The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: caribbean

A Thanks to Brian Lam, Matt Warshaw, Jeremy Spencer, Chronicle Books – and Everyone who’s Made this Ocean Life Possible

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My first ever rejection letter. Courtesy of Surfer Magazine and Matt Warshaw. 1989. 

It’s weird the stuff you decide to file in your folder book of memories. The above note is one such recently found object. It’s my very first, of very, very many professional rejection notes. If you’re a writer, you get used to rejection notes from editors. If you don’t, well, you’d better find other work. Aside from being a first, what makes this letter so very damn special is that it was written and signed by none other than Matt Warshaw. If you’re a surfer who’s worth even a grain of salt, you know him. If you’re not a surfer, suffice to say that the author of The History of Surfing and editor of The Encyclopedia of Surfing is to our sport as Ken Burns is to baseball – or James Michener is to Hawaii.

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Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Warshaw’s note in the back of my garage, amidst a stack of yellowing articles and letters. I’d completely forgotten this little nugget, but I vividly remember when it arrived. It was late 1989. I was a hopeful young journalism graduate, freshly minted from the University of Georgia, freshly cast off by my UGA girlfriend and freshly rendered unemployed and homeless by hurricane Hugo’s godawful smashing of the South Carolina coast. Forlorn and filled with a twenty-something’s boundless capacity for angst, I’d found temporary refuge in the basement of my dad’s Atlanta condo, and a temporary job shuffling fonts around on a Macintosh computer at his advertising agency. I reckoned the only way out of depression and self-pity was to write, and get the hell back to the beach.

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Wish You Were Here: The Villa on Dunbar Rock, Mesoamerican Reef, Off Honduras

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Photo: Villa on Dunbar Rock.

The Villa on Dunbar Rock on the Mesoamerican Reef off Honduras lies 44 miles off the north coast of Honduras next to Guanaja in the Bay Islands. Some of the Caribbean’s best diving, snorkeling and flats fishing can be found here, along with some of the best r&r this big blue marble has to offer.

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What Happens to a Tiny Caribbean Island That Says No to Tourism?

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Photo: BBC

Old Providence, or Isla de Providencia, Colombia, lies 140 miles off the coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean. It has a small population of about 5,000-6,000 residents and, unlike neighboring San Andrés and its resort-speckled shores to the south, has managed to stave off tourism–a venerable point of pride for any Caribbean locale–but at what cost?

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Living In a’ Kingston. Beauty and Struggle in Jamaica’s Metropolis.

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Sunset over Kingston, Jamaica. Photo: Ishack Wilmot.

Soon after the rich and wicked city of Port Royal sank into the sea in a biblical 1692 disaster that reads like a latter day Sodom and Gomorrah, the town of Kingston rose from the ashes. Before Port Royal was destroyed, the Liguanea Plain upon which Kingston was built was farmland with fishing shacks dotted along its coastline.

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After Port Royal’s destruction, many surviving land owners from the wicked city were allowed to rebuild along the shore of the broad Liguanea Plain – across the vast harbor from old Port Royal. The government of the day did not intend for Kingston to be any larger than Port Royal and a stipulation was made that the transplanted land owners could not purchase more land than they had owned before. But how things would change.

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He Swims with the Fishes off Grand Cayman Island. . . .

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This guy (or gal) was neither the first nor the last to go out like Luca Brasi, if someone was in fact attached to the handcuffs. How long they were down there is now more or less irrelevant, but it was long enough. One can only imagine how many of these jury-rigged deathtraps haunt the world’s seafloors–or the murky bed of the Hudson River alone, which dissects New York and New Jersey. Photo: AP.

Last week, while snorkeling off Grand Cayman Island’s famous 7-Mile-Beach in front of the Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa (which, according to Google, has since closed), tourists made a gruesome discovery–a grim reminder of how the British overseas territory’s wanton luxury resorts and exorbitant offshore bank accounts came to be in the first place.

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Surfing Sargassum in Barbados

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Surfing sargassum post storm in Barbados. Photo from Barbados Today, May 30 2015.

Several times a year depending on the season, currents and storms – masses of the seaweed sargassum are broken up from the Sargasso Sea and brought close to shore. These floating islands of sargassum are never anchored, unlike most algae, allowing the seaweed to drift at the ocean surface due to their distinctive gas-filled, berry-size floats.

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The Sargasso Sea. Image from National Geographic.

The same phenomenon happens throughout the Caribbean and land masses that are near the Sargasso Sea, which is located entirely within the Atlantic Ocean and the only sea without a land boundary. Known as the golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic ocean, several international pacts aim to protect the Sargasso Sea and these unique floating islands that support a huge diversity of marine life. – CS

Tranquility and Peace of Mind on Earth’s Most Crowded Island

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Santa Cruz del Islote, Colombia. Photo: Angélica Montes Arango.

At just 2.4 acres, the Colombian island of Santa Cruz del Islote is home to 1,200 people. That’s four times the population density of Manhattan, with most buildings no more than a single story.

Legend has it, Santa Cruz del Islote was discovered about 150 years ago by some traveling fishermen who found the island free of mosquitoes–an anomaly most anywhere in the tropics–and put ashore for the eve. That morning, they awoke to find they’d slept the night through without being awoken by the oppressive barrage of the loathsome critters they were so accustomed to. They decided to stay.

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Most people on Santa Cruz del Islote report a high quality of life and say they’ll never leave, until they have to. One thing the island has no space for is a cemetery. Photo: Hotel Punta Faro.

Today, there are 90 houses, one all-age discoteca, and a school on .004 square miles of a combination of natural and artificial land (the island had to be expanded to accommodate the school). The only undeveloped space is about half the size of a tennis court.

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The Story of the Drug-Running Freighter That Became One of Dutch Bonaire’s Favorite Reefs: Hilma Hooker, Lady With a Past

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Above: The Hilma Hooker, (presumably) before her contraband-running days. Photo: Maritime Connector.

Built in the Netherlands and launched in 1951, the Hilma Hooker had quite, humble beginnings. She sailed to the Caribbean and had changed hands nearly half a dozen times before she was sold to the San Andrés Shipping Line of San Andrés, Colombia in 1979, and renamed Hilma Hooker. It was under this appellation that the vessel ran into trouble.

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A photograph of the Hilma Hooker hard up on a Dutch Bonaire reef, apparently snapped by a man named Hieronder, according to bonaireblog.nl.

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