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Friday, December 13, 2019

Reality vs. Fiction: Animals at Depth


It is often said that we know more about space than we do our own oceans. I find that statement to be so true every time I do research for the Oceania novels. The gaps in current knowledge of marine science are vast but are being filled with every new dive to the deep. In Shark Station, I took more liberties than I had with the previous Oceania novels due to these gaps in knowledge. I’ve discussed some of the reasons before in the author’s note of the novel and in previous blog posts. However, I want to highlight the differences between reality and fiction in Shark Station for animals at depth in this post.

For Shark Station, it is true that I wanted to feature more sharks than in previous novels and to do that, I took advantage of the lack of knowledge of the sea creatures in the Sirena Deep. Unlike Challenger Deep, there’s less known about the Sirena Deep and if you want, you can read more about it from my research blog post for this novel (click here to read it). In Shark Station, you read about shortfin makos, blue sharks, great white sharks, goblin sharks, and frilled sharks. Only the shortfin mako, blue sharks, and great white sharks are featured at depths already documented by science in the book. The goblin shark and frilled shark that Allie encounters are both featured at depths far deeper than they have so far been documented. Frilled sharks only dive to 1,570m (5,150.9ft), which is almost half the depth they are featured at in Shark Station. The goblin shark has been found as deep as 1,300m (4,265.1ft), which is nearly a fourth of the depth I placed them at. Both of these sharks are still mostly a mystery to science and it is possible that in the future they may be observed at lower depths than once thought possible.

Physeter macrocephalus, or more commonly known as the sperm whale, was encountered by Allie and her station mates at a much lower depth than they have ever been recorded. If you reference my earlier blog post—SeaCreatures Part 1 – Sunlit Marine Life—from Allie’s Return, you’ll know that sperm whales typically dive down about 1,000m (3,280ft). In Shark Station, they observe it at almost twice that depth.

Allie and her friends see a Dumbo octopus when on the seafloor of the Sirena Deep. However, Dumbo octopuses have been known to only dive to 7,000m (22,965.9 ft). Snailfish, too, have not been observed lower than 8,000m (26,246.7ft). Each of these animals were described at over 2,800m (9,186ft) their currently known depth.

Deep-sea coral has not been found as deep as the Sirena Deep before, but with an area as vast as the Mariana Trench is, who knows what could be down there. Typically, deep-sea coral live in depths of up to 6,000m (20,000ft)(1). In Shark Station, the deep-sea coral they find at the bottom of the Sirena Deep were at over 10,800m (35,400ft).


Overall, my reasons for using the gaps in knowledge was to provide the reader with an awe-inspiring experience of Allie and her friends’ time in Shark Station. I considered whether or not it could even be a possibility that these animals could live in the Sirena Deep. To answer my own question, I would say yes. All of the creatures I featured at depths lower than they typically dive have the physiological adaptations to live at lower depths. The only limiting factors would be the difference in pressure exerted on the body for each species and food availability. As far as location, each of the species described in the trench have been known to inhabit those waters, so with that, I did not take any liberties.

  *As I was doing research for this post, I discovered that the Sirena Deep is NOT the second deepest part of the ocean, the Horizon Deep is. This was confirmed almost seven months after the publication of Shark Station. But the Sirena Deep is still the second deepest part of the Mariana Trench (that we know of). This is a perfect example of how we’re still learning about the ocean every dive and new knowledge is obtained all the time. If you want to read about the first manned dive to the Horizon Deep, you can click here.


I hope you have a greater understanding of the differences between reality and fiction in Shark Station. Perhaps, one day, with further knowledge of the undersea world, we’ll discover that the animal behaviors in Shark Station are in fact, more reality than fiction.


You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. In two weeks will be the last blog post for Shark Station and no more blog posts will be posted until after the next novel is released. Be sure to subscribe so you’ll be notified when the blog posts for the next book begin. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.


References

Friday, November 22, 2019

A Tour of the Depths


In my acknowledgments in Shark Station, I mentioned a VR game called Ocean Rift and how my playing of the game greatly increased my understanding of the emotions and feelings Allie and the other characters could have under the sea. Well, today I’m sharing with you some of the video footage I took while in-game. I purposely chose ones that relate to specific scenes in Shark Station like the Mola mola swim, the deep sea, and Allie and her friends’ swim with Jagger. Ocean Rift VR is still my favorite VR game and I play it whenever I have time. If you’re into gaming and have an Oculus Rift headset or Samsung Gear VR, I highly recommend trying it. One of the best and most unique things about the game is that the animals behave differently for every habitat you enter. I like it because you never know when you’ll discover a new creature or one may come up to surprise you. Anyway, below you’ll find the video compilation of scene reenactments from Shark Station. I hope you enjoy!



