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Walking Coral Head Discovered On Blacktip Island

walking coral head

The colony of Blacktip Island walking staghorn coral, found this week by island divemasters, is the only-known specimen of the once-believed-extinct species. (photo courtesy of Gage Hoase)

A rare subspecies of staghorn coral, native solely to Blacktip Island and thought extinct for more than 30 years, was rediscovered by members of an island resort’s dive staff, island marine biologists said.

“We went to show our divers one of the only stands of staghorn on the island, and it wasn’t there,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Gage Hoase said. “We thought some yahoo’d torn it up for a souvenir, then we spotted it—the exact, same, tangle of coral—50 feet away, about 15 feet deeper, by the drop off.

“We’d heard stories of Blacktip Island walking coral, but passed them off as a local myth,” Hoase said. “But this coral head uprooted itself, then re-rooted in a completely different place. That’s the only explanation. There was no drugs or booze in us at all.”

The discovery stunned island old-timers.

“Walking staghorn used to be all over the place here, before climate change and ocean acidification and human refuse took its toll,” island historian Smithson Atschul said. “The last known sighting was back in the early 90s. We thought it was extinct. But now, this is exciting news.

“Firstly, it tells us the environment’s healthier than we thought, if walking coral can re-establish itself,” Altschul said. “Since it moved to deeper water, that also tells us the water quality, or temperature or both are more conducive to growth at that depth. Divers’ll be looking for more coral there along the wall’s edge.”

Local biologists praised the find.

“Blacktip walking staghorn was, is, a migratory sub-species,” marine cryptobiology professor Ginger Bass said. “They can perambulate, like sea anemones, but are harder. We’ve long suspected there were colonies down deep over the wall—this is one of the most resilient corals in the world, and would never be killed off so easily.

“If you study those long, thin arms, you can see they’re made for gripping sand and substrate,” Bass said. “The corals were obviously threatened in the shallows and moved to safer waters. With this resurgence, our goal now is to install underwater video cameras all over the wall to record the migration.”

The island’s business community is promoting the coral.

“A one-of-a-kind thing like this, it’ll put us on the diving map,” the island’s Chamber of Commerce president Piers ‘Doc’ Plank said. “There’s gonna be people from all over coming to see it and film it and study it. That means lots of business for dive companies, hotels and restaurants. Well, restaurant, singular, since that’s all we have.

“We’re gonna put a fence around this bit we know about so it doesn’t wander too far away,” Plank said. “Eagle Ray Divers is also offering rebreather courses so people can go sit in the sand for hours and wait for the coral to move.”

Eagle Ray Divers is not disclosing the coral head’s location until it can be safeguarded.

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Finally made it to Wednesday

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Blacktip Island Weather

27

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Temperature: 84

Humidity: 68%

Precipitation: Passing south

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Blacktip Island High School Reunion Highlights Weekend

BI HS reunion

Coconuts have been gathered for the charity coconut toss—one of the events to be featured at Blacktip Island High School’s inaugural reunion this weekend. (photo courtesy of Ravi Dwivedi)

Blacktip Island High School alumni will gather at the Sand Spit bar this Saturday and Sunday for the school’s inaugural reunion, event organizers said.

“We’ve never had a reunion, so we thought it’s time we had one,” reunion chair Doris Blenny said. “BIHS doesn’t graduate students every year, or even every other year, so we decided to have a general reunion for everyone and not worry so much about the years and classes and such.

“It should be fun to see where all the old classmates are now, what they’re up to,” Blenny said. “I’m hoping all six show up. So far, we have confirmations from Rosie Bottoms, James Conlee and Linford Blenny, so our fingers are crossed. It should be a hoot.”

Organizers have a full schedule of events planned.

“Things kick off with a Friday evening cocktail mixer—or as we usually call it, ‘Friday night,’” Rosie Bottoms said. “We’re doing name tags with old school-days photos to make it even more painful. We had to use a teenage-years jail mugshot for cousin Dermott, but that helps bring back so many memories.

“We’ll also have a Jog That Memory game, a charity coconut toss and a beach cookout,” Bottoms said. “Saturday we’ll all watch the school’s dominoes team in action versus our arch rivals, those rat bastards from Tiperon High. We were going to do speeches, too, but that could get people hurt, especially after the cocktail mixer.”

Most attendees embraced the event.

“Be fun reliving the old days,” James Conlee said. “Me and Goldie Goby, we was always skipping class. But there were only so many places we could go, so we always got caught. Probly sneak out of this reunion, too, for old times’ sake. Don’t remember any classes—far as I know, school’s still never had anyone on its honor roll.”

Others vowed to stay away.

“Why in the world would anyone want to relive high school?” Ginger Bass said. “If I wanted that kind of torture, I’d just whack myself in the head with a hammer. Repeatedly. If folks drifted apart and never reconnected in all these years, there’s a reason for that. Best to let sleeping former classmates lie.”

The reunion will conclude with all alumni performing as the school marching band at the island’s Heritage House. Instruments will be issued randomly to all attendees.

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Dolphin Time!

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Blacktip Island Weather

26

Sunday, November 27

Temperature: 81

Humidity: 66%

Precipitation: Not today, Satan

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Cousteau Toast-Face Sparks Blacktip Island Controversy

jacques cousteau toast

A photograph of the toasted bread Blacktip Island resident Antonio Fletcher says shows the visage of famed ocean pioneer Jacques Cousteau. (photo courtesy of Supardisahabu)

A Blacktip Island resident’s discovery Wednesday of what he claims to be the face of famed aquatic explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau on a piece of toast has divided the small Caribbean island’s population over the find’s significance and authenticity.

