Tag Archives: mantis shrimp

Tiperon University-Blacktip Fields First NCAA Football Team


A Blacktip mantis shrimp, (Odontodactylus blacktipius) on a Blacktip Island reef. The fearsome underwater predator is the namesake of Tiperon University-Blacktip’s resurrected athletics program. (photo courtesy of Alexander Vasenin)

Tiperon University-Blacktip kicked off football season Thursday at Skerritt-Bottoms Stadium when its inaugural American-style football team, the Fightin’ Mantis Shrimp, faced their arch rivals Slippery Reef Medical College’s Surgeonfish. The team competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division IV.

“It’s a boost to island pride, having a varsity sports team again,” said TU-B’s athletic director Goby Graysby. “It was devastating when we had to ditch our water polo program, but we couldn’t go on after all those horses drowned.

“When the Mantis took the field in their turquoise-and-coral, it was magical,” Graysby said. “And how great was to hear the old TU-B fight song –‘Mantis! Mantis! Eyestalks high! We’re the shrimp from B-T-I!’ – echoing from the bluff again?”

Some in the community questioned the university’s motives.

“It’s a money grab, plain and simple,” said longtime resident Billy Ray. “Ol’ Goby’s eyeing the TV money an NCAA team draws. And he’ll get the lion’s share of the Tiperon Islands TV market share. Not to mention t-shirt and jersey sales.

“But if he thinks locals are gonna bankroll a new stadium, he’s nuts,” Ray said. “We got better things to spend our money on. And the ‘Mantis?’ Really? Not the ‘Sharks’ or the ‘Barracuda’ or the ‘Ciguatera?’”

Fans, though, were quick to defend the name.

“Mantis shrimp are deadly predators, despite their small size,” said Mantis supporter Marina DeLow. “Their claws move so quick they break the sound barrier. Even if they miss, the shock wave still kills their prey.

“Those suckers’ll blast apart any crab or clam shell out there,” DeLow said. “There’s a reason fishermen call them ‘thumbsplitters.’ Put one in an aquarium, it’ll break the glass and go for your throat.”

Most locals, though, focused on the team’s disappointing 64-0 loss to the Surgeonfish.

“We’re a work in progress, using what talent we’ve got,” said coach Rocky Shore. “None of these guys can throw. None of them can catch. But they can all run like scalded rats when someone’s chasing them.

“We lost pretty bad, but there was lots of positive stuff we can build on,” Shore said. “All our players showed up sober. Mostly. Our goal this week is to get ‘em to cut down on the drinking and smoking so they can run more than five yards without throwing up.”

University officials remained upbeat despite the loss.

“Logowear sales are through the roof,” Graysby said. “With that, plus the alcohol sales, plus the Bottoms Up Distillery sponsorship, we’ll be able to afford a domed stadium in no time.”

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Underwater Golf Comes To Blacktip Island

A groundskeeper prepares the first tee at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort’s new underwater gold course for Friday’s grand opening.

A groundskeeper prepares the first tee at Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort’s new underwater golf course for Friday’s grand opening.

Blacktip Island golfers will tee off underwater Friday when Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort opens its 18-hole underwater golf course, allowing scuba divers to tour the island’s reefs while golfing.

“A lot of our guests felt left out,” resort owner Sandy Bottoms said. “Scuba golf reaches out to a broader demographic eager for underwater activities and topside attractions.

“It’s the first of its kind in the Caribbean,” Bottoms said “There was a place over in China tried it last year, but their caddies kept drowning.”

“It’s like regular golf, really,” course designer Rocky Shore said, “Except the course hazards are hungry barracuda, coral heads and jellyfish.”

“Another challenge is mantis shrimp claiming the holes,” Shore said. “We shoo them out, but they scuttle right back. Then one claw snap and BAM! your ball’s in a hundred pieces.”

Resort guests had mixed reactions to the new activity.

“I like to dive, and my wife likes to golf,” visitor Buddy Brunnez said. “Now we can dive and golf together. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. For either of us.”

Non-golfing divers complain the course is laid out across a dozen of the island’s most popular dive sites.

“They’re dropping folks into an incredibly fragile ecosystem to flail around with clubs,” Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens said. “We’ve already seen scolfers blasting out of coral heads with pitching wedges and whacking balls at stingrays.

“And what of the habitat destroyed creating this atrocity?” Haven said.

Bottoms was quick to allay environmental concerns.

“We chose sandy areas for each hole,” Bottoms said. “There was no need to landscape. Well, not too much, anyway. And our course rule is you add a stroke to your score every time you damage coral.”

For island dive professionals, safety is a bigger concern.

“You can yell, ‘fore’ all you want down there, but no one’ll hear you,” said divemaster Marina DeLow. “I had two divers get plunked today. And playing 18 holes, they’re gonna have yahoos blowing their no-decompression limits left and right.”

“We put all these holes in 20 feet of water or less,” Bottoms said. “Getting bent shouldn’t be an issue. Unless you’re a bad golfer. Or get a hole with a mantis shrimp in it.”

Bottoms also plans to build a knee-deep miniature golf course for non-divers and children too young to be certified.

“There’ll be an underwater shopping mall, too,” Bottoms said. “It’ll be tasteful, though, really spruce up the reef.”

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