Sunday, May 22, 2022
Precipitation: Not today
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Precipitation: Not today
Blacktip Island leaders this week submitted a formal request to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization amid worries about Russian aggression on the small Caribbean island.
“Russia’s a long way away, but it’s got long arms,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Wouldn’t take much for them to take over Blacktip, declare a victory to distract from what’s going on in Ukraine. A handful of Spetsnaz dressed up as scuba divers could take this place inside three hours.
“Folks say we’re overreacting, but there were some Russian tourists here last week, and they were pretty damn aggressive,” Cobia said. “I’m pretty sure they were Russian, anyway. Had that look about them. And they talked funny. Scoping us out, near as we could tell. That’s what set off the alarm bells.”
Many on the island say the fears are well founded.
“Blacktip’s a tempting target,” Ernestine Bass said. “No defense forces here to speak of. A plane full of faux tourists flies in, seizes the power plant, and, voila, we’re the newest Russian outpost. They’ve always wanted a warm-weather port, and with Blacktip, they’d have one.
“Now, it’s true we’re not in the Atlantic Ocean, but we’re pretty damn close,” Bass said. “Closer than Poland. And we are northern. With us in NATO, guarding the southern flank, Russia’d think twice before messing with us.”
Others were focused on repelling a possible invasion.
“We’re eyeballing everybody who gets off the Islander when it lands,” Linford Blenny said. “Also setting up teams of coast watchers in case the Russkies try to attack by boat. Or subs—we seen them periscopes watching us at night. Got us a good stockpile of machetes and big sticks, too. Dermott Bottoms, he’s collecting beer bottles to chuck at ‘em.
“Building ambush points, too,” Blenny said. “And we’re making a fake runway so they crash when they try to land. Think Ukrainians are badasses? Wait ‘til Boris and company run into a bunch of riled up Blacktip Island drunks. A tactical nuke wouldn’t even slow them down. Russians invade here, they won’t know what hit ‘em.”
Officials said they expect a quick acceptance from NATO.
“Sent the request first-class airmail, with a tracking number, so we know they got it,” Cobia said. “Blacktip may be small, but we bring a lot to the table. We’re not just some sleepy backwater. No Russians ever landed here we couldn’t chase away. I reckon we’ll be approved in a matter of days now.”
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Precipitation: Prob’ly not
Marine biologists on Blacktip Island this week discovered the snapping sounds made by the island’s pistol shrimps’ claws, when heard in succession, play all six of Johan Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
“No one had connected the dots until a computer glitch sequenced all the sounds from one reef,” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology professor Goby Graysby said. “Apparently, those suckers’ve been doing it for a while, with shrimp from one section of the reef playing one concerto, then shrimp on the next part of the reef continuing with the next one.
“It’s still early in the study, but it looks like each shrimp snaps one individual note,” Graysby said. “Obviously, the higher in the shrimp hierarchy they are, the more frequent the note they play is in the melody. Our working hypothesis is as individuals die, or are eaten, others move up in the pecking order and younger ones move from apprentice status to minor roles.”
Researchers noted it’s possible for scuba divers to hear the music underwater.
“You’ve got to lie on the bottom up in the shallows for a while to really hear it,” Leigh Shore said. “My personal favorite is Brandenburg Number Three on Wahoo Reef. I can hang out there for hours and just Zen out to the music. The reef’s a very Baroque place, really.
“We have no proof, yet, but I’m pretty sure the Pederson shrimp organize and conduct the whole thing. They’re like that,” Shore said. “And if you go out a bit deeper, where the hardpan transitions to coral, you can hear the singing coral heads doing a counterpoint, a cappella accompaniment.”
Some on the island discarded the claim.
“It’s more hokum from that so-called university,” island resident Noddy Bolin said. “Them shrimps are no more playing Bach than my butt is. You run enough notes randomly through a program long enough, eventually you’ll get something sounds familiar.
“Hell, they do the experiment again, they’ll probably end up with Bohemian Rhapsody,” Bolin said. “It’s a riff on the old ‘given enough time, a bunch of monkeys with typewriters could reproduce the works of Shakespeare.’ Ten’ll get you 20 it’s just a scam to drum up grant money.”
Island dive operators, however, are ecstatic about the discovery.
“We’re tracking which reefs play which tunes at what times so we can schedule concert dives,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “We’ll drop divers in the shallows, where their air lasts longer, maybe take them reef-to-reef so they can hear each concerto in succession. For an upcharge, of course. Per concerto.
“We’re also culling shrimp who’re off key, or out of time,” Kiick said. “It seems harsh, but it’ll improve the performance. And our overall product.”
Environmental activists decried the culling.
“It’s bad enough to put gaggles of scuba divers on top of these shrimp,” Wade Soote said. “But to go out and kill wildlife just because you think it doesn’t sound right? That’s abhorrent.
“If Finn actually goes through with this, he’ll regret it,” Soote said. “We have underwater protests planned. As soon as his divers go in, we’ll go to town with our tank bangers and rattlers and air horns. If the guests can’t hear the shrimp, or if the shrimp get spooked and stop snapping, Finn’ll have a hell of a time selling his dives.”
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Precipitation: Sailor take warning . . . ?
A group of Blacktip Island environmental activists have launched a plan to use small underwater windmills, powered by the small Caribbean island’s scuba diving guests, to provide a sustainable, renewable source of energy, group members said Thursday.
“Electricity’s expensive on this little rock, and diesel-powered generators are killing our environment,” Blacktip Ecological Revolution Consortium president Harry Pickett said. “We have the technology to generate electricity from waves and currents, but those aren’t always reliable. That’s where the divers come in.
“We’ll have diving guests tow small turbines around behind them to generate electricity as they swim,” Pickett said. “There’s no shortage of divers, and once we explain the situation to them, most’ll be happy to help. It gives their dives a purpose beyond just looking at fish.”
Island officials say the initiative is a good, if limited start.
“Divers with little mini-windmills won’t provide a ton of power, but it’ll definitely add something to the overall grid,” public works head Stoney MacAdam said. “We’re trying to lessen our carbon footprint, so every little bit helps. We’ll be running power cables from the power plant out to the most popular dive sites so folks can take the turbines off the boat, plug in underwater and go to town.”
Some on the island opposed the plan.
“Everybody knows windmills kill birds and cause cancer. How do we know these gizmos won’t do the same to fish and divers?” Catalina Luxfer said. “All this rush to go green and be energy independent is likely to cause more problems that it solves. Diesel-generated electricity’s worked fine in the past. First rule of living on Blacktip: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Several island dive operators see hidden benefits to the plan.
“We already got divers coming in and asking about this, eager to help, wondering when they can start,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Soon as Harry and them get these what’s-its operational, we’re gonna start doing special ‘green dive’ charters. For a slight upcharge, our guests can go generate some electricity and feel good about helping the island.
“Truth be told, we’ll work up a underwater windmill specialty course, for safety reasons, to get divers certified as Windmill Divers,” Latner said. “There’ll be a fee for that, of course, but folks’ll jump at the chance to save the planet. And they’ll get a t-shirt, too.”
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Precipitation: Not a chance