This map shows what mariners thought the ocean currents did in 1685 – and I’d guess it’s part observation and part guesswork. Still, it’s a remarkable piece of work that contains some interesting details.
There’s no sign of Australia (obviously, since the place wasn’t discovered by Europeans until 1770, depending on your point of view), so it’s pretty clear that the outline of Antartica isn’t much more than speculation.
This animation from the NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio shows how the currents of the ocean move across the planet – and for me several things fall suddenly into place.
It’s as if the world is alive – which some think it is. You can see how a sailing vessel can be in an area where one of the great trade winds currents might be expected, and yet fail to find them or find a huge vortex that could carry a sailing or boat in entirely the wrong direction.
The film clip also shows the great rush of wind and water that roars around the Southern Seas, the challenge of navigating in the Far East, and also the great confusion that exists off the Cape of Good Hope and the southern end of the continent of Africa – I’m reminded that it used to be called the Cape of Storms.
This is smashing stuff! My thanks to Chuck Leinweber of the wonderful Duckworks for pointing it out.