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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

10 ORGANISMS THAT CAN SURVIVE UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS


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10 Organisms That Can Survive Under Extreme Conditions
By Nic Arcadio,
Toptenz, 26 November 2014.

Some organisms just have the edge over others, with the ability to withstand extreme temperatures that others simply can’t. There are a lot of tough creatures out there, but these 10 are the absolute toughest.

10. Himalayan Jumping Spider

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An Asian goose has been seen flying as high as 6437 meters (21,120 feet), while the highest residency in the world is La Rinconada in Peru with its people living at 5100 meters (16,700 feet) above sea level. But the record for the highest permanent resident in the world belongs to the Himalayan jumping spider.

Living at elevations as high as 6700 meters (22,000 feet), the Himalayan jumping spider (Euophrys omnisuperstes, which literally means “standing above everything”) relies on small insects blown up by the wind as its main source of food. The spider also has to survive on very little oxygen.

9. Giant Kangaroo Rat

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When we think of animals that can last the longest without drinking water, the camel is usually the first one that comes to mind. But a camel can only last 15 days in the desert without water (and no, they don’t store water in their humps). Meanwhile, there’s actually an animal that can last its entire lifetime without drinking a single drop of water!

Giant kangaroo rats are related to beavers and have a lifespan of three to five years. They get the moisture they need from their food source, which is mostly seeds. They also don’t sweat, since this will make them lose the water stored in their bodies. They’re found in Death Valley, although the little guys are endangered.

8. Thermo-tolerant Worms

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Since water conducts heat more efficiently to the body, a 50 °C (122 °F) temperature in the deep sea is more dangerous than the same temperature outside the water. Because of this, bacteria flourishes in underwater places too hot to support multicellular life.

However, a worm called Paralvinella sulfincola prefers to stay in places with sizzling temperatures. Scientists conducted an experiment on the worms by heating the sides of an aquarium unevenly and found that the worms actually chose to stay in the parts where the temperature reaches 45 to 55 degrees Celsius. Scientists believe that the worms evolved to prefer hotter temperatures to feast on the bacteria that no other creatures can reach. Imagine a whole field of bacon all for yourself!

7. Greenland Shark

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Greenland sharks are one of the biggest yet least studied sharks in the world. Even though they move so slowly that an amateur swimmer can out-swim them, they’re very rarely seen since they typically live in waters as deep as 1200 meters (3900 feet).

They’re also the coldest dwelling shark in the world, preferring to stay in water with temperatures of 1-12°C (34-68°F). Since they live in such cold waters, the sharks move slowly to conserve energy, earning them the nickname “sleeper sharks.” They’re not picky when it comes to food, and will eat just about anything they can catch. There’s also a popular myth that says they can live up to 200 years, but until further research has been done it will stay a legend.

6. Devil Worm

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For decades, scientists thought that only single-celled organisms can survive at very great depths. The theory was that because of the pressure, lack of oxygen and extreme temperatures, multicellular life wouldn’t be able to survive living miles below the Earth’s surface. Then they found microscopic worms thousands of meters under the ground.

Halicephalobus mephisto, named after the demon in German folklore, was found in samples of water 2.2 miles deep in a cave in South Africa. They’ve been seen to survive extreme conditions, like the case of roundworms surviving the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The discovery of the devil worms can expand the search for life on Mars and elsewhere in the galaxy by including subsurface environments.

5. Frogs

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Some species of frogs have been observed to literally freeze during winters but still manage to stay alive until spring arrives. In North America alone there are five known species of such frogs, the most common of which is the wood frog. Since wood frogs aren’t very good diggers, they just hide under leaves come winter and get frozen together with everything around them.

They have a natural anti-freeze ability inside their bodies - even though their heart eventually stops, they’re just in a form of hibernation. High concentration of glucose coming from the frog’s liver plays a huge role in this amazing survival technique. What’s even more amazing is that these frogs can do the freezing-thawing ability either in the wild or inside laboratories, perhaps to show off their superpowers to scientists.

