Sunday, July 29, 2007

Changes in the ocean


With the winter not exactly progressing well re. snow falls and an indifferent forecast for the weekend I succumbed to my growing cabin fever, stocked my camper truck and headed east to Oamaru to catch up with friends and family.

I've not done this 3 hour drive for sometime to the east coast, but I was soon reminded that literally every section holds a special memory. I grew up in Oamaru area and my only remaining grand parent, as a child, was up the Waitaki River valley. This superb river begins at Mt Cook, as well as in other equally magnificent mountains, and hits the sea just north of Oamaru.

Speaking of the sea my family have a joinery factory in Oamaru, and they had to evacuate it recently after several days of storm, as the sea, by some quirk of currents and nature has reclaimed much of the land that held up the east wall. The damage has been horrific and it even made national TV news: they caught the first sections tumbling into the sea - namely the toilet block, and it was apparently very spooky after this the next day. Cousin Michael was inside, while outside it was thought there was still a margin [of safety]. He was removing fittings and noted what he thought was a widening hairline crack in the concrete floor, so he put a piece of tape across it, and lo, after a few minutes it showed signs of stress. Then with frightening speed the floor rose, and the whole wall promptly fell in the sea, leaving the roof precariously unsupported.

There is much talk, as we all know, of global warming, but after seeing this coast I'm reminded that maybe we should think "climate change". There used to be a beach for as long as I can recall running south from Oamaru for 40 miles, interspersed with headlands admittedly, that had beaches of golden sand. Well it's all gone - now there is just a brutal landscape of rocks. Today I checked it out and it was wild: just a froth of menacing swells pounding it and the water was simply loaded with silt from the eroding clay and soil that used to be the shoreline for at least the last 60 years plus. The news I've heard from Dunedin city further south, that sandbanks of at least a 100 years standing are vanishing, exposing the densely populated suburbs of St Claire and St Kilda to the sea, took on a new meaning! When I consider that climate in NZ is essentially driven by the sea, then there is change in front of our very eyes!! I've seen the damage and it's highly disturbing - not just what is falling into the sea, but that our long standing ocean currents have changed. Can this be related to our somewhat unusual winter? And I also note that this summer past we had a fleet of 60-70 large icebergs pass by Dunedin and Timaru, an easy helicopter flight distance out to sea [they drove a huge tourist boom]

The duck photo I took recently. I was captivated by the colour and patterns in the water [of L. Wakatipu]

The below one of a wild sea is Oamaru the morning after my visit [thanks Shirley for emailing this to me and allowing me to use it]
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2 Comments:

Blogger Shirley Goodwin said...

You obviously made it home safely! It's a horrible day here today.

Such lovely colours in the water in this photo.

July 30, 2007 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reading-I kept wanting to hear more.Didnt realize that was Firmans building that went into the sea-saw it on TV.Deirdre

July 30, 2007 at 11:13 AM  

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