Blacktip Island’s famous ‘Blacktip Babette’ the yellow-headed jawfish will peek out of her hole on Jawfish Day today. Island residents hope she won’t see her shadow, thus ensuring a storm-free hurricane season. (photo courtesy of National Marine Sanctuaries)
Blacktip Island residents will be closely watching webcams today to see if Blacktip Babette, the famed yellow-headed jawfish, will see her shadow and retreat into her hole, signaling a busy hurricane season this year.
“It’s a bit like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, only underwater and without fur,” Payne Hanover said. “If Babette sees her shadow, things’ll get ugly, weather-wise, this summer and fall. We’re pretty sure Jacques Cousteau was the first to notice Babette and how predictive she was when he’d hang out here back in the 60s.
“We banned pretty much all diving in the area after a few incidents in years past,” Hanover said. “Five years ago, Booger Bottoms’ camera strobes scared Babette, and we had one of our worst hurricane seasons ever. Then last year, Alison Diesel slid a plastic slate over the hole so Babette couldn’t go back in, and a barracuda nearly got her. Babette, not Alison.”
Island residents said Jawfish Day is a generations-old tradition.
“Been watching Babette for as long as I can remember,” Rosie Blenny said. “And now it’s so much comfier—we can sit in the bar and watch instead of having to go out on a boat and jump in the water. We’ll all be at the Tail Spinner watching the live feed and praying for a cloudy day. Babette’s been so accurate for all these years. And who knew jawfish lived so long?”
Some on the small Caribbean island scoffed at the tradition.
“There is zero correlation between this jawfish, or any jawfish, seeing its shadow and hurricanes striking the island,” local meteorologist Rayne Doppler said. “We ran the numbers going back 30 years and there’s less than a 20 percent connection between the jawfish retreating and hurricane activity. That’s essentially a random occurrence. Assuming it’s even the same fish. My hunch is the Chamber of Commerce dreamed this up to draw tourists to the island during the slow season.”
Others objected to the event on religious grounds.
“This, like Groundhog Day, purposely coincides with Candlemas,” the Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “By extension, this is celebrating an ancient pagan holiday. I’m urging my congregation, and any others who’ll listen, to avoid this like they’d avoid any other events and holidays that coincide with former heathen celebrations.”
Not all residents wished Babette well.
“I hate that damn fish,” Rusty Goby said “She stayed out of her hole two years ago. I believed her and didn’t re-up my hurricane insurance. Come September, Hurricane Lulu leveled my place. BLAM! Like a big hand just smooshed it flat. If I had my way, I’d wipe out every jawfish on that reef, just to get even. Tried to, too, but the Marine Parks folks keep stopping me.”
Island mayor Jack Cobia will preside underwater on-site, from a respectful distance so as not to spook Babette, to make the ceremony official. Local weather forecasts call for scattered clouds today.