what is most likely to cause someone to fall overboard

The most common way for someone to fall overboard is standing up while moving. The waves, rocks, and motion of the boat will likely knock you over. If you are standing on a slippery surface, you may be at a higher risk of falling overboard. However, even if you do not fall overboard, you should stay conscious of your surroundings. The key is to keep your head above water and to stay aware of your surroundings.

The most common cause of falling overboard is being too near the edge of the boat. A person that falls too close to the edge of the ship is most vulnerable to falling overboard due to the sudden movements. The propeller will not hit them and they will be tossed around by the rough water. It can be difficult to locate the person if they fall overboard, so it’s critical that you remain calm.

Falling overboard on a boat usually happens when people stand up while on board. Slowing down will stop the propeller. If you’re on board a boat, try throwing a personal flotation device to the person who falls overboard. It’s best to stay seated at all times. If you feel dizzy, you may be inclined to stand on the rails. This will increase your risk of falling over.

The sea and other waters

Oceans and great seas

The oceans, the great masses of water that surround the Earth, perform very important functions for the climate, and therefore for life. Oceans and great seas are always in motion and terrible catastrophes can even reach land from their depths.

oceans they affect the Earth’s climate

Sea water makes billions of fish and other animals live. In addition, it contains a large amount of chemical elements, even gold, even if it is so dispersed that it cannot be extracted.

But the most important role of the oceans is to function as immense conveyor belts of heat: this, after being stored in the warm waters of the equator, is distributed throughout the Earth by the currents. As a consequence of this, some countries, even if very close, may have different climates: it is warmer where the equatorial waters arrive (such as those of the Gulf of Mexico current) and colder where they do not.

Restless seas

The seas never stand still. We notice this when we see the waves of the stormy sea or when we observe that the sea level rises or falls due to the effect of the tides. These are due to the attraction exerted by the Moon on Earth. The wind drags and sets in motion the surface waters: thus it forms the sea currents, such as the one that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and comes to touch Europe. In the past, when the ships were not powered by engines, it was possible to quickly cross the oceans by exploiting the sea currents. However, there is not only the movement of surface waters: ocean waters also move vertically. When constant winds blow away from the coast the surface waters, the deep ones, which are colder, rise up and mix. In short,

Marine earthquakes

We know what happens when an earthquake occurs, especially if near a city: everything is shaking and even buildings can fall. But what happens if an earthquake occurs at the bottom of the sea? The rocks break, in the same way, along a crack called the fault and the whole seabed is shaken, like a bowl full of water that we hit from below. Thus, from the area of ​​origin of the earthquake, known as the epicenter, large waves that plow the entire ocean and travel thousands of kilometers leave. These waves are hardly felt by ships on the open sea. But when they get close to the shore, where the depth of the sea rapidly decreases, the waves rise to the height of buildings and crash to the ground, destroying everything. The underwater earthquake, which is very common in Japan, is called with the Japanese wordtsunami , which means “wave on the harbor”.

Cycle of ‘ water

The water of the seas evaporates and becomes a cloud, then falls like rain or snow and ends up underground, to flow into springs and rivers, or is used directly by plants. In any case, he ends up returning to the sea, from where he will start his journey again.

The journey of a drop of water

When it is hot, some of the water in the oceans evaporates, that is, it turns into steam. Water vapor is formed by water in the form of gas which condenses into tiny droplets dispersed in the air. The water that evaporates from the oceans and seas does not contain salt because it remains dissolved in liquid water. This is why rainwater, water from springs and rivers is sweet.

We follow a drop of water as it travels around the Earth. Arrived in the atmosphere, together with billions of other drops, it becomes a cloud: it can travel again but, sooner or later, it will fall back to the ground in the form of a raindrop or snow crystal or hailstone (if it does a lot cold). On land, our drop will slide until it reaches a river that will carry it into the sea from where, once again, it can evaporate and start its tour again.

However, it could follow another path, that is, infiltrate underground and flow among the rocks. However, even in this case, sooner or later it will reach a river and therefore the sea. Finally, our drop, along with many others, can be used by plants or can be used to water animals.

