The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: africa

“African Shadows” by David Doubilet. Okavango Delta, Botswana.

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“African Shadows”, by David Doubilet. Okavango Delta, Botswana.

David Doubilet may be the world’s finest and most prolific underwater photographer, to which this singular photograph taken in Botswana is testament enough. Over the course of a 40+ year career in the field, he’s worked with Dr. Sylvia Earle and the Cousteaus, and published nearly 70 National Geographic stories since his first assignment in 1971.

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A Tiny Indian Ocean Island Nation Duped into Selling Its Citizenship for a Paradise Village That Never Came to Be


Photo: Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG via Getty Images.

The Comoro Islands, which lie 200 miles off the east coast of Africa beside Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, are listed, economically, among the poorest countries in the world. In 2008, a group of Emirates devised a $200 million dollar scheme which would, ostensibly, provide the Comoros with enough capital to build new infrastructure: schools, roads, ports. Comorian politicians were led to believe that this new fortune would put Moroni, the nation’s capital city on the map. It was to become the next Dubai–“a Hawaii for Arabs.”


The Comoro island of Moheli. Photograph: Marka/UIG via Getty Images.

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“Beyond the West Horizon”: A 1950s Home Movie of a Round the World Sailing Voyage

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“There was never anything to suggest there were other humans on this planet” – Eric Hiscock on the couple’s TransPac voyage. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

Eric and Susan Hiscock, earlier pioneers of small-boat pleasure cruising, sailed around the world on their 30-foot cutter, Wanderer between 1952 and 1955 during a time when few took to the high seas for any reason other than necessity. The video below is a full-length feature on their journey as filmed and edited by Eric and Susan themselves.

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“I suppose that practically everybody who owns a small boat as a desire–a dream, you might say–to sail around the world.” – Eric Hiscock. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

The Hiscocks recorded Beyond the West Horizon together during their 3-year, 3-week journey round the world–their first of three. Out in the open ocean, they encounter only one other vessel throughout their entire journey. There was no radar, no emergency rescue and on all but a few stretches, almost all of the steering had to be done by hand, which meant very little sleep.

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Sailing through the Greek Isles. Screenshot from Beyond the West Horizon.

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Dude, Don’t Mess with a Hippo. An Unlikely Encounter With a Shark and See Who Wins


Hippos can weigh as much as 8,000 lbs, have 20 inch canines, can run up to 20 mph and really aren’t afraid of any animal including humans. 

Having spent time in the Serengeti, East Africa studying wildlife – the number one rule was never, ever get between a hippo and the river or her calf. Hippos are the main cause of death for about 3,000 people per year in Africa. Way more than the commonly thought of predators like lions.

In this video, filmed in South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park by tour operator Stacey Farrell, a bull shark or Zambezi shark (Carcharhinus leucas) has made its way upstream from the ocean and swims right into a horde of hippos. The hippos watch the shark circle for a minute or so and then attack the shark underwater.

Video from EarthTouch News Network

Hippos aren’t exactly picky about where they drop their waste, so they often attract congregations of hungry fish. “It would be the best place for the shark to be looking for a snack,” explains Farrell. “The water was very muddy and the shark started bumping into the hippo, which caused them to start attacking [it]. The shark was much faster and managed to get away at the last second.”

Unlike most shark species, bull sharks can adjust their biological processes to increase salt retention in fresh or brackish waters, such as in Africa’s largest estuarine system protected by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It’s not that unusual to spot them upstream but this behaviour in action has not been documented before. – CS

Scientists Say a 300-Foot Tsunami Hit The Cabo Verde Islands 73,000 Years Ago

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Above, a researcher chisels out a sample of a large boulder found atop a 600 foot cliff in on Santiago Island in the Cabo Verdes for dating. Photo: Ricardo Ramalho.

A new study published in Science Advances suggests that a tsunami as high as 300 feet struck the Cabo Verde Islands, off West Africa, some 73,000 years ago.

According to the sampled rock above, the flank of the nearly 10,000-foot peak of the volcano on the nearby Cabo Verdean island of Fogo collapsed, sending the tsunami roughly 30 miles across to Santiago Island which, might have seen sea level surges as high as 900 feet, or Paris’ Eiffel Tower.

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Last Man Off: Author and Shipwreck Survivor Matt Lewis Discusses Disaster, Survival and Regret in the Southern Ocean

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Above: Likely the last (recoverable) photo taken of the Sudur Havid. All of Mr. Lewis’ photos from the voyage lie beneath the South Atlantic, somewhere to the west-northwest of South Georgia Island.

In April of 1998, a 23-year-old marine biologist named Matt Lewis boarded the Sudur Havid, a commercial fishing vessel headed for the Southern Ocean in search of Patagonian toothfish (better known for its more common market name, “Chilean sea bass”). He was to be a scientific observer, documenting the vessel’s catch. It was his first job out of school.

The vessel was to spend several months at sea between the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties, great conveyor belts of wind and current, named in reference to the almost constant 40-60-knot winds and 40-60-foot seas that occur within those southern latitudes. It was an adventurous gig – the kind of thing a young, freshly lettered bachelor is supposed to get himself into.

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“With my mum and sister in Somerset before the trip, 1997. I know: bad hair, dreadful beard, but I was young.” Photo courtesy of Matt Lewis.

Two months into the excursion, the Sudur Havid was off South Georgia Island in a heavy storm, possibly overloaded, but continuing to fish, per usual, when the ship’s factory (where the fish are processed and frozen) began to take on water. The inboard pumps, which were used to drain the factory, became clogged, and stopped working. Slowly, the ship began to list, and the reality that she would have no chance of making port set in amongst the crew. South Georgia Island was 170 miles away–too far for helivac–and South Africa and South America were both well over 1,000 miles away.

Now it was a nightmare.

The ship, which Lewis, junior amongst the crew, had assumed was prepared for such an emergency, was carrying unserviced life rafts and no survival suits. The water over the rail was as good as freezing, about 32.5° fahrenheit (~0.25° celsius)–a temperature at which even a healthy human body can last no more than 45 minutes.

“When you’re in trouble, you pull together, fight together, try to laugh and keep your spirits up. But there’s only so much you can do when the water is so cold.”

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The Atlas of Surfing History: A Visual Tour of Surfing Through Time

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Above: “Ghana, West Africa.” “In 1835, writes Smith, “the captain of an exploration ship describes people surfing…” the shores of Ghana in West Africa. Art: Ron Croci.

While Polynesian folklore and legend surrounding surfing dates back many centuries, some of the earliest (Western) historical records of surfing come not from the South Pacific, but Syria, according to author Joel Smith and illustrator Ron Croci’s forthcoming book, entitled The Atlas of Surfing History: a journey through time, due out in early 2016.

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Above: “Syria.” Oil on panel. Art: Ron Croci.

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The Utterly Fascinating, Stone Age Indian Ocean Island Where Once You Step Ashore, You’re Dead


Sentinelese primarily use their bows and arrows to hunt reef fish in the shallows, but they’re also important tools for defense. Photo: Radcliffe-Broewn, c. 1909.

On a tiny spit of land called North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal (known as Chiö-tá-kwö-kwéver, to its inhabitants) live a people known to the outside world as the ‘Sentinelese.’ The island and its people have been getting a fair amount of attention lately because of their ability to remain among the few cultures that have succeeded in evading the sociological and technological nightmares the rest of the world has created for itself.

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