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Publication numberUS3254621 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 7, 1966
Filing dateMar 16, 1964
Priority dateMar 16, 1964
Publication numberUS 3254621 A, US 3254621A, US-A-3254621, US3254621 A, US3254621A
InventorsCharles R White
Original AssigneeCharles R White
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Facility for viewing marine life
US 3254621 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 7 1966 c. R. WHITE 3,254,621

FACILITY FOR VIEWING MARINE LIFE Filed March 16, 1964 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 NVENTOR. CHARLES E. W/l/TE June 7, 1966 c. R. WHITE 3,254,621

FACILITY FOR VIEWING MARINE LIFE Filed March 16, 1964 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTOR. CAIAQLES 2. WHITE A TTOENEVS 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 iled March 16, 1964 .4 TTOE/VEYS June 7, 1966 C. R. WHITE FACILITY FOR VIEWING MARINE LIFE 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed March 16, 1964 INVENTOR. (mews 2. Wwrs A TTOE/VEYS United States Patent V O 3,254,621 FACILITY FOR VIEWING MARINE LIFE Charles R. White, 9536 Ardmore Drive, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada Filed Mar. 16, 1964, Ser. No. 352,240 17 Claims. (Cl. 114-66) This invention relates to facilities enabling persons to observe marine life in its natural or closely simulated habitat.

The purpose of the invention is to provide facilities which controllably present marine life in its natural-like environment in and near a viewing range of persons, such as spectators and scientists, who without special personal equipment, such as scuba diving equipment, can observe natural activities undertaken by marine life living within boundaries established by the facilities.

In accomplishing this purpose the following objectives are pursued and attained:

A natural habitat is maintained for marine life preserving those vital aspects of their environment which underlie their successful obtainment of a mature lifetime, excluding their-destruction by natural enemies;

An underwater viewing compartment is positioned below the waters surface, wherein persons, with maximum safety possible, may move about in normal positions of stature, in street attire and within a normal breathing atmosphere to view activities of marine life; and

Marine life supporting and confining structure is arranged in conjunction with the placement of spectator viewing panels to maximize beneficial and realistic observations made by persons located in the viewing chamher.

This invention which fulfills this purpose, these objectives and others to be realized as the following description is read, is shown in accompanying drawings in a preferred embodiment which has created, especially for a layman spectator, a new opportunity to learn and understand more thoroughly life undersea. This embodiment of the invention, which resembles a marine barge with, however, underwater view ports, is especially suitable where changing tides are to be encountered.

In the accompanying drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the facility out of water with some portions removed to indicate interior arrangements and constructions of the facility;

FIGURE 2 is a side elevation with portions removed to indicate the interior arrangement and construction of the facility;

FIGURE 3 is a one half transverse cross section of this facility taken along 33 of FIGURE 2;

FIGURE 4 is a horizontal sectional view of the facility taken at a plane passing through the viewing chamber windows with dotted lines indicating outlines of overhead air-water-tight compartment;

FIGURE 5 is a perspective partial view of a preferred embodiment of the restricting screen and its outrigging supports; and drawn below FIGURE 3;

FIGURE 6 is a partial traverse section view at a view- I ing window location indicating an emergency window stantly presenting maximum safety conditions.

r 3,254,621 Patented June 7, 1966 "ice Below this air tight platform structure 11, optionally commencing above water, is an air filled viewing chamber 15 descending into the water from the above Wider bottom 16 of the overhead receiving platform structure 11. Below the water surface, multiple viewing ports 20 in this chamber are provided for spectators.

The spectators and operating personnel reach this underwater viewing chamber 15 from .the receiving platform 11 above by walking down stair 17 or climbing down ladder 18 passageways 14 which interrupt airtight compartments 12 of the platform structure without destruction of their airtight, i.e., watertight integrity.

This embodiment of the invention provides a facility 10 wherein convenient access is maintained to the underwater chamber 15 for spectators and scientists while con- An overall structure is derived which will not go completely underwater, if one or more openings should occur below 7 the water. The receiving platform structure 11 with its included arrangement of substantially balanced airtight compartments 12 upon displacing the water will cause the entire facility structure 10 to reach an equilibrium point permitting the escape of persons aboard and avoiding its complete loss. This is true because the reserve buoyancy in the watertight sponsons 12 is sufiicient to float the entire structure under maximum flooding conditions of the viewing compartment or chamber 15.

