Sunday, May 23, 2021
Precipitation – Incoming
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Precipitation – Incoming
A dozen would-be lionfish cullers were sent to the Blacktip Island medical clinic Wednesday after a spear-use class in a resort pool went awry, officials said.
“We’re trying to get as many cullers trained up as possible, and the practical portion of the course was in the Sandy Bottoms resort pool,” Marine Parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “Everything was fine ‘til Joey Pompano shot Jack Wrasse in the butt cheek. Joey said the spear slipped, but nobody believes that for a second.
“Problem was, Jack turned around and shot back,” Schrader said. “He missed and hit B.C. Flote. Then all hell broke loose, with everybody shooting at each other. Next thing we knew, there was blood everywhere and people screaming. And yes, alcohol was involved.”
Island medical authorities say the wounds varied in severity.
“There’s some nasty puncture wounds, as you’d expect, but there’s also some pretty severe gashes where spear points grazed a body part,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “I treated 12 divers that afternoon, from everything from punctured hands to bleeding thighs. I’m about out of antibiotics.
“Luckily they were all flesh wounds,” Graysby said. “And no one was in danger of bleeding out. Though there’s a couple I wouldn’t mind if they had. Good thing those spear tines are short and the slings don’t have any more force than they do.”
Authorities say criminal charges are pending for multiple participants.
“As soon as they’re able to leave the clinic, I’ll be arresting at least five of the spearers involved,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I’m still interviewing witnesses and participants to determine who did what to who. All involved have lost their right to spear until the cases are resolved.”
Pompano continued to claim innocence.
“It was an honest-to-God mistake,” he said. “I was testing the stretch of the rubber tubing and it slipped. I said I was sorry. Jack just overreacted.”
Other disputed that account.
“I seen Joey take aim, plain as day,” Rocky Shore said. “Had a goofy grin as he did it, too. No way that was an accident. He’s had a grudge against Jack ever since Jack stole Palometa Fischer away from him.
“The whole thing was beautiful to watch. From the pool deck,” Shore said. “The blood in the water swirled around as people thrashed. It was like a red-and-blue lava lamp.”
Schrader said she hopes the legal issues are resolved quickly. “The upside to all this is the trainees all showed really good aim,” she said. “Except for Jack, of course. This shows our training’s working. They’re gonna be hell on the lionfish, once folks get their spear privileges back. I’m gonna get on Rafe about that. We need those spears and spearers on the reef, pronto.”
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Precipitation – Not a chance
Multiple physical altercations broke out among Blacktip Island scuba divers this week after a local scuba equipment manufacturer’s new mood-ring-inspired wetsuits produced disturbing results, local official said.
“We injected the thermochromic liquid crystal into neoprene as a way for divers to gauge each other’s moods,” Bamboo You owner Piers ‘Doc’ Planck said. “It was also a safety measure so dive staff could assess guests’ emotional states and head off any potential emergencies. The goal of Mood-O-Prene was to improve the dive experience.
“But, like anything good, folks found a way to ruin it,” Planck said. “Right off the bat there were fistfights as divers read way too much into the changing colors on other divers’ gear. Mood ring technology’s not an exact science. This is why we can’t have nice dive gear.”
Island dive staff said a positive situation deteriorated quickly.
“At first, it was sweet being able to spot the jittery divers,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster Marina DeLow said. “We nipped a couple of underwater situations in the bud that morning. But on the boat, between dives, all hell broke loose. Divers who would normally’ve made nice with each other got hacked off when they saw the people they were chatting to didn’t give a damn.
“That escalated to some physical exchanges,” DeLow said. “We had to stick people onto different boats to maintain peace. It’s still touch-and-go. And the resort dining room’s a war zone.”
Diving guests were quick to weigh in.
“The suits seemed like a great idea, but they ruined our vacation Day One,” Lucille Ray said. “My husband kept pointing out stupid parrotfish, like he always does, and I’d smile and give him an ‘OK’ sign, as usual. Only with the suit, he could tell I didn’t give a damn. We surfaced early and’ve been going at it hammer and tongs ever since. There ought to be a warning on this gear.”
Other guests were involved in more serious confrontations.
“Sunday and Monday, this one guy’s suit’d turn bright purple across the crotch every time he talked to my wife,” Bill Fish said. “And he started talking to her a lot. Well, now the jerk’s got a purple eye to match his damn suit.”
Island officials are considering banning the liquid crystal suits.
“I’m all for folks having a good time diving, but I’m down at one dock or the other all day, breaking up fights and cautioning divers,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I don’t have the time, or jail cells, for this crap. Doc’s suits are a clear public nuisance.”
Planck, meanwhile, defended Mood-O-Prene.
“People know exactly what they’re putting on,” he said. “That’s part of the attraction. Folks just need to learn to control their emotions, is all. A few bad apples have spoiled things for everyone else.”
In a related story, the Eagle Ray Cove resort gift shop has cancelled its order for Bamboo You’s mood-ring clothing line.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Precipitation – Not happening
A group of Blacktip Island residents claiming native-American descent called this week for an immediate ban on all scuba and snorkeling on a dive site group members say is sacred ground.
“The Loggerhead Hole dive site is the most sacred religious site on the island,” resident Cori Anders said. “Our Taíno ancestors would paddle out once a month to drop zemi sculptures in the water and commune with their forbears. Then the Baptists came and that all went to hell. That reef’s still sacred, though.
“That it’s crawling with oblivious tourists is completely disrespectful,” Anders said. “We want to start up worship again, but can’t with dive boats always there and the constant scuba bubbles. And the divers snatch up any carvings we toss in the water. We’re asking for a 100-yard no-non-native diver zone around that one mooring ball so only we can go there.”
The proposal drew immediate fire from the small Caribbean island’s scuba industry.
“They want to close one of the most popular sites on the island,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “We stop diving Loggerhead Hole, we’ll be bombarded with complaints. All day, every day. Tripadvisor would blow up. We might as well just shut our doors, we’d be out of business that fast.
“Plus, this whole Taíno angle is bollocks,” Pilchard said. “Cori has blond hair and blue eyes. And Jack Wrasse, he was bloody well born and raised in North Wales. These are just busybodies looking for attention. And a private dive site. They can damn well go sing kumbaya somewhere else and let us dive in peace.”
Group members scoffed at that idea.
“The site is where our ancestors live,” Jack Wrasse said. “Worshipping anywhere else, we’d just be talking to the water or the trees, and chucking sculptures into the void. St. Dervil himself blessed the place when he arrived on Blacktip, and performed his first seawater-into-rum miracles there.
“It’s about preserving our heritage, not just religious services,” Wrasse said. “There’s petroglyphs down there from centuries ago. Most are covered in algae, but they’re there. The ones that haven’t been looted by divers and sold on eBay and Craigslist, anyway.”
The Island Council will meet Saturday night / Sunday morning at The Last Ballyhoo bar to discuss the matter and vote on the site’s status.