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Mr. R. 
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"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean."

- Arthur C. Clarke   .

Mr. R's Oceanography Passport© (20-page, 4"x5" pocket guide) will soon be available in PDF format to print out for non-profit use (requires free Adobe Acrobat© Reader).  Passports are copyrighted, but scouts and troops may use them free of charge if they create only one per scout. NO scout may be charged!   BSA councils must first contact Mr. R. before creating large quantities for scout camps, merit badge fairs, etc.


Requirement #1Name four branches of oceanography. Describe at least five reasons why it is important for people to learn about the oceans

Throughout history humans have been directly or indirectly influenced by the oceans. Ocean waters serve as a source of food and valuable minerals, as a vast highway for commerce, and provide a place for both recreation and waste disposal. Increasingly, people are turning to the oceans for their food supply either by direct consumption or indirectly by harvesting fish that is then processed for livestock feed. It has been estimated that as much as 10% of human protein intake comes from the oceans. Nevertheless, the food-producing potential of the oceans is only partly realized. Other biological products of the oceans are also commercially used. For example, pearls taken from oysters are used in jewelry, and shells and coral have been widely used as a source of building material.
          Ocean water is processed to extract commercially valuable minerals such as salt, bromine, and magnesium. Although nearly 60 valuable chemical elements have been found dissolved in ocean water, most are in such dilute concentrations that commercial extraction is not profitable. In a few arid regions of the world, such as Ascension Island, Kuwait, and Israel, ocean water is desalinated to produce freshwater.
          The shallow continental shelves have been exploited as a source of sands and gravels. In addition, extensive deposits of petroleum-bearing sands have been exploited in offshore areas, particularly along the Gulf and California coasts of the United States and in the Persian Gulf. On the deep ocean floor manganese nodules, formed by the precipitation of manganese oxides and other metallic salts around a nucleus of rock or shell, represent a potentially rich and extensive resource. Research is currently being conducted to explore nodule mining and metallic extraction techniques. Ocean water itself could prove to be a limitless source of energy in the event that nuclear fusion reactors are developed, since the oceans contain great quantities of deuterium.
          The oceans also have become more important for recreational use, as each year more people are attracted to the sports of swimming, fishing, scuba diving, boating, and water-skiing. Ocean pollution, meantime, has escalated dramatically as those who use the oceans for recreational and commercial purposes, as well as those who live nearby, have disposed of more and more wastes there (see water pollution).


Requirement #2Define salinity, temperature, and density, and describe how these important properties of seawater are measured by the physical oceanographer. Discuss the circulation and currents of the ocean. Describe the effects of the oceans on weather and climate.


Requirement #3Describe the characteristics of ocean waves. Point out the differences among the storm surge, tsunami, tidal wave, and tidal bore. Explain the difference between sea, swell, and surf. Explain how breakers are formed.

The top Japanese character tsu means harbor, while the bottom character nami means wave. So tsunami means harbor wave.
          SEA: Waves that develop in a windy area, such as a storm center, where energy is actively being transferred from the wind to the water. Waves have pointed crests and rounded troughs.  Any single storm will generate many different wavelengths of waves. The waves move out as wavetrains which separate from one another according to wavelength (because their speeds differ). This process of separating wavetrains is called DISPERSION.
          SWELL:  Waves that form when a wavetrain has left the storm center, the area of wave generation. Swell waves transport energy away from the region of wave formation. Waves have rounded crests and rounded troughs. Swells travels in a WAVETRAIN, groups of waves of the same wavelength, and thus the same speed. Swell often moves at a speed that is faster that is faster than the wind. These are deep water waves.
          SURF:  Waves that feel bottom transform from swell to surf waves. Their crests become progressively more pointed and the wave builds in height. The term surf is usually restricted to breaking waves that transfer energy to the shore, but the process of 'transforming' swell into surf begins before then. The "foam" of a breaking wave is turbulent water being transported down the crest of a wave, so it represents energy lost by the wave. Bottom sediment is also moved, another source of energy loss.
         Q.  What is the difference between a wave, a swell, surf and a ``sea''? I have heard each mentioned in weather forecasts...
          A.   All four refer to the conditions of the surface of the water. The generic term ``wave'' refers to undulations of the surface of a body of water. Waves are made up of sea and swell. Swell results from the wind's past action on the water and has a gentler rolling action. Surf is the interaction of the waves and the shoreline. It is influenced not only by the height of the waves but also by the underlying topography of the coast. Sea is the amount of the wave that is the result of the wind currently blowing across the surface of the water and tends to have distinct features like a crest. A beach with a gentle offshore slope will have a small surf; one that drops off sharply will have larger surf.

