Blacktip Island Divers Brace For Dockside Security Screenings

Skerritt Security scanning devices line the Eagle Ray Divers dock Friday, ready for scuba divers. Similar scanners have been installed at all Blacktip Island scuba resorts.

Skerritt Security scanning devices line the Eagle Ray Divers dock Friday, ready for scuba divers. Similar scanners have been installed at all Blacktip Island scuba resorts.

Beginning today, Blacktip Island scuba divers will undergo multiple security screenings before boarding dive boats due to threats made against the Caribbean island’s reefs.

“We got credible intel about attacks on the underwater environment,” Public Safety director Ferris Skerritt said. “These attacks are aimed at destroying Blacktip’s tourism industry and could result in the death of recreational divers, as well as untold fish and coral heads.

“We’ve called for, and received, the government’s full support in combating this threat,” Skerritt said.

The Tiperon Islands government has contracted security measures to Skerritt Security.

Local dive professionals dispute the threat’s seriousness.

“One out of context remark, and Barney Fife breaks out the prods and rubber gloves,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “It’s like last year’s War on Terriers fiasco, where ol’ Ferris rounded up all the island dogs for questioning. On the government dime, of course.”

Island business owners defend the screenings.

“The hell we’re not threatened! By eco-terrorists!” Eagle Ray Divers owner Rich Skerritt said. “A nutcase on one of our boats said, clear as day, he was gonna blow up fish. Then his accomplice referenced an ‘ayatollah.’ That’s a threat, context be damned.”

Witnesses disagreed.

“The dude said, ‘That blowfish was the bomb,’” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Then his drunk buddy slurred, ‘I, uh, told you so.’ People on Blacktip don’t make bombs, we get bombed.”

Security experts, however, are taking no chances.

“Each resort now has explosive trace detectors and millimeter wave scanners at the top of their docks,” Ferris Skerritt said. “Then X-ray backscatter machines and hands-on security personnel at each boat. You wont be able to sniff the reef without a thorough going over.”

The measures already have scuba diving guests complaining of overzealous screeners.

“Those chuckleheads groped me places I didn’t know I had,” scuba guest Bubba Gadgette said. “Two of ‘em. Four times! I mean, what could I possibly hide in my Speedo? Now, I enjoyed it and all, but they confiscated my booties for no reason.”

Officials dismissed the complaints.

“Of course it’s intrusive. And expensive,” Ferris Skeritt said. “We can’t take any chances. And the program’s an unqualified success: we’ve had zero attacks since we installed our system.

“We’re also looking at ways to protect the island’s reefs from lone-wolf shore divers,” Skerritt said. “No telling what some radicalized Cousteau-wannabe’s capable of. By God, we’ll scan them on the beaches and frisk them on the ironshore if need be. Cost be damned.”

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Divemasters Build Green Scooters From Repurposed Refuse

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

A pair of Blacktip Island divemasters have built a working prototype motor scooter made of repurposed items from the island’s garbage dump in an effort to reduce environmental damage on the small Caribbean island.

The scooter features wooden wheels made from downed power poles, a body fashioned from a condemned scuba cylinder and is fueled by biodiesel salvaged from island restaurant deep fryers.

“On a little island, sustainability’s the elephant in the booby pond,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster and scooter co-creator Gage Hoase said. “The dump’s a ticking time bomb. So are all the cars burning fossil fuels and leaking motor oil.

“We’re killing two birds with one gadget here,” Hoase said. “There’s all kinds of good stuff in the dump, and every one of these scooters on the road means one less car.”

“We’re calling it The Re-Cycle,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager and co-creator Finn Kiick said. “The engine’s totally hermetic and powered by a perpetual motion hydraulic pump. Just push off, and vroom! Away you go. We wanted to name it The Flintstone, but the Hanna-Barbera suits tore us a new one over that.

“Each bike’ll be unique, depending on what people throw away,” Kiick said. “If a load of lawn furniture gets chucked, well, the next cycle’ll be a recumbent number and look like a chaise lounge. The beauty’s each one’ll be a document of what it was like to be alive on Blacktip at that certain time and place.”

Critics, however, have waxed less poetic.

“They’re not putting that junk on the public road,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s no vehicle I.D. number, no way to register it, no way to insure it. And it’s not safe. People try to ride that thing, they’ll fill up the clinic before the day’s out.”

Other critics focused on the vehicle’s potential economic impact.

“Some rolling garbage dump that don’t use gas won’t help the island economy,” Skerritt Fuel president Ferris Skerritt said. “Getting by on a shoestring like some folks are, this thing could sink us all.”

