Monthly Archives: May 2018

Underwater Screaming Classes Bring Peace To Blacktip Island

underwater screaming

A green moray eel flees from a primal screaming diver Thursday afternoon during one of Club Scuba Doo’s ‘underwater hollering’ sessions off Blacktip Island’s Diddley’s Landing public pier. (photo courtesy of P. Lindgren)

 

In an effort to reduce stress on Blacktip Island, one local resort this week began offering underwater screaming sessions for its guests and island residents.

“We noticed our divers seemed more stressed than usual lately and decided to do something about it,” said Club Scuba Doo diving manager Finn Kiick. “Everybody’s doing the meditation bit these days, so we decided to take a different tack.

“It’s a throwback to the primal scream craze from the 70s,” Kiick said. “The retro thing is all the rage. We call it ‘submerged hollering’ to avoid legal trouble.”

Organizers say the classes produce immediate results.

“Everything about it’s relaxing,” Club Scuba Doo scuba instructor Rosie Blenny said. “The water’s calming. The fish are calming. And when you let out that first yell, your stress evaporates. Underwater, they can hear you scream. And that’s a good thing.

“After the first scream all the fish disappear, but at least they’re there to set the tone,” Blenny said. “The only hitch is sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a participant and a diver in actual trouble, but we’re getting better at sorting that out. Mostly.”

Participants say the formal structure is key.

“I can yell all I want on my own, but it doesn’t do me any good,” Club Scuba Doo guest Marlin Bleu said. “But with this we sit in the sand, like those drum circles men’s groups used to do. Except not in our underwear. We wear shorts. It’s different.

“We give ourselves fish names and scream them through our regs,” Bleu said. “I’m Parrotfish-Who-Nibbles-Earlobes. I was so relaxed at the end of the first class I could barely climb up the dock steps.”

Organizers dodged environmental minefields by staging the sessions outside the marine park.

“It’s Blacktip, so someone’s going to complain to matter what we do, but we nipped the fish-hugger protest in the bud,” Kiick said. “We do classes in the sand out from Diddley’s Landing where there’s no coral to kill.

“The big thing’s not to have sessions when the barge’s coming in,” Kiick added. “That surprised last week. The hull slid over us and blocked out the sun, and the big-ass props were spinning like giant Cuisinarts right above us, it was like the end of the world. People screamed alright, but not in a good way.”

Participants hope the classes continue.

“I laughed at first, then tried it on a dare, and it actually works,” Sand Spit bartender Cori Anders said. “I’m up to three sessions a week now, and my blood pressure’s down a good 20 points. My throat’s raw, but at least I’m not yelling at guests anymore.”

 

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Charity Domino Brawl Sends Five To Blacktip Island Clinic

domino brawl

Most of the furniture in Blacktip Island’s Heritage House was destroyed during Thursday’s drunken melee at a charity domino tournament to benefit the island’s school. (photo courtesy of Carnivalsman)

A brawl at a Blacktip Island charity domino tournament Thursday evening sent five people to the medical clinic and caused extensive damage to the island’s Heritage House, authorities said.

“James Conlee and Mr. Snapper, the schoolmaster, were trash talking before their match, and things got out of hand,” said tournament organizer Kay Valve. “One moment it was insults as usual, the next, punches were flying, tables were crashing and jerked chicken from the food stand was sailing everywhere.

“These matches are powder kegs,” Valve said. “Alcohol was factor, but we can’t ban consumption. That’s an integral part of the sport. We do tell folks to drink in moderation, but that means different things to different people. This is why we can’t have nice tournaments.”

Accounts varied about what provoked the melee.

“That damned Snapper started it,” James Conlee said. “He’s been palming tiles all tourney, you know. Slipping them out when he thinks no one’s looking. Acts all ‘it’s for the kids,’ but he’s a snake.”

Snapper disputed Conlee’s account.

“I was wearing a tank top and shorts. Where would I hide tiles?” he said. “It was James’ fault. He said my scooter was an eyesore, so I said, ‘well, so’s your wife.’ Then out of nowhere he just hit me for no reason. He’s crazy.

“This is the guy who put bird feed in my bug zapper two days ago, just to get inside my head,” Snapper said. “We were raising funds for the school. Now because of him, the kids have to pay for damages instead.”

Island authorities say the brawl escalated quickly.

“Lee Helm got too close, took an elbow to the teeth, then fell across Clete Horn and Antonio Fletcher’s game,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Clete and ‘Tonio started punching anything that moved, and next thing you know, Christina Mojarra was swinging a chair like she was batting cleanup. She laid out a half-dozen people before we could take her down.

Five players were treated for minor injuries. Lee Helm was flown to Bottoms Memorial Medical Center on Tiperon to have domino tiles removed from his nasal cavities and other orifices.

“I don’t know how Lee got hurt to badly. He wasn’t even in the tournament,” Valve said. “Wrong place, wrong time, I suppose. Of course, he’s never been well-liked on the island, so people may have used the opportunity to settle old grudges.

