The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: maps

A Little Tribute to my Late, Great Friend Sean Collins – via NPR’s Science Friday


Sean Collins with one of his early hand-drawn maps of swell, reef and bathymetry.
Photo: Chris Dixon

It’s damned difficult for me to believe, but it’s been four years since surf forecaster Sean Collins died of a heart attack. He wasn’t surfing some off-the-grid Baja point break, but simply enjoying a game of tennis. Sean was a buddy, a competitor and a colleague since I first met him back in 1995 when we were working on the respective launches of and’s a Wayback Machine link to one of the site’s first home pages, built using raw HTML). Collins’ would become the world’s first definitive online surf forecasting service. And though Collins kept some cards very close to his chest, he and I talked technology and where this new thing called the World Wide Web was heading at least once a week. Like any competitors, we butted heads occasionally, but I constantly marveled at his discipline and the technology Sean managed to pioneer; live surf cameras, wave models and cellular modems to broadcast big wave contests from a boat off Todos Santos. Without his early warnings of swells, I never would have had some of my surf stories published in The New York Timesand it’s arguable that my book Ghost Wave would never have seen a printing press.

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Wish You Were Here: Shika-no-shima (志賀島, Shika Island), Southern Japan


A tranquil view to gaze upon while taking a break from collecting sea snails, a local favorite and other shellfish. 

The fisher-maids at Shika,

So scanty is their leisure-time,

Gathering sea-weed, burning salt,

They seldom take the little combs

Out of their-toilet-cases.

– Ishikawa Kimiko

This poem was written in the 8th century about the fisher-people of Shikanoshima, an island off Hakata Bay in southwestern tip of Japan. The poem is part of ‘Man’yōshū’, one of the oldest existing collections of Japanese poetry; compiled sometime after 759 AD during the Nara period. Official trade with the island goes even further back to 57 AD with the discovery of a goal seal signifying relations with the Chinese Han Dynasty.

More than 1200 years later, this island is still home to a modest fishing village. Cloaked in mist, surrounded by camphor evergreen trees, layers of moss and seaweed – the island faces the Sea of Genkai and has witnessed a thousand years of war.

Hakata Bay and nearby waters cover the relics of Kublai Khan’s ships which were sunk by ‘kamikazes’ (meaning typhoon) during the attempted Mongolian invasion. The word kamikaze originates with these failed attacks and translates to ‘divine wind’.


In addition to ground warfare, the kamikazes were thought to halt the expansion of Mongolian empire into the Far East and later adopted as a term by Japanese pilot suicide missions during World War II.


Today, the island remains peaceful. Its’ vibe and seascape is quiet and semi-deserted, until a storm brings the momentary chaos. Reminiscent of the Northwest Pacific coast, the real estate is more than affordable, with very little is going on other than the daily life of the fishermen – as it has for generations; with seafood sold fresh daily at the local fish monger.


Our caravan of seaweed scientists brought to Shikanoshima to collect a seaweed native to Japan but invasive in the U.S..

If you are interested in other recent Scuttlefish articles about Japan see:

Wish You Were Here: The ‘Devil’s Washboard’, Southern JapanThis Weird Little Fish Was Discovered in a Japanese Fish Market. What Is It?; and Japan’s Aphrodisiac, Freediving Women of the Sea. -CS



Join ‘Obsura Day’ on May 30th for a Worldwide Celebration of Unusual Places


Image: Lala Coeur de Noir/Pinterest

Altas Obscura, an online travel magazine, has deemed May 30th, 2015 its ‘Obscura Day’, and will co-host over 150 events around the world that highlight curious and awe-inspiring, coastal locales.

If you happen to be in the chosen 39 states and 25 countries with May 30th events, it is your lucky day. Most are free or very low in cost. Check out Atlas Obscura’s Web site for a full list of tours but here ‘s a sample of coastal destinations.

New York: Coney Island – Mermaids, Cyclones and Sea Horse Sideshows! Discover the wonder and amazement of a New York  institution since the 1840s.

New York: Islands of the Undesirables. Discover the dark and fascinating history of New York City’s penal, quarantine and asylum islands aboard the Water Table on this special Obscura Day cruise.


Renwick Smallpox Hospital and later the Maternity and Charity Hospital Training School, is an abandoned hospital located on Roosevelt Island in ManhattanNew York CityPhoto from Wikipedia.

