The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Where There is Life There is Hope. An Ode to Maurice and the Seafarers – by Inilek Wilmot

by Inilek Wilmot

IniContributorPhoto 640x400 Where There is Life There is Hope. An Ode to Maurice and the Seafarers   by Inilek Wilmot

Inilek Wilmot (arm outstretched) and his own seafaring Rastafarian family.
Incredible photo courtesy of Steve Gorrow.

Editor’s Note. This is what I hope will be the first of a series of Scuttlefish features from Inilek “Ini” Wilmot and perhaps other members of his Jamaican family. I first met Ini’s father, reggae musician and Jamaican surf guru Billy “Mystic” Wilmot surfing in Kingston way back in the late 1980’s. In the years since, I’ve been lucky to spend plenty of time surfing the phenomenal waves of the island’s eastern shore with Billy and his kids. Though he was just a kid when I first met him, Inilek has gone on to become a musician, dad, Jamaican surf ambassador, scientist and manager of Jamaica’s Oracabessa and Boscobel Marine Sanctuaries. For those of you who’ve never been to Jamaica, Oracabessa is the beautiful seaside community where Ian Fleming’s mind gave birth to James Bond.

InilekOliviaWilmot 640x428 Where There is Life There is Hope. An Ode to Maurice and the Seafarers   by Inilek Wilmot

Inilek Wilmot. Photo: Ishack Wilmot.

Last week, Inilek spoke before the United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization. Currently, he’s working on coral gardening and turtle conservation projects. He also happens to be a damn good writer who understands his home island in a way few outsiders – or locals for that matter – ever will. Here, he pays homage to a crew of Jamaican freedivers, men for whom fishing, quite literally means life – or death. — CD

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Life Jackets Stuffed With Iron Bars. The P/S General Slocum and The Greatest Forgotten Maritime Tragedy in United States History

by Owen James Burke

genslocumart 640x365 Life Jackets Stuffed With Iron Bars. The <i/>P/S General Slocum</i> and The Greatest Forgotten Maritime Tragedy in United States History

Illustration: Mariner’s Museum

On June 15th 1904, The United States of America suffered its greatest tragedy since The Civil War, resulting in a loss of life that would not be surpassed in any single incident until September 11th, 2001.

One fine late spring Wednesday, over 1,300 members of the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church — mostly women and children — boarded the 235-foot keeled, side-wheel passenger steamship P/S General Slocum (along with roughly two-dozen crew members and staff) to set sail up the East River, past north and south Brother’s Islands, into Long Island Sound and down to Great Neck Point on the north shore of Long Island. It was to be a postcard day for the passengers, who were looking forward to spending a day outside of the city, and a picnic on the beach.

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Why Are Dolphins Taking a Breathalyzer Test?

by Carolyn Sotka

dolphinHRbreathalyzer 530x640 Why Are Dolphins Taking a Breathalyzer Test?

Credit: American Chemical Society

No, they are not drunk. Maybe a bear gets drunk, but not dolphins. The new ‘dolphin breathalyzer’ is a diagnostic tool to help monitor dolphin health and shed light on factors that contribute to strandings and unusual mortality events, as seen recently on the eastern seaboard.

In a new report in the American Chemical Society’s journal ‘Analytical Chemistry’, Professor Cristina E. Davis and her team at UC Davis, developed this relatively non-invasive test to ‘capture’ dolphin breath and analyze metabolites.  These substances can point to potential environmental exposures or disease state. Currently, most tools that assess marine mammal health require more invasive procedures such as skin biopsy or blood sampling.
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Cartoonist of Sherman’s Lagoon, Jim Toomey, Wins Best Animation in the Blue Ocean Film Festival

by Carolyn Sotka

Screen Shot 2014 11 20 at 1.01.59 PM 640x310 Cartoonist of Sherman’s Lagoon, Jim Toomey, Wins Best Animation in the Blue Ocean Film Festival

The Blue Ocean Film Festival held their annual awards show last week in St. Petersburg, Florida. Among the honorees was veteran cartoonist Jim Toomey and author of Sherman’s Lagoon.

Using just 2 minutes and his stellar animation, Toomey addresses critical threats to the ocean and what you can do to help. The winning short is focused on nutrient run-off and its negative impacts, but other shorts hit major issues such as climate change and adaptation to sea level rise; the ‘true value’ of the ocean; ocean trash; and shark conservation.