4. Deep Sea Microbes

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We all know that the deepest point of the oceans of the world is Mariana Trench - it’s around 10.9 km (6.8 mi) deep, with extreme pressure about 1100 times sea level pressure. A few years ago, scientists found giant amoebas deep in the trench with the help of high-resolution cameras wrapped with glass spheres to endure the pressure. But more life could be thriving down there, according to scientists after an expedition by none other than James Cameron.

The director of course didn’t actually see anything with the naked eye while down there, but the sediment samples he collected proved that the trench is filled with microbes. What surprised scientists is that despite the great depth and extreme pressure, these life forms operate very efficiently. And since there isn’t much life deep in the ocean, the microbes have been feeding on the very little amount of decaying matter that reaches the abyss.

3. Bdelloid

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Bdelloid rotifers are very small all-female invertebrates commonly found in freshwater. Ever since their discovery, not a single male has been found. Bdelloids produce asexually, which is a believed to have damaging effects on their DNA. And what better way to combat the harmful effects than to eat the DNA of other life forms?

Thanks to their stolen DNA, the bdelloids developed an amazing ability to withstand extreme dehydration. Even better, because of this ability they can survive radiation levels high enough to kill most animals. Scientists believe that the creature’s DNA repair ability was originally for surviving extremely dry temperatures. But since radiation directly damages DNA, the repair power became useful there as well.

2. Cockroach

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There’s a popular myth that in the event of nuclear warfare, cockroaches will be the last survivors on Earth. They can survive for weeks without food or water and, disturbingly, they can even live for weeks without a head. They’ve been around for 300 million years, outlasting even the dinosaurs.

Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters did some experiments on the gross little critters to see if the radiation myth is real. The team found that 50% of the insects survived after being exposed to 1000 rads, an amount that can kill a healthy human in just 10 minutes of exposure. 10% survived 10,000 rads, which is as strong as the radiation from the Hiroshima bombing. Unfortunately, none lived to tell the tale after being exposed to 100,000 rads.

1. Waterbear

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A tiny water animal called the waterbear may be the toughest creature on the face of the planet. These somehow cute and dressed up-cannon-looking animals can survive just about anything, be it extreme heat or extreme cold, high pressure or high radiation. You can even throw them into space, only to find them still alive. The creature is able to survive extreme conditions by going into a dehydrated state, where it can survive for decades! It revives once it’s placed in water, making it capable of surviving an apocalypse too.

Top image: Tardigrades (commonly known as waterbears or moss piglets). Credit: Frank Fox/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image added.]

10 GROUND-BREAKING NEW GAMING TECHNOLOGIES


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How Gaming Evolved In 2014: 10 Ground-Breaking New Gaming Technologies
By Nicholas Greene,
The Coolist, 24 November 2014.

If you want to feel the pulse of technology’s evolution, just pick up a video game controller. Video game technologies and design principles are making their way beyond gaming and into our day-to-day lives, while the hardware we use to run our games has become almost jaw-droppingly powerful. On top of that, virtual reality’s finally starting to come into its own, as projects like Sony’s Morpheus and the Oculus Rift have gained an ever-increasing degree of traction with both consumers and investors.

Taken together, all of this can only mean one thing: the future’s bright for the games industry, and there’s never been a better time to be a gamer. Everyone in the industry has their eyes facing forward, eager to see what the new year has to offer. Before looking forward, however, it’s always a good idea to look back - which is what we’re going to do today. We’re going to take a look at some of the best gaming gadgets of 2014 - the stuff that has everyone practically drooling over its applications. Make no mistake - these are the gadgets, consoles, and systems to keep an eye on as the new year dawns.