“Bottom line, we’ve banned multiple players for life,” Valve said. “Or until the memory fades. Probably next Thursday.”

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Newly-Discovered Flounder May Mean Hurricanes For Blacktip

yodeling flounder

A screen grab from Casey Piper’s underwater video showing the newly-discovered yodeling flounder voicing its cry on Blacktip Island’s Water Pump Reef Wednesday. (photo courtesy of Casey Piper)

A previously-unknown species of flounder, discovered by a Blacktip Island dive guide Wednesday, has scientists intrigued and some locals worried about the discovery’s impact on the coming hurricane season.

“Divers’ve been hearing a weird wailing sound on the reef for weeks, but no one could suss out what it was,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “Then one of our divemasters got lucky. In a fish-life sort of way.”

“I heard a weird oooooo-aaaaaaa-oooooh sound, loud, right behind me, looked back and saw this big-ass flounder, with its mouth open, doing a weird flappy, break-dancey thing,” dive guide Casey Piper said. “It sounded like a slow-motion yodel. Sort of.”

Based on Piper’s video, local scientists determined the fish was a long-rumored species of yodeling flounder.

“You hear fishermen’s’ tales about flounderia yodelicus, but no one’s actually seen one,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology professor Ernesto Mojarra. “They’re the unicorns of the sea. This one seems to change pitch by fluttering its ‘wings’ and waving its top pectoral fin, like playing a theremin. You can hear it from the surface if you’re really quiet.”

Blacktip fishermen, though, say the fish and its yodeling are bad omens.

“Grandpa said that sound was the duppies warning about a bad hurricane season,” Antonio Fletcher said. “If Casey got video of it, well, I guess it’s a duppy fish, then. But storms are still coming.

“Thing is, one year Grandpa was out fishing and heard that moaning. He hooked a big-old flounder and the noise stopped,” Fletcher said. “Fed the family for days. And had no hurricanes that year. That’s no coincidence.”

Some locals see Fletcher’s story as a hint of how to ease storm season.

“Unicorn or not, I say the divers make themselves useful and spear this damn thing so we don’t have any storms,” storekeeper Peachy Bottoms said. “They do it with lionfish. What good’s a marine park if it won’t protect us from hurricanes?”

Blacktip Island Marine Parks officials opposed the suggestion.

“False causality aside, the park is here to protect all marine life,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “We’re doubling up on patrols and will arrest anyone with a spear anywhere near the park.”

The scientific community backed Schrader.

“If anyone’s going to kill this flounder, it’ll be us, so we can properly study it,” Mojarra said.

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Second Constable To Help Ease Blacktip Island Traffic Woes

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A motorcycle approaches Blacktip Island’s troublesome western intersection Thursday morning. The small Caribbean island has been assigned a new police constable responsible for directing traffic in the intersection during peak times. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/Blacktip Times staff)

Blacktip Island Wednesday welcomed its second island police constable, tasked with directing traffic on the small Caribbean island.

“There’s too many close calls at the intersection,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s a dangerous mix of speeding vehicles and tourists on wobbly resort bikes. Last week a drunk Lee Helm took out three Scuba Doo guests with his scooter.

“It’s worst around lunch time and when the bars open,” Cobia said. “Right before the liquor store closes, too.”

Island residents say the additional constable is past due.

“Public safety demands it,” said Helen Maples. “Yes, we’re a small island with only two roads, but that intersection is a nightmare. Just yesterday a Skerritt Construction truck ran the stop sign and nearly put me in the sea grapes.

“The constable’s not needed all day, you understand, only in the high-traffic times,” Maples said. “Club Scuba Doo donated a big beach umbrella for a shelter when he’s not on the roadway, and Sandy Bottoms’ donated a pool chair.”

The new constable has embraced her new duties.

“Over on Tiperon, you hear horror stories of the traffic on Blacktip,” Island Police Constable Catalina Luxfer said. “That’s going to stop. There’s a new sheriff in town. Motorists will respect my authority.”

The new constable is already a hit with island visitors.

“We didn’t think she was real at first,” Missy Marlin said. “I mean, a traffic cop on a tiny island? Then she moved, and nearly scared us to death. In a good way.

“It’s like the guards at Buckingham Palace,” Marlin said. “When no cars were coming, she posed in the middle of the road and let us take pictures with her.”

Not all residents were happy with the new constable.

“He can talk all he wants about safety, but Jack’s not fooling anyone,” Joey Pompano said. “It’s the first step down an ugly road. First it’s a traffic cop. Then another. The next thing you know, there’s more police than residents.

“Jack’s always been power hungry. This is just his way to take control on the sly,” Pompano said. “He wants a police state, but this is Blacktip. We self-police just fine.”

The island’s other police constable downplayed those fears.

“No one’s taking control of anything,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Hell, if someone could figure out a way to control anything on this little rock, they’d be up for a Nobel prize.”

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