You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Subscribe to be notified of the next blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Shark Station Dining Menu


Introduction
Unlike Oceania, Shark Station wasn’t built with all the comforts of a land-dwelling life. Shark Station is more rustic in origin and food is limited to what can be stored for long periods of time or what can be obtained from the sea. So, to give you a taste (pun not intended) of what Dylan, Allie, and their friends had for choices to eat while on the station, see a sample of the Shark Station Dining Menu below.





Friday, October 11, 2019

How to Survive-Research Station Living Under the Sea


How to Survive-Research Station Living Under the Sea

Introduction
In Shark Station, the actual station isn’t discussed to the level that Oceania was in Oceania: The Underwater City. So, to compensate for that, I will be sharing with you the literal guide to surviving a stay at Shark Station Research Base. This is the guide given to all research personnel choosing to stay at Shark Station to conduct research. It is read to them while they are docking in the docking bay of the station and will give you insight into what the station offers and how living on it is different than living in Oceania. I hope you enjoy!

Basic Introduction
Welcome to Shark Station, this guide will prepare you for deep-sea station living. In our spacious 222,000 square-foot research facility, you will find a hydroponic lab large enough to feed the entire station, a full kitchen-cafeteria, an exercise room, science labs, moon pools, and an adequate and functional sleeping quarters. A fully sustainable system, Shark Station can support up to 50 scientists for over half a decade without outside aid. Living on Shark Station will be different than the life you’re used to in Oceania. Allow me to highlight some of the differences and how you will have to adapt to life on the station.

*Since Oceania uses the metric system, scroll to the bottom to see US units of measurement conversions for each metric one with a superscript next to it.

Environment
Shark Station lies 4,420m(1) below the earth’s surface. The pressure outside the station is 44,530.4 kPa(2). The internal pressure of the station is maintained at 1 atm. The interior temperature of the station is kept at a comfortable 21.1°C(3), while the outside is a frigid 3.9°C(4). Only the hydroponic chamber has an adjustable thermometer to allow for the adjustment of temperature suitable for the plants growing inside.

Duties on the Station
While aboard Shark Station, you will be required to perform a duty relative to your field of expertise in addition to your personal research. For example, if your specialty is marine biology or biochemistry, you may be appointed a food inspector to assess the quality of the fish caught to be eaten by the crew. If botany is your specialty, you will be in charge of maintaining the plants for food on the station. The station can only run properly if everyone is involved in its operation. The robotic staff is only for basic support, cleaning, and minor cooking of meals. They are solely not enough to run the station when humans are present.

Food Safety Protocol
All food on Shark Station is grown on the station itself in the hydroponic chambers, caught from outside the station, or brought from Oceania either dried or frozen until consumption. It is your duty and the duty of the onboard food inspector to assure that any and all fish caught outside of the station is safe for human consumption. No endangered species are permitted to be consumed and neither are any animals high in mercury or other toxic poisons to the human body. If no food inspector has been assigned due to no present staff being qualified to be the food inspector, one of the robotic staff will be appointed the food inspector.

Health Safety Protocol
Each stay at Shark Station requires a crewmember with medical experience and knowledge. They will be the head medical personnel and responsible for the health of the entire crew. They have the authority to name anyone their proxy in case they fall ill. It will be their job to see to any injuries sustained while on the station or outside it. They are also in charge of testing the water quality and air quality of the station. All water is recycled throughout the station similar to Oceania and the air must be purified and tested daily. If you notice any abnormalities, you are to notify the head medical personnel immediately.

Rules of the Station
Rules of the station are as follows:
All crew members are to be treated with respect; no inappropriate behavior allowed.
No stealing of food or storage equipment is allowed.
All lab equipment must be cleaned and maintained after each use.
No personal belongings are allowed to be left on the station after the departure of a crewmember.
All common areas are to be kept clean at all times and every crew member is expected to clean up behind themselves in these areas.
Sleeping quarter rooms are the personal space of the occupant, no one is allowed to enter any of the rooms without the permission of the occupant.
Moonpool doors are only to be operated and used for scientific purposes only. The moon pools are not to be used as swimming pools.
All hydroponics must be overseen by a qualified crewmember.
Maintenance and support systems rooms are off-limits to non-essential personnel
Only personnel with appropriate skills in robotic engineering are allowed to tamper with robotic staff.
For a complete list of rules, please review the file that was just sent to your communication device.