1. Google Shakes Up Console Gaming With The Nexus Player

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The revelation that Google was planning to take a more direct approach to game development wasn’t an entirely surprising one. After seeing the recent successes enjoyed by Sony and Microsoft in the console games space, it’s likely that the search giant wants a piece of the pie. The Nexus Player is its attempt to seize one.

An all-in-one device that promises to combine gaming, television, and general entertainment into an incredibly compact, extremely easy-to-use package. The Nexus Player features voice search, full access to the Google Play Store, and connectivity with a wide array of entertainment apps. [More at Google]

2. Steamboy Takes PC Gaming’s Finest on the Road

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Though it’s not officially developed by Valve, the Steamboy nevertheless looks every bit as professional as any project developed by that studio. With a design somewhat reminiscent of the PlayStation Vita, it allows its owner to take nearly their entire Steam library on the road with them, whether on the bus or at the mall. Equipped with the capacity to stream games from a user’s desktop, power is no object for the Steamboy - it can run Evolve just as easily as The Binding of Isaac. It’s due for release in 2015, so keep an eye out. [More at Steamboy Machine]

3. Sony Project Morpheus Is The PS4’s Greatest Evolution

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When Sony unveiled Project Morpheus at the 2014 Game Developer’s Conference, it did so to a great deal of critical acclaim. The company’s made nary a misstep since the announcement of its new console, which meant that developers, consumers, and journalists alike were extremely excited for what the project could represent for the PlayStation 4. Though it’s still in-development at the moment, the revelation that it’s compatible with both the PlayStation Eye and PlayStation Move means one thing above all else - PC gamers aren’t the only ones who’ll be able to enjoy a truly immersive VR experience. [More at Sony]

4. Alienware Is Still The King Of PC Gaming: The New Area 51

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There was a time not so long ago when Alienware was known as the king of high-end PC gaming. They were one of the biggest names in the industry, with customers the world over praising their design innovations. It was not long, however, before the company found itself struggling to keep pace with a changing market, outstripped by competitors like MSI, Razer, and Asus. This year, the company stepped up to reclaim its throne, through the announcement of an incredible, innovative, and visually stunning new addition to its Area 51 product line. With a chassis that both looks incredible and allows for more efficient cooling, the redesigned Area 51 could be just what Alienware needs to re-establish itself as a darling to PC gamers everywhere. [More at Dell]

5. Virtuix Omni Introduces Motion to Virtual Gaming

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A lot of virtual reality products and innovations focus on either sight or touch. The developers want you to be able to see your games as naturally as you would your living room; to feel them in much the same way as you feel the ground beneath your feet. What many don’t tend to focus on is motion - for all the innovations we’ve made in sight, sound, and touch; movement in games is still relatively clunky and archaic.

That’s where the Virtuix Omni comes in. Simply put, it’s an omnidirectional treadmill that quite literally puts you into the shoes of whatever character you’re playing. When you walk, they walk; when you run or crouch, they do the same. It adds an incredible new layer of immersion to games, putting you right into the thick of whatever title you play.

6. Illumiroom Turns Your Room Into An Interactive World


Towards the end of last year, Microsoft researchers revealed that they were working on a very exciting concept - a system known only as IllumiRoom. How it works is fairly simple, but the implications are huge. Using a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector, the IllumiRoom would turn whatever room it was placed in into a fully-interactive virtual world; with the capacity to change a room’s appearance, induce the illusion of motion, extend one’s field of view, and generally bring about a gaming experience like no other. It’s still in the conceptual stages at this point, but there’s nevertheless a good chance that 2015 will see it further developed.