In this case, if it is expelled from living organisms with excretions, the drop of water will end up in a river, as a waste product, or it will return to form clouds if it is hot enough to evaporate before reaching the sea.

But how much water is there on Earth?

The total amount of water that is released from the atmosphere on Earth in a year is enormous. If the water present on our planet suddenly became all liquid, it would cover everything with a layer about one meter high. Fortunately, most of the water evaporates sooner or later. Evaporation affects all surface waters: those of the oceans, rivers, lakes. In any case, the whole water cycle depends on the Sun: the Sun is the ‘engine’ that transforms water into steam and starts it on its long tour.

C ‘ is enough water for everyone?

The amount of water on Earth is always the same and, if we want to consider only the sweet one, there would in theory be a lot for everyone, animals, humans and plants. Every man on the planet has over 15,000 liters of water a day available to drink, wash, irrigate the fields, make cement or for many industrial processes that require water in large quantities.

However, even if 15,000 liters per person seem like a lot, the problem is that water is not found everywhere: there are countries that are very rich in it, such as North America and also many areas of Italy, and there are countries that they have very little. What, of course, is always abundant is sea water, but to use it you have to remove the salt and transport it where it is needed. Both operations are very expensive.

The rainy season

There are places where the seasons are not four, but only two, even if they are longer than ours. In certain regions of India and East Africa both humans and animals look forward to the rainy season, the one in which the winds bring thick clouds and there is finally the possibility of having water available to cultivate the fields. for drinking and cooking. But the rains last only a few months or a few weeks. Then the Sun returns and with it the heat that makes everything arid and dry again. All that remains is to wait for the next rainy season.

Origin of water on Earth

Earth’s water comes from gases from volcanoes and ancient comets that crashed into our planet billions of years ago. There is much more water on the surface of our planet than land. And water does not exist only on Earth: it is found in the most distant spaces and perhaps also on the planets closest to us.

‘water and the ancient thinkers

The water constitutes the immense oceans, the great lakes and the very long rivers. Water forms clouds, rain, snow, fog. There is water everywhere, even in plants and animals. We ourselves are mainly made of water: in a child weighing 30 kg, 25 is water! The blood, the cells, the tissues contain a lot of it. It’s just not possible to think about life without water!

The presence of all this water in every place has struck the imagination of man since ancient times. Some Greek philosophers said that all things are made of water in the most diverse forms. In reality this is not the case: things are also made up of many other substances. But it is true that water is one of the most precious assets. Let’s remember this before leaving a tap running!

Where does the Earth’s water come from

To find out where the Earth’s water comes from, we need to study the oceans well. Some chemical elements have been found to be very abundant in the sea; for example, there is more sulfur than on land. Sulfur is a typical element of volcanoes. It has been understood that a large part of the ocean water comes from the loss of gas from volcanoes, which occurred during the eruptions of 4.5 billion years ago. Indeed, at that time the Earth was cooling down and eruptions were very frequent. From the lava that escaped during those eruptions, valleys of cooled crust formed and the clouds originated by volcanic gases discharged their rain that collected on the ground. It’s not all. Some of the primordial water may even have been brought in by comets. Comets are balls of ice and dust that wander through space and which, if they hit a still hot planet, can melt and release water.

‘is water on the Moon ?

There is no liquid water on any of the planets in the Solar System. However, a US space probe has discovered that on the Moon, inside one of the largest craters in the Solar System, there is something that could be ice. In fact, the sensors of the probe (there are no pilots on board, but only scientific instruments) have recorded that the bottom of the crater, at more than 12,000 meters deep, is different from the terrain of the crater itself. it has been hypothesized that on the bottom of the crater there is a lake similar to the volcanic ones found in many parts of Italy. Not a real lake, however: in fact its water is not liquid but frozen, since on that side of the Moon you never see the Sun and the temperature reaches −230 ° C.

There is a planet of the Solar System that shows very clear signs of the passage of water: Mars . The data recorded by the space probes sent to that planet made it possible to reconstruct many areas of the surface by computer. Thus, kilometer-long river beds and rocks similar to those that are normally carried by waterways on Earth were discovered. Today these rivers are dry. Where did the water go? The probes continue their work: it is possible that one day they will be able to tell us that the water of Mars can be traced below the surface, perhaps hundreds of meters deep.

