The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: coral reefs

Goodbye (for now)


Coming in 2017. A big book from your ocean loving friends at The Scuttlefish and Chronicle Books. 

Hey all, after a few years, hundreds of weird and interesting stories, and a lot of fun it’s time to put The Scuttlefish on pause. Several months ago, Chris Dixon and I had an idea for an ocean related book. That idea turned into a proposal, and that proposal has become a contract with Chronicle Books, publisher of among other titles, Chris’s Ghost Wave, Matt Warshaw’s The History of Surfing, The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook and of course, Darth Vader and Son.

We are keeping the details under wraps for now, but it’s a project that we couldn’t pass up and there’s not enough time in the day to do both the book and this site. The Scuttlefish has gone into hibernation before, though and I’m sure it’ll come back in a different form, one day. Thanks to our faithful readers – and the ocean – for all the inspiration.

Thank you to Chris Dixon, Owen J. Burke, Mark Lukach, Carolyn Sotka and other contributors who put their love for the sea into so many fine words and photos on The Scuttlefish. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.  – BL

Making the Underwater World Accessible to Disabled.

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Screen shot from the Facebook video posted by Городская жизнь

This beautiful video, shows the serenity of being underwater – unconstricted, floating and exploring in a wheelchair. This video seemed to spark a debate amongst viewers in its comment feed, with some arguing that if you are wheelchair-bound, you would not need it underwater, as long as you could float.

Personally I have no basis to judge that claim, but from experience, many feel that traditional scuba diving gear can be constrictive and claustrophobic. Anything that makes a person comfortable underwater; either mentally or physically, is to me, the power behind this short film. New ways of allowing people of all shapes, sizes or abilities – to experience the magic of the sea, should be a shared and collective goal, for all us. Enjoy!-CS

New Zealand Announces Plans to Expand the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary to the Size of France

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Above: A rizzo’s dolphin which came to play off the bow of Tindori. This species of dolphin is only found in the waters surrounding New Zealand. Photo: Owen James Burke.

Just the other day, I came home from a fishing trip after being swarmed by dolphins, sharks, whales, fish and gannets to find out that New Zealand President John Key had announced the island-nation’s plans to establish one of the largest marine reserves in the world. I may have been in the Marlborough Sounds over 1,000 miles southwest of the proposed reserve, but I couldn’t help but feel hopeful that these creatures, too, will benefit from this vast new sanctuary. -OJB

The tropical waters surrounding New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands are some of the most biodiverse–and pristine–seas remaining on this big blue marble. Millions of seabirds, over 150 species of fish, and some 35 species of whales and dolphins, along with three endangered sea turtles, countless corals, shellfish and crustaceans.

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Do Humans Have a Future in Deep Sea Exploration? My Newest Story in The New York Times Story Poses the Question.


Terry Kerby, the head of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, peers through the porthole of a Pisces V research submarine. Photo: Kent Nishimura for The New York Times. 

This past Spring, I was honored to spend some time with a most remarkable oceanographer. Terry Kerby is the director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. The admiral of HURL’s Pisces deep-sea submersible program, Kerby is arguably the most experienced submariner the face of the earth. The discoveries he and his crew have made with the help of the of bug-eyed, mantis-armed Pisces submarines, have re-written the very history of World War II and changed our very understanding of the life on earth. Yet the future of Kerby’s operation is uncertain, thanks to budget cuts – and robots.

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Wish You Were Here: The Southwest Islands of Japan. Where Ancient Reefs and Peaceful Shades of Blue are Set Against a Violent Past.

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The wanderlust gene is marked by a desire to be in an almost constant state of travel or at least, planning for travel. Another symptom is venturing to the ends of the earth, and then a little further. I recently found myself in a remote corner of the world – hopping between the Yaeyamas; the last cluster of the more than seventy Ryukyu Islands in the Okinawa Prefecture. These islands are located southwest of the mainland and mark Japan’s final frontier, a mere 80 km east of Taiwan.


Map of the Ryukyu Islands and the Yaeyamas by The New York Times

When it comes to actually making it out to the Ryukyu Islands, my husband and I learned that the islands are strangely, prohibitively expensive for most Japanese citizens to visit, but foreign tourism is strongly encouraged with highly discounted flights. We took advantage of these promotions and booked three days in the Yaeyamas. We were officially in southern Japan to collect a native seaweed, as part of a large global science study to understand how Japanese seaweeds have become invasive throughout many parts of the U.S. and Europe.

While on mainland Japan, we may have felt like outsiders looking in on a culture wildly different from our own, once we landed on Ishigaki Island in the Yaeyamas, we felt right at home. This sub-tropical archipelago has an entirely different vibe from mainland Japan. Absent is the bustle of modern life – from bullet trains to flashing billboards.

Most people have heard of Okinawa Island – the site of a horrific World War II battle where scars and a U.S. military base still remain. But beauty and peace have ruled the islands for generations before and after the war. Here, the sky blurs into sea and magic can be found throughout – even the grains of sand are otherworldly and star-shaped skeletons of diminutive sea creatures called Foraminifera.


The star-shaped sands of Taketomi Island. Photo by Carolyn Sotka.

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Views of Ishigaki Island from Taketomi Island in the Yaeyamas. Photo by Carolyn Sotka. 

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The Astonishing Rise of the China’s Reef-Destroying Military Islands In High Resolution

Subi Reef – This reef has changed dramatically in recent months. The southern, western, and northern edges of the reef have been reclaimed and an access channel to the inner harbor cut out. Dredgers continued to operate here in June. Two cement plants are being built along the western bank. Image: Washington Post/AMTI. 

In April, we ran a story that tracked some of the troubling destruction China is wreaking on reefs in the South China Sea in the pursuit of miltary and commercial bases. They’re actually building islands out of atolls. 

Today The Washington Post published a stunning series of images collected by the Asian Maritime Transparency Institute that lays out in depressing detail, the level of destruction and the scale of construction that China is bringing to what otherwise once appeared to be beautiful, blue atolls in the South China Sea.

Can we do a damn thing about it? No, not really. Will the future conflicts sure to erupt over these disputed territorial waters one day bring war back to South Asia? That remains to be seen.

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How “The Story of Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary” in Jamaica Was Told

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Screenshot from “The Story of Oracabessa” by Project Moana.

They sailed in slow like the tide one evening. Sailboats often take shelter in Oracabessa Bay’s artificial harbour, which was engineered by the government of Jamaica as part of a project to expand the then thriving banana port. That port expansion was later abandoned as other ports became more important points of export. While the reclaimed land was purchased by Chris Blackwell and is now part of Goldeneye, a heaven-on-earth type resort where many of the world’s wealthiest and most famous escape to paradise, the harbour remains public thoroughfare and is one of the few places on Jamaica’s north coast where one can drop anchor without mooring fees.

The crew paddled to shore in a tiny dinghy, landing at Oracabessa Fishing Beach, also called ‘The Bond Beach.” Its name is a reference to a particular chapter of the town’s rich history, in which a man named Fleming, sitting around a desk in his seaside cottage, dreamed up a hero by the name of James Bond. Such subtle references as the name on a sign are the only tangible links to this fascinating fact. It creates mystique that can be explored within the collective memory of the community by those who take the time for conversation. The stories to be found are like hidden gems; which are always better hidden.

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Adriana Basques’ Gallery ‘Giants’ of the Sea


Whale shark by Adriana Basques.

Check out award-winning photographer Adriana Basques’ gallery of the giants that rule the sea. This series of ‘big animals’ photographs contrasts against her ‘miniature life’ underwater gallery.


Three Sperm Whales by Adriana Basques.

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