The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: miracles

Holy Hell. This is Why Giant Waves are the Greatest Show on Earth.

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That’s gonna hurt. In fact it might just kill you. A frozen moment of carnage at Jaws.
All frame grabs courtesy: World Surf League. 

Yesterday I had the honor of reporting on the the inaugural Big Wave World Tour Pe’ahi Invitational for Holy hell. The. Most. Insane. Surf. Contest. Ever. Watching it live in my living room on, and wondering if Greg Long, Billy Kemper, Carlos Burle, Shane Dorian and a slew of other madmen were going to even survive this cerulean gladiator pit was a wild, stomach clenching ride – even from the safety of the couch.

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Shane Dorian. Will he make it? Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

At the end of the line, feel free to give my Surfline story a click, and comment on whether you agree with my prognostications, or whether I’m missing something altogether. — CD

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A view from the contest HQ. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

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Maui Local Albee Layer. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

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Helicopter Pilot Don Shearer gets his cameraman a drone’s eye view. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

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The ski would end up a casualty of the wildest surf contest in history. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

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Greg Long. Maybe the biggest wave ever paddled into at Pe’ahi. At least Jaws guru Dave Kalama thought so. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

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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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Holy Hell and Praise the Lord – Pro Surfer Mick Fanning Attacked by a Great White Shark at During the JBay Open at Jeffreys Bay

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This afternoon, right after I turned on my computer for the opening whistle of the fricking finals of the J-Bay Open, something happened that has never happened at a World Championship Tour surf event – as least as near as I can tell. Australian pro surfer Mick Fanning was out sitting in the water on his board, when he was hit by a great white shark. It appears that the shark might have become entangled in Mick’s leash and then began wildly thrashing. But who really knows? Maybe it actually wanted to eat the wily Aussie. JBay is a sharky as hell place, and there have been plenty of recorded incidents, since Koffie Jacobs got bumped at there on July 7, 1989 – the first recorded Jeffreys Bay attack on a surfer.

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In the end, after throwing a few punches and kicks, thinking very clearly in a heavy as hell situation, and an incredibly fast response by the rescue crew, Mick was, miraculously unscathed. The contest has been called off, and Fanning and Julian Wilson will both be awarded second place, and will split top points and prize money.

Below is replay of the attack as it happened. Something Fanning will surely replay in his mind for the rest of his life.

More news to follow at

Amazing Grace in a Holy City. An Unforgettable Mourning in Charleston.


Meeting Street – Living up to its name early Friday morning. Photo: Chris Dixon

Not two weeks ago, during a vacation to England, my wife and I watched in horror and disbelief as a deranged young racist thrust our hometown onto the center of the world stage after mercilessly gunning down nine black parisioners whose only crime was to invite him into their church for a Bible study.


Watching events in Charleston unfold from overseas – and the subsequent reaction of Charleston was a painful, surreal and eventually, a wondrous thing to behold. The cradle of the Confederacy has, plenty of times in its storied past, come to symbolize the very worst in humanity, but over the last ten days, Charleston has revealed some of the most admirable human behavior I’ve ever seen. The stunning act of forgiveness by the victims’ families during the killer’s hearing, the crowds at Mother Emmanuel church and a long line of Charlestonians joining hands across our iconic Ravenel Bridge represented something magical – a sea change in a port city riddled with 400-year-old racial fault lines. Sitting in a camper watching the BBC on the beautiful British coast, I reckon I’ve never been so homesick for a place or a people in all my life.


The Ravenel Bridge, Sunday a Week Ago. Photo: Mathew Fortner, The Post and Courier. 

On Friday morning, not ten hours after my plane landed, I decided to pay my respects by attending a memorial service for the 41-year-old leader of Charleston’s “Mother” Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a state senator, pastor, husband and father of two young girls named Clemente Pinckney. I rose early and rode my bike along Charleston’s oddly quiet three-hundred-year old waterfront before turning towards the intersection of Meeting and Calhoun streets. It wasn’t even 7AM. Surely, I reckoned, I would land a spot in the 5,000-plus seat arena where Pinckney and eight others would be eulogized by President Obama. How wrong I was.


