The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: pools

Wish You Were Here: The ‘Devil’s Washboard’, Southern Japan


The ‘Devil’s Washboard’ is not the name of a surf punk band nor is it a haunted road in Kansas where 7 teenagers perished in the 50’s. It is the most geologically unique feature I have ever seen on a coast, and lies on Aoshima Island in the far southeast corner of Japan, an area thought to be the birthplace of the first Emperor Jinmu.

The region has a subtropical feel brought by the Black Current (or Kuroshio Current) that flows up from the southern Pacific. The neat rows upon rows of evenly eroded rock look like a huge washboard that a giant monster would use such as  ‘Oni‘, a Japanese demon or devil and the inspiration behind the name.


The Japanese devil ‘Oni’ is an ogre-humanoid-like creature with wild hair and horns. Painting from 17th century.

I found it difficult to get answers on how the ‘Devil’s Washboard’–or the myth behind it–was formed, in part due to the language barrier that was especially evident in this corner of the country, where very few non-native tourists visit, and very few locals speak English.

When I returned to the States, I asked Dr. Leslie Sautter, a marine geologist and associate professor at the College of Charleston how it was likely formed. Her thoughts were that the formation appears to be the result of hundreds of layers of basalt from individual lava flows. These layers have either been tilted by tectonic activity or they formed atop the slope of a former volcano.

The space between the layers is probably marine sediment, which would point to the feature having been formed either underwater. The middle space is clearly less resistant to weathering and has eroded, yet it’s bracketed by the prominent ridges of stronger basalt layers and uniformly flattened by wave action.

The ‘Devil’s Washboard’ is completely hidden at high tide but at low tide the expanse is hard to capture in a single frame (see video below). The exposed rock, tide pools and rocky shores draw day-trippers and shellfish collectors who harvest a variety of marine invertebrates from the ragged edges.

Also to note: the area is a popular surf destination and just one of over 60 (named) spots along the entirety of Japan.


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Spineless: Susan Middleton’s Potraits of Marine Invertebrates Like You’ve Never Seen Before



Image courtesy of Abrams Books

Acclaimed photographer Susan Middleton’s gorgeous new coffee table book, “Spineless” showcases portraits of just about every marine invertebrate (animals without backbones) you could think of. Middleton’s opening paragraph sets the stage with two quotes from giants of the fashion world – as analogous to the natural world.

 “What we imagine may be very beautiful but nothing replaces reality.” – Yves Saint Laurent

 “There is no better designer than nature.” – Alexander McQueen

 In Spineless, Middleton explores the mysterious and surprising world of marine invertebrates, which represent more than 98 percent of the known animal species in the ocean. They are also astonishingly diverse in their shapes, patterns, textures, and colors—in nature’s fashion show, they are the haute couture of marine life.




 Image courtesy of Abrams Books

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Why Wait for Summer? One German Town’s Bizarre Take on a Day at the Beach.


Indoor Tropical Island

Photo from The Tropical Islands photo gallery.

Just an hour south of Berlin, well within the midlands of Germany, lies a beach filled with tidal pools, waterfalls, rainforests, Bali-style bungalows and flamingos. It’s always sunny at the Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnick; just pull up a beach chair, order a mai tai and don’t forget your sunscreen as natural light streams in through the huge transparent dome.

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Poolside With Slim Aarons

Hotel du Cap, Eden Roe, Antibes, France, 1976. Note the diving board which projects one into the sea. 

American photographer Slim Aarons has a book, Poolside With Slim Aarons. The title is descriptive enough, but to get at the true sentiment of the book, you’d have to be familiar with Slim Aarons’ lifestyle. Which was to fly around in the heyday of the jet age, before aids, after birth control, and photograph the rich in every particular type of luxurious situation. But particularly the type of situation in the sunshine, and in this particular volume of his work, near pools.

From the book jacket:

Here are the magnificent, suntanned bodies; well-oiled skin; bikini-clad women’ summer cocktails on sun-drenched verandahs; sumptuous buffets; spectacular locations; and, most of all, fun.

William Norwich, fashion writer, who penned the opening, persists:

Once upon a time, life was not better. It was different. Once upon a time everything was optimism, because nothing was bad for you.

The 1960s and the 1970s? Sexy as the sun. A jet set utopianism was unleashed like Icarus…

It is not too much to say that I held my breath when I opened up to the image across from the table of contents, no doubt there to hook the reader, and yet, too racy for the cover. It deserved the cover. It did. It does.

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The Aquadettes

The Aquadettes are babes who do synchronized swimming. Babes with hip replacements and arthritis and medical marijuana cards. I’m wondering why no one does synchronized swimming in the ocean in the calmer months.

Swimming is a beautiful thing. Swimming together, in lock step, is as beautiful as swimming and dancing, multiplied. Yes, I appreciate the Aquadettes. DEAL WITH IT.

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A Gold Plated Swimming Pool

This pool, lined with gold tiles, is inside of the St. Regis Lhasa Resort in Tibet. I still prefer the open ocean.


North Korea’s Kim Jong Il Loves to Bodyboard

I just found out that Kim Jong Il loves to bodyboard. As reported on in 2002 in Time, by the Dear Leader’s ex-bodyguard, Lee Young Kuk:

When bodyguard Lee Young Kuk first saw his boss bodyboarding in a private indoor swimming pool, he knew not to show his reaction. But it was a scene he could hardly forget: Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s leader, in a bathing cap, splashing around in a seven-story pleasure palace equipped with a bar, a karaoke machine, a mini movie theater — everything a Dear Leader could want. The ground floor had an enormous swimming pool with a wave machine. Kim liked to get on a bodyboard fitted with a small motor and tool around in the artificial waves. A pretty nurse and female doctor always accompanied him in the pool, swimming under their own power.

I’ve always assumed that if more dictators learned how to enjoy waves, there would be more peace in the world. I guess you don’t learn the same values of respect for the greater order of things, patience, and stoke if you can dial up waves by machine and motor.

A monster and a fake (a story of two waves)

YouTube Preview Image

Two videos caught my eye over at Stoke Report today: One shot by my friend Kalani Price, at Jaws in Maui, HI, yesterday. And another, of a man made wave pool being surfed at Typhoon Lagoon, at Disney:

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