Monthly Archives: March 2021
A passage from D.H. Lawrence’s formerly-banned novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Blacktip Bibliophile Society scuba divers will copy the complete text of the novel in the sand off Diddley’s Landing public pier during the coming months. (photo courtesy of Silas Mariner)
In conjunction with Blacktip Island dive operators, scuba-certified literature enthusiasts will transcribe the complete text of D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the sand at one of the island’s dive sites during the coming months.
“We’ll be doing a page per day, weather permitting, so we should be done with the whole thing by mid-August or so,” Blacktip Bibliophile Society president Silas Mariner said. “We’re hoping to dispel the notion that scuba divers are a bunch of party-hearty Neanderthals. It will give a sense of culture, of gravitas to diving. The passages will be done by two-person teams—one person to hold the laminated page, and one to write with a boat hook.
“The club voted on which classic novel to transcribe, and it came down to Lady Chatterley or Jude the Obscure,” Mariner said. “But Jude is just so damned depressing, we worried it would scare divers away. With Lady Chatterley, we reckon divers will be fighting to get to the site.”
Group members said the project presents some unexpected difficulties.
“You’ve got to have spot-on buoyancy to print the letters and not erase others with your fin kicks,” Christina Mojarra said. “And we can’t write on windy days because the surge erases the words as fast as you can print them.
“Conchs are an issue, too” Mojarra said. “And stingrays play pure hell with the text. But the little gobies add some cool diacritics, so that’s fun. We photograph each ‘page’ as we go so there’s a record.”
Some on the island are concerned about legal issues.
“That book’s still banned in lots of places,” resident John Thomas said. “I already called Marine Parks, asked them to get an underwater censor down there so make sure Silas and them aren’t scribbling smut all over the sea floor This isn’t that kind of island. We’ll be sending our own divers down, as needed, to erase any and all naughty bits.”
Legal authorities say the transcription poses little legal risk.
“There’s only a few words in the text that fit the definition of indecency,” local attorney Ferris Skerritt said. “The book’s legal to sell and possess in the Tiperons, so it really depends on who sees the dodgy words in the sand and what they do about it. Copyright infringement’s not even an issue, with the text being in the public domain.”
Mariner said he welcomes controversy.
“If people object, that’s great,” he said. “We’ll fight that in court. This is world-class literature and should be treated as such. The novel’s about class distinctions and gender roles, not pornography.”
Local authorities are taking a wait-and-see approach. “I read the book and, frankly, it was a struggle to get through, it was so dull.” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Kept expecting raunchy, x-rated scenes, but it was all pretty underwhelming. Seen more graphic stuff on HBO. I’ll do whatever the law requires, but I didn’t read anything worth folks getting their shorts in a wad about.”
A photo of the iguana Blacktip Island officials suspect of destroying the small Caribbean island’s postal facilities Wednesday night/Thursday morning. (photo courtesy of James St. John)
A stray rock iguana in the Blacktip Island post office overnight has disrupted mail delivery on the small Caribbean island for the foreseeable future, island postal officials said Thursday.
“When I came in this morning, it looked like a hurricane’d been through the place,” island postmaster Dervil Haynes said. “A hurricane with claws, mind you. There was cards and letters all over, and parcels all shredded. Incoming bills, outgoing payments, you name it, it’s all torn to hell.
“Near as I can tell, somebody jimmied the lock after hours and chucked the thing in,” Haynes said. “The door was unlocked when I got here in the morning, and that didn’t just happen by itself. And an iguana didn’t just let itself in. This is vandalism, plain and simple.”
Island officials confirmed the post office will be out of service for at least a week.
“They’re still sorting sorting out what was damaged and trying to put things back together,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Dervil had to order a case of cellophane tape to patch up all the letters and whatnot—he bought all the island store had, and that barely put a dent in the damage.
“Everything in there was clawed up, including the walls and windows,” Cobia said. “That lizard really wanted out. It’ll be at least a week before the place’ll be functional again. We’re in the process of trying to explain it to creditors and insurance people. And installing some sort of iguana-proof devices on the doors.”
Some residents questioned Haynes’ story.
“Ol’ Dervil always leaves the back door open when he goes out for a pee,” Catalina Luxfer said. “He’s forgetful like that, and getting worse. It’s a whole lot more likely the iguana wandered in while he stepped out, Dervil didn’t notice and shut the thing inside at the end of the day.
“The morning sun coming through the windows probably woke it up,” Luxfer said. “Then it freaked when it couldn’t get out. I can see why Dervil doesn’t want to admit that, but in the meantime, I got birthday presents in tatters, and no way to tell when I’ll be able to get them.”
Others saw the occurrence in a more positive light.
“We been talking about going to paperless billing for years,” Cori Anders said. “This is a great example of why we should. Now, it wouldn’t have stopped the parcels from being damaged, but bill-wise, we’d be in a lot less of a mess. This iguana was a wakeup call.”
