The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: women

This Is Life in an Andaman Sea Village During Monsoon Season. A Photo Essay.


One moment, the Burmese coast of the Andaman Sea looked like this, frenzied and white-horsed, with gale force winds and pelting–literally stinging–rain. The next, it would abate to the sobering serenity of still air and blue skies. All of this has no bearing on the people living in small stilted villages on the Andaman Sea, who make their homes and feed their children day-in, day-out, year-round, come wind, hail, rain or shine. Photo: Owen James Burke.


Watching these small narrow boats fade out on the horizon behind a line of squalls chilled my bones to the marrow. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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The sound of the rain meeting this tarpaulin-tin city was tremendous. It hushed all conversation and jarred your concentration. Photo: Owen James Burke.


But then, moments later, it would look like this, but regardless of the weather, tide or hour, these longboats seemed to be buzzing in and out port all day long. Photo: Owen James Burke.

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The He’s-at-Home: A 19th Century Tool for When Whalers Were Away, And Faithful Wives Wanted to Play


There once was a box on Nantucket, up the chimney an old lady did stuff it. Contents: An empty laudanum bottle, a tobacco pipe, letters to and from a Mr. James B. Coffin, and a plaster phallus, which, purportedly, belonged to his wife, Mattie. Photo: The Common Online.

“Cape Horn Widows” was the collective epithet applied to New England women whose husbands were years away, in pursuit of sperm whales around Cape Horn during the 19th century. Fidelity, sailors knew, was a hard thing to ask of a woman whom they would not see for years at a time. So it became tradition for yankee sailors to return from the orient with things like opium and laudanum in an attempt to subdue any romantic escapades that might take place while they were at sea, themselves, in some cases, galavanting their own way– but with absolute anonymity–through far-flung ports.

Rumor also has it, thanks to some residual literature (see below) but also a chimney mason’s discovery, that sailors took to the tradition of gifting their wives exotic phalluses crafted of either porcelain or carved ivory in what was probably a desperate attempt to keep them faithful.

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Burlesque off Bourbon Street, Beneath the Sea? An Interactive Show for Adults Only


One of the mermen featured at the Mermaid Masque. Photograph by Sarah Brown.

If you find yourself in New Orleans this weekend, and up for a wildly different take on a burlesque show, check out ‘Splish’, running October 23-24. Set in the converted warehouse ‘PORT’ in the 9th Ward, the space has been transformed into an undersea world where the Mermaid Masque’ will unfold.

Splish will showcase the mermaids and amphibisexuals of the once-famous night club “The Show and Tail.” According to a review of the production in The Guardian, “The story is a meld of the cult Paul Verhoeven flop Showgirls with a reverse spin on The Little Mermaid, as new-to-town Polly auditions for a mermaid cabaret called Show and Tail”. This interactive and multimedia production is hard to capture in words, but guaranteed to entertain and amuse, if not to leave one perplexed.

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Life in Salt: Honolulu-Based Artist Kris Goto on How Cartoons and Comics Made Way for South Pacific Tattoos, Water and Surf


Art: Kris Goto.

Japanese-born Honolulu-based artist Kris Goto might have one of the most unconventional and eclectic backgrounds of any brine-based artist. She’s been drawing since she can remember, but only recently began calling the sea her muse after settling in Honolulu.


Art: Kris Goto.

From early childhood into her teens, she was primarily–perhaps solely–infatuated with the 19th century Japanese art of “Manga”, a term applied to a traditional form of comic or cartoon-making within Japan and an influence still identifiable in her work today.


Art: Kris Goto.

While in school in New Zealand, Goto found herself mesmerized by the tattoos on her Māori (indigenous New Zealanders) classmates’ tattoos, specifically the swirling lines which illustrate ferns and waves. She began copying them in her sketchbook during class. The seed was planted.


Art: Kris Goto.