Conclusion
Enjoy your stay at Shark Station, may your research go as intended and many new discoveries be made. Remember to disembark with caution.

Conversions to US Units of Measurements
(1) 14,500 feet
(2) 6,458.6 psi
(3) 70°F
(4) 39°F




You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Subscribe to be notified of the next blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Special Inventions in Shark Station


With two novels already written in the series, there was little left to invent for this one. Although the majority of the novel takes place away from Oceania, much of the technology and inventions in Oceania are present in Shark Station as well. However, due to the new location for the novel, three new inventions were needed.

Digital Hull Integrity Monitor (DHIM)
Much of the story revolved around excursions to the deep. Shark Station was built as a hub of deep-sea exploration, specifically in the deepest trench in the sea. To facilitate this research, submersibles are used in an excessive amount compared to normal. They spend more time in the sea than in the docking bay, which meant that the hull integrity of the submersibles needed to be constantly checked for any abnormalities. At the depth of the Sirena Deep, any tiny imperfection could cause a fatal implosion. The Digital Hull Integrity Monitor (DHIM), was created to make the inspection process faster and more accurate. It works by scanning the complete hull of the submersible and then creating a 3D image to show the user where any imperfections may be. A human could then inspect it visually to decide how it needs to be fixed. The DHIM also has the capability to analyze the severity of any imperfections to allow the user to make the best decision on whether or not an immediate fix is necessary.

Com-Stone
Another Dr. Wilcox invention! The com-stone is meant to work as an extension of the c-com and act as a conduit between it and the omniphones used on land. Using powerful wave technology, it can send signals from the depths of the sea to the highest peaks on land. Interfacing between Oceanian systems and land systems, it can flawlessly connect anyone on the planet to one-another and allow conversations as clear as if the person was speaking beside you.
Shaped like a smooth, round rock, it has simple ways of controlling it. To turn it on, you merely have to sweep your hand over it. Using the lines on a human hand to activate it, it can be programmed to activate to only your unique handprint. Once the holographic projection begins, a menu can be used to access all other features. A simple double-tap on the stone will bring up the menu after the stone glows twice. Turning off the com-stone is as simple as waving your hand over it twice or choosing “off” from the menu.

*Of course, all of this is the dream of Dr. Wilcox and the system hasn’t been quite perfected yet and is still in development. Only part of the features are currently available.


Fisherbox
Living in the deep sea has its challenges and being away from Oceania makes Shark Station a particularly difficult place to live due to the lack of resources. Thus, the Fisherbox was invented. Food in the deep is scarce and so placing any bate out into the water is an almost guarantee of catching something. To help supplement the diets of those on Shark Station and learn about new species, the Fisherbox was invented. Shaped like—well you guessed it—a box, the Fisherbox has the capability to catch many creatures of the deep. The largest Fisherbox on Shark Station measures 3m (9.84ft) by 3m (9.84ft) by 3m (9.84ft, but most boxes are around 0.5m (1.64ft) by 0.5m (1.64ft) by 0.5m (1.64ft). They are attached by a cable and dropped through a moon pool and sent below the reach of the station’s lights. There it sits until an organism larger than 20.32 cm (8 inches) is caught, it automatically closes the trap and ascends back to the station and floats at the top of the moon pool until its retrieved. It is more high-tech than any mere fishing road ever was, but functions in the same way—catch a fish one by one.

You’ve reached the end of the blog post for this week. Check back next Friday for a new blog post or subscribe to be immediately notified. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com. As always, I love hearing from my readers.



Friday, August 30, 2019

Character Profile and Interview: Dr. Amaya Avraham


***Spoiler Alert***
 If you have not read Shark Station yet, reading the character interview questions and answers below will spoil it for you. This is meant to be read after you’ve finished reading the book.

Character Profile
Name: Dr. Amaya Avraham
Age: 40
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Favorite Color: Crimson
Official Job on Shark Station: Chief Hydroculturalist and Nutritionist

Personality Description:


Dr. Avraham has the ESTJ-A or Executive personality type. If you want to read more about this personality type, you can visit https://www.16personalities.com/estj-personality.

***Spoiler Content Below This Point***
Character Interviews

Question 1: Why did you volunteer to go to Shark Station?

Answer: I didn’t volunteer, perse. Mayor Cho personally asked me to go. He informed me of the situation at hand and that the individuals on the station would need someone with my expertise in order to keep everyone alive. They would need food to be grown and in an environment like Shark Station, a rookie wouldn’t have been able to keep the plants alive long enough at a healthy state for human consumption. He also told me he chose me for my distance from the situation and ability to keep my resolve under pressure.


