Sea and Swell

Hello everyone. I want to say a special hello to the oceanography students at Western Michigan University. A lot of students are studying the ocean and, sadly, being in the middle of the continent, we do not get to visit and see it for ourselves. 

I have been trying to photograph “sea” and “swell”. As it turns out, it is easy to photograph “sea”. This is a term describing the chaotic mixture of sizes and directions of wave energy that occurs beneath the winds that are generating them. This photo that I took a few days ago shows “sea.” We were sailing into a stiff head wind and that wind was generating white caps and a chaotic “sea.” The seabird, possibly a gannett, was not caring about the “sea”. It was looking for flying fish, and once in flight the gannett would swoop down and give chase, succeeding in adding to its’ meal more often than not. 

For the past several days we have been experiencing quite a bit of “swell”. Swell is the longer wavelength waves that were generated far away. Now they are nice broad sinusoidal waves that approach the ship and generate most of our pitch (forward and aft motion) and roll (side to side motion). Today is a rainy day with the wind and storm behind us. And it feels like we are literally surfing on the swell coming out of that storm and helping to propel us to the east. But you can also see swell coming out of the south, probably from the southern ocean and out of the southeast, possibly from a storm off of the South Island of New Zealand. The result makes for some interesting ship motion. 


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