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Fukushima: A Woods Hole Marine Chemist Explains Why the Eastern Pacific Is No More Radioactive Now Than It Was 50 Years Ago

by Owen James Burke

cesiumill Fukushima: A Woods Hole Marine Chemist Explains Why the Eastern Pacific Is No More Radioactive Now Than It Was 50 Years Ago

Above: Satellite measurements (displaying ocean temperatures and cesium-134 levels based on radioactivity per second) between July 28th and August 4th help show where radionuclides (or atomic species with radioactive elements) from Fukushima are transported. (Image: WHOI)

Radioactive waters carried across the north Pacific by the Kuroshio Current from along the Pacific Coast of the United States, were predicted to make U.S. landfall this year. While mainstream media showered the public, conjuring doom and gloom through imagery of glow-in-the-dark three-eyed fish, only a few scientists have actually been taking measurements of the radioactive isotopes (nuclides) which have been thumb-printed and traced from Fukushima–namely, cesium-134.

One such scientist is Dr. Ken Buesseler, a Senior Scientist of Marine and Geo Chemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In the absence of government funding, he has taken it upon himself, along with colleagues and volunteers from research scientists, commercial fishermen, and even the general public, to take samples and measurements of one isolated isotope which can be directly attributed to the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Plant disaster of 2011. His findings? We’ve got nothing to worry about – no more than normal, that is.

If you thought your tuna was just becoming radioactive because of a nuclear meltdown that occurred 3 and a half years ago, the fish you, your parents or your grandparents have been consuming for the past 50 years has all been far more contaminated. Residual cesium-137, left over from The United States Military’s weapon testing during the 1960s, still shows in much higher traces.

Screen Shot 2014 11 20 at 1.18.27 PM 640x504 Fukushima: A Woods Hole Marine Chemist Explains Why the Eastern Pacific Is No More Radioactive Now Than It Was 50 Years Ago

The U.S. Military’s Baker Test, Bikini Atoll, 1946. Many more such tests would follow. Image: Wikipedia.

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Legendary Kamikaze (“Divine”) Winds May Have Protected Japan from Mongol Invasions

by Owen James Burke

kamikazewind 640x427 Legendary Kamikaze (Divine) Winds May Have Protected Japan from Mongol Invasions

Kamikaze winds (“divine winds”) are depicted sinking Mongolian warships during the 1281 A.D. invasion of Japan in this 19th century painting by Japanese artist Issho Yada. (Photo: Koji Namamura/NatGeo)

Back in the 13th century when the Mongolian Empire was at its height, ruling all the way from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea, they also had Japan in their sights. According to legend, however, there was an impenetrable typhoon-force wind which sank thousands of ships and prevented not just one but two invasions of Japan.

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Fish Raise Their Voices in Auditory Confusion, Too

by Owen James Burke

talkingfish 640x640 Fish Raise Their Voices in Auditory Confusion, Too

(Illustration: Kyle T. Webster/The New Yorker)

Apart from grunts, toadfish and croakers (named for obvious reasons) there are “over 800 fish species known to hoot, moan, grunt, groan, thump, bark or otherwise vocalize,” writes The New Yorker. It is assumed that these fish do so in order to communicate, but now scientists say that they even tend to raise their voices in certain environments, too. But why?

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Wish You Were Here: 24-Hours in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

by Carolyn Sotka

mekong8 640x535 Wish You Were Here: 24 Hours in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

The bustling streets of Saigon are like a living organism – connected via a central hub, with its different parts moving in unison, yet seemingly disconnected. The beat of the city is palpable, but close by lies the mouth of the Mekong River and Delta, and its serene and slower pulse.

The only way to truly experience the Mekong is to get on it, and submerse yourself in the tales of old, of sea monsters and boat people, and of war and peace. From high-end, private sampan voyages to a night on a converted rice-barge to a rowboat, there are endless possibilities to choose for your voyage.

mekongselfie3 copy 640x640 Wish You Were Here: 24 Hours in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Selfie on the Mekong, a day trip with the wonderful Le Cochinchine guide, Dang Ngoc Loi who shared with me many of the stories in this article.

So began my 24-hours on the Mekong, tucked into Le Cochinchine’s beautiful 4-cabin, luxurious rice-barge. To some travelers, the waters seem dirty, ruddy and lack appeal – but to me, they hid secrets beneath the opaque surface. The tour company Le Cochinchine, offers an authentic experience with a mixture of history, geography, ecology, culture and culinary delights.

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