The provision of facilities to display marine life and to restrict its travel substantially within viewing range of those persons within the chamber without substantially hindering marine life in its natural day by day activities is undertaken, in the embodiment illustrated, as follows. Near the viewing chamber 15, preferably adjacent thereto, a structure 26 is placed which with natural additives will simulate the sea bottom, and thereafter near or adjacent to this sea bottom structure 26 an outer limit structure 27 is placed to confine travel of marine life.

When the entire facility 10 can be located in substantially natural waters which remain sufiiciently clear of man made debris and waste and/or natural planktons, silt and mud, the restraining or limiting structure 27 associated with the simulated natural sea bottom 26- is a screen-like structure, as illustrated, through which sur-. rounding natural waters and small marine life may circulate. In this way, natural provisions of nature can be relied upon in maintaining water conditions suitable for survival of confined marine life. However, where industrial waste, other foreign debris and/ or natural planktons, etc. might be harmful to marine life or reduce visibility of marine life through cloudy water, the restricting or limiting structure 26 is made substantially watertight.

Thereafter the water to be confined in the marine life dis-' play is processed, as necessary, through filters and other conditioners to maintain the proper marine environment for survival of marine life as well as viewing clarity for spectators.

By constructing the above water overhead receiving platform structure 11, as illustrated, sufiicient in size, both in length and width in conjunction and in comparison with a shorter and narrower observing chamber 15, several worthwhile advantages are realized:

The safety of having suificient airtight compartments 12 in positions of readiness is obtained without'requiring spectators to' go down an excessive number of steps 17 through what would otherwise be deeper reserve buoyancy safety compartment structure before reaching the observing or viewing chamber 15;

The above water overhead platform structure 11 serves as an outrigger to modulate any rolling or pitching of the viewing chamber 15 as several spectators move together to a specific location Within the viewing chamber 15 to witness a particular activity, such as feeding of fish by a skin diver or a natural battle between species of marine life;

The resulting overhang or bottom 16 of the larger overhead receiving structure 11 provides shade from direct sunlight, both establishing a natural retreat for some marine life, both fish and plant, and passing only diffuse light to the viewing windows 2% increasing visibility and retarding algae growth about and on the view windows 20; and

Moreover, outrigging devices 28 to position and support marine life restricting or limiting structure 27 are installed, as necessary, directly and conveniently from this receiving platform structure 11.

From the spectators viewpoint, his in the water on or near sea bottom impression, while he is observing marine life is enhanced greatly by the design and positioning of structure 26 upon which a sea bottom is simulated. Because of refraction of light rays passing through various mediums involved, water, glass, and air, the simulated sea bottom 26, as finally arranged, essentially appears as though it is extending directly out from the bottom of the view windows 20. Because of the need for adding sand, rock, old boat hulls, etc. (not shown), the underlying structure is placed carefully avoiding blind locations where marine life could retreat from spectators view.

In preferred embodiment, the sea bottom underlying structure near the viewing chamber slopes downwardly then acquires a somewhat level attitude for awhile and turns upward to complete the containment of added sea bottom sand, rocks, plants, etc. Such an arrangement of a completed sea bottom 26 assures spectators will, in fact, have full views of essentially all marine life and no activities will be going on beyond their normal scope of vision at the viewing windows 20.

Where the purpose behind a design of an entire facility 10 is to make basic structures and appurtenances thereto all comprise an overall unit, restricting structure, such as a screen 27 is preferably anchored between the simulated sea bottom 26 and carried up to near, at or above the water surface, W.L., and thereafter supported by floats (not shown) or by whatever may be necessary, some in part or in whole extending and/or depending from the overhead platform structure 11 above such as the supports 28.

In FIGURE 5, an attachment assembly is illustrated with respect to the overall restricting structure 27. Screening material 29 in its various rectangular sections has a bar frame 31. At spaced intervals, frame 31 is secured to sea bottom structure 26 at its outer edge and to spaced outrigging frames 28 which are supported between receiving platform structure 11 and sea bottom structure 26. The attachment of screen'29-frame 31 to supporting members 26, 28, is undertaken first, by threading bars 37 through apertures in supporting members 26, 28 and through screen 29-frame 21, and thereafter bending ends of bars 37 around supporting member 26, 28 completing the configuration of what are then referred to as clamping bars 37.

