Science Foundation. A third co-author on the paper is Farnis Boneka of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Science, Universitas Sam Ratulangi, Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.