Indonesia: The Sacred Caves of Bali. Discover a 9th- century sanctuary entered through the ornately carved mouth of a demon and visit an ancient cave temple home to thousands of bats and a mythological snake king.


The Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave in Bali. Photo from Wikipedia.

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Our Favorite Nautical Prints from Alternate Histories: Where the Past Comes Monstrously to Life


“Woe betide the sailor or shipping merchant who failed to heed the warnings of Bessie, the South Bay Behemoth. This overhead map kindly shows the usual location of the mighty Bessie in a vividly rendered re-enactment of the great Water Monster wreaking havoc with the shipping industry, a major problem for commerce in the growing city.” Description and digital print from: Alternate Histories on ETSY.

Alternate Histories of the World by Mathew Buchholz is a fascinating collection of maps, photographs, engravings and paintings from the early ages to modern day, providing a stunning new look at the world as defined by our struggles and alliances with mythical monsters and supernatural creatures.


“What a fine, multicolored lithographic map of Charleston, South Carolina! Dating from 1872, this map includes a full view of the Harbor Horror, aka the Cooper River Creature, aka the Creeping Terror of Charleston, aka the Scourge of South Carolina, aka the Unholy Horror, aka the Colossus of the Citadel, and many, many more.” Description and digital print from: Alternate Histories on ETSY.

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These Are the Submarine Cables That Connect You to the World (as of 2015)


TeleGeography’s 2015 Submarine Cable Map. Credit: Telegeography

The above map may look as though it comes from the time of Magellan and Cortés. It is an homage to the age of discovery, but it is also TeleGeography’s latest edition of the world’s undersea cables, depicting 299 in all (including a few expected to be completed by the end of 2015).

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What if all the Ice Melted? The Real Future Waterworld vs the Hollywood Version.


When the film Waterworld was released in 1995, I gazed in silent wonder at the opening, as the Universal globe, and my beloved Earth’s landmasses disappeared beneath the waves. It was a jaw-dropping Hollywood moment, but was there really, truly enough water locked up in the polar ice caps to swallow up the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada and the Andes – leaving only the tops of what are presumably maybe Everest or a couple of other Himalayan spires peaking up from the briny depths? Let’s just say Kevin Costner’s Magnum Oceanus was not a film to let facts stand in the way of a rip-roaring yarn.

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Big Brother on the High Seas: Using Satellite Technology Against Pirate Fishermen


Image from Greenpeace.

Seafood consumers and distributors have come a long way in the United States to better understand the origins of seafood that lands on our plate. Labeling of farmed vs. wild-caught and import vs. domestic has helped direct seafood purchasing from both a wholesale and individual perspective. There is an increased awareness about locally caught product vs. those with more food miles; whether seafood was sustainably harvested; safety and health issues; and secondary impacts of fishing and gear on the environment and other non-targeted species.

Yet, despite these strides, the majority of the seafood that America eats is imported. In most cases, that fish is not held to the same level of scrutiny, sustainability and traceability required in the U.S. It’s estimated that $23.5 billion worth of fish enter the world market each year from illegal fishing – perhaps 1 in 5 fish caught in the wild. In some regions, as much as 40 percent of the catch is thought to be illegal.

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Life in Salt: Amanda McLenon – Artist and Marine Biologist Who Makes ‘Paint Swim’

Blueheron Striper Chart

Great Blue Heron. Provided by Amanda McLenon.

Amanda McLenon is a passionate conservationist on a unique path. Her career has progressed from high school science teacher, to NOAA coral and Antarctica-based scientist, published author, to certified yoga teacher, fly-fisherwoman, and unexpectedly, a full time marine artist.

In 2009, she discovered her talent by reverse-painting a redfish on glass, which is still her most highly collectable work. Amanda’s artistic career has taken on a life of its own with commissions for fishing tournaments (2011 CFF RedTrout, 2011 Megadock, 2012 Carolina Billfish Classic) and invitations to exhibit at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and several galleries.

In 2012 she received the prestigious South Carolina Lowcountry Artist of the Year Award. This year she will combine her passions as a 2015 Ambassador to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.


“Folly” Loggerhead. Part of Amanda’s South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Fundraiser.

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