Island authorities say the iguana was gone on arrival and has not yet been apprehended.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
Precipitation – None
One of the reef sharks Blacktip Island researchers are modifying to glow in the dark, prior to being injected with bioluminescence. (photo courtesy of Richard Ling)
A group of Blacktip Island geneticists, citing safety concerns, this week have released multiple glow-in-the-dark sharks within the island’s Caribbean reef shark population.
“Many people, especially visitors, are scared of sharks,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine science professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “This allows people to see them better. If swimmers know where the sharks are, and aren’t, they’ll feel better about going into the water. This’ll be a game changer when tourism kicks in again.
“We got the idea from all the recent news stories about other glowing fish,” Mojarra said. “Lots of species bioluminesce. We just enhanced a natural process by flipping the switch on some of our reef sharks. One simple injection in the dorsal fin does the trick, almost like we’re tagging them, so there’s no real negative effect on the fish.”
Local residents praised the breakthrough.
“Safety wise, the glow isn’t so effective in the day, though you can sort of see them when it’s overcast,” Wendy Beaufort said. “But at night they’re quite beautiful. We chum around the resort docks in the evenings and watch the light show.
“They tried it with nurse sharks first because they were easier to tag,” Beaufort said. “But nurse sharks tend to just lie on the bottom, and no one’s scared of them, so it was pretty underwhelming. Then Ernesto’s team switched to reef sharks and BAM! things really took off. It makes night dives so much cooler, too.”
Animal rights activists condemned the practice.
“These are completely unnatural and unnecessary acts inflicted on wild animals,” Chrissy Graysby said. “There’s no sound, ethical reason for doing this to sharks. No one has ever been attacked by a shark on Blacktip Island. This is grossly unethical and goes beyond animal cruelty.
“There’s also been no studies of the long-term negative effects this process has on sharks,” Graysby said. “We have no data on whether these injections decrease the sharks’ lives or lessens their ability to hunt. Or of being eaten by other sharks. We’ve called the International the SPCA. They’re sending a team to investigate. If they can get across the borders.”
Island businesses, however, see the glowing sharks as an opportunity.
“Once tourism opens up, these suckers’ll be a hell of a draw,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “The Chamber of Commerce posted some videos online, and they’re already getting a ton of hits. Right now, we’re ramping up getting as many sharks injected as possible.
“We’re primed to be the premier tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere,” Pilchard said. “No one else has what we have. These glow sharks’ll be the new face of Blacktip Island tourism. Our motto’ll be ‘Blacktip: Island of the Glowing Sharks!’”
A group of racing enthusiasts this week launched an iguana-and-land-crab racing league to help bolster their incomes. (photo courtesy of Kitty Terwolbeck)
In an effort to boost income while tourism is shut down due to COVID border closures, Blacktip Island sporting enthusiasts this week launched an iguana-and-land-crab racing league they hope to market to subscribers worldwide.
“It has everything: it’s a competition, it’s unique and people love a good race,” Rocky Shore said. “Clete Horn’s the one who came up with the idea of having those little, red, baby land crabs ride as jockeys on some of our island iguanas. It’s the novelty of the thing that’ll get folks to subscribe.
“The trick is to piss off the little crabs so they’ll clamp their claws down on an iguana’s back spike,” Shore said. “It’s a tricky balance—you don’t get the crab mad enough, it’ll let go mid-race and you’re disqualified; get it too pissed, it’ll turn on you and give you a nasty pinch.”
Animal rights activists say the races are blatant animal abuse.
“This is not some new sport. It’s textbook animal cruelty,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “They abuse the crabs to get them to clutch the iguanas, then they abuse the iguanas by sticking the crabs on them. Neither crabs nor iguanas asked for this, and all would run away from it if they could.
“There’s no upside,” Pickett said. “There’s no mitigating factors. Quite the opposite. This is a horrific act, all for money and twisted entertainment. At the animals’ expense.”
Some on the small tropical island disagreed.
“Harry and his gang need to lighten up,” Goldie Goby said. “It’s just good fun, and the crabs and iguanas seem to enjoy it. They’re fine afterwards, and there’s no shortage of either on the island.
“You should see those iguanas tearing down the track, with little red crabs hanging on for dear life,” Goby said. “‘Tonio Fletcher’s got a couple of bad-ass iguanas that are beating all comers. No telling what he’s feeding them but they go like scalded . . . well, scalded iguanas.”
Organizers say proceeds have been minimal thus far.
“We’ve put a few races on YouTube to attract attention, build the interest, but we haven’t sold any subscriptions just yet,” Clete Horn said. “But all it takes is that one person seeing it and passing on the word, and we’ll be golden. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re nearly there.”
Island authorities have warned locals against betting on the races.
“As fun as these races are, gambling is still illegal,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I’ve posted notices, and talked to all the parties involved, warning I will arrest anyone caught placing wagers. I gave ‘Tonio a second, sterner talking-to yesterday when he brought me my winnings.”