Blacktip Island residents are urged to seek shelter during the height of this week’s Perseid meteor shower, predicted to strike the Caribbean island from 11:17 pm – 2:43 am the night of August 11-12.
“Blacktip will be at the absolute bull’s eye for this year’s Perseid event,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernesto Mojarra. “We’ll experience one of the most projectile-intense passes in recent history.
“By Tuesday morning this place could look like a World War I battlefield.”
Many locals plan to shelter in place underwater on the island’s coral reefs for the shower’s most intense period.
“That hurricane shelter smells of feet, and the tin roof barely stops rain,” island resident Lee Helm said. “No way it’ll stand up to meteors. Me? I’m riding it out on scuba.”
“Your average meteor is only deadly to about 18-20 feet in seawater,” TU-B’s Mojarra said. “After that it’s just a cold rock dropping a few feet per second.
“We’re telling folks the best depth for survival is in the 20-30 foot range. That gives the ideal balance between safety from meteors and prolonging one’s air supply.”
“All our rental gear’s spoken for,” Eagle Ray Divers’ owner Rich Skerritt said. “Regulators, tanks, everything. Some folks are reserving two, three cylinders just to be safe.
“We’ll have dive boats available, too, to take folks to the deeper reefs. For an additional fee, of course. Pricey? Sure. But, hey, what’s your life worth?”
Other resort operators are skeptical.
“We’ve set up chairs on our beach so people can watch, and will have complimentary Kevlar umbrellas, but that’s about it,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “The way some people are reacting, you’d think the sky was falling. And I suppose it is. But not in a bad way.
“Is it coincidence Ernie’s got a ton of money invested in Eagle Ray Divers? I think not.”
“The Chicken Little story has its basis in fact,” Mojarra said. “This sort of catastrophe’s happened before. And’ll happen again. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand.”
Eagle Ray Divers will offer NAUI, PADI and SSI Meteor Diver distinctive specialty courses for those who shelter on the reefs.
“This is a unique opportunity, despite the danger,” Eagle Ray Divers’ Skerritt said. “Folks are crazy if they don’t take advantage of it. This is a cert card none of their friends’ll have.”
“How often do you get to say, ‘meteors rained down on me and I survived’?” Mojarra said. “And with luck, divers will find spent meteorites on the reef to keep as souvenirs. That’s priceless.”