Oceanic Currents

oceantide“What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen– Even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”–Psalm 8: 4–9


Image Source

1.  This Psalm was written by David some 3,000 years ago and yet it speaks to the existence of “paths through the seas”

  • The word used for “paths” is the Hebrew transliteration “orach” – this essentially means a “road” or “way of travel”
  • A path is a way of traveling more quickly between two points 1

2. The Bible is saying that such paths (or ways of traveling more quickly between two points) do exist within the oceans and seas

  • Sure enough with the discovery of the oceanic currents, this has been show to be the case
  • The currents, which are large water flows in a particular direction, enable quick travel for sea going vessels and sea life


Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ocean_surface_currents.jpg


Science’s understanding of oceanography has developed over a few thousand years.  Yet, it is really only in the last few centuries that a grasp of the oceanic currents has taken place:
  • 600 BC – The Phoenicians become the dominant seafaring force of the ancient world
    • Trade drives a pursuit for better understanding of wind patterns and its impact on seafaring voyages 2
  • 200 BC – A Greek mathematician named Eratosthenes becomes the first person to formulate a method of determining the Earth’s circumference
    • He uses the angles of shadows and the distance between Alexandria (N. Egypt) and Syene (S. Egypt)
    • The key though is that he demonstrated mathematically the earth to be round 3
  • 900 AD – The Vikings began to cross the North Atlantic and colonize Greenland and New Foundland 4
  • 1492 – Italian Christopher Columbus, under a Spanish ensign, crosses the Atlantic Ocean
  • 1498 – Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama sails his ships around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa and becomes the first European to reach India by boat
    • Oceanic currents begin to be documented 5
  • 1519 – Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet depart Portugal to begin the first expedition to circumnavigate the world
    • Oceanic currents begin to be mapped at a high level 6
  • 1620 – Dutch scientist Cornelis Drebbel builds the world’s first submarine and submerges up to 15 feet in London’s Thames River 7
  • 1768 – British Naval Commander James Cook begins to chart and map the Pacific 8
  • 1785 – American inventor Benjamin Franklin documents in his Sundry Maritime Observations that he has discovered the Gulf Stream 9
  • 1807 – The US Coastal Survey (forerunner to the US Coastal and Geodetic Survey, which eventually became the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) is formed
    • This begins to systematically document the oceanic currents, particularly the Gulf Stream 10
  • 1855 – Matthew Fontaine Maury publishes The Physical Geography of the Sea – this becomes the definitive work on charting the existence of oceanic and gulf currents 11
  • Today, Maury is widely regarded as the “Father of Oceanography” as a result 12