FAQ - Enfants

questions and answers :
Where does the name Nausicaa come from?

Nausicaa is the name of the daughter of a king in Greek mythology:

“During his long sea voyage Odysseus became shipwrecked and took refuge with the nymph Calypso, near what is today Gibraltar. She fell in love with him and held him prisoner. After 7 long years, he managed to escape, but this was not the end of his troubles. For 17 days and 17 nights, he crossed the Mediterranean Sea alone on a makeshift raft. After another storm, he was washed up on Scheria, an island that was home to the Phaeaceans and that we think is today’s Corfu. This is where he met Nausicaa, daughter of Alkinoos, king of the  Phaeaceans  . Nausicaa and her maids, after washing their linen near the river’s mouth, started to play a ball game. This is how they discovered Odysseus, lying half-naked in the bushes. Frightened by the sight of this shipwrecked man, they ran away, except for Nausicaa, who was fearless, and who stayed by him. Odysseus was immediately taken by the beauty of the girl. Nausicaa introduced herself and ordered her maids to come back and reprimanded them. Then she told them to wash him and to provide him with clothes and food. She decided to introduce the stranger to her father, and, as she led him to see the king, she walked before him as she did not want rumours to be spread about her befriending a man. Alkinoos received Odysseus in the most hospitable way, asked him to tell the story of his journey before helping him to return to Ithaca where he was finally reunited with his family and friends.

Why does the sea go up and down?

Why is the sea blue?

Selective absorption of lightUsually, water is transparent. Yet the sea appears blue, although sometimes it can appear green or a darker colour altogether. In fact, the surface of the sea reflects the colour of the sky: when the sky is blue, the sea is blue; when it’s grey, the sea is a darker colour... 

The colour of the sea also depends on its depth and the colour of the sea bed. If the sea bed is of a light colour (white sand, for instance) and the sea shallow, the sea bed will reflect the sun light. When this is the case the colour of the water will seem lighter.

But why is it then that when you dive into the sea, or look at pictures taken by divers, the sea seems to become bluer as you go deeper? 

It is a different phenomenon. Sunlight is made up of different colours (some of them are visible to the human eye and can be seen in rainbows, for instance). However, colours have varying abilities to travel through water and reach the depths. This is called "selective absorption" (see diagram above). This is why colours disappear, one by one, as you go deeper down into the ocean. At a certain depth, only blue remains. And beyond this, there is only the darkness of ocean depths…. 

Why does seawater taste salty?

The salt in the sea has two different origins. 

  • For hundreds of millions years the minerals contained in the rocks have been flushed into the sea by rainfall. This process was faster when a large number of volcanoes were releasing gases making the rain more acidic.
  • At the very bottom of the oceans, magma also releases minerals. These minerals were then turned into salt through a very slow process. There is, on average, 35 g of salt per litre (or per kilogramme) of sea water. Closed seas are saltier because the evaporation rate of water from them is higher (the Dead Sea, for instance). 


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