Tag Archives: Reef

Radiation Closes Blacktip Island Dive Site

Reactor Reef was one of Blacktip’s most popular night dive spots before the Caribbean island’s authorities closed the site.

Reactor Reef was one of Blacktip’s most popular night dive spots before the Caribbean island’s authorities closed the site.

Scuba diving on Blacktip Island’s Reactor Reef was banned Thursday after researchers discovered one of the coral heads there is an ancient meteorite emitting significant levels of radiation.

“We’ve always known the fish around that reef were odd – three eyes, two heads sorts of stuff,” marine parks chief Val Schrader said. “We named it as a joke. Turns out to be case of truth said in jest.”

Scientists from Tiperon University-Blacktip discovered the radiation while doing unrelated research at the dive site.

“We were tagging lionfish at the site with these new radium-226 trackers,” said TU-B professor Ernesto Mojarra. “Mild radiation, you understand. When we flipped on the Geiger counter to test the tags, wham-bam! the needle just pegged out.”

Samples date the meteor to approximately 65 million years ago, about the same time as the Cretaceous-Paleogene meteor strike in the western Caribbean that caused the dinosaur extinction.

“There’s an excellent chance this is a remnant of that extinction event,” Mojarra said.

Vacationing scuba divers, meanwhile, are upset the island’s most popular night dive site is closed indefinitely.

“It was wonderful diving there, what with the fish lighting up the reef,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort guest Suzy Souccup said. “And the water was so warm you never needed a wetsuit.”

Local authorities reassured island residents the meteorite poses no threat to those not diving around it.

“Closing the site’s just a safety precaution. Folks have been diving there for years with no ill effects,” Department of Public Health spokesman Ferris Skerritt said. “Now, divemasters who lead dives there a lot are a sickly bunch, but who’s to say that’s radiation sickness and not just your bog-standard hangover.”

One local business owner is taking advantage of the meteorite’s proximity to his property.

“We’re gonna power the resort with that thing,” Eagle Ray Cove’s Rich Skerritt said. “It’s here and we can’t get rid of it, so we might as well use it. Lemons-to-lemonade, even if it does make your eyebrows fall out.

“With it so close offshore, I’ll get a couple of divemasters to run cables out and, voila, we have free electricity.”

NAUI, SSI and YMCA have advised recreational divers to avoid Blacktip Island’s west coast.

PADI announced it is adding ‘Meteorite Diver’ and ‘Radiation First Responder’ to its course offerings.

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Blacktip’s Dirt Roads To Be Striped For Safety

Public Works crews have begun painting lane lines on both Blacktip Island’s unpaved roads.

Public Works crews have begun painting lane lines on both the Caribbean island’s unpaved roads.

In a controversial move that has angered many island residents, the Tiperon Islands Public Works Department has begun painting center lines on both the Caribbean island’s roads.

“This is a matter of public safety,” Public Works director Dusty Rhodes said. “We have what, maybe 24 miles of road on Blacktip? Just because they’re not paved doesn’t mean they don’t need stripes.”

Island residents disagreed.

“It’s a waste of time and money,” long-time resident Payne Hanover said. “There’s, what, a dozen cars on the island? They’ve managed to dodge each other so far without center stripes.

“And these are dirt roads. Drive over the paint a couple times, they’ll be gone. Hell, a good, heavy rain’ll wash them away. What happens to public safety then?”

Local authorities could not immediately verify the hazard posed by the island’s current, stripeless roads.

“Vehicles do cross the center of the road all the time,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Don’t know that causes many accidents, though. Unless they cross the road and keep going.

“Most auto accidents on Blacktip are single-vehicle affairs, with the vehicles ending up in the sea grapes or the booby ponds.”

Despite the controversy, some locals support the plan.

“Not striping these roadways resigns our island to Third-World status,” said Stoney MacAdam, owner of MacAdam Paving. “Blacktip Island’s as much a part of the 21st Century as any place else. Do the roads have center lines in your country? Then why shouldn’t the roads here have center lines?”

“It’s Colonialism, pure and simple,” Public Works’ Rhodes said. “Expats move here and want to keep this island a backwater. Well too bad. This striping project’s already creating local jobs. Will the rain wash the stripes away? Sure. And when it does, we have the workforce in place to repaint them. No one complains about us replacing downed power lines after a hurricane do they?”

Other residents voiced concern about the impact the project will have on the island’s fragile environment.

“That paint’s highly toxic. And this is the rainy season,” said Blacktip Audubon Society president Nelson Seagroves. “That means potentially repainting the roads every day. That’s a boatload of paint killing our reefs and marine parks. Killing our birds. Contaminating our water supply.”