Then in 2013, after moving to Hawaii and taking up surfing, Goto experienced the wonders of ‘the green room’, or the inside of a barrel for the first time at a surf break in Waikiki called Kaiser’s. She marveled at how the spray from the lip of the wave hit her face. She imagined popping open an umbrella in the barrel to shield the drops, and something clicked.


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Meet the 23-Year-Old Lobsterwoman Paying off College Loans by Living the Dream in Maine


Photo: Charlotte Wilder/

“One thing I like about being a girl out here is that they can’t pay me less than a guy,” 23-year-old Maine lobster boat captain Sadie Samuels told “They just can’t. There’s a price per pound, and fuel costs the same whether you’re a guy or a girl.”

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Unimaginable Wealth Yet Decades of Emptiness: Bellosguardo – A Mansion Frozen in Time

Buddy Moffett from EmptyMansionsBook

The Bellosguardo Estate. Photo by Buddy Moffet.

Hidden above one of the most valuable stretches of coastline in California lies a 21,666-square-foot French mansion that has been empty for close to 60 years. Bellosguardo was the summer home of copper heiress Huguette Clark and sits on 23 acres overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

After Huguette’s mother died, she did not return to the estate because her memories were too sad to want to stay there. The last time she visited was in 1953, nearly six decades before her own death in 2011.

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A Ladies’ Boat in the Mentawais


Bianca Valenti catching some tube time. Photo: Sachi Cunningham.

It’s on every surfer’s bucket list who fancies themselves hard core. Once an unchartered gold mine of perfect waves kept secret by a hand full of buccaneers, we now know “The Ments” like it’s our backyard break from surf and social media. “Macas” and “HTs” are tossed around as household names like “Pipe” and “Mavs”. The trip has been perfected into a 10-12 day trip that, for a mere $2000 – $5000 (not including air fare) you can surf for 6-8 hours a day, have a personal chef keeping your belly full and unlimited Bintangs (that’s the local brew) to pass the time while you rest and rehydrate. If you’ve played your cards right, you’ll be with 5-10 of your best friends, all charging surfers having the best surf trip of your life. No neoprene. Schools of angel fish and fluorescent green coral at your feet and waves long and consistent enough that you feel like you’re practicing your swing at the driving range. Barrels for days.


This is why you come to the Mentawais. Photo: Sachi Cunningham.

That was the fantasy that I saw materialize for male surfing friends over the years, or an occasional wife or girlfriend lucky enough to safely join a boat of frothing men in search of waves.


Our home for 10 nights and 10 days, the Samudra Biru, or “Ocean Blue.”  Photo: Sachi Cunningham.

Then the opportunity presented itself recently to get in on an all women’s boat trip to the Mentawais with my favorite home break homies from Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I was not going to let anything get in the way. I left my 2 ½ year old daughter with my husband who, fortunately for me and the negotiations that come with both parents being surfers, had already celebrated his 40th birthday with a crew of friends at the Macaronis camp a few months prior.


Left to right, Bianca Valenti, Monique Labuschagne Kitamura and Leah Guillermo paddle out. Photo: Sachi Cunningham.


From left to right, Rebecca Wunderlich, Suzie Yang, Cindy Yang, Bianca Valenti, Leah Guillermo and Beth Price sizing up the lineup. Photo: Sachi Cunningham.

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The Last of the Sea Silk Spinners?


Above: Chiara Vigo with her Sea silk, or bissus, the cloth of pharaohs, kings and queens. Photo: Andrea Pasquali.

Most silk is made from cocoon husks, but for some pharaohs, kings and queens of yore, worm spit simply wouldn’t do. For them, there was another, rarer silk to be coveted, and it came from clams.

Chiara Vigo harvests byssal threads (known collectively as byssus), the hair-like fibers that allow clams and other bivalves to attach to hard surfaces like rocks. Spinning and dying these coarse, drab strands by hand, she may be among the last of her craft, but not if she has anything to say about it.


Photo: Andrea Pasquali.

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