Skeleton Coast

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A map of the Namibian homelands. The Skeleton Coast is the coastal region bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Kaokoveld and Damaraland to the east. Namibia homelands 78.jpeg
A map of the Namibian homelands. The Skeleton Coast is the coastal region bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Kaokoveld and Damaraland to the east.
One of many rusting ship hulls along the Skeleton Coast (MV Dunedin Star) Skelettkuste.jpg
One of many rusting ship hulls along the Skeleton Coast (MV Dunedin Star)
Shipwreck of Eduard Bohlen Eduard Bohlen anagoria.jpg
Shipwreck of Eduard Bohlen

The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region "The Land God Made in Anger", while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as "The Gates of Hell".

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

Namibia republic in southern Africa

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Angola country in Africa

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda.

Contents

The name Skeleton Coast was coined by John Henry Marsh as the title for the book he wrote chronicling the shipwreck of the Dunedin Star. Since the book was first published in 1944, it has become so well known that the coast is now generally referred to as Skeleton Coast and is given that as its official name on most maps today.

MV <i>Dunedin Star</i> cargo liner

MV Dunedin Star was a UK refrigerated cargo liner. She was built by Cammell Laird and Co in 1935–36 as one of Blue Star Line's Imperial Star-class ships, designed to ship frozen meat from Australia and New Zealand to the United Kingdom. She served in the Second World War and is distinguished for her role in Operation Halberd to relieve the siege of Malta in September 1941.

On the coast, the upwelling of the cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fogs (called cassimbo by the Angolans) for much of the year. The winds blow from land to sea, rainfall rarely exceeds 10 millimetres (0.39 in) annually and the climate is highly inhospitable. There is a constant, heavy surf on the beaches. In the days before engine-powered ships and boats, it was possible to get ashore through the surf but impossible to launch from the shore. The only way out was by going through a marsh hundreds of miles long and only accessible via a hot and arid desert.

Upwelling The replacement by deep water moving upwards of surface water driven offshore by wind

Upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water. The nutrient-rich upwelled water stimulates the growth and reproduction of primary producers such as phytoplankton. Due to the biomass of phytoplankton and presence of cool water in these regions, upwelling zones can be identified by cool sea surface temperatures (SST) and high concentrations of chlorophyll-a.

Fog atmospheric phenomenon

Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.

Climate Statistics of weather conditions in a given region over long periods

Climate is the statistics of weather over long periods of time. It is measured by assessing the patterns of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate differs from weather, in that weather only describes the short-term conditions of these variables in a given region.

The coast is largely soft sand occasionally interrupted by rocky outcrops. The southern section consists of gravel plains, while north of Terrace Bay the landscape is dominated by high sand dunes. Skeleton Bay is now known as a great location for surfing. [1]

Gravel mix of crumbled stone (grain size range = 2-63 mm according to ISO 14688)

Gravel is a loose aggregation of rock fragments. Gravel is classified by particle size range and includes size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. In the Udden-Wentworth scale gravel is categorized into granular gravel and pebble gravel. ISO 14688 grades gravels as fine, medium, and coarse with ranges 2 mm to 6.3 mm to 20 mm to 63 mm. One cubic metre of gravel typically weighs about 1,800 kg.

Surfing sport that consists of riding a wave

Surfing is a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward or deep face of a moving wave, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore. However, surfers can also utilize artificial waves such as those from boat wakes and the waves created in artificial wave pools.

Etymology

The area's name derives from the whale and seal bones that once littered the shore from the whaling industry, although in modern times the coast harbours the skeletal remains of the shipwrecks caught by offshore rocks and fog. [2] More than a thousand such vessels of various sizes litter the coast, notably the Eduard Bohlen , Benguela Eagle, Otavi, Dunedin Star and Tong Taw.

Whaling hunting of whales

Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil which became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principle industry in the coastal regions of Spain and France. The industry spread throughout the world, and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to a worldwide cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980s. The earliest forms of whaling date to at least circa 3000 BC. Coastal communities around the world have long histories of subsistence use of cetaceans, by dolphin drive hunting and by harvesting drift whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organized fleets of whaleships in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling because of the extreme depletion of most of the whale stocks.

Shipwreck The remains of a ship that has wrecked

A shipwreck is the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental. In January 1999, Angela Croome estimated that there have been about three million shipwrecks worldwide.

<i>Eduard Bohlen</i> ship

Eduard Bohlen was a ship that was wrecked on the Skeleton Coast of German Southwest Africa on 5 September 1909 in a thick fog. The wreck currently lies in the sand 400 metres from the shoreline.

On Thursday, 22 March 2018, a Japanese registered fishing vessel, MVF Fukuseki Maru, got into trouble and ran aground near Durissa Bay, south of the Ugab River mouth, about 200 km from Walvis Bay, lying 2 km from the Skeleton Coast beach. All 24 foreign crew members were rescued by Namibian authorities. [3]

Walvis Bay City in Erongo Region, Namibia

Walvis Bay, meaning "Whale Bay", is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies. The town covers a total area of 29 square kilometres (11 sq mi) of land.