“A project this size, you have to expect a few loses,” Rhodes countered. “These folks are a bunch of nervous Nellies who don’t know what’s good for them. They’ll thank us soon enough.”

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Blacktip Islanders Catapult Culled Lionfish For Charity

Freshly-speared lionfish ready to be catapulted into Blacktip Island’s community garden.

Freshly-speared lionfish ready to be catapulted into Blacktip Island’s community garden.

As part of the fight against invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish devastating Caribbean reefs, the Blacktip Island Agricultural Society will stage its inaugural Spring Fling Lionfish-Tossing Tournament Saturday, with proceeds going to the island’s chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

The event is part of broader lionfish control efforts throughout the Caribbean.

“Our reefs are under siege from lionfish,” event organizer Buddy Brunnez said. “It made sense to combine the cull with a Medieval siege engine-building contest. Community groups raise money for their team, hand-craft a catapult from supplies found on-island, then launch their catch into the community vegetable garden.”

Team members on scuba will have one hour to spear as many lionfish as possible. They will then report to the garden site for weigh-in, counting and flinging.

“It’s absolute genius,” Eagle Ray Cove general manager Mickey Smarr said. “We’re culling so many the damn things, we’re up to our ears in lionfish. We’re sick of eating them. So are the tourists. The restaurants are glutted. Using them for fertilizer is the perfect solution.”

“It’s spring, the time of rebirth and renewal,” Agriculture Society president Marcia Seagroves said. “These lionfish will bind us all, via the vegetables we eat, to that ancient cycle of life and death. We’ll plow them into pulp to make sure they’re fully integrated in that cycle.”

“Any pre-gunpowder era flinging device is acceptable,” Brunnez said. “Most teams are going with simple onager-style catapults. Trebuchets are the top of the line, for payload, accuracy and old-fashioned esthetics. But they take a bit of know-how to get right.”

“We had to scrap our trebuchet,” said Val Schrader, Sandy Bottoms Resort team captain. “It generated so much force the lionfish were pretty much vaporized when we released the counterweight. It was beautiful from a distance, but the folks manning the sling weren’t too happy.”

“We’ve built a bamboo ballista based on an image from the Bayeux Tapestry,” said Blacktip Haven team member and island SCA president Jessie Catahoula. “Going for accuracy on multiple shots instead of putting all our fish in one sling, so to speak.”

The contest is not without its hazards, however.

“We’re making doubly-sure we clear the garden area of spectators after little Jimmy Cottonwick got impaled during a trial fling yesterday,” Brunnez said. “He was pulling weeds and took three lionfish to the back and one to the thigh. They’re still picking spines out of him.”

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Pirate Festival Revelers Burn Supply Barge

The remains of Blacktip Island’s supply barge rests on shore of the Caribbean island.

The remains of Blacktip Island’s supply barge rests on shore of the Caribbean island.

Blacktip Island’s Pirate Festival celebrations turned ugly Wednesday when festival-goers accidentally burned the island’s only supply barge.

“One minute we’re drinking rum and shooting flare guns at each other,” resident Dermott Bottoms said. “The next, KABOOM!”

“Dermott did shoot a squib, didn’t quite clear that barge,” Bottoms’ friend Jesse Conlee said. “No idea they hadn’t offloaded all that gasoline.”

No one was injured in the blast.

“It does put us in a bind,” local businessman Rich Skerritt said. “That’s the only boat that hauls essential supplies like food, fuel and beer.”

The Tiperon Heritage Society, sponsors of the Pirate Festival, has mobilized a grassroots provisioning effort and is using the accident as a teaching opportunity.

“We’re demonstrating all the old crafts we used back before there was a supply barge,” Heritage Society president Doris Blenny said. “We’ve transformed the area around the wreckage into a hands-on teaching exhibit, showing folks how to braid rope, weave cloth and hijack passing ships.

“The Tiperons, and Blacktip in particular, have a rich history of piracy. We’re simply shifting the Festival’s emphasis from pretend-piracy to real-life piracy. This isn’t some ‘Captain Philips’ Hollywood show. No, no. This is authentic, parrot-on-your-shoulder stuff.

“There’s boats out as we speak, raiding relief convoys bound for Haiti,” Blenny said. “Sure, it’d be easier to just fly stuff in, but this lets us reconnect with our roots. And it’s way more fun.”

“We got the Youth Scouts involved,” Scout leader Samson Post said. “They’re fearless in their little sailboats. And with their cutlasses. They can get right up close to a supply ship without anyone getting too worried – they’re just kids dressed up like pirates, after all.

“They’re slated to make a raid tomorrow, give them the chance to earn merit badges in Sailing, Cannoneering, Cursing and Scallywagging.”