Although we have not yet been able to discover it on any planet, we are however sure that water exists not only on Earth, but also in the rest of the Universe. Powerful instruments have in fact highlighted the presence of large quantities of gaseous water in interstellar space.

Glaciers: the large rodents

A glacier is not just ice in constant motion, but a bulldozer that works the soil and rocks, transforming the landscape and flattening the valleys, at least until it gets too hot. Indeed, if the planet’s temperature continues to rise, these gigantic glaciers could melt and permanently transform human life on Earth.

hat is a glacier

For a glacier to be born it must be very cold and the snow must compact well under the weight of other snow, until it turns into ice. The main feature of a glacier is the fact that this huge block of ice is constantly moving. In short, it is not a mountain of immobile ice, but a kind of large bulldozer that slowly modifies the earth’s surface. In fact, in its continuous movement the glacier digs and transports earth and even gigantic boulders.

Glaciers and climate

After the seas, glaciers are the place on Earth where more water is concentrated. It is fresh water: glaciers are therefore the largest containers of drinking water on our planet. The Earth’s climate would be very different if there were no glaciers that affect it and are, at the same time, affected by it. If it is cold, glaciers form, but the more glaciers there are, the colder the climate. At the time of the dinosaurs, over 65 million years ago, the North and South Poles had almost no glaciers and the climate was much warmer than today. Instead, about 600 million years ago, the whole Earth was almost entirely covered with ice, so much so that it resembled a snowball, and it was much, much colder than today.

If the glaciers melted

If the glaciers of the world suddenly all melted together, the consequences would be dire. The ice would turn into water: this would sooner or later end up in the sea and cause it to rise by about 70 meters. Seaside cities, such as Venice, would immediately be submerged, as would all the coastal plains of the Earth, including our Po Valley. Ocean islands and atolls with palm trees, as well as coral reefs, would disappear covered by the waters. Only mountains and hills would remain outside. Life on Earth would change dramatically, especially for humans.

What have we inherited from the disappeared glaciers?

Glaciers were once much larger than they are today: in Europe, ice covered Sweden, Norway, Finland and much of Russia. The glaciers of the Alps were much larger and there were glaciers also in the Apennines, where today only a very small one remains. If there is more ice on the earth’s surface, it means that there is less water in the sea, that is, its level is lower. Only geologists, who study how the surface of the Earth is made, know how to find traces of the ancient sea level. However, we can still see the signs left by the ancient glaciers on the landscape today. The flat valleys with a ‘u’ shaped bottom, found in Northern Italy, are what remains of the passage of the glaciers of thousands of years ago: retreating,


Rivers change the face of the Earth as they flatten mountains and create vast plains like continents. When they swell, due to heavy rain and snow, and their bed cannot contain all the water, the rivers overflow, causing floods. A great danger for those who live in their vicinity.

T he birth of a river

The rain and snow that fall in the mountains create small streams which then fall into the valley and turn into streams. But it is above all from the sources that rivers arise. A spring is the place where the water that has collected underground flows to the surface and then begins to run towards the sea. The water from the springs is actually always water that comes from rain or snow. Except, instead of immediately flowing to the surface, it infiltrated underground. It impregnated the rocks like sponges until it was stopped by impermeable rocks: from that moment it makes its way again to the point where it can naturally escape. Generally, a few liters of water per minute flow from the springs. From the larger ones over 10,000 liters per second!

iumi children and adults rivers

Rivers are not all the same: they can flow slowly and majestically in the great plains, such as the Mississippi and the Po, or be fast and impetuous, like the mountain rivers that rush downstream loaded with energy. Often, the same river behaves like a lively child in the high mountains, where it thunders down in waterfalls and then falls all bubbly, and like a mature gentleman on the plains by the sea. There he is content to stroll laden with sediments and as sinuous as a snake. Seen from above, a large mature river that flows on the plain has a very characteristic ‘s’ path.