7. KOR-FX Vest Will Let You Feel Gaming Action

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The idea behind the KOR-FX gaming vest is as follows: visual immersion is great, but haptic immersion is even better. Dubbed as “the next generation of environmental realism,” the KOR-FX vest is capable of providing a user with directed output, allowing someone to not only feel that they’ve been hit by a bullet in-game, but also to determine the direction from which the shot came. It doesn’t just work with games, either - a user could very well put on one of these vests to quite literally feel their music. [More at KOR-FX]

8. Myo Gesture Control Armband Puts Gaming at the Flick of a Wrist

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One of the most common sights in science fiction is full-scale gesture control. A businessman brings up an earnings report with a flick of his wrist, a soldier controls a robotic suit simply by moving his arms; a general commands his forces with a holographic display. Thalmic Labs’ Myo Armband might be the first step towards making that fiction into a reality. Equipped with proprietary EMG sensors, Myo measures electrical activity in the arm of its wearer in order to determine how they’re moving. The possibilities for such technology go far beyond gaming - they’re pretty much endless, in fact.

You can pre-order one for yourself to the tune of US$149. Developer kits are currently in the process of shipping, with consumer models due shortly after the dev-kits are all on the market.

9. GAME Golf Tracker Takes Gaming Tech Beyond the Console

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One of the most exciting developments in gaming tech doesn’t even directly involve gaming. GAME’s Digital Golf Tracker essentially turns a game of golf into a video game, tracking performance data such as swing, drive distance and scoring - and all without any active input from the player. Even better, its companion app allows players to share their games - in real-time - with their friends, in addition to allowing its users to connect with other GAME device users within their city. [More at Game Golf]

10. Dexmo Virtual Reality Gauntlets Allow You To Feel the Game

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Even though we’ve all gotten well-used to keyboard-and-mouse interfaces, they aren’t always the most intuitive in the world. Dexmo’s Virtual Reality Glove seeks to change how we interact with our computers and games, by allowing its users to literally reach out and ‘feel’ the worlds represented on-screen. It features a force-feedback unit, with actuators that stop your fingers/hand when those of your avatar come into contact with something in virtual space.

With applications every bit as exciting for general PC use as for virtual reality gaming, the VR Glove is a promising project indeed - and definitely one to look back at in 2015. [More at Dexta Robotics]

2014 was a good year for video games - and 2015 is geared to be even better. Built upon the tech that surfaced this year, there can be no doubt that developers, engineers, and inventors alike are going to create some positively mind-blowing stuff as the new year dawns. And you can bet that we at The Coolist will be paying very, very close attention all the while - just as you should be yourselves.

Top image: The IllumiRoom. Credit: Microsoft Research.

[Source: The Coolist. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

INFOGRAPHIC: HOW TO STAY SAFE ON FACEBOOK


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How to Stay Safe on Facebook
By Toni,
Who Is Hosting This, 25 November 2014.

Facebook’s still growing in popularity every year. In fact, it now has almost as many users as there are people living in China!

You’d think such a popular program would be well-loved, but it still has quite the reputation problem, mostly stemming from its apparent lack of respect for individual privacy.

It makes sense: Their entire business model is making money off your data.

Facebook, just like any other “free” service, does have a cost, just not in dollars. In order to use their service, you allow them to use your private data.

And they’ve made a lot of money selling it: hundreds of millions of dollars each year. It’s only gone up by billions every year since they went public in 2012.

Facebook’s revenue comes from selling highly-targeted advertising directed at its users. They can charge a hefty fee to display ads because the advertisers can narrow down their target audience by age, gender, location, friends, likes and dislikes, and every other detail of your life you’ve told them about.

But though we may all want to swear off Facebook forever, it does have its uses. Most of your friends and family are probably all on it. Facebook makes it so easy to see what they’re up to and keep in touch, even from hundreds of thousands of miles away. If you hadn’t “friended” them on Facebook, you might’ve never found out about your cousin’s new job or your high school buddy’s new baby.

For many of us, the pros outweigh the cons. We’re willing to give up a bit of personal data in exchange for making our lives a bit more convenient.

But is there a compromise? Can you keep in touch with friends and family without Facebook and the world knowing every detail of your life?

Try to navigate through the labyrinth of Facebook privacy settings, and you get the impression they don’t want to make it easy for you. Check out the guide below on how you can keep your data safe.