Hoase and Kiick were quick to disagree.

“These bikes’ll sell like crazy,” Hoase said. “How can that be bad for the economy? And the rental market’s unmined gold for the taking.”

Kiick was more philosophical.

“Blacktip’s a chill tropical island. Who doesn’t want to come ride a scooter on a tropical island where no one has to know about it? And if the Re-Cycle falls apart, well, we’ve sped up the composting process, then, haven’t we?”

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Blacktip Islanders The Focus Of Psychological Study

Psychologists will descend on Blacktip Island to study the widespread abnormal behavior of its population.

Psychologists will descend on Blacktip Island to study the widespread abnormal behavior of its population.

Blacktip Island and its residents will be the subject of a large-scale abnormal psychology study, the Island Psychology Association announced Thursday.

“We couldn’t create this kind of control group if we tried,” IPA president Elysia Fromm said. “You read about populations like this, but you never expect to actually find one. It’s like The Lord of the Flies, only scarier.

“The percentage of the general population with personality disorders and psychoses is six to eight percent,” Fromm said. “On Blacktip, it’s close to 90 percent. You’d think there’s an industrial-strength crazy magnet buried in the center of the island. It’s good they’re all on one isolated island, for them and the rest of the world.”

The study was prompted by an article, published earlier this year in the American Psychiatric Journal, that focused on several Blacktip Island residents.

“A shrink on holiday caught one of ‘Tonio Fletcher’s rants about how he’s Fletcher Christian reincarnated,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Then she saw James Conlee do a karaoke duet of “Summer Nights” with a barracuda he caught. Next thing you know, we got pointy-head psychobabblers spying on us, talking about us.”

IPA researchers will set up observation blinds in bars and other public places. Psychologists will also disguise themselves as divemasters and construction workers to intermingle with the island population.

“It’s old school nature versus nurture stuff,” lead researcher Graysby Jung said. “Are residents mentally unstable when they arrive? Does island life lead to instability? Or do the subjects come here with mild mental disorders that get worse with after exposure to the local populace?”

Local mental health experts are unimpressed with the proposed study.

“It’s a small island. Normal people don’t move here,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip’s psychology department chair Sigmund Skinner. “Blacktippers don’t suffer from insanity. We quite enjoy it.”

Island officials went a step further.

“We’re a welcoming people,” Cobia said. “In the real world they lock you up for being bat shit, but on Blacktip you’re one of the gang. If you can’t handle crazy, get off the island.

“Now, all these headshrinkers sneaking around only make things worse. They got folks jumpy, not trusting each other more than usual,” Cobia said. “And I don’t care what that squinty-eyed boat driver says. I’m not schizophrenic. And neither am I.”

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Singing Coral Heads Discovered on Blacktip Island

Blue chromis school above a stand of Blacktip Island’s singing staghorn coral on Jawfish Reef. (Photo courtesy Amanda Meyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Blue chromis school around a stand of Blacktip Island’s singing staghorn coral on Jawfish Reef. (Photo courtesy Amanda Meyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Blacktip Island researchers this week documented coral heads on the Caribbean island’s Jawfish Reef interacting with other corals via harmonic resonance.

“There’d been tall tales from scuba divers about singing coral,” Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “On a hunch, we installed one of our new Broadband Datalogging Sound/Vibe Monitoring arrays on the reef. The BDSM tests showed the staghorn polyps flagellate to create high-frequency vibrations.

“It’s more of a high-pitched hum than actual melody,” Mojarra said. “Like Tuvan throat singing, but in the 16740 hertz range. Near as we can tell, that lets polyps communicate coral-to-coral. It also explains why more people hear the tones as the staghorn recovers from near extinction.”

The discovery settles a debate that’s raged among Blacktip’s divers for years.

“There’s always that annoying whine at Jawfish” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “Like The Chipmunks singing ‘Good Vibrations.’ I chalked it up to doubling up on Sudafed, or vodka hangovers. Now we know better.”

Some experts, however, dispute the finding.

“This is textbook wish fulfillment, fueled by alcohol and who knows what else,” Island Psychological Association president Sigmund Skinner said. “Every scuba hippy wants to anthropomorphize the reef. They want to believe coral flagellates to communicate, and hey! What do you know? They discover coral flagellates. And sings while it does it!”

Local business owners, however, embraced the discovery.

