Category Archives: Scuba Diving
Blacktip Island Weather
Sunday, May 28, 2023
Blacktip Island Snack Mishap Leads To Sargassum Solution
A fortunate accident by an inebriated Blacktip Island divemaster has revealed a possible solution to the Caribbean’s sargassum seaweed inundation. (photo courtesy of Filo gèn)
A pre-dinner snack mishap Monday on a Blacktip Island beach inadvertently revealed a method of destroying the masses of sargassum seaweed choking beaches on the small Caribbean island and throughout the Caribbean.
“I was walking along the beach behind Sandy Bottoms’, a little tipsy after happy hour, munching a double-spicy chicken wing and sipping a margarita, when I stumbled,” Gage Hoase said. “I dropped my wing, and when I tried to catch it, I ended up spilling my drink over it. There was a puff of smoke, then I saw a bare patch in the sargassum and the air smelled like rose petals.
“I went back to the bar for more wings and maragaritas to try it again,” Hoase said. “Turns out hot wings and margaritas burn up sargassum. All that’s left is some black dust, and the wind blows that away. For once, it was good alcohol was involved.”
Local scientists were quick to replicate the phenomenon.
“We went out with a wide array of wing flavors and mixed drinks, and Gage’s claims were highly inaccurate,” Sargassum Containment Unit director Fanny Basslet said. “Hot wings and margaritas don’t obliterate sargassum. It’s the hotter-that-hot hot sauce and tequila, mixed at a 1-5 ratio, that does it. And how.
“Near as we can tell, the sauce-tequila combination forms a complex amino acid chain that interacts with the sulphur and arsenic in the sargassum and desiccates it instantaneously. The chemical reaction does leave an odor reminiscent of wild roses. We’re still researching the exact reactions involved and how to augment them to their full advantage.”
Island residents, meanwhile, have embraced the solution.
“First thing I did was run to the store for hot sauce and tequila,” Larry Blenny said. “Mixed ‘em in a bug-spray sprayer and cleared the beach out back of my house in 15 minutes. Haven’t been about to sit out there with an onshore wind for years. This’s a Godsend.
“The cheap, white, skull-cracker tequila works best,” Blenny said. “So does the low-end hot sauce that tastes like salt and vinegar. Smokes a bit when it comes out the nozzle, but, man, it’s king hell on that nasty-ass sargassum. And leaves the house smelling like a spring day.”
Island merchants said the unexpected find has caused supply-chain issues.
“I can’t keep hot sauce on the shelf,” Peachy Bottoms of Peachy Bottoms General and Liquor store said. “Same with tequila, good quality or bad. I’m ordering so much my suppliers can’t keep up, and folks are lining up outside the store screaming for more. The situation’s getting ugly.”
Island officials have stepped up to alleviate the shortages.
“We’re using our sources to buy the ingredients in bulk and ship them in on pallets,” Public works head Stoney MacAdam said. “Bug- and weed-sprayers, too. We’re gonna recruit volunteer coast-clearers to blast assigned sections of beach. Then, once the onshore problem’s under control, we’ll move offshore and blast the stuff before it can make landfall.”
“Sure, there may be disastrous secondary and tertiary consequences down the line that could destroy the environment,” MacAdam said. “But who cares, so long as the beaches are clear and that stench is gone?”
Getting By With Some Help From Your Friends
Blacktip Island Weather
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Precipitation: Seek shade
Blacktip Island Resort Opens Shark-Petting Zoo
Lemon sharks will be one of the most common species present at Eagle Ray Cove resort’s new shark-petting zoo. (photo courtesy of Albert Kok)
In a move to boost its tourism offerings, Blacktip Island’s Eagle Ray Cove resort this week unveiled its new shark-petting zoo in the shallows off the Eagle Ray Cove beach.
“It’s really a no brainer,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “People love sharks, and this gets them right up-close and personal with them. It hooks the kids, especially, and they’re our next generation of guests. This is a long-term investment.
“We built a wooden deck a foot or so under water so folks can pet the sharks without stirring up silt,” Skerritt said. “And while the kids are doing that, the parents can hang out at the bar or in the gift shop. We’ve doubled our pass-through traffic this week. And if a child occasionally gets bit, well, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.”
Resort managers noted safety measures are in place.