Stay Safe on Facebook

Infographic Sources:
1. They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets
2. Let’s talk
3. Protect your privacy
4. Sidejacking, Firesheep, and AOSSL
5. Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks
6. 5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook
7. Facebook Privacy
8. How old do you have to be to sign up for Facebook?
9. Facebook users unwittingly revealing intimate secrets, study finds
10. The dangers of posting photos online
11. Facebook Privacy Tips
12. Basic Privacy Settings & Tools
13. How do I set the audience when I’m using an older version of Facebook for mobile that doesn’t have an audience selector?
14. How do I control what is shared by apps my friends use?
15. How do I permanently delete my account?
16. Delete Account
17. How do I deactivate my account?
18. How do I block someone?
19. Identity theft reportedly rampant on Facebook, protect yourself
20. How do I create a new list to organize my friends?
21. Five Hidden Dangers of Facebook
22. How Social Media Networks Facilitate Identity Theft and Fraud
23. Social media-related crime reports up 780% in four years

[Source: Who Is Hosting This.]

10 CAPTIVATING SHIP GRAVEYARDS AROUND THE WORLD


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10 Captivating Ship Graveyards Around the World
By Tom,
Urban Ghosts Media, 24 November 2014.

The sea remains our last great, largely uncharted frontier. For centuries, mankind has struggled to tame the seas and the oceans of the world, with sometimes devastating consequences. The wrecks and ship graveyards of these ill-fated voyages still rest beneath the water, attracting the brave and the curious from all over the world.

10. Skeleton Coast, Namibia

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Image: Anagoria, cc-3.0

The Skeleton Coast is aptly named; the Portuguese once dubbed it the “Gates of Hell”, and that pretty much, absolutely, neatly sums up the desolate stretch of African coast. Pristine and beautiful, its harsh climate has protected it from human encroachment, to a point. It gets its official name from the massive animal graveyard that litters the coast, full of the bones of turtles, whales, seals and other marine creatures. There’s also the shipwrecks.

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Image: mp3lef, cc-nc-sa-4.0

Many of the wrecks are little more than pieces, battered by Antarctic winds. Look carefully, and you’ll see what little remains of ocean liners alongside gunboats and the tugboats that have tried valiantly to save so many other craft - and failed.

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The most famous of the wrecks is the British Blue Star liner the Dunedin Star. It sits alongside the wrecks of the ships that tried to save it, and the giant whale bones that mark the graves of those who died in the attempts. The ship was on its way from Liverpool to South Africa and then on to Egypt with a full load of cargo when it struck an unknown, submerged object and was beached in 1942. Abandoned, some of the cargo wasn’t recovered until 1951.

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Image: Mark Dhawn, cc-sa-3.0

There’s also the remains of another vessel dated to around 1860; its crew, nothing more than a dozen headless skeletons, were only found about 70 years ago. Someone survived the shipwreck; the only reason we know is the slate he had buried alongside the remains of his crew mates. It was etched with the message that the survivor was heading to a river to the north, but he was never found.

9. The Ship Graveyard of Abu Nuhas, Red Sea

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The ship graveyard of the Red Sea isn’t far off the coast of Egypt; wrecks date from 1869 with the Carnatic to the most recent, the Giannis D (above) that sank in 1983. What makes the place, sitting off the coast in the northeast corner of the Red Sea, so dangerous? It’s the site of a submerged reef that has been deadly to a number of different ships - so many that it earned the name Sha’ah Abu Nuhas, meaning “father of bad luck reef.”

