Hexbyte Glen Cove Diving among ancient ruins where Romans used to party thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Diving among ancient ruins where Romans used to party

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Divers can explore the underwater ruins of the ancient Roman party town of Baiae.

Fish dart across mosaic floors and into the ruined villas, where holidaying Romans once drank, plotted and flirted in the party town of Baiae, now an underwater archaeological park near Naples.

Statues which once decorated luxury abodes in this beachside resort are now playgrounds for crabs off the coast of Italy, where divers can explore ruins of palaces and domed bathhouses built for emperors.

Rome’s nobility were first attracted in the 2nd century BC to the hot springs at Baiae, which sits on the coast within the Campi Flegrei—a supervolcano known in English as the Phlegraean Fields.

Seven emperors, including Augustus and Nero, had villas here, as did Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony. The poet Sextus Propertius described the town as a place of vice, which was “foe to virtuous creatures”.

It was where “old men behave like young boys, and lots of young boys act like young girls,” according to the Roman scholar Varro.

But by the 4th century, the porticos, marble columns, shrines and ornamental fish ponds had begun to sink due to bradyseism, the gradual rise and fall of land due to hydrothermal and seismic activity.

The whole area, including the neighbouring commercial capital of Pozzuoli and military seat at Miseno, were submerged. Their ruins now lie between four and six metres (15 to 20 feet) underwater.

Now an underwater archaeological park near Naples, Rome’s nobility were first attracted in the 2nd century BC to the hot springs at Baiae.

‘Something unique’

“It’s difficult, especially for those coming for the first time, to imagine that you can find things you would never be able to see anywhere else in the world in just a few metres of water,” said Marcello Bertolaso, head of the Campi Flegrei diving centre, which takes tourists around the site.

“Divers love to see very special things, but what you can see in the park of Baiae is something unique.”

The 177-hectare (437-acre) underwater site has been a protected marine area since 2002, following decades in which antiques were found in fishermen’s nets and looters had free rein.

Divers must be accompanied by a registered guide.

A careful sweep of sand near a low wall uncovers a stunning mosaic floor from a villa which belonged to Gaius Calpurnius Pisoni, known to have spent his days here conspiring against Emperor Nero.

Explorers follow the ancient stones of the coastal road past ruins of spas and shops, the sunlight on a clear day piercing the waves to light up statues. These are replicas; the originals are now in a museum.

“When we research new areas, we gently remove the sand where we know there could be a floor, we document it, and then we re-cover it,” archaeologist Enrico Gallocchio told AFPTV.

“If we don’t, the marine fauna or flora will attack the ruins. The sand protects them,” said Gallocchio, who is in charge of the Baiae park.

“The big ruins were easily discovered by moving a bit of sand, but there are areas where the banks of sand could be metres deep. There are undoubtedly still ancient relics to be found,” he said.



© 2021 AFP

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Diving among ancient ruins where Romans used to party (2021, August 21)
retrieved 21 August 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Births among endangered right whales highest since 2015 thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Births among endangered right whales highest since 2015

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This Jan. 19, 2021 photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources shows a North Atlantic right whale mother and calf in waters near Wassaw Island, Ga. Scientists recorded 17 newborn right whale calves during the critically endangered species’ winter calving season off the Atlantic coast of the southeastern U.S. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA Permit #20556 via AP)

North Atlantic right whales gave birth over the winter in greater numbers than scientists have seen since 2015, an encouraging sign for researchers who became alarmed three years ago when the critically endangered species produced no known offspring at all.

Survey teams spotted 17 newborn right whale calves swimming with their mothers offshore between Florida and North Carolina from December through March. One of those calves soon died after being hit a boat, a reminder of the high death rate for that experts fear is outpacing births.

The overall calf count equals the combined total for the previous three years. That includes the dismal 2018 calving season, when scientists saw zero right whale births for the first time in three decades. Still, researchers say greater numbers are needed in the coming years for North Atlantic right to rebound from an estimated population that’s dwindled to about 360.

“What we are seeing is what we hope will be the beginning of an upward climb in calving that’s going to continue for the next few years,” said Clay George, a wildlife biologist who oversees right whale surveys for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “They need to be producing about two dozen calves per year for the population to stabilize and continue to grow again.”

Right whales migrate each winter to the warmer Atlantic waters off the Southeastern U.S. to give birth. Trained spotters fly over the coastline almost daily during the calving season, scanning the water for mothers with newborns.

Survey flights over Georgia and Florida ended Wednesday on the last day of March, typically the season’s end. Spotters will monitor waters off the Carolinas through April 15, hoping to pick up any overlooked newborns as the whales head north to their feeding grounds.

This season’s calf count matches the 17 births recorded in 2015. Right whale experts consider that number fairly average, considering the record is 39 births confirmed in 2009.

Scientists suspect a calving slump in recent years may have been caused by a shortage of zooplankton to feed right whales in the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy off Nova Scotia. They say the uptick in births this season could be a result of whales being healthier after shifting to waters with more abundant food sources.

This March 11, 2021 photo provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources shows a North Atlantic right whale mother and calf in waters near Cumberland Island, Ga. Scientists recorded 17 newborn right whale calves during the critically endangered species’ winter calving season off the Atlantic coast of the southeastern U.S. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA Permit #20556 via AP)

“It’s a somewhat hopeful sign that they are starting to adjust to this new regime where females are in good enough condition to give birth,” said Philip Hamilton, a right whale researched at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Regardless, conservationists worry that right whales are dying—largely from manmade causes—at a faster rate than they can reproduce.

Since 2017, scientists have confirmed 34 right whale deaths in waters of the U.S. and Canada—with the leading causes being entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with boats and ships. Considering additional whales were documented in the same period with serious injuries they were unlikely to survive, researchers fear the real death toll could be at least 49.

That would exceed the 39 right whale births recorded since 2017.

“If we reduced or eliminated the human-caused death rate, their rate would be fine,” Hamilton said. “The onus should not be on them to reproduce at a rate that can sustain the rate at which we kill them. The onus should be in us to stop killing.”

The is expected to finalize new rules soon aimed at decreasing the number of right whales tangled up in fishing gear used to catch lobster and crabs in the Northeast. Proposals to reduce vertical fishing lines in the water and modify seasonal restricted areas have been met with heated debate. Fishermen say the proposed rules could put them out of businesses, while conservation groups insist they aren’t strict enough.

The National Marine Fisheries Service received more than 170,000 public comments on the proposed rules after a report was issued Dec. 31, said agency spokeswoman Allison Garrett. She said final rules should be published this summer.

Garrett said the fisheries service is also considering adjustments to federal rules that since 2008 have imposed speed limits on larger vessels in certain Atlantic waters during seasonal periods when right whales are frequently seen. An agency report in January found mariners’ compliance with the speed rules have improved overall, but still lagged below 25% for large commercial vessels at four ports in the Southeast.

“We’ve long known from the survival estimates that more right whales are dying than those we see,” said George, the whale survey coordinator for Georgia. “They need to be producing a lot more calves. But the big issue is we’ve got to significantly reduce the number than are being entangled in fishing ropes and struck by boats.”



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Citation:
Births among endangered right whales highest since 2015 (2021, April 3)
retrieved 4 April 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-births-endangered-whales-highest.html

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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