The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: reef

Making the Underwater World Accessible to Disabled.

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Screen shot from the Facebook video posted by Городская жизнь

This beautiful video, shows the serenity of being underwater – unconstricted, floating and exploring in a wheelchair. This video seemed to spark a debate amongst viewers in its comment feed, with some arguing that if you are wheelchair-bound, you would not need it underwater, as long as you could float.

Personally I have no basis to judge that claim, but from experience, many feel that traditional scuba diving gear can be constrictive and claustrophobic. Anything that makes a person comfortable underwater; either mentally or physically, is to me, the power behind this short film. New ways of allowing people of all shapes, sizes or abilities – to experience the magic of the sea, should be a shared and collective goal, for all us. Enjoy!-CS

On the Shoulders of Giants. Honoring Sean Collins, Larry “Flame” Moore and the Greatest Big Wave Discovery of the 21st Century; Cortes Bank

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A couple of months ago, Surfline’s editorial director Dave Gilovich reached out and asked if I’d be interested in helping put together a big feature that honored our friends Sean Collins, the late, great founder of Surfline.com, and Larry “Flame” Moore, the late, great photo editor of Surfing Magazine. The idea was to create a narrative web and film-based feature on Sean and Flame’s proudest moment – the first successful big wave expedition to surf of the titanic waves of the Cortes Bank. The mission dropped the collective jaws of the surfing world, led to the first of Mike Parsons’ two world records, and left surfers wondering what the hell else is out there over the horizon?

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Do Humans Have a Future in Deep Sea Exploration? My Newest Story in The New York Times Story Poses the Question.

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Terry Kerby, the head of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, peers through the porthole of a Pisces V research submarine. Photo: Kent Nishimura for The New York Times. 

This past Spring, I was honored to spend some time with a most remarkable oceanographer. Terry Kerby is the director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. The admiral of HURL’s Pisces deep-sea submersible program, Kerby is arguably the most experienced submariner the face of the earth. The discoveries he and his crew have made with the help of the of bug-eyed, mantis-armed Pisces submarines, have re-written the very history of World War II and changed our very understanding of the life on earth. Yet the future of Kerby’s operation is uncertain, thanks to budget cuts – and robots.

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Wish You Were Here: The Southwest Islands of Japan. Where Ancient Reefs and Peaceful Shades of Blue are Set Against a Violent Past.

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The wanderlust gene is marked by a desire to be in an almost constant state of travel or at least, planning for travel. Another symptom is venturing to the ends of the earth, and then a little further. I recently found myself in a remote corner of the world – hopping between the Yaeyamas; the last cluster of the more than seventy Ryukyu Islands in the Okinawa Prefecture. These islands are located southwest of the mainland and mark Japan’s final frontier, a mere 80 km east of Taiwan.

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Map of the Ryukyu Islands and the Yaeyamas by The New York Times

When it comes to actually making it out to the Ryukyu Islands, my husband and I learned that the islands are strangely, prohibitively expensive for most Japanese citizens to visit, but foreign tourism is strongly encouraged with highly discounted flights. We took advantage of these promotions and booked three days in the Yaeyamas. We were officially in southern Japan to collect a native seaweed, as part of a large global science study to understand how Japanese seaweeds have become invasive throughout many parts of the U.S. and Europe.

While on mainland Japan, we may have felt like outsiders looking in on a culture wildly different from our own, once we landed on Ishigaki Island in the Yaeyamas, we felt right at home. This sub-tropical archipelago has an entirely different vibe from mainland Japan. Absent is the bustle of modern life – from bullet trains to flashing billboards.

Most people have heard of Okinawa Island – the site of a horrific World War II battle where scars and a U.S. military base still remain. But beauty and peace have ruled the islands for generations before and after the war. Here, the sky blurs into sea and magic can be found throughout – even the grains of sand are otherworldly and star-shaped skeletons of diminutive sea creatures called Foraminifera.

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The star-shaped sands of Taketomi Island. Photo by Carolyn Sotka.

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Views of Ishigaki Island from Taketomi Island in the Yaeyamas. Photo by Carolyn Sotka. 

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Disco Clams, Toxic-Spewing Strobe Lights of the Sea

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Photo: Lindsey Dougherty.

The disco clam (Ctenoides ales) is a tiny reef-dwelling bivalve that exists throughout the Indo-Pacific.

This flashy little mollusk uses an array of 40 eyes along its mantle (the gasket-like membrane lining the inner edge of its shell) almost like a scallop. Its eyes reflect ambient light, putting on a colorful show for those within eyeshot.

The dazzling display both attracts and deters other organisms, but when the 6-centimeter clam is unable to get the message across, it can also spew a toxic mucus containing sulfuric acid (yeah, the stuff in car batteries and drano).

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This Is How Subsistence Fishermen Hunt the Danajon Bank in the Philippines, By Night

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Photo: Thomas P. Peschak/NatGeo.

Fishing, almost the world over, is better at night. No one knows this better than those who live–and subsist–by shallow reefs, which come alive at night when otherwise vigilant critters grow hungry and let up their guard up to go on the prowl.

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The Astonishing Rise of the China’s Reef-Destroying Military Islands In High Resolution

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Subi Reef – This reef has changed dramatically in recent months. The southern, western, and northern edges of the reef have been reclaimed and an access channel to the inner harbor cut out. Dredgers continued to operate here in June. Two cement plants are being built along the western bank. Image: Washington Post/AMTI. 

In April, we ran a story that tracked some of the troubling destruction China is wreaking on reefs in the South China Sea in the pursuit of miltary and commercial bases. They’re actually building islands out of atolls. 

Today The Washington Post published a stunning series of images collected by the Asian Maritime Transparency Institute that lays out in depressing detail, the level of destruction and the scale of construction that China is bringing to what otherwise once appeared to be beautiful, blue atolls in the South China Sea.

Can we do a damn thing about it? No, not really. Will the future conflicts sure to erupt over these disputed territorial waters one day bring war back to South Asia? That remains to be seen.

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Watch a Sea Turtle Eating a Midday Snack: Why Not?

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Screenshot from WWF’s YouTube video.

If you have 22 seconds – watch this green sea turtle eating algae off the Langford Reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

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