Skip to content

The Whippet #71: Beneath the icy waves

McKinley Valentine — 6 min read

On this page

Good morning!

Please enjoy this icy oceans edition of The Whippet! What unknown terrors lurk in the frozen depths! (Don't worry I promise there are no photos of horrible deep-sea creatures in this issue.)

The piece about the ultra-deep sea diver - it's a whole nother world. They have to live in underwater chambers for a month to acclimatise before diving further down, and a week before coming to the surface again.

"It is a very strange situation,” says 39-year-old diver Chris Lemons. “You are living on the ship surrounded by lots of people who are just a sheath of metal away, but you are completely isolated from them.

“It is quicker to get back from the Moon than it is from the depths of the sea in some ways.”

Sea snakes can't drink saltwater

Today in "you think you have it tough"... you do! Just because someone else (somesnake else) has it tougher doesn't mean you don't have it tough as well.

Anyway, sea snakes, which are in no way fish, just reptiles that live in the sea, still have to drink fresh water like other snakes. For ages people assumed they could drink saltwater, but no. They have to seek out 'lenses' of freshwater that form on the surface of the ocean during heavy rain. Heavy rain dilutes the seawater enough, temporarily, to be drinkable.

And here's me, with fresh running water constantly available 10 metres away, dehydrated because I got caught up in something on the computer and forgot to drink anything.

Sea snakes also need to breathe air but that is generally pretty available if you just swim up.

Bonus sea snake facts: they are generally way more venomous than land snakes, and some of them have photoreceptors (photo=light) in their tail so they can tell if they are completely hidden or not. A good genetic modification to give a cyberpunk ninja, if you happen to be a scifi writer.

Could shallow biospheres exist beneath the icy ceilings of ocean moons?

"Alien life could potentially exist on the undersides of the icy shells of Jupiter's moon Europa and other frozen worlds thanks to the intersection of chemical energy rising up from hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor and oxidants diffusing down from the surface."

Astrobiologist explains why and what kind of life it might be

"Europa’s surface is a shell of ice covering a global ocean and displaying amazing features. Long, linear cracks and ridges crisscross the surface, broken by regions of disrupted terrain where the crust of surface ice has cracked and refrozen into new patterns. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech"

Mola mola (sunfish) skeleton

The black sillhouette is the flesh body of the sunfish

The diver who survived without oxygen for 30 minutes on the ocean floor

"There was a sickening crack when the thick cable connecting Chris Lemons to the ship above him snapped. This vital umbilical cord to the world above carried power, communications, heat and air to his diving suit 100m (328ft) below the surface of the sea."

"He was left with just six or seven minutes of emergency air supply. Over the next 30 minutes at the bottom of the North Sea, Lemons would experience something that few people have lived to talk about: he ran out of air."

This is a super compellingly written story if you like survival stories and also scientific explanations of how our bodies respond to extreme situations. Ultra-deep sea diving is a whole other thing. You have to leave deep underwater in a sealed chamber for a week to adjust before you can dive further.

You can survive for much longer without oxygen in icy water

For people who didn't read the story above - that's part of it. Your metabolism slows way down and reduces your oxygen consumption.

People with small frames (typically women) tend to survive longer because they cool down faster.

Whale fact twitter

hard to argue with

Solicited Advice

How do I remember to do daily tasks that you really should do every day (like putting on deodorant) but they rely on other stuff being in a specific order, and those other things often aren’t?

Oh, morning routines! Yeah this is super-hard if you don't work regular days/hours outside the house. I was in the habit of brushing my teeth immediately before leaving the house in the morning, and then when I went freelance, I kept forgetting until the afternoon.

No good! No good for my gums, no good for people who have to stand near my face. I'm less convinced that deodorant needs to be worn every day, but I will take your word for it that you have different sweat/smell situation to me.

Anyway as you basically pointed out, habits are based around routines, and you currently don't have a routine to anchor your deodorant to. So, pick something you do every day and put your deodorant on after that. You can put the bottle there as a visual reminder.

For example - put your deodorant next to your coffee. Or inside a coffee cup next to your coffee so you have to take it out. If you have lots of things like this, you could set up a lil "Things to remember" station. Like people often have a keys/wallet "leaving the house" station - but for indoors/waking up. Then you don't need to remember all the things, but just remember "go look at the station" and then the objects on the tray are your to-do list.

Or, if you lay out the clothes you're going to wear the next day, you could put the deodorant on top of it. Or if there's any pills you take every morning, put it on top of the bottle. You get the idea.

One of my biggest ADHD wins was realising I should store stuff where it makes sense for me personally to use it, or where I am likely to be in a mood or mode to be aware of it, rather than just with other stuff that's in the same category.

Coffee/breakfast station is "getting ready station" so that's where my sunscreen is.

My makeup isn't sorted into "lips" "eyes" etc, which is the normal way, but "things you would put on to go anywhere" and "fancy makeup" - the everyday (not literally every day) makeup is really accessible and the fancy makeup is in a drawer. Ditto pills i take every day and pills i only take if i'm not feeling well. I need stuff i use everyday to be really visible and accessible, and "visible accessible space" is at a premium, so I need to split up the categories. And that way when i'm rushing, i'm not sorting through a pile of stuff for the Everyday Item, it's the only one there.

You could also keep a bottle in your backpack so at the point when you realise you've forgotten - on your way to meeting someone, presumably, because who cares if you're just at home? - then you can apply it then.

(Another thing I do is keep two copies of lots of things in my handbag and backpack, so I don't have to switch everything over. Like lip balm and a lil pack of tissues and lil container with a toothpick,a bobbypin, and 1 each of every pill I might plausibly need while I'm out. I don't actually ever need them, but I leave the house a lot faster if I'm not thinking "what if I get a headache, should I bring headache pills? or hayfever? or sleepy?" because I know it's all there.)

Ask me a question on literally any topic except contemporary politics. You can ask by replying to this email: let me know if you want to be named and/or linked.

There are two main ways you can support The Whippet!

1. With money. A classic stand-by! Patreon lets you pay anything from $1 a month (50 cents an issue!) to infinity dollars a month (still infinity dollars an issue). It's not locked in or anything though, you can cancel/pause any time. Click here for Patreon

2. By telling a friend how it's good and they should read it:

Also, if you're not subscribed and you want to be, subscribe here!


Sign in or become a Whippet subscriber (free or paid) to add your thoughts.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.