Blacktip Island Nutritionist Touts New ‘Pirate Diet’

Rum and chicken wings are health foods with the new Pirate Diet.

Rum and chicken wings are health foods with the new Pirate Diet.

A Blacktip Island nutritionist is promoting a new eating regimen, dubbed the Pirate Diet, that promotes healthy weight loss by replicating the eating habits of 16th- and 17th-Century buccaneers.

“This is no fad. The diet’s rooted in science and historical fact,” said nutritionist Leah Shore, the diet’s creator. “It incorporates everyday, modern foods that mimic the foods our pre-industrialized forebears thrived on.

“Our ancestors were raised on this stuff,” Shore said. “It’s in our DNA. We’re simply not hardwired for salad and soy and light beer.”

Shore maintains the diet causes the body to catalyze stored fat into lean muscle due to meals high in protein, fat and rum.

“Rum’s the key,” Shore said. “It gives a net alkaline load that balances dietary acid. High rum intake also ensures you burn through any carbohydrate-induced statins and free radicals.”

Local pirate dieters rave about the results.

“I’ve been eating pirate style for months now, and I feel fantastic,” divemaster Marina DeLow said. “Plus, there’s no calorie counting. I eat what I want, drink as much as I want and pass out before I can overeat.”

A strict exercise regimen accompanies the diet.

“Piraters engage in alternating days of cutlass fighting, ship boarding and planking,” Shore said. “Walking on planks, that is. Long rest periods are essential, too, preferably in a hammock.”

Local health professionals, however, are critical of the diet’s historical basis.

“It is impossible to know what 17th-Century buccaneers ate,” said Dr. Azul Tang of Tiperon University-Blacktip. “We do know they had notoriously-short lifespans, though, and there is zero evidence of anyone in the 1650s living on hot wings and Flor de Caña.”

Tang also questioned the diet’s safety.

“This sort of fad diet can wreak havoc on the human body,” Tang said. “Take a look at any of this island’s divemasters.

“And none of the diet’s proponents have addressed its associated memory loss and verbal aphasia,” Tang added.

Shore was quick to defend the diet.

“After a few months you might catch yourself slipping into odd speech patterns,” Shore said. “And you may notice a heightened fondness for parrots. But the health benefits far outweigh a few minor side effects.”

Pirate dieters echoed that sentiment.

“When first I heard of this diet I thought to meself, ‘Ar, that be a pile o’ guano,’” DeLow said. “But here I be, fit as any two seafaring men with wooden legs.”

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Protestors Disrupt Blacktip Island’s Spring Lionfish Hunt

One of the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish run to ground in last spring’s Hunting of the Lionfish.

One of the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish run to ground in last spring’s Hunting of the Lionfish.

Animal rights activists converged on Blacktip Island Friday to protest the Caribbean island’s traditional spring Hunting of the Lionfish.

“These yahoos have turned population control into a blood sport,” Blacktip Island People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Lionfish are part of the ecosystem now, like it or not, and these barbarians are inflicting unnecessary suffering for the sake of entertainment.”

Hunt organizers rushed to defend the Hunt as a means to combat the invasive red lionfish that have overwhelmed Blacktip Island’s reefs.

“It’s not barbaric, it’s pest control,” Hunt Master Jay Valve said. “Lionfish are vermin. If they eat all our reef fish, what happens to our tourism product?”

“The Hunt maximizes limited resources,” said Red Reynard, the Hunt’s Master of the Grouper. “There were too many lionfish and not enough divers, or bottom time, to keep them in check.

“We turned the tables by importing specially-trained English scent-groupers to chase them down,” Reynard said. “We loose the grouper, have our whippers-in shoo them in the right direction, and the hunters follow on underwater scooters, gigging any stripeys that go to ground.”

The use of grouper draws the most criticism.

“Proper wildlife management procedure is to simply spear the lionfish, one by one, not chase them across the reef and let big fish tear them to shreds,” PETA’s Pickett said.

Other opponents leveled harsher criticism.