Requirement #4:  Draw a cross-section of underwater topography. Show what is meant by: 
  • Continental shelf
  • Continental slope
  • Abyssal plains
Name and put on your drawing the following:
  • seamount
  • canyon
  • guyot
  • trench
  • rift valley
  • oceanic ridge
Compare the depths in the oceans with heights of the mountains on land.

Requirement #5List the main salts, gases, and nutrients in sea water. Describe some important properties of water. Tell how the animals and plants of the ocean affect the chemical composition of seawater. Explain how differences in evaporation and precipitation affect the salt content of the oceans. 
          Seawater is an important source for chemical substances including salt (NaCl), magnesium (Mg) and bromine (Br).  Oil is also a valuable substance that can be found in the world's oceans.  The sea can be used in harnessing energy in the form of tidal and wave power.  In very dry countries bordering the sea and on small islands, desalination of seawater is means for providing fresh water.  The fishing industry is an obvious example of the kinds of products available from the sea. 
          Marine plants and animals also produce a wide range of chemicals in order to survive in harsh conditions.  Scientists have studied many of these chemicals over the years and discovered many new chemicals.  Some of these have been identified as having chemical properties that are helpful to humans.  Many have great biomedical, industrial, or nutritional value. 
          Humans have a great impact on the chemical composition and biology of the oceans from both what we take out of it and what we put into it.  Our seas are threatened by over-fishing and harvesting of marine goods, plus domestic, thermal and industrial wastes and air pollution.
          The chemicals dissolved in seawater can be incorporated into skeletons or sediments and are thus removed from the ocean water.  They are then returned to the land through the processes of uplifting or subduction and are once again available to be eroded or involved in hydrothermal activity. 

Requirement #6Describe some of the biologically important properties of seawater. Define benthos, nekton, and plankton. Name some of the plants and animals that make up each of these groups. Describe the place and importance of phytoplankton in the oceanic food chain. 
Bottom Dwellers (Benthos) - Swimmers (Nekton) - Floaters (Plankton)

Requirement #7Do ONE of the following: 
a. Make a plankton net. Tow the net by a dock, wade with it, hold it in a current, or tow it from a rowboat. Do this for about 20 minutes. Save the sample. Examine it under a microscope or high-power glass. Identify the three most common types of plankton in the sample.  May be done in lakes or streams. 
b. Make a series of models (clay or plaster and wood) of a volcanic island. Show the growth of an atoll from a fringing reef through a barrier reef. Describe the Darwinian theory of coral reef formation. 
(NOTE:  Some of the following links show how to make a paper model of an island, BUT this is only for reference or a starting point.  The requirement clearly states "clay or plaster & wood.")
c.  Measure the water temperature 1 foot below the surface of a body of water four times daily (8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m., and 8 p.m.) for 6 consecutive days. Measure the air temperature. Note the cloud cover and roughness of the water. Show your findings on a graph. Tell how the water temperature changes with air temperature.  May be done in lakes or streams. 
d. Make a model showing the inshore sediment movement by littoral currents, tidal movement, and wave action. Include such formations as high and low waterlines, low tide terrace, berm, and coastal cliffs. Show how the offshore bars are built up and torn down.
Jonathan Larwood, English Nature
     ...refraction occurs when a wave train strikes a beach at an angle, and this action causes a mass transport of water parallel to the beach in the same direction as the wave train. This mass transports called the longshore current or littoral current.
e. Make a wave generator. Show reflection and refraction of waves. Show how groins, jetties, and breakwaters affect these patterns. 
          BREAKWATER Structure built parallel to the shoreline and seaward of the beach designed to protect the beach and upland areas by causing waves to break and dissipate their energy before reaching the shore. 
          GROINS Shore protection structures which extend from the beach backshore into the surf zone, perpendicular to the shoreline. A groin is intended to build up an eroded beach by trapping littoral drift or to retard the erosion of a stretch of beach. Often mis-identified as jetties. 
          JETTIES Shore-perpendicular structures built at the sides of an inlet to maintain navigable waterways. They stabilize an inlet by intercepting the longshore transport of sand that would otherwise fill it in or cause the channel to shift position. Jetties are often confused with groins, but are much longer and more substantial structures, usually built in pairs.

Requirement #8Do ONE of the following: 
a. Write a 500-word report on any good book about oceanography approved by your counselor. 
b. Visit one of the following: an oceanographic research ship or an oceanographic institute. Write a 500-word report about your visit.
c. Explain to your troop in a 5-minute prepared speech "Why Oceanography Is Important" or describe "Jobs in Oceanography." (Before making your speech, show your speech outline to your counselor for approval.)

BSA Advancement ID#: 79
Requirements last updated in 2004

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