Rivers change the face of the earth

The rivers that flow down from the mountains carry away, piece by piece, the rocks and carry them downstream. Where do those rocks go? Crushed and crushed into sediments, the rocks are transported to sea level where the river lets them settle. This is how the great coastal plains of the Earth were born, from that of the Nile to those of the Danube and the Po. Despite all the land it carries, the water of a river is always sweeter than that of the sea, that is, it contains less mineral salts: for this is more tiring to swim in a river than in the sea, where the saltier and therefore denser waters support us better.

roppa water

If we take a walk in the bed of a now dry river we can see large boulders and tree trunks, carried by the river. In fact, no matter how small, a watercourse has enormous energy. It is able to tear even huge boulders from the mountain and roll them downstream along with the large trees that it can uproot from the ground. When it rains a lot, the river is charged with energy and in some cases carries more water than its bed can hold.

This is why it overflows and causes floods. But this does not mean that we can say that a river is ‘bad’. He simply does his job, which is also that of constantly leveling the mountains reducing them to plains.

For commercial reasons, many cities, since ancient times, have been built on the banks of rivers: but, to avoid catastrophic flooding, such as that of the Arno which in 1966 in Florence, it is necessary to raise large embankments or build systems of dams and locks upstream. .


A lake is formed when a river encounters an obstacle or when rainwater collects over the millennia inside the crater of a volcano. Even the largest lakes, which look a little like the sea, don’t last forever. Sooner or later they fill up with earth and become a swamp and later a plain.

How a lake is born

To give birth to a natural lake, a river is needed which, however, must be blocked by some barriers. In this way it can expand and swell up to even enormous dimensions. Suffice it to say that some lakes look a lot like small seas, complete with waves and even storms.

But there are also lakes born in different places and ways. There are some that form where there were glaciers which then disappeared. Others are created by the rains that fall in ancient extinct volcanic craters, such as the lakes of Lazio. There are also, even if very rare, lakes that form where some meteor fallen on Earth has left a beautiful crater. Finally, there are the man-made lakes, which are created by man-made dams.

The lakes do not last long

No lake lasts forever, not even the largest. In fact, the rivers that arrive in the lakes – called tributaries – also carry sediments, that is those very small particles of rock or earth that ensure that the water is never completely clear. The bottom of the lake gradually fills with earth until it becomes first a swamp and then a plain completely emerged from the waters. A few thousand years are enough to fill a small lake with earth: nothing if we think about the age of our planet. Of course, there are almost always rivers too – called emissaries– which carry away the water from the lakes: but the emissaries are unable to carry away the sediments. We must also remember that the end of a lake is also due to the fact that the water evaporates and, if it is very hot, the rains do not have time to replace it.

The artificial lakes

Humans create artificial lakes with dams for various reasons. First of all, they obtain a reserve of water: even if, in periods of drought, the waters of an artificial lake are not always sufficient to solve crisis situations. They also hope to better control rivers and prevent them from causing floods. Finally, they get electricity through the power stations equipped with special propellers (called turbines) that are made to rotate by the water channeled by force. All the largest rivers in the world are now barred by dams, but this is not always an advantage: man, in fact, must pay great attention to the characteristics of the place where he builds the dams, otherwise they cannot avoid flooding, but at most they move them. Sometimes, therefore, dams cause serious damage to the environment, because they flood areas where people live, even changing the local climate. Furthermore, the sediment of the river remains trapped in the lake blocked by the dam and no longer reaches the sea: this contributes to ensuring that the erosion of the beaches, caused by the waves and the undertow, is no longer counterbalanced by the arrival of new sediments.

Are the lakes increasing or decreasing?

Fortunately, as many lakes dry up, new ones are being created. To be sure, more lakes die than are born. In Russia, the Aral Sea is now reduced to half its original size and there are even some ships abandoned in dry land because there is no more water to navigate. Also in Italy many lakes have lost a good part of their water due to the many wells that men dig around the lake and because it is getting hotter and raining less and less.

Water flowing underground

The water we use every day comes mainly from the subsoil, where it collects due to cracks in the ground and where it fills the pores of the rocks. He thus creates an underground world of caves, adorned with shining and pointed limestone columns, and constantly evolving streams.