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The Carnatic (above) was a passenger steamer that was originally launched in 1862 in London. For several years, she sailed between exotic ports like Calcutta, Suez, Bombay and China; the Suez Canal was months from opening, though, meaning that good had to be offloaded in Alexandria then shipped overland before being loaded onto another ship for the rest of the journey. In September of 1869, the Carnatic offloaded its cargo and began another run to Bombay. It wasn’t far out of port that the ship ran aground on a coral reef and began taking on water. Originally, the captain didn’t think it was too serious, and that the ship’s pumps would be able to handle the water while they lightened the load and allowed the ship to float off the reef. It wasn’t meant to happen, though, and 34 hours after first running aground on the reef, the ship broke in half. Bizarrely, the two halves of the ship sank together, and came to rest on the sea floor as if it were whole.

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Other, more recent wrecks include the Kimon M (above). Sunk in 1978, it’s often confused with the nearby wreck of the Chrisoula K, which fell victim to the reef in 1981. Both ships collided with the northeast corner of the reef; the Kimon M remained beached on the reef for several days before wind, water and reef took their final toll and left the ship classified as a complete loss. The same fate ultimately struck the Chrisoula K, which sank carrying a load of tile from Italy.

8. The World War One Submarine Graveyard off the British Coast

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Image: via io9

Lying off the southern and southeastern coast of England and covered by only about 50 feet of water are 44 World War one submarines. Only recently found, the submarine graveyard has been found to contain craft whose fates had long been unknown; so far, underwater archaeologists have found 3 English submarines and 41 German.

Germany has shared a list of craft it still considers missing even after a century. In fact, that century mark is an important one - after they’re officially 100 years old, underwater artefacts are governed by a completely different set of laws, rules and regulations. Until they hit that 100 mark, archaeologists have the opportunity to explore the wrecks and identify them.

It’s a tragic glimpse into a horrific fate; unlike wrecks from centuries past, there’s still likely the remains of sailors contained in the wrecks. Called “disaster samples,” they represent men who perished n a terrifying way. For the archaeologists of the English Heritage, diving and exploring the wrecks off the coast have become about telling the stories of those men, forgotten for decades. In total, 380 German U-Boats were used during World War I, and almost half - 187 - were lost at sea. Technology was still in its infancy, and at the time, those who volunteered for missions on submarines were going on little more than suicide missions.

7. Arthur Kill, Staten Island

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Image: Bob Jagendorf, cc-nc-3.0

The story of the ship graveyard at Arthur Kill in Staten Island is a sad one. More than three dozen ships sit on the southwestern corner of Staten Island, where they’ve been resting for decades. They weren’t originally sent there to die, though. They were originally sent there to be given new life.

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Image: Bob Jagendorf, cc-nc-3.0

During World War Two, the ships were left there as just one more step towards the harvesting and re-use of their materials for the war effort. But the nearby shipyards were overtaxed already, and stripping the old ships for parts fell to the bottom of the list of priorities. People dumped their unused, old boats there with perhaps the best of intentions, sacrificing them for the good of the war effort, but eventually, they simply went unclaimed and began to turn to rust.

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Image: Bob Jagendorf, cc-nc-3.0

The ship graveyard is extremely off-limits, but the wrecks that are covered in graffiti are a testament to how overlooked the No Trespassing signs are. The warnings are for good reason, too, as many of the wrecks are still leaking fuel and other contaminants - even radiation - into the nearby waters.

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Image: Bob Jagendorf, cc-nc-3.0

Perhaps most notably, the Arthur Kill graveyard is home to the submarine chaser the USS PC-1264, one of the first World War Two Navy ships to have an African-American crew. There’s also the Abram Hewitt, a fireboat that was on call during the sinking of the General Slocum, one of the worst marine disasters of the East Coast.

6. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Graveyard

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Image: via caviews.com

Shipwrecks buried in the mud might be one of the last things you think of when it comes to California sun and San Francisco, but it’s now estimated that there are more than 300 shipwrecks sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

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Image: San Francisco Library, public domain

Ships that are decades - and sometimes centuries - old are just starting to surrender their stories. In September, 2014, underwater archaeologists found the wreck of the SS Selja. The ship was sunk in 1910 after it collided with another vessel; the ship had already had a long career of shuttling cargo between cities in the Pacific Northwest, Japan and China when it ended at the bottom of the bay.