The line on Meeting Street. Before 7AM. Photo: Chris Dixon

Reaching the intersection, I just stood there sort of agog. The rest of the city was oddly quiet because, it seemed, the entire city was converging here. A vast, deep, noisy line of every sort of person who calls The Holy City home stretched far, far up the now most aptly named Meeting Street. It was already smotheringly hot, but the throng stood smiling and resolute, sweating and fanning themselves in church finery. They banged drums, sang gospel hymns, held up signs and handed out water bottles. Way up the street, I eventually found the end of the line – and worrisomely, it seemed 5000 might already in front of me. But even this wasn’t the end of the line for long. Thousands more would line up behind me. I don’t think downtown Charleston has ever seen anything quite like what was happening.

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Pterodactyls, Mermaids, Cannibals, H-Bombs and Mormon Whales – Our Favorite Fake Ocean Stories from World News Daily


The famed Savannah Hydrogen Bomb Found! Well, maybe not. 

World News Daily Report is an online candy store for birthers, truthers, tinfoil hat wearers, cryptozoologists right and left-wing conspiracy theorists. It’s the Weekly World News for a new era, and a poster website for PT Barnum’s famed adage “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute.”

World News Daily churns out click-bait stories with the hopes that you’ll visit their real world advertisers like Starbucks and CNN. It’s a brilliant – and disturbing – business model.


Would you like a latté and some Jesus to go with your $200,000,000 in gold? 

WWDR’s stories are passed around the Interwebs like a nuclear hot potato and its hard hitting reporters, Barbara Johnson and Bill Flanagan  seem able to scoop every other journalist on the planet at will. In fact, Bob is the real life brother of Tommy Flanagan, a Saturday Night Live Op/Ed contributor who fought alongside the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos in World War II.

Tommy Flanagan, brother of World News Daily Report’s Bob Flanagan.

Before I offend  too many of my gullible friends and colleagues, let me also point out that I’m also regularly lured into clicking on WWDR’s stories. But it doesn’t take much research to conclude that sites like this that keep in existence. Here’s a sampling of the ocean stories that might have acutally made headlines on TheScuttlefish – if they were true…

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On Being Saved by a Sea Lion After Leaping From the Golden Gate Bridge


Since the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, at least 1600 human beings (perhaps far more) have ended their lives by leaping from its 220 foot heights into the freezing waters of San Francisco Bay. Kevin Hines would not be one of them. In 2000, hearing voices in his head, suffering from bi-polar disorder and beyond despondent, the 21-year-old Hines hurled himself from the span. As he fell, he recalls clearly realizing he’d just made a fatal mistake. With four seconds to adjust his trajectory, he angled himself for a feet-first entry and endured a bone-shattering 75-mph impact. He would become one of only four to survive such a leap. Battered and broken, he struggled to the surface where, at first, he thought he felt a shark bumping into him. Years later he would learn, it wasn’t a shark at all.

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A Surfer’s Class Ring, Lost on Bolinas Beach, Returned After 35 Years


Photo  Lea Suzuki: San Francisco Chronicle

Robert Fowler was surfing off Bolinas in 1979 when he felt his gold class ring slip off his finger and disappear.

The thing it disappeared into was the Pacific Ocean, a body of water not known for giving things back.

Fast-forward 35 years, as can happen in seagoing tales. Two weeks ago, treasure hunter Larry Feurzeig was strolling the Bolinas beach at low tide with his metal detector, listening through his headphones for pings that usually mean he’s the lucky finder of yet another beer can, fishing weight or penny.

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Wish You Were Here: Ikaria, The Greek Isle Where People Cheat Death


Mr. Stamatis Moraitis, 102 at the time this photograph was taken (though 98, records say), at home on the Greek Isle of Ikaria, alive and loving it over four decades after he’d been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. (Photo c. 2012.) (Photo credit: Andrea Frazzetta/LUZphoto for The New York Times)

Here’s an argument for communism (or communalism, if it makes you more comfortable) from a story written for The New York Times by explorer, author, and longevity researcher Dan Buettner.

In the 1940s after the Greek Civil War, political radicals and communists were exiled to the island of Ikaria, a 99-acre island 30 miles west of Turkey but worlds away from Eastern Europe and its on-again, off-again sociopolitical turmoil. The island is so lacking in natural harbors that the shipping lanes passed it right by for much of its history, as did ‘progress,’ in our contemporary concept of the word, and the people have been largely left to their own devises. It’s an island lost to time, where every clock ticks as it likes, and to say ‘I’m coming for lunch’ is to say ‘I’ll be there between 10am and 6pm.’

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