The underground sponge

The water that rains from the sky infiltrates the subsoil by exploiting the presence of cracks and slipping into the voids that all rocks have, even those that seem harder and more compact to us. In short, the rocks of the subsoil behave like a giant sponge. This can be filled with water and can also be ‘squeezed’, for example by digging wells. The rocks of the subsoil, which have pores full of water, form what is called the aquifer: this is where the water we drink comes from. But since water takes some time to fill the gaps in the rocks, what we drink at home is water that rained down years or even centuries ago: a real water… fossil.

iumi and underground caves

There are some regions of the Earth where the rocks of the subsoil do not behave exactly like sponges: this is the case of limestone rocks, which have the unique characteristic of allowing themselves to melt, albeit slowly, by the water. In this way they allow the formation of those underground cavities that we call caves, in which even rivers and lakes can form. Part of the limestone of these rocks is deposited in the caves in the form of stalactites and stalagmites: beautiful stone columns that hang from the top of a cave or rise from its base.

When the drops of water, which always fall from the same point of the ceiling of a cave, leave a part of the limestone they contain on the ceiling, this forms a thin deposit in the shape of a ring. Ring after ring, stalactite is formed over millions of years . The same drops that fall to the ground still carry some limestone and partly deposit it, very slowly building a column that rises from below: the stalagmite . Since caves, stalactites and stalagmites are widespread phenomena in Slovenia and Venezia Giulia, in the region called Carso, karst is the name by which this phenomenon is known.

Waterproof rocks

We know that limestone and in general the rocks that are fractured and split contain a lot of water. But what happens when there are no fractures? In that case it all depends on the empty spaces in the rock. It does not matter that there are many gaps, but it is important that these gaps are in communication with each other and that they are large enough. Clay, for example, has very small voids: this is why it is a practically impermeable rock, and therefore acts as a barrier to the path of water in the subsoil: thus it prevents the formation of grottoes and caverns while favoring the formation of aquifers, i.e. water deposits.

Warm waters

The waters that rain near a volcano, even if it has been extinct for centuries, begin to heat up once it ends up underground. This happens due to the presence of a kind of hot heart (called the magma chamber) which in the past fed the volcano itself. Thus, if a spring is born nearby, it will also be hot: the ancient Romans knew it well, who sought these hot springs to build magnificent spas next to them. Another source of hot water, indeed very hot, are the geysers , thermal springs of boiling water that comes out intermittently from openings in the ground, pushed by gas of volcanic origin.

The water we drink

Tap water and bottled water come from exactly the same sources. The first, however, must travel in pipes and aqueducts the route from the source to our homes, while the second is bottled near the source. For this reason, the water we buy is much more expensive than tap water: however, it does not necessarily mean that it is always better.

cque and aqueducts

The water we drink generally comes from large mountain springs. Sometimes it comes directly from rivers or lakes. The water can also be withdrawn, through wells, from the aquifers. In any case, the water must be channeled into the aqueducts and pipes that reach our taps. For this reason it is disinfected with chlorine or hydrogen peroxide and must be checked several times a day. The aqueducts were already built by the ancient Greeks and Romans. To make them you had to be very good engineers, since there were no pumps or other means to ‘push’ the water from the source to the cities. For example, it was necessary to ensure that there was always a very small slope of the aqueduct to avoid water stagnation.

In Rome, an aqueduct built at the time of Emperor Augustus still functions perfectly today. It is more than 20 km long and conveys about 400 liters per second of pure water to the city which feeds the monumental fountains of the capital, such as the Trevi fountain. From the source to the fountain the slope is less than 4 meters, yet the water always arrives fresh and abundant!

Natural mineral water

The mineral water that you buy in bottles is also spring water, only it does not travel long aqueducts to be drunk, but is bottled near the source.

Natural mineral water is often rich in carbon dioxide: this is partly dissolved in the water, resulting in a pleasant sour taste, and partly in the gaseous state in the form of bubbles. The amount of carbon dioxide depends on the salts dissolved in the water (especially bicarbonates). Sometimes carbon dioxide is added. Mineral water is no better than tap water except for taste, as it lacks the unpleasant taste of chlorine that is sometimes heard in tap water. Both waters are mineral because they both contain different dissolved salts. But there is one thing to bear in mind: mineral water is 200 to 400 times more expensive than drinking tap water!