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They’ve also found the remains of a ship called the Noonday, a clipper ship that sank on New Year’s Day, 1863 and is now mostly buried in mud.

It’s been estimated that the wrecks at the bottom of the bay date back to at least 1595, which now rest alongside wrecks like the Puerto Rican, which exploded and sank in 1984.

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Thick fog has been blamed in many cases for making the bay a dangerous place for ships. With visibility obscured by the fog, many of the wrecks at the bottom of their bay met their end when colliding with other ships or striking rocks.

There’s also a number of mystery ships that are only now being uncovered, mostly with the help of sonar surveys. Tugboats, fishing boats, tankers, cargo ships and clipper ships still wait to have their histories uncovered.

5. The Russian Submarine Graveyard at Olenya Bay
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Olenya Bay is a cove off Russia’s Kola Peninsula - at one time, it was more likely the home of reindeer and arctic fox than rusting, man-made hulks, but during the Cold War, Olenya Bay became a convenient disposal ground for decommissioned or damaged subs.

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Just around the corner from the cove is a Russian military base - during the 1970s and throughout the Cold War, the whole area was, not surprisingly, off-limits and highly restricted. It was a time when there was more on the minds of the people working there than proper disposal of what was little more than military waste; subs that did their military duty and then were decommissioned were brought to the base to be scrapped.

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Workers were having a hard enough time keeping up with the demand for building new subs without taking a break to dismantle old ones, so the once-graceful crafts were, by some accounts, used as target practice before being dragged to the nearby cove and abandoned. Many sank, but the problems started happening when oil and other chemicals that hadn’t been properly removed started leaking into the water. A few decades later, clean-up crews started to take on the massive task of restoring the bay to something approaching its original condition.

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Unlike many other maritime graveyards, this one isn’t resting at the depths of the ocean - several of the craft are floating on the surface, and the curious don’t have to don scuba gear to see them - they just have to take a look at Google Earth.

4. Truk Lagoon’s World War Two Ship Graveyards

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Truk Lagoon, also known as Chuuk Lagoon, is a 40-mile-wide lagoon in Micronesia. In 1939, Japan established a base of operations at the lagoon, and in 1944, it was the site of a surprise attack by the American military. More than 400 tons of bombs and torpedoes were used on the ships there, sinking 40 ships and killing countless people. Ten weeks later, there was another bombing run that sank still more ships.

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Today, the wrecks sitting at the bottom of Truk Lagoon can be explored by divers. While artefacts absolutely can’t be removed, it still presents a unique look at a bloody snapshot of the past. In addition to ships, there are also aircraft, tanks and other land vehicles that were sunk; even today, there’s still traces of fuels and oils in the lagoon, and many of the long-submerged ammunition and shells are still live.

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Each wreck has a story to tell. The Amagisan Maru was sunk by nine planes dispatched from the USS Bunker Hill, and still leaks oil and fuel today. The Rio De Janeiro Maru is one of the deepest and most rarely explored of all the wrecks, her name still clearly visible on her hull. The Ojima sits on the bottom in several pieces, and the Nippo Maru, with its hold full of beer bottles, was only conclusively identified in 1969 during an expedition headed by Jacques Cousteau.

There’s also a number of ships that are still missing, with their wrecks unidentified or not located at all.

3. The Graveyard of the Atlantic

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Image: NOAA, public domain

The coastline of North Carolina has long has a reputation for being the site of dangerous and potentially deadly waters. It’s known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and what’s not known is how many ships actually lie at the bottom of the ocean off the coast. Since the 16th century, thousands of ships have met their end on the coast of shallow waters, small islands, coastal rivers and ever-changing geography due to storms that regularly pass along the coast. It’s such a dangerous place for ships that many residents have, for centuries, made a living salvaging vessels off the coast. And, not a few have made a living causing more wrecks.