Question 2: How did you feel about Allie and her friends after spending a couple of days with them?

Answer: Mayor Cho had told me about some of their misadventures and why they were being sent to Shark Station in the first place. I quickly discovered for myself why they were being dealt such a punishment. They have a clear lack of respect for authority, take unnecessary risks, and repeatedly put themselves and other’s lives in danger. They refuse to listen to anyone they disagree with and act cavalier about getting out of their predicament without a scratch. I detested having to be in charge of them, but at the least, it gave me dedicated time to work on my gene expression research while having free helpers.


Question 3: How did you feel when the teenagers' attitudes changed towards you after the earthquake?

Answer: Honestly, I was shocked. I did not expect that from them, especially Allie, who had clearly held animosity for me the entire stay at the station. Devon was the one I was least shocked about. He acted with an air of professionalism and did his best despite the dismal circumstances. I am most grateful to him for what he did.


Question 4: What did you do while waiting for rescue in the hydroponic room?

Answer: At first, once I was able to stand again, I attempted to make my way to the stairwell to reach the upper floors. The aftershocks blocked the way both up and down, so I was trapped. I didn’t know how long it would take to be rescued, so I used what I could to make a makeshift bed to sleep on. I had plenty of food and water thanks to the hydroponics chamber, but every time I tried to use the communication system to alert Oceania, I heard nothing. It was disheartening, but I had hope due to the hydroponics chamber. I worried about the others since they were in much worse shape than me.


Random Question: What was the most difficult plant for you to maintain the hydroponic chambers?

Answer: Potatoes. They were difficult for a variety of reasons. One was because of their size, but also because somehow, they kept growing a fungus that I couldn’t place. The potatoes that I was using were genetically altered for a shorter growing period and I hypothesize that could have been why they weren’t growing well. They were certainly the ones that gave me the most headaches.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Character Profile and Interview: Dr. Jay Kwon


***Spoiler Alert***
 If you have not read Shark Station yet, reading the character interview questions and answers below will spoil it for you. This is meant to be read after you’ve finished reading the book.

Character Profile
Name: Dr. Jay Kwon
Age: 51
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Favorite Color: Blue Abyss (aka Navy Blue)
Official Job on Shark Station: Ecological Specialist

Personality Description:
Dr. Jay Kwon is a reserved, yet passionate abyssal ecologist. Observant of others, his quiet nature is often mistaken for introvertedness, when in reality he is more of an ambivert. Scientific research sparks an internal fire in him that lights up his persona. Otherwise, Jay Kwon is an even-tempered individual. A muted sense of adventure drives him to want to discover all he can about the mysterious abyss. Although dedicated to abyssal ecology, Dr. Kwon also dabbles in other fields such as the culinary arts, computer programming, and even the art style of pointillism in his spare time.


Dr. Kwon has the INFJ-A or Advocate personality type. If you want to read more about this personality type, you can visit https://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality.


***Spoiler Content Below This Point***
Character Interviews

Question 1: Why did you volunteer to go to Shark Station?

Answer: Oh, that is an easy one. I volunteered to go to Shark Station for the opportunity to research the abyssal and bathypelagic. It is an entirely new area of the ocean than where I’ve conducted previous research and I wanted to make comparisons between the two. In addition, having Shark Station already in the abyssal pelagic zone, I was literally where I needed to study. I could leave the station and conduct research with greater ease and frequency than I could in Oceania. This was the opportunity of a lifetime that I couldn’t pass up.


Question 2: What was it like to research the hadalpelagic in contrast to the abyssal pelagic?

Answer: The hadalpelagic and the abyssal pelagic differed only slightly, to be honest. In both environments, the fauna is minimal. In that way, they didn’t differ much at all. However, the amount of pressure and lack of resources differ. Whether on land or in Oceania, the lack of research on the Sirena Deep is immense and any new knowledge that can be obtained is extremely valuable. I was surprised to find coral at the bottom of the sea—literally. The Mariana Trench is the deepest trench in the world, and it is the closest you can get to the Earth’s core without penetrating the crust. I found it to be unique, as I had not found deep-sea coral, well, quite that deep before.


Question 3: When you were at the bottom of the Sirena Deep and you started to feel unwell, what was your first thought?

Answer: [After a long pause to think, Dr. Kwon answers] The pain was all-consuming, so it is hard to think what my first thought was beyond, “this really hurts.” I think I thought that I was going to die and how far away we were from help. Even though we had Dr. Jones, who I have a lot of faith in, Shark Station pales in comparison to the medical technologies we have in Oceania. I began to wonder if I would die on the ocean floor and never be able to finish my research.


