The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Month: August, 2015

A Subsea Arms Race? Amidst Turf Disputes, Australian Octopuses Deploy Shells, Rocks and Seaweed


Above: Octopuses tangle in Australia’s Jervis Bay. Photo: Peter Godfrey-Smith (CUNY and University of Sydney), David Scheel (Alaska Pacific University), Stefan Linquist (University of Guelph) and Matthew Lawrence.

Biologists are unsure of the status of the world’s octopus populations. Being heavily dispersed, generally solitary creatures, they’re practically impossible to count.

In Jervis Bay, Australia, there’s no need for a tally. The common Sydney octopus, also known as the gloomy octopus (Octopus tetricus), has become so crowded that researchers are filming scuffles involving several individuals at a time, presumably over territory.

Conflicts seem to be escalating so much that they are making projectiles of objects like rocks and shells and launching them at one another with surprising precision, a behavior that appears to have been previously undocumented.

Watch video footage below:

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PBS’ “Big Blue Live” Tonight: A Multi-day and Live Affair in Celebration of the Monterey Bay

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Humpback whale in the Monterey Bay, California. Photo courtesy of Cathy Munsch.

Editor’s Note: A few years ago, Scuttlefish writer Carolyn Sotka and Dr. Stephen R. Palumbi authored a terrific book, The Death and Life of the Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival. The book was inspired by the deep human and natural history of the Monterey Bay and its rich, ecological tapestry. But it wasn’t always like it is today. Over hundreds of years, there was serial exploitation of marine animals that weakened and disrupted the health and resilience of the Bay – beginning with whaling and otter hunts and through the intense boom and bust of the sardine fishery. Tonight PBS will launch Big Blue Live, a unique 3-day TV event. Watch the broadcast and read the book about one of the most amazing places on earth, the Monterey Bay. 

PBS and BBC joined forces to bring you an event inspired by the ocean and unlike anything you have seen before. Big Blue Live debuts tonight, August 31 – September 2, 2015 on PBS. This live television and online broadcast program will celebrate one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Monterey Bay, California.

While Monterey Bay is full of life year-round, this program focuses on a once-a-year phenomenon where humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, and shearwaters all converge in the Bay during August and September.

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Sea otter wrapped in kelp in the Monterey Bay. Photo by Jim Capwell.

Watch the Big Blue Live trailer below:

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Abalone Song, A Definitive Tribute to the Queen of the Mollusks


Above: the venerable red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) of the Pacific Northwest. Image: The Lucky Peach.

‘“When you throw up next time, aim away from me,” Steve said as he sized me up through his mask,” Tienlon Ho writes of her preview into the rigors of red abalone diving off Mendocino in Northern California for Lucky Peach.

Through 100 million years of evolution, abalone have changed very little, and until Europeans arrived in the Pacific, they had little reason to do so. Native Americans, writes Ho, found them so plentiful and life-sustaining that they used their shells as currency and even referred to themselves as “Abalone People.”

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“The Most Fearless” – New Film Documents the Struggle and Success of Bangladesh’s First Female Surfer


Still from the upcoming feature documentary “The Most Fearless”. Photography by Jordan Dozzi, Kamrul Hasan, Venessa Rude and Heather Kessinger.

The August edition of Marie Claire shares the remarkable story of a young Bangladeshi woman, whose determination to become the first female surfer in her country is documented in a new film “The Most Fearless” by Heather Kessinger.

“The Most Fearless” follows the struggles of 18 year-old Nasima Akter, who has overcome a life of poverty and become a world-class surfer in a conservative country, where women don’t even swim in public.


Photography by Jordan Dozzi, Kamrul Hasan, Venessa Rude and Heather Kessinger.

After leaving home at seven to escape prostitution, she found sanctuary among the surfing community along Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, which is the world’s longest uninterrupted natural, sandy beach.

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Wish You Were Here: Kahawai on the Fly, South Island Rivermouth, New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand, living in a house truck with a camera, surfboard and speargun in search of stories, waves and fish. We’re putting together a waterperson’s guide to the island nation, but meanwhile, we’ll be publishing stories and photographs, short updates along the way from the Yankee in Kiwiland. -CD

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A South Island, New Zealand Kahawai, which, roughly translated from Māori means “strong in the water.” Photo: Owen James Burke.

Spring torrents are underway as waters warm here in New Zealand, and that means small trout-like minnows known as whitebait are starting to congregate around rivermouths as they begin their upriver journey to shallow culverts where, like salmon, they’ll mate and die.

The arrival of these hardy little fish (delicious morsels in their own right, but more on this later) also signals the return of large schools of kahawai (Arripis trutta), robust pelagic fish not unlike the Atlantic Ocean’s bluefish or Spanish mackerel, also known as eastern Australian salmon for their aerial acrobatics. The broad-shouldered brutes, as their indigenous name would suggest, are a fly-fisherman’s dream.

While kahawai aren’t generally considered to be the most desirable food fish, I, being from the school of thought that any fish can taste good if prepared with care, have done some experimenting with smoke, open flame, wok, lime (as ceviche)–even sashimi–and have yet to file (or receive) any grievances.

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We’re Impressed with SharkBanz’ Recent Field Tests. We’d Like to See Them in White and Tiger Shark Waters Next.

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Screenshot from Sharkbanz‘ YouTube video.

Sharkbanz, which we wrote about in March, is a lightweight, unobtrusive, anklet (or bracelet) that doesn’t require batteries or charging, and, unlike other shark-repelling technologies, is an affordable $60.

Recently, the father-son duo from Charleston, SC has been putting their magnets to the test by sending a dummy (dressed as “Bernie” from the classic 1990s film) out on a standup paddleboard in sharky, chum-laden waters Bimini in the Bahamas.

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Invasion of the Red Crabs: El Niño Conditions Bring Hoards of Fiery Beasties to the Channel Islands


Screen grab from video below of pelagic red crabs in the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary

This year’s El Niño is predicted to be of one the strongest in recent history, bringing with it torrid waters from the equator and drenching the west coast and southern parts of the U.S. with torrential rains.

The effects of this Godzilla El Nino are already being felt along the Channel Islands, off the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in California, where thousands of pelagic red crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) have the invaded the waters around the islands.

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This Undergrad Just Sailed 3,000 Miles to School for Her Freshman Orientation, With Dog

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“I really didn’t think the trip was that hard,” she told ABC’s WFTS, a Tampa, Florida news outlet. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald (video below).

Late last September, 18-year-old Sally Gardiner-Smith set sail aboard Athena, a modest 29-foot Ericson (a sailboat designed for relatively light air), leaving Portland, Maine for St. Petersburg, Florida, where she would be attending Eckerd College–the following year.

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