The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Month: January, 2014

Mark Twain Recounts Trying to Surf in Hawaii in Roughing It (1872)


Roughing It is an early work of Mark Twain’s (a prequel to Innocents Abroad) in which he describes his travels of the American west, and more interestingly perhaps, the (then) Kingdom of Hawaii:

The surfer would paddle three or four hundred yards out to see, taking a short board with him, then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell! It did not seem that a lightning express train to shoot along at a more hair-lifting speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the sand about the same time, with a couple of gallons of water in me.

-Mark Twain

Man Washes up in Marshall Islands After 16 Months Adrift, Drank Turtle Blood to Survive


A man by the name of Jose Ivan (his identity has not yet been confirmed), claims that he left Mexico for El Salvador in September of 2012 with a companion and had been afloat in the 16 months since, a researcher reported to the AFP on Friday.

Ivan, who had no fishing gear, managed to survive by capturing birds and turtles with his hands, and drinking turtle blood when there was no rainwater, he told Ola Fjeldstad, a Norwegian anthropology student currently doing research on Ebon Atoll.

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21-Year Old Brits Become Youngest Rowers to Cross the Atlantic


After 54 days of rowing and very little sleep, Luke Birch and Jamie Sparks, both 21 years old and of England, have just come in fifth place in a race across the Atlantic, but more distinguishably, they’ve just entered the Guinness Book of World Records in doing so.

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West African Fishermen Are Armed with Cellphones to Fight Piracy

Fishermen launching their boat.

(Photo credit: Environmental Justice Foundation)

Recently, West Africa has seen a spike in piracy around oil tankers off of Nigeria and now Angola, but fishing piracy has been a constant issue for many years, and the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has finally decided to do something about it.

Up to 37% of the catch from West African waters is harvested and sold illegally, and the EJF believe they have a solution: arm local, legitimate fisherman with cellphones and GPS-enabled cameras which they can use to photograph suspected ships and record their positions. “These are locally appropriate technologies: they are simple, cheap, and durable,” reports executive director Steve Trent to National Geographic.

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Atlantic Puffins Snare Fish with Spiny Tongues


(Photo credit: Steve Garvie, Flickr)

Not only are these seabirds able to catch up to a dozen silversides (or spearing), they have spiny tongues that keep them from slipping out on the way back to the nest to feed their lone offspring.

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The Good Sea Captain

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Moulin Productions/Warner Bros.

With the huge success of the movie Captain Phillips, the story of its namesake is now pop-culture lore: In April 2009, when armed Somali pirates boarded Captain Richard Phillips’s ship, the Maersk Alabama, in the Indian Ocean, he volunteered himself as a hostage, saving his crew and putting his own life in peril. Before Phillips could become the subject of a Tom Hanks film, he was already an international hero and the object of praise by the likes of President Obama.

Meanwhile, the name of another captain has featured prominently in the news: Francesco Schettino was the master of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January 2012 after he passed too close to land in a “sail-by salute” and struck a reef. While Schettino left the vessel in a lifeboat, hundreds of passengers and crew remained onboard. Thirty-two people died as a result of the incident. Schettino, now infamous, has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and the abandonment of his ship. His criminal trial is underway in Italy.

Thinking about Phillips and Schettino, I’ve had occasion to consider the qualities of a great sea captain. I practiced maritime law in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for more than 40 years, meeting many captains aboard their ships, at meetings, in my office, and occasionally in the courtroom. Some of the good ones were exceptionally good; some of the bad ones were, well, really bad.

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Doctor Fights off Shark, Stitches Own Leg and Heads to Bar for a Beer


(Photo credit: Nicole Gourley/Fairfax NZ)

24-year-old New Zealand junior doctor James Grant was spearfishing in about 6 feet of murky water on Saturday with friends in Colac Bay, New Zealand when he felt a tug on his leg. Turning around expecting to see a friend playing a trick, he was met by the figure of what he believes was a sevengill shark with about an 8-inch wide jaw.

Luckily, he was wielding a knife with which he began striking the shark. “I am not sure how effective it was,” he told the Guardian. “I guess it let go so something must have happened. [I] put a few nicks in it.”

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Octopus!: The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea

Reprinted from OCTOPUS!: The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea by Katherine Harmon Courage with permission of Current, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) Katherine Harmon Courage, 2013.


By Katherine Harmon Courage, from Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature In the Sea

The light is filtering in from above. It’s quiet except for the sound of my own breathing. Something bright catches my eye. I look left and spot two shockingly yellow fish. But as I’m admiring them, I suddenly realize—too late—that I’m being pulled by an unseen force to the right toward a big rock. I try to reverse course, but I bash my knee on an outcropping of coral that I hadn’t seen below, causing a cut that aches for days to come.

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