“The Hunt is morally wrong,” Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Piscines member Edwin Chub said. “Lionfish have a right to life, just as any other fish. And these allegedly-trained grouper are indiscriminate. They kill parrotfish, squirrelfish, anything that doesn’t get out of their way fast enough.”

Island authorities are urging caution from protestors and hunters after an attempt to disrupt last year’s hunt went awry.

“The SPCP people dressed as lionfish, rubbed fish guts all over themselves, then scuba dived through the middle of the chase,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “It was mayhem, with chunks of flesh and lionfish costume flying everywhere.

“The hunters made it worse, goading on the grouper with those underwater horns hooked up to power inflators.”

“We were lawfully monitoring the Hunt for animal cruelty,” Chub said. “Our attorneys are still pursuing aggravated assault charges.”

“Those fish hippies had it coming,” Reynard said, “but it was frightening to see what a pack of hunting grouper can do to an unsuspecting diver. The same will happen this year, too, if they vex us again.”

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Blacktip Times Special Edition: Local Author Nominated For Literary Award

“Two and a Half Weeks” is a 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards finalist.

“Two and a Half Weeks” is a 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards finalist.

“Two and a Half Weeks,” a humorous short story by local author Tim W. Jackson, has been nominated in the Big Al’s Books and Pals 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards short story category.

Big Al’s Books and Pals is an independent online review site focusing on work produced by small and independent presses. Contest winners in 14 categories are determined by reader votes and will each receive a digital slap on the back and a PDF sticker to Photoshop onto their book’s cover.

“It feels slimy as hell, but, I’m asking you, the Blacktip Times readers, to go to Big Al’s website and vote for my story before March 28,” Jackson said. “And if it doesn’t make you feel slimy, it’d be great if you got your friends to vote, too. And your families. And any unusually-dexterous pets you might have. Or know about.”

If the story wins, Jackson has promised to dance the quadrille in a giant banana costume and post video on the Blacktip Times Online.

“No one wants to see it, but if that’s what it takes, I’m not above extortion,” Jackson said.

Contest voting runs March 14 – 28 at: Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Awards.

Originally published in The MacGuffin literary journal, “Two and a Half Weeks” is part of Jackson’s Tales From Blacktip Island short story collection.

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Public Works to Launch Shore Divers From Quarry

A sinkhole at Blacktip Island’s limestone quarry has been converted into a state of the art shore diving entry point.

A sinkhole at Blacktip Island’s limestone quarry has been converted into a state of the art shore diving entry point.

A setback at Blacktip Island’s limestone quarry has yielded unexpected benefits for scuba divers after a local entrepreneur converted a sinkhole into a shore diving entry site.

“That hole opened up when we were blasting,” said Department of Public Works chief Dusty Rhodes. “I mean, BOOM! And water spewed up like Old Faithful. Flooded the quarry. Sunk three gravel trucks.”

“Damned if we didn’t tap into a flue that runs out to the sea,” Rhodes said. “Whole site was a total write off until ol’ Doc Plank stepped in.”

“This limestone chute’s a stroke of luck,” Bamboo You dive equipment founder Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “Too often rough seas make beach entries and exits impossible for scuba divers. With this tunnel starting a quarter mile inland and coming out 40 feet deep on the wall, shore divers can get in and out safely 365 days a year.”

The tunnel was modified to further ensure diver safety.

“We’ve rigged a hydraulic piston to whoosh divers out the chute to eliminate the danger of a half-mile cave dive,” Plank said. “To bring divers back in, we just reverse the process.”

Island divemasters volunteered to test the launch and retrieval system.

“First time, I shot out like a torpedo,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Scared the bejesus out of a reef shark, and I’m still trying to get the inside of my wetsuit clean.”

“When they suck you back, you pop out that chute like a cork from a champagne bottle,” divemaster Gage Hoase said. “This morning Lee Helm did a double gainer before he dropped back in. It was beautiful to watch. From a distance.”

