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Thread: Why can we not smell the ocean?

  1. #1
    Senior Member DiviDiviFan's Avatar
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    Why can we not smell the ocean?

    Just another curiosity question. Hubby and I were just talking about Hampton Beach NH and as a child I would love that first smell of the ocean just before we arrived. Is there a reason why the ocean in Aruba does not smell like the ocean we know in the states?

    Hopefully this is not a silly question

  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    it's a terrific question.
    i spent thousands of hours on the cape (dennisport and falmouth heights) and many hours in gloucester and you are right!
    at the cape...cod or ann......there is a "smell of ocean".....in aruba, it's very different!
    could it be because of the trade winds?

    and never the smell of low tide in aruba

    Quote Originally Posted by DiviDiviFan View Post
    Just another curiosity question. Hubby and I were just talking about Hampton Beach NH and as a child I would love that first smell of the ocean just before we arrived. Is there a reason why the ocean in Aruba does not smell like the ocean we know in the states?

    Hopefully this is not a silly question

  3. #3
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Two schools of thought on this one. Simple explanation the smell you are smelling when you smell "the sea" is the seaweed and other "stuff" which washed up. I believe on the windward side of the island you can "smell the sea". We live adjacent to a wetland. Fantastic for wildlife sightings, but on a still humid day it can smell like a swamp.

    Air and water don't have a "smell", what is in them is what you smell. When you apply perfume the "air" around you smells like the fragrance whose oil is evaporating off your skin. Your tap water more than likely "smells" of chlorine.

    The "scientific" answer is "the smell comes from a gas produced by genes recently identified by researchers in ocean-dwelling bacteria." http://www.livescience.com/4313-key-smell-sea.html

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    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    I think I agree with Arubalisa. As a kid on the Cape (Cod) I remember the ocean smell always intensified with low tide, washed up seaweed and organic 'stuff' relative to the ocean, mud flats and marshes. Having read the link she provided seems to explain that for me. Maybe the ocean and beaches are just too clean to produce the smell we associate with the salt water...???

  5. #5
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever been to a marshy area at low tide that did not smell?

  6. #6
    Senior Member DiviDiviFan's Avatar
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    Makes sense now that I think about it. My husband was on track he was thinking along the same lines that it was the seaweed etc. in the ocean. I also like what CP Says, Aruba's oceans and beaches too clean to produce a scent. Not a bad thing! Thanks everyone :-)

  7. #7
    Senior Member rob o's Avatar
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    Tidal range (difference in vertical measure between high and low tide) is very small in the Caribbean. In Aruba it is less than two feet. Thus, at low tide, there is very little exposure of coast as compared to, for example, New England, where tidal ranges are 12 to over 20 feet. At low tide, exposed coast allows for release of gases from bacterial decomposition. Smaller tidal range means less exposure and, thus, less gas release. If you want to enjoy that "low tide" aroma (I don't ), Aruba is not the place to be.
    Please contact via e-mail at arubarennowner@gmail.com



  8. #8
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Awesome - thanks for the explanation & thanks DiviDiviFan for the question! I never even thought about the lack of ocean smell! I just asked my son what he thought, he said Aruba is much cleaner than Jersey!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

  9. #9
    Senior Member AndyM's Avatar
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    Interesting info, thanks. Now that I think of it, we never see seaweed or other vegetation on/in the water. Also, on the "tourist" side of the island, the wind would blow any smell out to sea.

  10. #10
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    We were just on vacation in Maine and were discussing this same subject. We came to the conclusion of the minimal tide. Glad to know we were on the right track.

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