If screening 29, mesh or other porous materials are utilized in this way, periodically a noticeable buildup of marine life occurs on the restrictive structure 26. This is cleaned by underwater scrubbing techniques and provisions for such access should be provided. Also double screen channels are arranged (not shown) wherein one screen may be removed completely for cleaning at a remote place while another one is in position continuing to restrict marine life around the viewing chamber 15.

Whether the restrictive structure 27 be porous or nonporous, wherein water conditioning is to be undertaken, the aesthetic effect should be to aid rather than detract from the overall impression the spectator acquires that he is truly in the water under the sea enjoying his experience even though he is actually in his natural air environment but below the water surface level, W.L.

Where the entire facility 10 is self-sustaining to receive spectators for their enjoyment of this wonderful experience, the opportunity is ever present to move such facility 10 to a new moorage and/or to a dry dock for needed overhauls in accordance with good marine practice.

.This facility, therefore, provides all those persons associated with it, with new opportunities not previously afforded to them.

The spectator truly appreciates having his or her opportunity of, in effect, living with the marine life. The same opportunity is not afforded to him by marine life displaced in conventional aquariums. Nor is such an opportunity afforded the spectator as a passenger on a glass bottom boat. Somewhat the same ultimate opportunity would be certainly afforded to the spectator by skin diving. However, the basis of comparison ends here, for in utilizing the facility described herein, he or she is below water without reliance on oxygen supplies and other accessories associated with scuba diving. He or she can also view the specimens without disturbing them with air bubbles and moving flippers.

The scientist using this facility, essentially having the facility made available to him in the locale of natural Waters in which he is investigating marine life, can with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty observe marine life in its truly natural environment. Many aquariums have attempted to use neighboring sea water supplies, but in this facility the sea water available to the marine life is truly natural. The only possible variance from truly natural sea water life occurs because of limited sizes of marine life that can pass through a selected restrictive structure. Moreover, a scientist in an area can collect specimens and immediately deposit them into the restrictive area with minimal losses of such specimens. Once having acquired his multitude of specimens, thereafter, a scientist may make his observations under convenient conditions of mobility, lighting, photographing, etc. All his observations will be undertaken as specimens of marine life go about their daily activities without any impediment except by their encounters with predatory species and the restrictive structure on occasions.

The operator of this facility, whether for commercial spectator purposes or scientific undertakings, or its combined use, has knowledge that beyond initial costs involved, operational cost of such facility are comparatively lower than those associated with other marine life display facilities. Also, there is always the underlying potential of mobility of the facility. Furthermore, when reconditioning or repairs are thought to be necessary, they can be undertaken, using standard shipyard practices in a reasonably short time and for standard marine reconditioning costs. The day by day personnel requirements are likewise lower to accomplish end objectives sought, whether they be for commercial or scientific purposes. Finally, the facility in operation, has already indicated to many observers, and particularly those scientifically interested in such presentations of marine life, that providing a home for marine life in this way has considerably extended the life of specimens over and beyond that noted where they are retained in other ways, such as in aquariums.

Some general specifications of the preferred embodiment The principal dimensions regarding the receiving platform 11 are length 86', width 26', depth 6; viewing chamber 15, length 78', width 12', depth 12'-6". Other values are: displacement, 500 short tons, Without persons board; draft, 12; freeboard, 6-6"; and sea bottom 26 diagonally extending about 3' at approximately 40 degrees with the horizontal and extending beyond, first horizontally, then slightly upwardly 6 6 for a total of 9' directly outward from the viewing chamber.

The receiving platform 11 of steel construction has deck houses over stairs 17 and ladders 18, towing and mooring devices 32, supports 28 for restricted structure 27 and centerline and beam located airtight bulkheads 12 forming multiple airtight compartments surrounding two main stairwells 17 and four escape wells 14, each having two ladders 18.