In related news, officials are asking for volunteer scuba divers to help recover any undamaged goods from the barge that may have sunk due to the explosion.

“There’s probably 50 cases of beer got blown all over the reef,” salvage coordinator Ger Latner said. “We’re hauling up lots of bottles. Problem is, after being in salt water, those bottle caps are all rusting off. We’re having to drink the beer quick as we can before it goes flat. We need volunteers for that, too.”

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Blacktip Island To Break Free From Base

Winter waves threaten to break Blacktip Island from its base

Winter waves threaten to break Blacktip Island from its base

Scientists Thursday confirmed Blacktip Island will soon break free of its deep-sea base following recent winter storms.

“A combination of ocean acidification and deep ocean waves have been gnawing away at the island for years,” Tiperon University at Blacktip marine geologist Ernesto Mojarra said. “This is soft limestone. It doesn’t hold up.

“The erosion’s most noticeable around the 100-foot depth. If you took a cross-section of the island all the way up from the sea floor, the exposed land would look like a lollipop on a needle-thin stick. It’s only a matter of time, a very short time, geologically speaking, before that sucker breaks off,” Mojarra said.

“What happens then is anyone’s guess. The island could sink, what, 6,000 feet straight down. Or, given that it’s porous limestone with lots of air pockets, it could very well float. There’s no precedent.”

Island residents have feared this prognosis for some time.

“The water level’s been rising for months, you know,” Doris Blenny said. “Now university tests proved it.

“We’re not a bunch of Chicken Littles yelling, ‘The sky is falling.’ Far from it. We’re yelling, ‘The island’s sinking.’ It’s different.”

Government plans to chain the island to its base proved impractical. Instead, authorities have stitched together a giant sail, to be raised on the cell tower at the island’s center, and are submerging a warehouse door to act as a rudder at the island’s northern tip.

Blenny and other residents are stuffing island sinkholes with Styrofoam and boat fenders to increase the island’s buoyancy.

And if the island sinks?

“We all have skiffs lashed to our roofs,” Blenny said. “We just climb up, cut ourselves free. I, myself, sleep in my skiff, machete in hand. Just in case.”

Meanwhile, island scuba operators have been taking advantage of the geological anomaly.

“Tourists ask all the time how deep you have to go to see under the island,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Now we can tell them. Ninety-three feet. Then we take them down and show them.”

“We’re selling Under-Island Diving specialty courses like crazy,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager Finn Kiick said. “This is the only place on Earth you can be certified to look at the bottom of an island. We charge accordingly, of course.”

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Blacktip Island Gets Artificial Reef

A model aircraft carrier used in the film “Tomcats of Fury” is one of the ships slated to be sunk as an artificial reef.

A model aircraft carrier used in the film “Tomcats of Fury” is one of the ships slated to be sunk as an artificial reef.

In keeping with the trend of sinking retired ships to create artificial reefs, model warships used in numerous Hollywood films will be sunk off Blacktip Island’s west coast this week to create the island’s first artificial reef.

“They’re small, sure, but there’s a lot of them,” Director of Tourism Val Schrader said. “It may not be as dramatic as the artificial reefs in, say, Florida or the Cayman Islands, where they used full-sized ships, but we’re tickled pink nonetheless. Some islands larger than us don’t have an artificial reef at all.”

The plan has drawn protests from veterans groups, environmental organizations and cinematic professionals.

“If these craft aren’t properly cleaned, they could wreak havoc on incredibly fragile reef systems,” Harry Pickett of the Pelagic Society said. “One drop of airplane glue can wipe out a 1,000-year-old coral head. And they’re talking about dropping dozens of these things out there.”

Minnie Bilder, head of the Screen Propmakers Guild, voiced concern as well.

“These vessels have had long, dignified careers,” Bilder said. “They’re stars. They deserve better than to be chucked off a dive boat by a bunch of Jacques Cousteau wannabes building an amusement park.”

Schrader countered both objections.

“These models have been cleaned according to the highest international standards,” she said. “And we’re not going to just toss them overboard to settle willy-nilly on the coral. They’ll be taken down individually, with full honors, and placed on the sand in a dignified manner.

“This is win-win-win. The wrecks will attract divers to the island’s resorts, and the underwater structures will provide homes for fish and other marine creatures. It’s a boon for the economy and the ecosystem, and also allows the movie studios to free up warehouse storage space.

“We’re especially excited at the prospect of these ships providing homes for juvenile Goliath grouper,” Schrader said.”

Dives done on the miniature wrecks will count toward NAUI and PADI Miniature Wreck Diving specialty certifications.

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