“If coral can communicate with other coral, it stands to reason it can communicate with other organisms, even humans” said Elena Havens, owner of the Blacktip Haven resort. “Elephants communicate over vast distances with ultra-low frequency sounds. This is really no different.

“We’ve started underwater meditation sessions on the reef,” Havens said. “The effects have been stunning. It’s like our guests have become one big polyp colony.”

Researchers, meanwhile, are scrambling to catalogue the coral sounds.

“Ernesto brought us in to decipher the individual tones and tone combinations,” TU-B linguistics department chair Porgy Chomsky said. “We’re testing whether this is simply a species-specific vocabulary, or if we’re dealing with a pancorallic semiotic. It’s potentially ground breaking. Staghorn coral’s the Chatty Kathy of the reef.”

TU-B’s Mojarra concurred.

“If these harmonics are fueling coral growth, it could be key to restoring coral populations worldwide,” Mojarra said. “We have plans to regenerate individual coral heads with recorded music. And a crack team of marine geologists is working up plans for underwater coral topiary.”


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Sea Grape Festival Kicks Off Blacktip Island Summer

Sea grape leaves, fruit, wood and liquor will take center stage at Blacktip Island’s Sea Grape Festival this weekend.

Sea grape leaves, fruit, wood and liquor will take center stage at Blacktip Island’s Sea Grape Festival this weekend.

Blacktip Islanders will welcome summer Saturday with the 43rd Annual Sea Grape Festival at Club Scuba Doo resort.

“Sea grapes were the difference between life and death in Blacktip’s early days,” island historian Smithson Altshul said. “They gave settlers food, shelter, fuel and drink. Some folks even crossed sea grapes with wild tobacco so they’d have a ready stock of cigars when supply ships didn’t come.

“The earliest settlements were campsites cut under the sea grape canopy for shelter from hurricanes,” Altschul said. “Black widow spiders were an issue under there, then as now, but safety from storms more than made up the occasional envenomation. The sea grape wine didn’t hurt, either. Still doesn’t.”

The festival kicks off with a parade past the island’s three beachfront resorts and continues with a grape-themed fashion show at Club Scuba Doo.

“The parade usually takes about 10 minutes,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “We caution our guests not to blink or they’ll miss it.

“We’ve also cautioned this year’s fashion show participants the event is a family affair,” Parrett added. “We had to disqualify Alison Diesel last year for violating community standards. Three strategically-placed grapes is not fashion. There were children and elderly there who simply didn’t need to see that.”

The children’s fashion show has been dropped after last year’s near-fatal mishap.

“Little Tabitha Bottoms was the most adorable sea grape leaf, complete with live black widows,” show organizer Doris Blenny said. “Then the wind picked up and blew her into the sea. Luckily she landed face up, and she floated, so they were able to fish her right out. But we can’t risk that happening again.”

Scheduled children’s activities include Pin the Leaf on the Adam and Eve, an Eight-Legged Race and the always popular Greased Feral Cat Chase.

The festival will conclude with the wine making competition.

“The sea grape wines that residents concoct are surprisingly drinkable,” Parrett said. “We have awards for reds, whites, sparkling greens and even fortified wines and brandies.”

“Last Fest, Antonio Fletcher’s rosé blew people away,” wine judge Cori Anders said. “Then ‘Tonio let it slip he’d cut his finger corking his back-bush Chablis. We’ve got damned-strict supervision in place this year. Oh, yeah, we do.”

“We’ve also got an unofficial over/under money line on how many people’ll go blind from the tastings,” Anders said. “For charity, of course. Right now the line’s at 17. Only a sucker’d take the under.”

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Blacktip Codex Could Be Lost Gospel

An illuminated panel from the Blacktip Codex shows Medieval Blacktip islanders netting a lionfish. The scrawled figure to the lower left is believed to be the earliest representation of the island’s legendary mersquatch.

An illuminated panel from the Blacktip Codex shows Medieval islanders netting a lionfish. The scrawled figure at the lower left is believed to be the earliest representation of the island’s legendary mersquatch.

The discovery Thursday of a 600-year-old bound and illuminated religious text, dubbed the Blacktip Codex, sent shockwaves through the Caribbean island’s religious and academic communities.

The rudimentary book, 200 pages of stacked sharkskin vellum bound on one edge, is attributed to St. Dervil of the Mead, patron saint of scuba diving and founder of the island’s Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral.

“Its folium rectum reads ‘The Gospel According to Dervil,’” Blacktip Reformed Theosophical Seminary deacon Calvin Augustine said. “The text is an account of Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ daughter Sarah fleeing to Blacktip Island, battling storms and pirates all the way. If true, it’s possible current Blacktip natives are their descendants.”

