The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Month: November, 2015

A Happy 180th Birthday to Mark Twain, And a Video Tribute to the Late, Great Pioneer of Western Surf Prose.

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Screenshot from the 1909 Edison film below.

Mark Twain was not merely the greatest American humorist, novelist and social critic to grace the globe; he may well have been western prose’s first surf writer, evidenced by his eloquent description of his failed attempt at ‘surf-bathing’ while visiting the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1872 (excerpt from Roughing It):

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 bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.

This Edison film of a later-years Mr. Clemens and (supposedly) his daughters Clara and Susy was taken in 1909 outside ‘Stormfield’, the American humorist, novelist and social critic’s home in Redding, Connecticut, one year before he passed. Notice Twain’s ever stern and steady delivery of some wry quip which makes his daughter chuckle wholesomely over tea on the patio:

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Wish You Were Here: Naked and Alone in a Japanese Bathhouse on a Rock in the Middle of the South Pacific


Photo: Owen James Burke.

Over half a mile above the sea, silky blue waters trickle up from Earth’s crust, filling and frothing a handful of small rock pools beside a rolling mountain stream on this far flung rock, somewhere in the South Pacific.


Photo: Owen James Burke.

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Wish You Were Here: Titirangi Bay, Cook Strait, New Zealand

Scuttlefish writer Owen James Burke is currently rambling around New Zealand in a camper van 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


Photo: Owen James Burke.

It’s a long dirt and gravel road full of hairpin switchbacks to the outer Marlborough Sounds, but the view alone is well worth the journey, even in a tired old truck such as Raw Paua.


Photo: Owen James Burke.

These are the old whaling grounds of the European settlers, who built lookout stations on the tops of these hills in order to spot the abundance of sperm and humpback whales passing through the Cook Strait. Whaling in New Zealand came to an end in 1964, but some of the stations still stand today. They’re a long hike out, but recommended. Leave the spear at home.


Join the Russian-based ‘Aquatilis’ Expedition After They Return From Exploring Three Oceans to Learn More About Gelatinous Microorgansims


The focus of the Aquatilis expedition is to learn more about gelatinous plankton. Image from the Aquatilis Web site.

A team of Russian marine biologists just returned from five months at sea, where they traveled over 30,000 miles and through three oceans to learn more about Gelata, a subcategory of zooplankton (microscopic animals). Gelata are soft-bodied and gelatinous zooplankton that have a unifying characteristic of  soft and extremely fragile jelly-like bodies, like jellyfish.


The route of the Aquatilis. Image from the Aquatilis Web site.

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Ray Cicin Is Bringing Back the Art of Ballpoint Pens With His Deep Blue Series


A box of ballpoints, patience and talent is all you need to create delicate masterpieces like this. Image from Ray Cicin.

Multi-media artist Ray Cicin uses ballpoint pen as his medium for this octopus drawing as part of his Deep Blue series. This drawing took close to a year to finish. Many artists have used pens over the years, including Andy Warhol and Alberto Giacometti, and the simple pen, bless its little soul, continues to work its wonders in contemporary drawings of all types and sizes.


Cicin interpretation of an Ernst Von Haeckel octopus lithograph. Image from Ray Cicin.

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Somewhere in Ireland, This Surfer’s Head Is Still Ringing.

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. . . and that’s on their way down. Screenshot from’s video below.

How this poor waverider isn’t severed symmetrically is beyond me, though I don’t think the same could be said for his surfboard.

“Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” The Harrowing Flight of the Flying Fish.

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Above, a mahi mahi (aka dorado or dolphinfish) gives a flying fish the fright of its life. Screenshot from the BBC video below.

Flying fish (family Exocoetidae) can glide for hundreds of yards to dodge predatory fish like mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) from below, but when the frigate birds arrive, they’re merely out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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Listen to the Song of the Wind and Waves – Played by the Incredible Sea Organ of Zadar, Croatia


The Sea Organ. Photo by The Real Croatia.

Located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, a monotonous sea wall erected after World War II was transformed into the world’s first pipe organ that plays music using wind and waves. Designed by Nikola Bašić in 2005, the architectural instrument has a system of polyethylene tubes and a resonating cavity, underneath a set of large marble steps.

The Sea Organ is 230 ft. long and narrow crevices are carved into the steps that lead to organ pipes. When the waves lap against the steps, air is pushed through the pipes to make enchanting, unrehearsed and gentle sounds – similar to a wind chime.

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