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Image: US Naval History & Heritage Command, public domain; USS Monitor sinking.

The strangely named Nags Head is said to have gotten its name from an early practice of tying a lantern to a horse and sending it running up and down the coast to create the illusion of a ship in the water, drifting in the darkness. Thinking it was safe passage, other ships would head for the light, and run aground.

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Image: NOAA via Island Free Press

Because of its dangerous waters, the area was a favourite base of operations for pirates, and a haunt of Civil War blockade runners. One of the first ships to be fully explored and documented was the USS Monitor (above), discovered after sitting beneath 230 feet of water for 112 years.

The graveyard is also home to Civil War-era submarines, pre-18th century Spanish privateer ships, and the first German submarine to be sunk by the United States during World War Two.

2. Homebush Bay, Australia

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Image: Jason Baker, cc-4.0

Homebush Bay is the site of one of the most breathtaking shipwrecks on Earth. The SS Ayrfield, built in 1912 and launched as the SS Corrimal, now sits in retirement in Homebrush Bay. Originally a ship-breaking yard, Homebush Bay no longer functions as such as its residents were abandoned - but none quite like the SS Ayrfield (above). Since it was left in the bay, it’s been taken over by mangrove trees and become a literal floating forest.

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Image: Neerav Bhatt, cc-nc-sa-4.0

Other ships in the graveyard of Homebush Bay have endings that perhaps aren’t so picturesque, but tell stories that are still pretty amazing. The SS Mortlake Bank was built in 1924, and ultimately met its end after entering Sydney Harbour and being hit with Japanese torpedoes in 1942. The HMAS Karangi was a defense ship that was also damaged during a World War Two attack, this one from their air. The SS Heroic also rests there, a tugboat that was drafted into service during the war and used to tow injured ships to the safety of nearby ports. It survived the war, but was sent to Homebrush Bay for breaking up in the 1970s.

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Image: Neerav Bhatt, cc-nc-sa-4.0

There are also a variety of other ships, barges, dredges and lighters that sit in Homebrush Bay, waiting for the end that will never come. Just what’s going to happen to them is up for debate, as it’s also the site of one of the area’s fastest-growing residential communities.

1. Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

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Image: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0

Not all ship graveyards are in the ocean; at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore park in Michigan, divers can explore the wrecks of countless ships at the bottom of Lake Michigan.

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Image: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0

Among them is the wreck of the Francisco Morazan (pictured). It had been under the command of a 24-year-old captain when it left Chicago in 1960, bound for Holland and loaded with cargo. The day after it left port, the ship was blinded by winds, heavy fog and snow, ultimately running aground off South Manitou Island. On the way down, the Francisco Morazan managed to mostly destroy another wreck that was directly below it - the carcass of the Walter L Frost, which sank in 1905.

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Image: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0

There’s also the wreck of the Three Brothers, a steamer built for hauling lumber. Constructed in 1888, it sank in 1911, also off the coast of South Manitou Island. Not long after it was sunk, it was buried in the sand and thought lost, until 1996, 85 years later, the sand shifted and revealed the well-preserved wreck. The PJ Ralph, a partially destroyed steam barge, also sits off the coast of the same island.

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Image: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0

North Manitou Island is also the final resting place of a number of ships. The J.B. Newland sits in incredibly shallow waters and is well-known as a dive site for new underwater explorers; the Alva Bradley is also in fairly shallow waters.

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Image: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0

At the other end of the spectrum is the Congress, sitting at a depth of 160 feet. Originally called the Nebraska, it was around 30 years old when it sank in 1904. It’s classified as only suitable for experienced wreck divers, but presents a fascinating time capsule of early steam-powered technology.

Top image: The Francisco Morazan. Credit: xray10, cc-nc-nd-4.0.

[Source: Urban Ghosts Media. Edited.]