Bamboo You has produced a variety of chute-specific bamboo diving accessories including helmets, neck braces and body armor. They will also offer a cleaning service for soiled wetsuits.

Plank and Rhodes said divers who don’t wish to dive in the ocean are welcome.

“Most people learn to scuba in a quarry, then come dive in the warm Caribbean,” Plank said. “Well, here you can learn in the ocean, then dive in a quarry. For a fee, of course.”

“We’re stocking the place with carp and catfish,” Rhodes said. “And we got a line on an old school bus and a couple-three lawn mowers we’ll add to the sunken gravel trucks to enhance the quarry experience.”

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Underwater Golf Comes To Blacktip Island

A groundskeeper prepares the first tee at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort’s new underwater gold course for Friday’s grand opening.

A groundskeeper prepares the first tee at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort’s new underwater golf course for Friday’s grand opening.

Blacktip Island golfers will tee off underwater Friday when Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort opens its 18-hole underwater golf course, allowing scuba divers to tour the island’s reefs while golfing.

“A lot of our guests felt left out,” resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “Scuba golf reaches out to a broader demographic eager for underwater activities and topside attractions.

“It’s the first of its kind in the Caribbean,” Bottoms said “There was a place over in China tried it last year, but their caddies kept drowning.”

“It’s like regular golf, really,” course designer Rocky Shore said, “Except the course hazards are hungry barracuda, coral heads and jellyfish.”

“Another challenge is mantis shrimp claiming the holes,” Shore said. “We shoo them out, but they scuttle right back. Then one claw snap and BAM! your ball’s in a hundred pieces.”

Resort guests had mixed reactions to the new activity.

“I like to dive, and my wife likes to golf,” visitor Buddy Brunnez said. “Now we can dive and golf together. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. For either of us.”

Non-golfing divers complain the course is laid out across a dozen of the island’s most popular dive sites.

“They’re dropping folks into an incredibly fragile ecosystem to flail around with clubs,” Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens said. “We’ve already seen scolfers blasting out of coral heads with pitching wedges and whacking balls at stingrays.

“And what of the habitat destroyed creating this atrocity?” Haven said.

Bottoms was quick to allay environmental concerns.

“We chose sandy areas for each hole,” Bottoms said. “There was no need to landscape. Well, not too much, anyway. And our course rule is you add a stroke to your score every time you damage coral.”

For island dive professionals, safety is a bigger concern.

“You can yell, ‘fore’ all you want down there, but no one’ll hear you,” said divemaster Marina DeLow. “I had two divers get plunked today. And playing 18 holes, they’re gonna have yahoos blowing their no-decompression limits left and right.”

“We put all these holes in 20 feet of water or less,” Bottoms said. “Getting bent shouldn’t be an issue. Unless you’re a bad golfer. Or get a hole with a mantis shrimp in it.”

Bottoms also plans to build a knee-deep miniature golf course for non-divers and children too young to be certified.

“There’ll be an underwater shopping mall, too,” Bottoms said. “It’ll be tasteful, though, really spruce up the reef.”

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Blufftop Observatory to Boost Blacktip Island Economy

The Blacktip Island Observatory will feature a 3.7-meter optical/IR telescope, as well as a baseline array for submillimeter astronomy.

The Blacktip Island Observatory will feature a 3.7-meter optical/IR telescope, as well as a baseline array for submillimeter astronomy.

Tiperon University-Blacktip officials confirmed Thursday the university has resurrected plans for an observatory on Blacktip Island’s southern bluff. The facility will be funded by space agencies from several Caribbean nations.

The project, long stymied by opposition from developers and environmentalists, gained new life when that opposition unexpectedly faded.

“I don’t know what good some giant telescope’s going to do anyone,” said Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt, formerly the project’s most vocal opponent. “Another resort or two’s what Blacktip needs, but if the community’s dead set on this white elephant, I’ll go along with it for the common good.

“Plus, it’s nice to get under the skin of those pointy-head treehuggers.”

The observatory will be built on land formerly owned by the Skerritt family. Work on the facility, by Skerritt Construction, will begin next week.

