|Quoting JetBuddy (Reply 118):|
I think everyone can safely assume that this flaperon is from MH370.
And I'm not sure it's that smart dismissing that the suitcase(s) recently found in the same area could be from MH370. The pictures I've seen are just shreds of nylon fabric and zippers which easily could float for months or years. Unlike someone mentioned earlier in this thread, a suitcase can actually stay afloat for a long time, even if it was weighed down with content. Either way, the suitcase I've seen was shredded.
Of course stuff washes ashore all the time, but dismissing the suitcase this early would be wrong in my opinion.
I saw those pictures as well, but the suitcase seemed pretty clean to me--that is, it didn't have the sea life growth on it that the flaperon had, possibly indicating that it wasn't in seawater for very long.
An airliner impacting the ocean would most likely form patches of debris. I suspect we'll find more airplane parts and other items related to the crash/ditch within the next few weeks around the same area.
True, a debris field would be formed, but the individual pieces of flotsam would soon begin a random walk away from each other and become wildly separated. Hopefully, more debris will turn up, but it is perhaps about equally likely that more debris could turn up in Tasmania as Reunion. (cf. that Monto Carlo simulation model)
The barnicles on the flaperon will be able to tell where in the ocean they started growing, and how old they are. Together with the damage on the flaperon, I think we'll get very close to the truth about what happened to the aircraft in the next few weeks/months.
This is an interesting thought, but it turns out that Lepas anatifera
(a.k.a. the pelagic goose barnacle)--if indeed that is the species of barnacle found on the flaperon--has a worlwide distribution because it drifts everywhere. HOWEVER, it also turns out that Lepas antifera
in cold waters.
Here is a surface temperature map of the SIO:
Note that the map was made in October (2005) and that October is toward the end of the southern winter, so the temperatures probably show the coldest extreme.
Now, here is a link to a very interesting article on Lepas antifera
From the article:
The eggs of Lepas anatifera are about 140-260 X 100-120 microns and hatch into free swimming larvae that undergo six specialized naupliar stages. Development to the 10 mm long, plankton-eating stage VI can take up to two months. The larvae then transforms into a cyprid, which is a non-feeding search and settlement stage. The cyprid larvae drift along the ocean currents until it identifies and attaches to a substratum. Once they are attached, cirri develop. Lepas anatifera reaches sexual maturity when the capitulum reaches 2.5 cm across. Sexual maturity occurs more slowly in cold waters than in warmer waters. Approximately 120 days after settlement these barnacles develop reproductive organs at temperatures between 10.2 to 18.4 ºC, but the reproductive development takes 30 days if the surface temperature of the water is around 25 ºC.
So P. antifera
most likely can't reproduce in the southern portion of the search area where the water temperatures are typically below 16-20 ºC (cf. Patel 1959
). Moreover, if you'll look at the comparison of the pictures above showing the flapiron versus the boat that had been in the water, the barnacles seem to be at approximately the same stage of development, with a size diameter of an inch or so. (I'm assuming the flapiron is about 5 feet across at the wide part.)
This would seemingly entail that the flapiron DID NOT begin its voyage in warm water (because the barnacles would be more developed), but instead began its voyage within the south/western portion of the search area, drifted north into warmer waters, and only then aquired its colony of barnacles!
I could be wrong of course since we only have these grainy photos to go off of. Thus, if an expert could figure out that the barnacles are a full 18 months old, then that would exclude the southern region, and the likely search area would be in the north off the coast of Perth!