Waste of water

Every day we need at least two and a half liters of water that we ingest when drinking or eating. At the same time, every day we get rid of two and a half liters of water between urine, feces and sweat: thus we keep ourselves in balance. But in everyday life we ​​use much more water than we really need: we use at least 50 liters for a shower, more than 150 for a bath. Then there is the water wasted due to the loss of the pipes and… that of the toilets: just think that a toilet flushes up to 15 liters of water, when half of it would be enough! All this seems normal to us, but things elsewhere are different. Many people in the world do not even have the water necessary to satisfy basic needs: a desert nomad has on average only one bottle of water a day to wash.

What’s inside a mineral water?

If we want to drink bottled water, remember to read the label to find out how it is made. First of all, let’s look at the fixed residue, i.e. the amount of dissolved mineral solids that remain after boiling the water. It is better that the residue is not too high, so the water is lighter, that is, easily digestible. However, mineral waters with little residue are more insipid. Finally, we must look at whether water is suitable for everyone: for example, stomach sufferers cannot drink water rich in silicon, while for those suffering from kidney stones there are water poor in calcium which help not to worsen this ailment.

The explorers of the abyss

The ocean depths, sometimes more than ten kilometers deep, are among the most unexplored places on Earth. Yet man, with submarines and submarines, has also come to probe those places that were inaccessible until recently.

Men like fish

To explore the seabed you need respirators, oxygen tanks, wetsuits, masks and fins. Once underwater there are several problems to face: the air in the cylinders which is limited, the cold (the further you go, the more the temperature decreases) and the pressure of the water which already at 100 meters is almost unbearable. Despite these difficulties, there are men and women who, at the risk of their lives, have reached great depths without respirators. In some countries, pearl fishermen go down to over 80 meters to find the precious shells that contain them. For years, Enzo Majorca and Jacques Mayol have challenged each other in the waters of the Mediterranean, competing under water up to over 100 meters. More recently, snorkel diving has gone even further,

Explore the abyss

The oceans are still largely unexplored. Little is known of the greater depths, such as the Mariana Trenches or the Philippines which exceed 10,000 meters. To explore the depths of the sea, men invented submarines or submarines, and submarines, special boats capable of withstanding the extremely high pressure of the water. Inside the submarines there are water and air supplies, as well as many instruments for exploring the sea floor, with sonar or echo sounders. These instruments are ecometers, that is, they work in a similar way to echoes: they emit ultrasounds that ‘bounce’ on obstacles and return to the instrument that emitted them. it is like the echo that, in the mountains, brings our cry back to our ears.

Strange discoveries

There is a submarine boat called Alvin : it is only 8 meters long but it can go down to 4,000 meters deep, in places that men would otherwise never have been able to see. It can accommodate the pilot with two passengers, and has an autonomy of eight hours; it is used to photograph the deepest depths and to collect rock samples from the bottom. The Alvin has allowed, for example, to verify that the oceanic crust is not smooth and flat, but as lively as that of the earth: there are canyons, gorges, submarine volcanoes in perennial eruption and mountains up to 3,000 meters high. It also found geysers, hot springs and even living organisms. In fact, microscopic bacteria can be found at over 3,000 meters.

There are also fish that manage to live at great depths, where darkness and cold reign and there are no hot springs. They have a thin body, suitable to withstand very strong pressures, and large opaque eyes, often equipped with a kind of luminous bait to hunt prey by attracting them with the light. Staying at the bottom for a long time can be dangerous for humans: for this reason the abysses are generally explored with automatic robots controlled from the surface. Nonetheless, in 1960 Auguste Piccard and his son slipped into a bathyscaphe of their own design, a kind of simplified submarine but strengthened to withstand great depths. With this bathyscaphe they even reached the 11,521 meters of the Mariana Trench: a real record.

Atlantis underwater?

The oceans are still poorly understood, but we know what kind of crust the ocean floor is made of. This is mostly made up of lavas such as basalts. This type of crust has nothing to do with the crust of the continents, which is mainly made up of granite, a rock of very different composition. Therefore, the probability of finding traces of the mythical land of Atlantis on the bottom of the oceans is very low, which instead should rest on a granite bottom.

