The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: pirates

977 Days in Hell. Michael Scott Moore Reveals His Last Two and a Half Years – Held Captive by Somali Pirates.

“I spent my entire captivity, more than two and a half years, in a fuzzy state of near-blindness.” Photo: Cynthia E. Wood.

In early 2012, Berlin-based American journalist and novelist Michael Scott Moore flew into Somalia to investigate “how Somalis lived and what pirates thought” for a book he was–and still is–preparing to author. Little did he know, it would put his life on hold for nearly three years.

Moore was only a few days away from completing his research when, against his instinct, he decided to see his colleague, Ashwin Raman, an Indian-born filmmaker, off to the airport.

An armed car full of men with machine guns stopped his car on the way back to the hotel. He’d been discovered at the airport. Pirate intellect, an evidently intricate web of communications, had matched him to an author photo in a New York Times article he’d penned in the years previous, and fancied him as being a worthwhile hostage. They pulled him out of the car, snapped his wrist, cracked open his skull, broke his glasses and threw him into another car.

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An American Explorer Claims He Just Found Pirate Captain William Kidd’s Treasure off Madagascar


Captain William Kidd burying his (other) treasure, which some say inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and has since become the subject of intrigue for many a landlubbing explorer and archaeologist. Painting by Howard Pyle (1853-1911).

Renowned American explorer Barry Clifford just pulled a 110-pound (50kg) silver bar from a shipwreck off Madagascar, andhe b that it belonged to Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd Forsyth.


A 110-pound silver bar Photo: Malagasy Presidency

Barry Clifford, a famed explorer who is also credited with locating Pirate Sam Bellamy’s Whydah Gally off Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1984, and who claims to have found Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria last year, was diving with a team off the southwest coast of Madagascar when they found the bar on a shipwreck off Saint Marie Island.

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Watch the Trailer for “Manos Sucias,” A Story of Narco-Torpedo-Trafficking in Central America

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Screenshot from “Manos Sucias,” written and directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka and produced by Spike Lee

“Manos Sucias” is the story of an impressionable young man and a desperate old fishermen who are tasked with trafficking a cocaine-filled submarine and torpedo (known as a “narco-torpedo”) from Colombia to Panama. Apart from the high seas, they navigate military, militias and rival gangs along the way.

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Screenshot from “Manos Sucias,” written and directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka and produced by Spike Lee

“I want to make it clear that this film isn’t Scarface; it’s not Blow, it’s not glamorizing Pablo Escobar. This film is about the unseen faces that are sacrificed every day in the drug trade. We are going to shoot in these real places, and put the real people and faces in front of the camera.” — Writer and Director Josef Kubota Wladyka

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Pirate Radio: A Visual History


Above: Ronan O’Rahilly’s MV Ross Revenge, home of Radio Caroline and her impressive 300-foot “mast,” or radio tower if you like. This was one of the last of Radio Caroline’s ships.

The concept of offshore broadcasting for entertainment was first explored by the Royal Crown in the early 19th century, but decades went by before Radio Caroline established itself and the term “pirate radio” was coined.

But long before there was Ronan O’Rahilly and Radio Caroline in the 1960s, there was the S.S. City of Panama, a cargo ship hired by the Panamanian government to promote U.S. tourism to the country. Instead, it began broadcasting popular music under the call sign “RXKR” off the California coast in 1933. Within just three months, the station was shut down at the request of the U.S. Department of State.

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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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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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Is Indonesia’s Explosive Curb on Illegal Foreign Fishing Harming Its Own People?


Above: Two Papua New Guinea-flagged ships are blown up in Indonesian waters after officials seized them and detained their crew. These are just two of the latest in a string of illegal vessels that have been blown up by the government in an attempt to deter illegal fishing. Photo: Izaac Mulyawan/REUTERS

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo is taking a definitively militant stance against illegal fishing. It’s part of what he calls Indonesia’s new policy of “shock therapy” towards illegal poachers. He sank three Vietnamese ships just last week, telling the Antara News Agency, “We sunk three of them on Friday to teach them a lesson, so that they will give up poaching in Indonesian waters.” Last Sunday, Widodo’s government reported that it had detained and detonated and sunk 22 vessels from China alone (after emptying their fuel). Within five days of the “shock therapy” announcement, Indonesia had detained 155 foreign fishing boats. Still, this is a relative drop in the bucket.

“Every day there [are] around 5,400 [foreign] boats in our ocean and our sea,” Widodo told The Wall Street Journal. “And 90% of them are illegal. So to give shock therapy to them, of course, we [are] sinking them.”

Taiwan’s fisheries agency is pleading with Indonesia that it follow international protocol regarding illegal fishing activity, which allows for the seizure of vessels and arrests of crew, but forbids nation-states from opening fire, which is generally considered an act of war. Vietnam and Papua New Guinea — two nations in high tension with Indonesia — are likewise not pleased.

Interestingly too, many Indonesian fishermen are also angry at the president’s actions. Surely, they reason, an Indonesian fisherman could have adopted a newly seized boat, rather than watch it be filled with explosives and sent to the depths to rot. Another factor is that many of these foreign-flagged vessels are actually employing Indonesians. Likewise, many Indonesian captains are actually operating foreign flagged vessels in their home waters. In short, the issue is considerably more complicated than it would at first seem.

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Running with Salts: A Tale of Human Trafficking in the Caribbean

owens illustration

Illustration by Andrew Bobrek

Salts worked for the energy company in the Virgin Islands, received his pension, and got out. He would have had enough to finance the rest of his days, had he not fathered eight children by five different women. In his retirement, he took it upon himself to enter an entirely different occupation. In the black of night with no lights, he would make a 90-mile run to Saint Martin and back within a night, carrying various arrays of commodities and plunder.

Salts drew my attention. Much more so, generally, than the rest of the lot on that desolate island. The premise of our first meeting, I’ll never forget.

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