“We get mostly nurses and lemons, so they’re not all that dangerous,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “We kit folks out in chain-mail gloves and booties, too, to guard against the occasional nips, and let them wade on in. And the sharks aren’t penned—they can come and go as they please.
“We sell little bags of squid and leftover pizza to feed to the sharks, but folks can also just jump in without chum,” Latner said. “Once the feeding frenzy starts, the water around the submerged deck goes white with all the thrashing. Sometimes you lose sight of the smaller kids. It’s beautiful to see. From shore.”
Resort staff said the attraction has educational value as well.
“Kids go bonkers ‘cause it literally connects them with nature,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Sure, the sharks bite their feet and hands, but with our handy fish ID cards, they can tell what kind of sharks. We’re creating future conservationists every day.”
Some on the island objected to the activity.
“They shouldn’t encourage people to feed any wildlife,” Marine Park spokesperson Val Schrader said. “That’s bad for the wildlife and they people. What happens when someone wades in without armored booties? Or goes swimming where sharked are habituated to being fed? They’re attracting apex predators. What happens when a bull, or a tiger shark shows up?
“Rich’s set up a situation where someone’s guaranteed to get hurt,” Schrader said. “And once that happens, it’ll give the entire island a black eye. This ultimately threatens tourism, and conservation efforts, on Blacktip. We’re pushing for legislation to ban this insanity.”
Skerritt rebuffed those concerns.
“The only people unhappy about this are Val and her earth-muffin cronies,” he said. “The kids get the thrill of a lifetime, and their parents get a break from them long enough to relax with a beer or buy a t-shirt. And our revenue’s doubled this past week. Where’s the down side to any of that?”
Working on Some Night Moves . . .
Blacktip Island Weather
Sunday, May 14, 2023
Precipitation: Wear (reef-safe) sunscreen
Underwater Lawn Dart Tourney Set For Saturday
Lawn dart tournament organizers are urging safety at Saturday’s double-elimination contest (illustration courtesy of Cori Anders)
A group of sports enthusiasts Wednesday announced Blacktip Island’s first underwater lawn dart tournament will take place Saturday afternoon in the Diddley’s Landing sand flats to raise money for local charities.
“We had fun with lawn darts when we were kids and wanted to relive that,” Hugh Calloway said. “Rosie Bottoms found an old set from back in the ‘70s, and we tried them out on the beach. Alcohol was involved, and we had some close calls, safety-wise. That’s when we hit on the idea of using them underwater.
“They move slower in the water, so even if one does hit you, it’s not going quite as fast,” Calloway said. “You get the same adrenaline rush, but without as much potential pain. We wear lead hard-hat diving boots so you stick to the bottom, and helmets are recommended. Full face if possible.”
Players raved about the game.
“I smile seeing young people experience the joys and terrors of Jarts,” Cori Anders said. “It’s like horseshoes, or cornhole, but with big metal spikes raining down. I mean, sure, they’re moving slower, but with those lead boots, you can’t run when one’s coming right at you.
“It’ll be a double-elimination tournament, with any scuba-certified resident or guest encouraged to enter,” Anders said. “The winner gets what we’re sure will be the coveted Golden Jart trophy. We’ll also have Marissa the nurse standing by, just in case.”
Some residents focused on the game’s historical context.
“These darts are modeled on the ancient Roman plumbata,” Society for Creative Anachronism chapter Seneschal Catalina Luxfer said. “Roman foot soldiers would lob them at enemy formations, much like modern dart enthusiasts do. They did incredible damage. And with the darts moving slower in the water, we can study more precisely the dynamics of their flight and impact and improve the design.”
Others questioned the safety of the event.
“Lawn darts were banned a long time ago for a bloody-good reason,” Reg Gurnard said. “They were impaling people left and right. Killing children, even. Reviving this horror, even underwater, will get people hurt. If one’s coming at you, the most you can do is lean away. It’s still a heavy, sharp spearhead flying at you.”
Calloway downplayed those concerns.
“We’ve run trial tourneys underwater and no one’s been hurt. Much,” he said. “The biggest problem has been barracudas swooping in and nipping at the shiny spikes and knocking them off course and into players. But that adds to the excitement, really. And it’s for a good cause.”
Proceeds from the tournament will go to the Blacktip Island Divemaster Retirement Fund. The tournament can be viewed in person by certified divers, or on a live feed at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort bar.