Fantastic library

“And he began to hear a song of distant voices, then closer and closer: it was a strange song, different from any other he had ever heard … It was like hearing the song of his baby body. Ulysses stirred and cried, happy” .

Ulysses knows that the siren song is dangerous: whoever listens to it loses reason.

But he is curious: and he does not give up on knowing. The sea increases the desire to know.

It will be the vastness of the marine world, the desire for what is beyond the horizon: Ulysses has learned not to retreat in the face of difficulties. But he also knows he has to act slyly. Before arriving at the Isle of Mermaids, he fills his companions’ ears with wax and gets tied to the ship’s mast. So when the song attracts him, he cannot free himself and is saved.

Ulysses is not the first man to hear the call of the sea. It is an ancient song, which dates back to the mists of time, when the ancestors of mankind lived in marine waters. After all, all of us have been a bit of a fish in mum’s belly. Perhaps this is why we are left with nostalgia for the aquatic world.

According to fairy tales, there are still fish-women across the vast seas. They usually live in the abyss, in wonderful castles made of coral and shells. The most famous of all is the Little Mermaid, who one day saves a young prince from a shipwreck and falls in love with her. The terrestrial world fascinates her and she would do anything to achieve it! Then look for the sea witch and trade your tail and voice for a pair of legs.

But without her voice the young prince does not recognize her and the poor woman becomes sea foam again. But it doesn’t end there! In the cartoon inspired by the fairy tale, the little mermaid Ariel manages to marry the prince. In both versions you can see how strong the attraction between the terrestrial and the marine world is. To live in one of the two, however, one must give up on the other. The sea is a world parallel to ours: immense and full of life, but different. It is an airless planet where humans cannot live. But if we can’t breathe over there, the inhabitants of the sea are no better off in our world. If they remain outside their environment for a few minutes, they feel suffocated. They are only saved if there is a generous man nearby who throws them back into the water. It happens, for example, to that famous turbot that takes off again thanks to a poor fisherman. When the man comes home, his wife forces him to go back to ask for something in return. The rumble, who is actually a bewitched prince, agrees. But the woman is greedy and is not satisfied with the hut she gets and always wants more. Eventually the fish punishes the two by making them poor as before. The kingdom of the sea is generous with those who respect it but do not allow themselves to be dominated by man. Water, by its nature, is irrepressible. Everything about her flickers and escapes. If everything on earth is solid and heavy, in that world it becomes light. It does not swoop into the sea as it does from the sky. Just surrender confident and float. The rumble, who is actually a bewitched prince, agrees. But the woman is greedy and is not satisfied with the hut she gets and always wants more. Eventually the fish punishes the two by making them poor as before. The kingdom of the sea is generous with those who respect it but do not allow themselves to be dominated by man. Water, by its nature, is irrepressible. Everything about her flickers and escapes. If everything on earth is solid and heavy, in that world it becomes light. It does not swoop into the sea as it does from the sky. Just surrender confident and float. The rumble, who is actually a bewitched prince, agrees. But the woman is greedy and is not satisfied with the hut she gets and always wants more. Eventually the fish punishes the two by making them poor as before. The kingdom of the sea is generous with those who respect it but do not allow themselves to be dominated by man. Water, by its nature, is irrepressible. Everything about her flickers and escapes. If everything on earth is solid and heavy, in that world it becomes light. It does not swoop into the sea as it does from the sky. Just let yourself go confidently and float. The kingdom of the sea is generous with those who respect it but do not allow themselves to be dominated by man. Water, by its nature, is irrepressible. Everything about her flickers and escapes. If everything on earth is solid and heavy, in that world it becomes light. It does not swoop into the sea as it does from the sky. Just let yourself go confidently and float. The kingdom of the sea is generous with those who respect it but do not allow themselves to be dominated by man. Water, by its nature, is irrepressible. Everything about her flickers and escapes. If everything on earth is solid and heavy, in that world it becomes light. It does not swoop into the sea as it does from the sky. Just let yourself go confidently and float.

