The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: dispatch

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

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


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.


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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Semper Paratus: Watch The USCG Coordinate the Rescue of 36 Fishermen from a Burning Vessel. . .Over 2,000 Miles Southwest of Hawaii


Credit: USCG. Video below.

The United States Coast Guard’s 14th District in Hawaii is responsible for a 12.2 million square mile swathe of land and sea (that’s almost twice the size of Russia). When the 70 meter (230-foot) fishing vessel Glory Pacific No. 8 activated their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), it was the USCG’s responsibility to organize the rescue of the Papua New Guinea-flagged ship, which had caught fire 2,071 miles southwest of Hawaii.

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The Subterranean Scuba-Diving Drug Mules of Mexicali

Photos: AP/Daily Mail.

Back in April, 28-year-old Honduran Evelio Padilla was apprehended east of Calexico, California in the All-American Canal wearing a wetsuit and carrying 55 pounds of cocaine. His discovery led authorities to the mouth of this 150 foot long underground tunnel, through which he had scuba-dived (using a rebreather) from beneath a house in Mexicali, Mexico.


Photo: AP/U.S. Border Patrol.

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16,000 Pounds of Cocaine in a Homemade Submarine and the Biggest Drug Bust in USCG History


The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton approach the suspected vessel on July 19th. Photo: Lanola Stone/Coast Guard via AFP – Getty Images.

$181 million dollars is the estimated value of the 300+ bales–16,000 pounds–of cocaine seized by the United States Coast Guard 200 miles off the coast of Mexico last month, what is apparently the largest confiscation of illicit drugs in the force’s history.

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10,000 Miles on the Trail of The World’s Most Wanted Fishing Vessel and the Laughable Response of the Maritime Industry to The New York Times’ Devastating Reporting.


Above: One of Sea Shepherd’s vessels limping through the tortured waters of the Southern Ocean somewhere south of Cape Town, South Africa. Screenshot: Animal Planet/Sea Shepherd Global, Selase Kove-Seyram for The New York Times.

The last segment of The New York Times’ “The Outlaw Ocean” series came out this week. This fourth and final installment, titled “A Renegade Trawler Hunted for 10,000 Miles by Vigilantes,” details the story of two Sea Shepherd ships which tailed one of the world’s most wanted illegal fishing vessels for over 10,000 miles – because not one national government or international maritime organization would bother to pursue the rogue vessel.

Over 111 days, the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon, vessels named after the T.V. game show host and “The Simpsons” creator (both investors)–followed the Nigerian-registered, Norwegian-built seine netter Thunder through the “furious fifties” and the “roaring forties,” latitudes where winds and waves are almost continuously in excess of 40 knots and 40 feet.

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A Patagonian toothfish, or Chilean sea bass from one of The Thunder’s 45-mile-long illegal nets which Sea Shepherd seized. (Ed’s note: Sea Shepherd’s seizure of the net was illegal, according to some maritime lawyers, but chances of prosecution are very low in the wake of The Thunder’s illegal activities.) Photo: Jeff Wirth/Sea Shepherd Global.

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A Devastatingly Effective Ocean Series Shows a 164-year-old New York Times Still at the Top of Its Game.

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Screen grab from the NYT’s: Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship

On September 16, 1851, publisher Harvis Jarvis Raymond launched what would become western journalism’s most loved, hated and famed ship of state. This was the day the first The New York Daily Times rolled off the presses. Since that fateful day, humans from William Randolph Hearst to Bill O’Reilly to Richard Nixon have lobbied and prayed for the demise of journalism’s great Grey Lady and the newspaper of record for the world. It ain’t happened yet.


Everyone who read or wrote for the first edition of The New York Times has been dead for a long time. 

As a writer honored to have an occasional byline in the Times, here’s my personal opinion as to why, even in the face of ascendent technology, occasional scandal and blunder, and the bluster of blowhards who want her sunk, the Grey Lady remains defiantly afloat.


Photo from Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship by Basil Childers/NYT

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Watch The USCG Perform a Daring Rescue Just Moments Before an Alaskan Fishing Vessel Sinks Beneath the Waves

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Screenshot from gCaptain‘s video.

A life spent working at sea has never been easy, but what would it be like without the coast guards of the world?

On Wednesday, June 10th, the USCG received a distress call from the fishing vessel Kupreanof from the Gulf of Alaska; she was listing heavily and about to sink.

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