The scientific community has coveted the Blacktip Island site for years.

“Blacktip’s sky quality is unique in the Caribbean,” TU-B astrophysicist chairperson Ursula Majors said. “With minimal development and the nearest island being 100 miles away, light pollution is non-existent. The only building at the south end is the Last Ballyhoo bar, and electricity’s out in that place more often than not.

“More significantly, the fumes from the island’s booby pond counteract the moist maritime air to produce some of the clearest skies in the Caribbean,” Majors said. “Usually you have to get above 12,000 feet in the desert to get air clarity like this.”

Current plans have the observatory conducting optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy, Majors said.

Many locals welcomed the news.

“It’ll be a shining star for our economy,” said island mayor Jack Cobia. “This shows the world Blacktip’s not just about drinking rum and gossiping about your friends. We’re contributing to the advancement of human knowledge now. And folks at the Ballyhoo’re eager for the uptick in business, too.”

Island environmentalists, however, still oppose the project.

“There’s rare and endangered species down there we’ve only just begun to study,” TU-B biodiversity professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “The Blacktip greasy palm is found only on the high bluff. And the redneck warblers have vital breeding grounds all around the Ballyhoo.”

Most residents, though are excited about the new facility.

“It’s brilliant there’ll be professional astronomers here,” divemaster Lee Helm said. “My girlfriend, she’s a Pisces with Virgo rising. Now I’ll be able to suss out exactly what makes her tick.

“I’ve an appointment to get my own star chart done, too, as soon as that radio telescope gets up and running.”

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Blacktip Island Hosts Pro-Am Bird Watching Championship

Professional birders from around the world are flocking to Blacktip Island for this week’s pro-am bird watching tournament.

Professional birders from around the world are flocking to Blacktip Island for this week’s pro-am bird watching tournament.

The Blacktip Island Pro-Am bird watching competition kicks off Saturday morning, with professional and amateur birders from around the world competing for the coveted Booby Prize. The week long event is one of the Birding Grand Slam’s five tournaments.

“We expect quite a robust competition this year,” Blacktip Island Audubon Society president Sula Beakins said. “Blacktip’s place as a waypoint on the flyways between North and South America make it a hot spot for resident and transient feathered friends alike.”

The tournament will pair international birding superstars such as Martin Grebe, Zenaida Dove and Elaenia Kestrel with local avian aficionados including Bob White, Noddy Bolin and Reg Gurnard.

The Audubon Society implemented several rule changes this year to avoid the altercations that detracted from past Pro-Ams.

“All sightings must be confirmed first hand by Society judges,” Beakins said. “There was so much sniping, and fisticuffs, last tournament when two competitors were caught photographing handmade bird likenesses. This year’s judges won’t be so gullible.

“We’ve also banned water drips for attracting birds,” Beakins added. “Competitors can grouse all they want, but those drips were sushi bars for the feral cats. We’ll not have a repeat of last year’s carnage.”

Scores are derived from algorithms factoring in total birds sighted, total species sighted and the rarity of species sighted by each team.

“That old coot Clete Horn was a distant third last year before he spotted that band-rumped storm petrel,” competitor Bob White said. “One bird gave him and Zenaida Dove the win.”

“The Blacktip ham hawk is the Holy Grail, of course,” local bird guru Reg Gurnard said. “They were hunted nearly to extinction decades ago. Island old timers just loved them with butter beans and greens.”

Local restaurants and bars are hungry for the economic uptick the tournament brings.

“These birdwatchers are crazy as loons,” Sand Spit bartender Cory Anders said, “But they’re big drinkers, they tip well and they don’t tear the place up too bad until post-tourney.”

International birding stars are eager for the tournament to begin.

“It’s lovely to see so many titmice this year,” said professional birder Jay Grackle. “And Caribbean tits. Boobies are a given on Blacktip, but these tits are an unexpected surprise.

“The absence of egrets is also nice, for me, anyway,” Grackle said. “I try to live my life with no egrets.”

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