Among its currents, even the biggest fish glide as agile as eels. Hidden beneath the surface, gigantic creatures wander light as feathers. The trouble is, these sea monsters are silent and we don’t hear them coming. Suddenly they emerge from the water and are really scary. When we spot this kind of fish we have no escape: either we face them or we risk big! The king of fish Ainaholo who lives in the waters of Haiti is really scary:

“… it has rainbow-colored scales, razor-sharp fins, a large mouth bristling with three rows of sharp teeth and two huge, rounded, rounded eyes …” .

If the sailors meet his gaze in the sunlit sea they die from electrocution. But the young king Lono is not afraid: he confronts him and kills him.

Not everyone, however, is so lucky. Captain Ahab chases the terrible whale Moby Dick across the seas, who has taken his leg. And in the end, she will win. Even poor Pinocchio, who has left in search of his father, comes across a horrible sea creature. For fear of being devoured, the puppet begins to swim at breakneck speed. But the monster pulls it to himself and with a single breath he drinks it like a chicken egg.

Ended up in a big and smelly belly, which was not a whale but a huge shark, Pinocchio finds Geppetto. Fortunately, the sea monster suffers from asthma and sleeps with his mouth open. So the puppet loads his father on his shoulders and, without the shark noticing, dives into the sea to reach the shore.

At sea you can never be safe. Its waters are not always calm. The sea is powerful, if it gets angry it shows all its strength. Sometimes it swells and silently advances towards the shore. Other times he screams and squirms growling. To ward off the fury of the sea, says a Persian anecdote, there is a man who, standing on a rock, keeps him at bay by telling him stories. This is why the sea is peaceful for days! But every good sailor knows that after the calm he will have to deal with a new anger. Everything happens suddenly. Black clouds and powerful winds appear on the horizon and, as if kneaded by a thousand hands, the water rises, dragging the ship across the waves.

“… what is good about storms is that they free us from all worries. Against the unleashed elements there is nothing to be done. Then nothing is done. We let fate do it” , says the captain of the Dutch convict of the Robinson starred in Friday or the Wild Life . Shortly after, a gigantic wave hits the ship in full and, like the more famous Crusoe, our friend is dragged into the sea. When he comes to his senses, he finds himself on one of the mysterious islands that fill the ocean. Of these, some emerge suddenly from the water and others are swallowed by the waves. Atlantis was beautiful, rich, powerful, as big as a continent. Then one day the ground began to shake and the whole island sank into the sea.

Nobody believes that the land of the Atlanteans has really disappeared and there are those who continue to search for it. Anyone who goes on a journey into the depths of the sea is sure to meet her. The professor of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea discovers the remains of the continent that disappeared during his journey in the darkness of the oceans. The scholar is on board a curious submarine, which everyone believes to be a monster. Nemo, the captain who built the incredible craft, holds him captive. But the crossing of the abyss soon turns out to be an extraordinary adventure to discover the mysteries of the submerged planet. Come to think of it, traveling in a submarine is a bit like floating in mommy’s tummy. And if you want to go on living, sooner or later you have to abandon it.


Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid and other fairy tales , EL Editions, Trieste 1994

Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid , Franco Panini Publisher, Modena 1994 [Ill.]

Jean-Claude Carrière, The circle of storytellers , Milan, Garzanti 2001

Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio , Giunti, Florence 1994

Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio , Rizzoli, Milan 1991 [Ill.]

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe , EL Editions, Trieste 1993

Walt Disney, The Little Mermaid , Walt Disney video, Milan 1991 [Ill.]

Henry Gougaud, History of Lono, in On the waves of the ocean , Edizioni EL, Trieste 2002 [Ill.]

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The fisherman and his wife , in Fiabe , Einaudi, Turin 1992

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The fisherman and his wife , in Fiabe classiche , Mondadori, Milan 1999 [Ill.]

Herman Melville, Moby Dick , Mursia, Milan 1999

Roberto Piumini, The king of travels: Ulysses , New Roman Editions, Rome 1988 [Ill.]

Michel Tournier, Friday or the wild life , Vallardi, Milan 1993 [Ill.]

Jules Verne, Twenty thousand leagues under the sea , Mursia, Milan 1983 [Ill.]

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