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Friday, May 24, 2019

Research for Shark Station

Research for Shark’s Station

While Oceania: The Underwater City took a lot of research to complete and Allie’s Return considerably less, Shark Station fell somewhere in between. I found myself returning to researching space science and in particular, how to live on a space station. I also had to learn about growing food in an isolated environment without sunlight and soil. And of course, I had to research more about some of the animals I wished to feature in the novel. In all, a week of intense research gave me enough information to write the latest adventure of Allie’s and Dylan’s. Here’s just a small portion of what I learned.

Setting: The Sirena Deep

When I set out to write this novel, I knew I didn’t want to choose the iconic Challenger Deep to place the story. It was too well known and didn’t make sense for a secret research station for Oceanians to be kept safe from Land Dwellers if it’s a place people continually strive to dive to. Instead, I decided on the second-deepest part of the ocean, but upon commencement of my research, I noticed an obvious problem. There is almost no research on the Sirena Deep. Besides the knowledge of how deep it is, little is known about what lives there. I try to be cautious in my research and use as many primary sources as I can. However, when researching the Sirena Deep, all the notes I took didn’t even take up one page of a Word document.

So, here’s what I found in bullet form:
·      Sirena Deep is 200km (124 miles) east of Challenger Deep’s location
·         The depth is 10,809m (35,462ft)
·         Microbial mats that fed on hydrogen and methane were found there
·         Sirena Deep is 144.8 km (90mi) south of Guam
·         Sirena Deep was discovered in 1997
·         The location of Sirena Deep is 12.0654° N, 144.5811° E.

To read the scant research yourself, you can click on the below links:

Mariana Trench

After realizing there was so little research on the Sirena Deep, I looked into the Mariana Trench next. To my (by now) no surprise, there wasn’t a lot about the Mariana Trench either, but it was substantially more than the Sirena Deep. The trench ranges from 6,000 to 10,000m (19,685-36,089ft) and is shaped in an arc that is 2,550km (1,584.5mi) long and 50km (31.1mi) wide. Over 200 different types of microorganisms were discovered in the mud collected by James Cameron in the Challenger Deep. Within the trench, there are several submarine volcanoes. The pressure at the bottom of the Mariana trench is 8 tons per square inch or (703kg per square m). Scientists on the HMS Challenger used sounding equipment to discover the trench in 1875. There are hydrothermal vents that emit acidic hydrogen sulfide. Bacteria eat this sulfide and are at the bottom of the food chain down there. Temperatures surrounding these vents can be up to 300°C (572°F). Animals that live at the bottom of the trench are estimated to live a long time due to the cold, some estimates go as far as 100 years or more.  Instead of photosynthesis, chemosynthesis creates the basis of the food chain.

To read more about the Mariana Trench, click on some of my research links below:

Growing Food in Space

For researching how to grow food in an environment lacking in sunlight and soil, I once again looked to NASA. I learned about how hydroponics works and was amazed by it. It was not only a viable solution for the Shark Station inhabitants, but also for people in general in both Oceania and the Above World. Hydroponics works by using a bit of soil usually placed in a soil pack, water, and an alternative light source such as an LED light. The main problem with this method of growing food is the bacteria and fungus problems it can create. A lot of specifics goes into how hydroponics works and it gets quite detailed, so if you want to learn more about it from a better resource than myself (aka NASA), click the below links.

Like with Allie’s Return, most of the rest of the research focused on the marine animals featured in the novel, which you’ve already read about in the three previous blog posts. If you missed them, you can find them at the following links: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I hope you enjoyed reading some of my research for the novel and have been inspired to do some more of your own. If your interest has been piqued, feel free to click any of the above links to learn more. If you have any comments, you can leave them here on my blog or email me directly at elizataye@gmail.com.

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