Past human occupation by Strandlopers is shown by shell middens of white mussels found along parts of the Skeleton Coast.

Wildlife

Namibia has declared the 16,000 square kilometres (6,200 sq mi) Skeleton Coast National Park over much of the area, from the Ugab River to the Kunene. The northern half of the park is a designated wilderness area. Notable features are the clay castles of the Hoarisib, the Agate Mountain salt pans and the large seal colony at Cape Fria. The remainder of the coast is the National West Coast Recreation Area.

The coast has been the subject of a number of wildlife documentaries, particularly concerning adaptations to extreme aridity. There is a 1965 National Geographic documentary "Survivors Of The Skeleton Coast". [4] Many of the plant and insect species of the sand dune systems depend on the thick sea fogs which engulf the coast for their moisture and windblown detritus from the interior as food. The desert bird assemblages have been studied in terms of their thermoregulation, coloration, breeding strategies and nomadism.

The riverbeds further inland are home to baboons, giraffes, lions, black rhinoceros and springbok. The animals get most of their water from wells dug by the baboons or elephants. The black rhinoceros population was the main reason why the CBBC show Serious Desert was filmed in the region.

Zelia India shipwreck, south of Henties Bay, November 2014 Zelia India shipwreck, November 2014.jpg
Zelia India shipwreck, south of Henties Bay, November 2014

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Geography of Namibia

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Swakopmund City in Erongo, Namibia

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Kaokoveld

The Kaokoveld Desert is a coastal desert of northern Namibia and southern Angola.

Smoky Point is a point of land in the U.S. state of Alaska, located at 57°36′44″N157°41′24″W, where Ugashik Bay joins the much larger Bristol Bay. The most easily distinguishable landmark is the United States Coast Guard lighthouse which is visible to mariners on the eastern shore of Bristol Bay and all of Ugashik Bay.

Iona National Park

Iona National Park is the largest national park in Angola. It is situated in the Southwestern-most part of the country, in Namibe Province. It is roughly bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the West, an escarpment to the East that marks the beginning of the interior plateau, the Curoca River to the North, and the Cunene River to the South. It is about 200 kilometres (120 mi) south of the city of Namibe and covers 5,850 square miles (15,200 km2) sq. miles.

Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. The name "Sossusvlei" is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area, which is one of the major visitor attractions of Namibia.

Sandwich Harbour coast

Sandwich Harbour, also known as Sandwich Bay, Sandvishawe, Sandvisbaai and Sandfisch Bai is an area on the Atlantic coast of Namibia that includes a bay in the north and a lagoon at the southern end. Formerly the bay was a moderately-sized commercial port based around whaling and small-scale fishing, but it is now best known for its birdlife in the lagoon to the south of the bay.

Breamlea, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

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Gobabeb Research station in the Namib Desert

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Tourism in Namibia

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Deadvlei

Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. Also written DeadVlei or Dead Vlei, its name means "dead marsh". The pan also is referred to as "Dooie Vlei" which is the fully Afrikaans name. In Google there are many references to the site, its name often being translated erroneously in terms such as "dead valley"; a vlei is not a valley. Nor is the site a valley; the pan is a desiccated vlei.

Skeleton Coast National Park

Skeleton Coast National Park is a national park located in northwest Namibia, and has the most inaccessible shores, dotted with shipwrecks. The park was established in 1971 and has a size of 16,845 km2 (6,504 sq mi). The park is divided into a northern and southern section, the southern section is open to those with 4 wheel drive vehicles, they are allowed to go up (north) as far as the Ugab River Gate. The northern section can only be reached by a fly-in safari, and the area is off-limits to all vehicles.

Many ships were wrecked in and around San Francisco Bay. During the centuries San Francisco Bay with its strong currents, rocky reefs and low fog conditions has become a place of more than a hundred shipwrecks. Ever since San Francisco Bay was discovered during land expedition by Gaspar de Portolà in 1769, it has been one of the most popular harbors.

Dorob National Park national park of Namibia

Dorob National Park is a protected area in Erongo, along the central Namibian coast, which is 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) in length. It was gazetted as a national park under the Nature Conservation Ordinance No.4 of 1975 on 1 December 2010, and with Namib-Naukluft Park covers an area of 107,540 square kilometres (41,520 sq mi).

References

  1. Skeleton Bay – The Miracle Mile? Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine carvemag
  2. "The Shipwrecks of Skeleton Coast, Namibia".
  3. https://economist.com.na/34085/general-news/japanese-fishing-vessel-stuck-near-walvis-bay/
  4. "Survivors of the Skeleton Coast".

Coordinates: 21°36′44″S14°32′24″E / 21.61222°S 14.54000°E / -21.61222; 14.54000