The viewing chamber of steel construction has a transverse strength bulkhead 19, continuing stairs 17 and ladders 18, concrete ballast 33 and viewing windows 20. Each window comprises an outboard light 21 of a single /2 inch fully tempered glass and an inboard light 22 of two inch laminations of fully tempered glass. Both window lights have gaskets 23 on both sides made from /2 inch neoprene of 45-50 shores durometer hardness. These window lights and gaskets are drawn together by an assembly of draw plates 38 and fasteners 39. As a result of this construction, a limited airtight space 24 may be formed between window lights. Water seepage in this space 24 is a safety indicator of needed inspection and repair.

Although this double window construction is known to be extremely reliable, where human safety is involved,

extra precautions are always in order. Therefore, in the water are overhead suspended closure plates 25 pivotally positioned to swing down to cover their respective view window openings 20. A vacuum .is maintained between the outboard and inboard window panes. If the vacuum deteriorates and/or fails, a vacuum latching mechanism assembly senses the vacuum loss and unlatches the overhead closure plate 25 which quickly pivots to cover the view window opening 20.

Underwater artificial lighting comprises multiple units of 300 watt underwater fioodlights 34, each arranged on a watertight extension cord connected between an above water outlet 36 and the floodlight 34 in its below water locationbracket, thereby permitting convenient removal of any floodlight 34 to an above water inspection location for bulb replacement and other reconditioning, as necessary.

Sump pumps (not shown) and overhead check valve discharge lines (not shown) are installed to remove condensation and seepage when required.

The personnel environment is controlled within the viewing chamber 15 by standard lighting fixtures (not shown), insulation, ventilators (not shown) and electrical heating units (not shown) to maintain preferably a lighted interior filled with fresh air at approximately 62 Fahrenheit.

Other embodiments (not shown) In the foregoing description of the preferred embodiment an alternate embodiment was indicated where this facility was, by necessity, moored in a harbor wherein man made debris and other wastes would be troublesome in attempting to keep marine life in their truly natural habitat. In such circumstances, restricting or limiting structure (not shown) is designed to condition water directly or in conjunction with other conditioning equipment (not shown), such as filters and chemical additives to neutralize or render impotent acids, caustics, and other impurities which being sufficiently unnatural would kill, arm or hinder marine life.

Other materials could be used. Concrete construction is possible, being used solely or in conjunction with plastics, wood and/ or steel or other metals. Plastic windows it properly made are applicable as viewing panels.

There always is :a consideration the [facility would be ultimately placed in non-tidal waters or tidal waters of limited high and lower water level variations. If such positioning were always to be considered for such a facility, utilization of safety airtight compartments 12 could be bypassed and the facility constructed with savings involved resulting from modifications necessarily following its potential on bottom or near bottom draft. To give any spectator his illustion of being in the water and near or on the bottom of a sea or lake, in consideration of retraction indexes and/or also of a possible need for an overall unit construction facility, continued reliance on trays or sea bottom structures 26 will be optionally undertaken. Somewhat the same optional reliance will be undertaken to continue in an overall unit, restrictive or limiting structure 27 to keep collected marine life specimens in and near the viewing range of persons within the viewing chamber 15.

In each embodiment depending on the viewing window sizes and their relative locations, the above overhanging structures, such as the compartments 12, and the below extending structures such as the sea bottom 26, are preferably constructed to avoid 'and/ or minimize non-viewable underwater locations where marine life could retreat from the spectators viewing range.

Whatever form a basic facility and its appurtenances may ultimately take, a principal overall consideration remains, to present marine li-fe in a natural-like environment to persons, below sea level, in this thrilling and educational medium for their enjoyment and understanding as laymen and/ or their scientific observance and understanding as scholars of the sea. I

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:

1. A passenger vessel-like structure for viewing marine '2. A water facility for receiving spectators to view marine life in an open sea-llike simulated environment, comprising: a hull having a spectator compartment with underwater viewing portions; supports on the exterior of the hull arranged to receive marine derivatives simulating near sea bottom and sea bottom environments fOl spectator observance from the spectator compartment; and marine life travel limiters located at the termini of these supports to keep marine life in the proximity of the spectator compartment.

3. A 'floatable water facility 'from which spectators view underwater activities of marine life moving about in an open sea simulated environment, comprising: a spectator compartment having below water level view windows; a simulated near bottom and bottom of the sea display structure extending outwardly from the spectator compartment within the proximity of the spectator view range; and limiting appurtenances extending upwardly from the bottom of the sea display structure to keep marine life freely circulating in spectator viewing waters in the proximity of the spectator compartment.

4. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, comprising: a hull having a spectator viewing chamber with an above water access structure and below water viewing space structure; a simulated near and at sea floor environment structure near and within spectator viewing range extending outwardly from the hull; and confining structure to limit travel of marine life within proximity of the spectator viewing chamber extending up from the outboard end oi the outwardly extending sea floor environment structure.

5. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein the .above water access structure, comprises a spectator receiving platform structure of suflicient airtight volume to constantly provide potential buoyancy to float the entire fiacility if any sea opening should occur in the viewing chamber structure.

6. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 5, wherein the. spectator receiving platform structure extends beyond the spectator viewing chamber to serve an outrigger function as necessary upon rolling and pitching.

7. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein the below water viewing space structure comprises watentight structure inclusive of viewing ports, each comprising an outer and inner transparent structure, each sealed around its edges.

8. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 7, wherein each of the said viewing ports comprise said outer and said inner transparent structures which are spaced apart and each said transparent structure is sealed around its edges.

9. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 8, comprising an emergency solid panel hinged above each viewing port of the facility, a change in pressure sensitive latching mechanism on the facility to hold each emergency solid panel above each respective viewing port, and a pressure sensing means located in each space between the said outer and said inner transparent structures to sense a structural failure of its related viewing port and to cause the said respective change in pressure latching mechanism to release the emergency panel for pivotal movement to cover the viewing port.

10. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 7, wherein the viewing space structure includes accessories for controlling environment comprising breathing air supply and conditioning systems, stairs, and lighting systems.'

11. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4-, wherein simulated sea floor environment, comprises: a tray-like structure secured to viewing chamber structure and extended into the spectator viewing range.

12. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 11, wherein said tray-like structure initially extends from the viewing chamber at an angle to optically compensate for light refraction, thereby causing the simulated sea floor to appear substantially natural to a person within the viewing chamber.

13. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein marine life confining structure comprises nonwater-tight materials extending upwardly from sea floor tray like structure to higher structure of the overall facility.

14. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein marine life confining structure, comprises watertight material extending upwardly from sea floor tray like structure to higher structure of the overall facility.

15. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 14, wherein water conditioners are employed to improve visibility by removing man made debris and impurities, unnatural growth from waters around the viewing chamber.

16. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein exterior underwater lighting is provided by utilizing underwater floodlights on extensions terminating in outlets above water thereby per. mitting servicing of such floodlights above Water after removal from their underwater locating devices.

17. An undersea marine life spectator viewing facility, as claimed in claim 4, wherein the structures of the facility above and below the spectators viewing range are arranged to eliminate any substantial blind spots wherein marine life could possibly retreat from the spectators View.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 324,508 8/ 1885 Wenmaekers ll95 X 385,656 7/1888 Belisle 1l466 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,097,189 2/1955 France.

MILTON BUCHLER, Primary Examiner.

FERGUS S. MIDDLETON, Examiner. T. M. BLIX, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US324508 *Aug 18, 1885Himself and Paul Goepelwenmaekers
US385656 *Feb 27, 1888Jul 3, 1888 Ship for submarine observations
FR1097189A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3680515 *Feb 26, 1971Aug 1, 1972Fujita CorpUndersea observation gallery
US4037563 *Mar 29, 1976Jul 26, 1977John M. PfluegerAquarium viewing window
US4186532 *Dec 6, 1977Feb 5, 1980Kahn Morris SUnderwater observatory
US4904118 *Jun 30, 1988Feb 27, 1990Thiemann Iii Henry JStructure for viewing an underwater environment
US5315952 *Oct 19, 1992May 31, 1994Jackson Jr Curtiss EMethod of making and apparatus of a view window
US6672233 *Mar 27, 2001Jan 6, 2004Gerhard WippermannFloating body
US8869724Jan 6, 2013Oct 28, 2014Canopy Enterprises, Inc.System and method for underwater observation
DE9407816U1 *May 11, 1994Sep 14, 1995Koch Peter HBadeinsel
U.S. Classification114/66, 72/467
International ClassificationB63C11/49, B63C11/48
Cooperative ClassificationB63C11/49
European ClassificationB63C11/49