Tag Archives: New Year’s fireworks

Mutant Sand Fleas Nip Blacktip Island’s New Year’s Fireworks

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An uptick in the population of a previously-unknown variety of sand fleas has forced organizers to cancel Monday’s New Year’s Ever fireworks displays on Blacktip Island. (Blacktip Times file photo)

Blacktip Island’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display, scheduled for Monday night, has been canceled due to an unprecedented sand flea infestation on the small Caribbean island, event organizers said.

“The sand fleas and no-see-ums are so bad right now, you can’t go outside anytime after dark,” Rosie Blenny said. “Go to any island resort and all you’ll see are welted-up tourists. The clinic’s out of any kind of cortisone.

“Usually the fleas are bad at dusk, then go away once it’s full dark, but these suckers are different,” Blenny said. “We tried setting up the mortars last night and the crew was eaten alive in five minutes. There’s no way we can set up fireworks in these conditions, much less set them off.”

Experts say the pests are a genetically-modified strain of sand fleas.

“Tests we’ve run on collected subjects show a slightly-altered DNA,” island public health chief Herring Frye said. “Whether that alteration is natural or human-induces has yet to be determined.

“At first we thought the mutation was due to cyanide gas from all the decaying sargassum seaweed washed up in the beaches,” Frye said. “Sand fleas love that sargassum, and we’ve been up to our knees in it lately. But new data suggests the change is more likely from some sort of genetics experiment gone wrong.”

Island entomologists downplayed that possibility.

“We run genetics experiments on insects and crustaceans all the time, sure,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip biology chair Goby Graysby. “But our labs are secure and nothing, I mean nothing, escapes them. Lately, anyway. And James Conlee’s not allowed within 100 yards of the TU-B campus.”

Other island residents suspected a more sinister source.

“A few homeowners have complained for years about the noise from the fireworks,” resident Lucille Ray said. “Not to mention any names, we’ve all overheard someone with the initials Cyrus DeCamp talking about how nice it’d be if something made it impossible to set off New Year’s fireworks.

“He has the know-how, And he’s just crazy enough to do it,” Ray said. “People’ve called him the New Year’s Grinch before now. My bet is he kicked his game up a notch.”

DeCamp could not be reached for comment, all phone calls to him were unanswered and reporters’ visits to his house were met with a hail of thrown rocks.

In place of a fireworks show, island residents and guests are making alternate plans.

“The Sand Spit’s organized a midnight flashlight war inside the bar,” bartender Cori Anders said. “And down at the Ballyhoo, it sounds like people are going to just drink until they see fireworks in their heads.”

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Hungry Land Crabs Ruin Blacktip Island New Year’s Festivities

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A land crab explodes at Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort’s outdoor bar Sunday evening. The crabs ruined the Blacktip Island New Year’s fireworks extravaganza when they ate the Caribbean island’s store of pyrotechnics. (photo courtesy of Marina DeLow)

Blacktip Island residents and visitors celebrated New Year’s Eve without a firework display Sunday night after it was discovered land crabs had destroyed the stored pyrotechnics days earlier, officials said.

“We went to get the mortars and launch tubes and whatnot from the shed and found nothing but shredded cardboard tubes,” Blacktip Island Commission for the Holidays chair Jay Valve said. “All the powder inside the tubes was gone.

“We thought it was maybe kids, but kids’d have just shot everything off, not destroyed them,” Valve said. “Some people blamed PETA, thinking they’d done it to protect household pets. Turns out, it was stranger than that.”

Officials did not discover the true culprit until later that night.

“We were still scratching our heads about it, then James Conlee flicked a cigarette butt at a crab on the bar deck and, BOOM!, red and blue starbursts shot everywhere,” BICH safety officer Marlin Bleu said.

“It was like a box of Roman candles exploded,” Bleu said. “Knocked a half-dozen guests off their bar stools. I’m not sure they realized it, though.”

Scientists say negative wildlife interactions with the island’s human residents is rare, but not unheard of.

“We’ve had iguanas knock out power island-wide,” Tiperon University-Blacktip wildlife management professor Christina Mojarra said. “We’ve had the mersquatch pee in all the cisterns. But we’ve never seen anything like this.

“Land crabs will eat anything – rotted food, soap, ant bait – all without any ill effects,” Mojarra said. “I wouldn’t have thought they would find explosives tasty, but if they can eat fertilizer, I guess anything’s possible.”

Authorities have warned residents to keep open flames away from the island’s crabs until the explosives can metabolize out of them.

“There’s no telling how long it’ll take before the crabs are non-explosive,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “We’re working with biologists to estimate a safety window, but it’s all trial-and-error guesswork at this point.

“You can tell which crabs ate fireworks because their shells kind of glow at night,” Marquette said. “Like the northern lights, but with legs and claws. We hope the colors will fade as the explosives wear off.”

Many residents put a positive spin on the events.

“The crabs may have been a New Year’s Grinch, but we had a good time anyway,” resident Ginger Bass said. “The kiddos chased the smaller crabs around with sparklers to set them off. Some shrubbery around the resort got scorched, but it created a festive mood. And little Shelly Bottoms’ eyebrows should grow back just fine.”

Others were happy crabs had eaten explosives.

“Gives them a nice flavor,” resident Dermott Bottoms said. “Gotta steam them slow, and handle the meat gentle, but it makes a fine extra-spicy crabmeat salad. Gonna miss them when they’re gone.”

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