“20000 Leagues Under the Sea” Part1 Ch07

Question 1: How warm is the Pacific Ocean within 200 miles off the coast of Japan?  Does it depend on the season?  How long could a person realistically swim in such water before succumbing to the elements?  How much longer might a person survive with a personal flotation device?

Answer: In chapter 5, right before the encounter of the Abraham Lincoln with the Nautilus and the subsequent chase,  it states the location of the Abraham Lincoln as 31 degrees and 15 minutes north latitude and 136 degrees 42 minutes east longitude. Modern satellite temperature measurements could provide seasonal measurements for this location that would provide a reasonable estimate of what the water temperature might have been back at the time this book portrays.  From the latitude alone we can estimate the oceanic surface temperature at about 20 degrees Celsius which is equivalent to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Such a latitude to oceanic surface temperature estimate plot is provided at the website: http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/oceans2.htm#temperature.  Concerning survival expectancy in cold water, the following website estimates that in water 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit a person will lose consciousness in 2-7 hours and could survive anywhere from 2-40 hours: http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm.  In contrast this same website gives a survival range of only 1-6 hours for water 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be the case for average ocean surface temperature at latitudes above or below 45 degrees towards either of the earth’s poles.

Question 2: What are the annual statistics of persons lost at sea?  How about the number of occurrences of man overboard on vacation cruise lines?  How likely is someone falling overboard to be noticed and/or rescued?

Question 3:How much do wet clothes weigh down a swimmer?  After knotting the legs, a pair of wet pants can be thrown over one’s head forming a flotation device.  Why did Conseil instead cut the Professor’s clothes off him?


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