The codex was discovered after heavy rains caused a cathedral wall and part of the flooring to collapse, revealing a previously unknown storage vault containing the codex, pots of coconut mead holy water, a cot, playing cards and other religious relics.

Island historians say the book’s provenance speaks to its authenticity.

“Blacktip Island was sacked by Norse raiders blown off course on their way to Greenland,” Tiperon University-Blacktip history professor Edwin Chub said. “This codex could have been placed in the underground vault for safekeeping.

“Of course, Dervil was killed in that raid,” Chub said, “so any knowledge of the vault would have died with him.”

The island’s Ecumenical Council, however, has doubts.

“It may date back to Dervil’s time, and maybe even Dervil’s hand,” council president and former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “But some mead-sotted monk’s potboiler about Jesus’s descendants in the Caribbean? That’s not history. That’s a B-grade movie.

“Now, Dermott Bottoms did walk on water that time James Conlee chucked the snake in his boat,” Ephesians said. “And Antonio Fletcher’s been known to cast out demons in Ballyhoo parking lot Saturday nights. But that’s hardly proof of divine genealogy.”

Historians are also intrigued by the codex’s detailed illuminated panels. In addition to gold-leaf images of Mary and Sarah, the codex also shows island settlers nettling lionfish.

“It’s the earliest known depiction of lionfish culling in the Caribbean,” Chub said. “Of necessity, Blacktip’s first settlers were fishers of lions, not fishers of men: a hastily-scribbled margin note reads, ‘Lord, save us from the devil, the Turk and the marinu leonus.’”

Island merchants, meanwhile, are already capitalizing on the find.

“With our resort being next to the church, we set up a roadside Blacktip Codex reading tent and gift shop,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “We’ve got Codex Mead, Codex caps and t-shirts and even Codex soap-on-a-rope that smells like a hurricane shelter.”

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Reenactors Stage Sea Battle To Aid Blacktip’s Seamen

Blacktip Island fishing boats converted into makeshift 5th Century B.C.E. Persian triremes sit ready for Saturday’s battle of Salamis reenactment at Diddley’s Landing.

Blacktip Island fishing boats converted into makeshift 5th Century B.C.E. Persian triremes sit ready for Saturday’s Battle of Salamis Reenactment at Diddley’s Landing.

Blacktip Island history buffs will take to the sea Saturday for the 23rd Annual Battle of Salamis Reenactment benefiting the Tiperon Island Retired Seaman’s Guild.

The event celebrates the pivotal Greek naval victory over the Persian fleet in 480 B.C.E. The battle will be staged off Diddley’s Landing public pier to facilitate viewing and crowd control.

“People get excited about this one,” event organizer Jay Valve said. “They work all year on their boats, their uniforms and their spoken Greek and Persian. It really draws the community together.”

Participants recreate trireme warships from whatever materials they can find onshore or in the dump. Winners are named Honorary Seamen for the coming year.

“We try to keep things as accurate as a small island allows,” Valve said. “We allow water cannons, water balloons and the like,” Valve said. “Last year the Persian team used giant slings to fling land crabs at the Greeks. For close combat, brooms and hand bags are still the weapons of choice.”

The reenactment is personal for many participants.

“We’re a seafaring nation, you know,” Persian partisan Dermott Bottoms said. “This’s not just a drunken free-for-all. Granddaddy was a seaman. So was Daddy. This’s my way to honor them.”

Though the Greeks won the original battle, the reenactment’s outcome can go either way.

“Won the last three years in a row,” Persian captain James Conlee said. “One crab broadside, and they’ll all jump in the sea again.”

Greek reenactors, however, like their chances.

“We got Lee Helm with an underwater auger bit,” Bottoms said. “They can’t hit us with crabs if all their boats sink. And worst case, I still get to whack James upside the head with a broom.”

Island authorities, meanwhile, are bracing for on-shore rowdiness.

“The crowd really gets behind their teams,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “It’s rare when the sea battle doesn’t spill over into the stands.

“We put up barricades to separate the two sides last year, but they just broke the partitions and used the wood as shields and swords,” Marquette said. “I’m expecting a full jail again: hoplites in one cell, zhayedan in the other.”

Organizers insist the money earned for pensioners more than offsets any hooliganism.

“The funds we raise are crucial to the former sailors in our community struggling to make ends meet,” Valve said. “We care deeply about our seamen. We’re all seamen at heart.”

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