Question 4: What did you think about Allie being your designated mentee?

Answer: Allie is a gifted scientist who seems to either doubt herself or be overconfident. She needs to learn a balance between the two. Her sense of discovery is well-developed and she should continue to explore the deep. I have to say that the way she is comfortable in the blackness of the sea is awe-inspiring. It took me a long time to get comfortable being alone in a submersible, let alone something as indefensible as the SCUBAPS. For that, I admire her.


Random Question: What was your favorite food aboard Shark Station?

Answer: My favorite food item had to be the eel-fish wrap. I discovered a new species of eel that grew to at least five feet long based on the specimen I caught. After catching the first specimen, researching it and then releasing it, I caught several others. I began to assume they were populous in the deep and decided to make a meal out of one. I baked it, cut it into strips, and then placed it on pita bread, added lettuce, rolled it up and it was delicious! I even tried it as sushi and it was even better!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Character Profile and Interview: Dr. Antoine Gomez


***Spoiler Alert***
 If you have not read Shark Station yet, reading the character interview questions and answers below will spoil it for you. This is meant to be read after you’ve finished reading the book.

Character Profile
Name: Dr. Antoine Gomez
Age: 24
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Hazel
Favorite Color: Purple
Official Job on Shark Station: Head Marine Engineer and Maintenance Specialist

Personality Description:
Dr. Antoine Gomez is a young, enthusiastic scientist who helps balance the divide between the teenagers and adults on Shark Station. Determined, passionate, and understanding, Antoine’s personality is a blend of a scientific and creative mind. Fairly adaptable, he can be comfortable alone or in a crowd. Both socially and intellectually adept, he does well bridging the gap between the scientific and non-scientific world. He easily finds himself lost in his work and can talk about it for hours on end. A bit of a daydreamer, he is constantly thinking of ways to improve structural integrity underwater.


Dr. Gomez has the INFJ-T or Advocate personality type. If you want to read more about this personality type, you can visit https://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality.


***Spoiler Content Below This Point***
Character Interviews

Question 1: What inspired you to become a marine engineer?

Answer:  When I was a kid, I was mesmerized by the construction of the protective dome surrounding the city of Oceania. I wanted to know how it worked and kept us all safe from the crushing pressure of the abyss. I asked my mother what kind of person studied those things and she told me structural marine engineers do. That was it. I wanted to become one of those when I grew up. I dreamed of designing a material that could withstand fluctuations of both heat and cold, allowing a city to thrive near hydrothermal vents.  At the age of fourteen, I built a model of such a building and tested it small-scale. It failed when I tried to present it at a science convention. However, a gained a mentorship from one of the top marine engineers in the city. She helped me get where I am today and I’m extremely grateful for her help.


Question 2: Why did you volunteer to go to Shark Station?

Answer: In Oceania, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to build a pressure-sensitive system. Of course, you can research and study the ones that are already completed and have been for decades but going to Shark Station gave me the opportunity to examine a station that was built recently (at least compared to the city). It also gave me a chance to think of and begin developing improvements for substation anti-pressure buildings.


Question 3: What was it like for you living on Shark Station?

Answer: I really enjoyed it. I’ve never been in a place as remote as the station before. Unlike a lot of the other residents in Shark Station, I’d never been on a submersible with only a few other people. I’m used to living in a city with millions of people. Living in an environment with only nine other people was definitely a change and I found myself truly getting to know my station-mates. I enjoyed it and spending time with Max. He’s a brilliant mind when it comes to engineering and I see him going far in the field of robotics.


Question 4: What was it like knowing the teenagers were your only hope and the surmounting odds they faced?

Answer: Honestly, I know most adults would be terrified to know their fate rested in the hands of a group of teenagers, but I didn’t. Dylan, Allie, Max, Devon, and Samantha impressed me with their capabilities that they displayed several times throughout the trip to Shark Station and while we were there. I knew they’d do whatever they could do to save all of us, regardless of any personal differences. They’re good people and the determination I saw within each of them let me know we’d survive.


Random Question: Would you have used the SCUBAPS to escape Shark Station?
Answer: Although I am a marine engineer, I would say I’d emphasize on the engineer part versus the marine part. Don’t misunderstand me, I do love the ocean, but as far as swimming long distances in it at depth, that I do not enjoy. In fact, I’ve never swum in the ocean before if you can believe it. I’ve only swum in pools inside Oceania and I’ve rarely been outside the city. I think I would be paralyzed with fear if I had to use the SCUBAPS to swim from Shark Station to the surface. I honestly don’t think I would have made it.