“Pulled my bread out of the broiler that morning, and there was ol’ Jack Cousteau staring back at me,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Knew it was a sign of something, but wasn’t sure what. Took a photo of it to show folks, then locked the bread away so no one’d mess with it. Or eat it. Got to be respectful with signs and omens.

“Don’t understand why folks’re so skeptical,” Fletcher said. “People find faces of Elvis and the Pope and Richard Nixon on their toast all the time. You just don’t hear about ‘em. Me, I think this’s a sign tourism’s gonna be booming again. Mister Scuba himself paid us a visit.”

Others saw more ominous tidings in the scorch marks.

“This sort of secular image isn’t something God would send,” Our Lady of Blacktip priest Audley Crossblesser said. “This isn’t a Virgin Mary-shaped Cheeto or anything like that. Non-religious signs from beyond the physical realm are inherently profane. Why Cousteau? Satan’s sent an image of someone we revere and trust to lead us all astray. Or Frenchify us.”

Others embraced the image.

“It’s a sign we should get back in a groove with the ocean, with nature,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Get away from that, our spirits shrivel. Jacques Yves’s reaching out, telling us we need to get our Zen back. What more perfect vehicle for that than a piece of toast?”

Island academics were dubious.

“It’s not a sign of anything—it doesn’t even look like Cousteau,” Tiperon University-Blacktip religious studies professor Stinky Bottoms said. “Frankly, we haven’t even seen the original object. ‘Tonio’s got it locked away, he says for safety. A photo of a random piece of toast has hoax written all over it. Until it can be independently, directly verified, I’m calling BS.

“Personally, I think he made it with a woodburning kit or some such thing,” Bottoms said. “For the attention, or whatever money he could get, or something like that. Hell, a few drinks and everything looks like it has a face on it. Just last week I had a burger that was the spitting image of Ethel Merman.”

Meanwhile, many island residents and guests have transformed Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort, where the toast is being kept in a reception lock box, into an impromptu shrine.

“This object, this talisman, belongs to all of us,” Leigh Shore said. “Divers are already visiting the resort, leaving flowers and conch shells and dive gear outside the entrance—Sandy won’t let them inside the lobby. It gives you chills, seeing the response. I think Cousteau’s sending us all good luck right now. I was lucky enough to pick up a great wrist-mount computer and mask when I was there.”

The Cousteau estate did not respond to repeated Blacktip Times inquiries.

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Exhale. It’s Dolphin Day

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Blacktip Island Weather

25

Sunday, November 13

Temperature: 82

Humidity: 68%

Precipitation: Maaaybe

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‘Octo-berfest’ Will Mark The End Of Blacktip Island’s Hurricane Season

octo berfest

Caribbean octopi will be the focus of Blacktip Island’s inaugural Octo-berfest, celebrating the end of this year’s hurricane season. (photo courtesy of damn_unique)

Blacktip Island locals and guests will celebrate the end of the 2022 hurricane season this weekend with the inaugural ‘Octo-berfest,’ an octopus-themed variation on traditional German fall festivals, at various sites across the small Caribbean island, organizers said.

“We got behind on planning our usual Oktoberfest and ran out of October,” festival chair Jay Valve said. “It seemed silly to have Oktoberfest in November, then Vera Cuda hit on the idea of celebrating octopi . . . octopuses . . . whatever . . . instead. They get so little appreciation, it’s about time they were fêted. And we spelled it with a ‘c’ to avoid confusion.

“We’ll have food tents and beer halls and dancing and all the other whatnot you’d expect at traditional Oktoberfest,” Valve said. “We’ll also have a cnidarian costume contest for the kids, an octopus search in the lagoon, and a midnight Cthulhu service for those who observe.”

As with Oktoberfest, the emphasis will be on local food and drink.

“We’ll have the chili cookoff and conch fritters, of course,” Chef Goldie Goby said. “But we’ll also have stalls with fresh-fried calamari and grilled octopus, in keeping with the tentacled theme. We’ll also have candy floss, and will auction off a Honduran rain slicker at the end.

“Bonefish Brew and Assmonkey Ale will be dueling each other for customers, as ever, but there’s also some exciting newcomers,” Goby said. “The monks up at St. Dervil’s will be serving their Iguana Mead, made with the help of the monastery’s rock iguanas. And in a last-minute, surprise entry, the Blacktip Island Literary Society will unveil its new Dickens’ Cider, brewed from local coconuts.”

Organizers stressed the cultural aspects of the fest.

“The focus here will be on local island culture and tradition,” Christina Mojarra said. “We’ll have an oompah band for polka dancing, as well as sing-alongs in German. The find-the-octopus snorkeling event will be at noon, and the evening festivities will kick off with the 1K dogpaddle race across Eagle Ray Cove from the ERC resort to the Sand Spit bar, with the loser buying the other swimmers drinks.”

Parents, meanwhile, scrambled to finish last-minute octopus and squid costumes for their children.

“They announced the festival theme, and costume contest, just last week,” Chrissy Graysby said. “The little ones are so excited, but it doesn’t give us much time to make costumes. There’s not a pool noodle to be found on the island, so many were snapped up for arms. And with eight arms per costume—10 for squid—well, that is a lot of arms to come up with last minute. I repurposed my dirndl as tentacles.”

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