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Beth Gibbons
Singer + songwriter

Nadav Kander
Water 111, England

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,

When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

Drinking water is vital. Drinking sea water is deadly. Too much salt. The more salt, the more water needed to get rid of it. So ironically in drinking, you eventually dehydrate and die. Many ‘slimy’ inhabitants of the ocean have internal fluids that are merely ‘glorified’ sea water. So sea water contains the right amount of particular salts, essential for much of ocean life. Even our blood is salty, like brine.

In her 1951 book, The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson aired a common view that, ‘over eons of time, the sea has grown even more bitter with salt of the continents’. Recent research says differently. Over the past 600 million years the oceanic salt load has decreased slightly to its present level of 47,578 × 10¹⁸ kg of salts dissolved in 1322.746 × 10¹⁸ kg water, a 3.5% salts solution.

John Spicer