Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Thursday, January 4, 2007

Ok I doubt it, but whatever. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine. There are some pretty scary things that are considered delicacies in Japanese cuisine. Then again, there's some pretty scary things in pretty much any ethnic cuisine. (Haggis anyone? how about some black pudding? Tripe? bleah to all of them!) The thing about shark fin soup is that they only use the cartilage of certain fins. The rest of the shark is bycatch. There are some pretty sick videos available on the net that show sharks being finned (ie their fins cut off) while they're still alive, and then chucked back overboard to die slowly and painfully. Add to that the bycatch when trawling for sharks includes dolphins, rays, mantas and just about everything but Jimmy Hoffa and it's all cast aside to get just the shark's fins.

If you're going to catch it, eat it. Eat it all. I have no problem with people hunting or fishing if it's going to become their food, or traded for food or whatever (sustenance fishing/hunting and I don't think you need a semi- or full-automatic rifle to do it). I don't subscribe to the "meat is murder" philosophy and I like my steak medium rare. I've been to a slaughterhouse before, when I was a teenaged line-cook who wasn't showing enough respect for what I was cooking. it was jarring but it didn't put me off meat.

Shark fin soup gets on my tits though. A couple days ago someone was searching around on Amazon and found a store that sold Shark Fin Soup. Wetpixel posted it up with directions on what to do to pressure Amazon to take it down. Divester picked up the story and ran with it, as did a few other scuba diving related websites and by the end of the day, it was offline. Congrats to the mob mentality of the internet! I thought I was seeing the old RSS feeds today when I clicked over to Divester and saw the same thing... but not! There's another store on Amazon selling a different brand of Shark Fin Soup, so the whole thing is starting up again. I wonder how long this one will take, what with the combined readership of Divester, Wetpixel and all the blogs that have linked to them.

I also wonder if Amazon will go through it's own stores looking for other stores carrying it and remove them as well, or will it be up to the eagle-eyed surfers to find it and direct a campaign against it.

Thursday, January 4, 2007 10:08:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [3] | Food | Links | Underwater#
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Normally SCUBA diving is a non-competetive sport. This is a different kind of contest.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 8:09:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Links | Underwater#
Monday, July 10, 2006
"Hello, Children!"
'Hello, Chef!'
"What kind of trouble are you little maniacs getting into today?'
'Chef, we heard about this fish called a Spotted Drum and were wondering what you knew about them...'
"Well, the spotted drum is born with a looooong fin and a tiny body. As they grow up, the body grows into the fin! This means that when the drum is a juvenile (that's a baby to you and me) and an intermediate-phase (that's like a teenager) they have these long graceful fins that undulate back and forth real elegant-like!"
"They're not uncommon in the Caribbean, but it also takes a pretty good eye to find them, because the juveniles can have a body the size of your fingernail!"
"The intermediate ones can get to be about the size of a goldfish like you might have in your classroom and the adults grow to be about 6" long or so at the most."
'Chef, you're the coolest... except for that whole scientology thing, you whacko!'

More pics on Flickr from last weekend. Sunday me, A and the FNG did a shore dive at Eden Rock, and then holiday monday we went out in the afternoon with Danny of Off the Wall Divers. Most of the pictures from Sunday and Monday didn't turn out too well. Thursday night we did a night dive at Turtle Reef with Seb and then finished up with another dive Saturday afternoon from the dock in front of Sunset House and I even managed to find the Mermaid, AND get us back to the dock without peeking!

That reminds me that my gear is still outside and needs to be taken care of...
Monday, July 10, 2006 6:16:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
Sunday, June 25, 2006

Getting up early on a Sunday morning is usually blasphemy. This morning, however, I'm up and juiced and ready to go on a snipe hunt. For the past week or so, there's been fairly regular sitings of a Manta Ray around Spanish Anchor in West Bay, Grand Cayman.

This is what it takes to get me up early on a weekend. My bags are packed, my batteries are charged and I've managed to convince two other intrepid souls Fede from Legendz and Jason the FNG to come out and play this morning, too. Too bad I have to dive table profiles because my dive computer is dead.

I'm off to Public Beach in a few minutes to meet up with Cayman Diving School and go check it out and see if we can find it.

Keep your fins crossed, and if I get any pictures (even blurry ones of it's ass as it's swimming away) I'll post em up here this afternoon.

Update 8:55am : Well we got to the beach and the swiim platform was red. No, not blood, but worse: transmission fluid. Dive aborted, I'm going to Ernesto's to watch the Ecuador-England game instead. :(

Sunday, June 25, 2006 5:01:39 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
Friday, January 27, 2006
Last Monday, which was a holiday here in the Cayman Islands, I went out with Off The Wall divers for a little 2-tank dive in the afternoon. It was a bit windy and bumpy, but it all went fine. We scooted up around the corner and did a deep dive at Hepp's Wall out in front of the Turtle Farm. As we were cruising along around 80 feet or so, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see this whitish stingray-lookin thing swimming just above the reef.

It took me a minute to recognize it but the 'scalloped' leading edge, which looked like uncooked pizza dough, piqued something in my memory. I had SEEN one of these things before, years ago when I worked at Soto's. I had been doing a dive on the west side, and the videographer, Elspeth, called me back down rather frantically to see something, so I sunk down there and saw this weird looking ray. I aimed my camera at it, tripped the shutter and... the battery died. D'OH!

This time, I was ready. I took a few shots of him swimming around, and then got this shot as he landed on a ledge of coral. Shortly after this shot, he fluttered is fins to push him further into the reef and out of the light, and did a good job of stirring up the bottom making it difficult to take pictures.

When I got home, I pulled out Paul Humann's Reef Fish book and flipped to the section on rays. I found a picture that looked just like this one, and read/remembered then that it was called a torpedo ray.

There isn't a lot known about Torpedo Rays, they have been known to deliver an electric shock as a defense mechanism, and they're rarely spotted. The field guide said they were rare in the northeastern Caribbean, and not known/spotted elsewhere. Ironically the photo he had of the Torpedo Ray in his book was taken here in Grand Cayman, back in the day by Wayne Hasson, who's the owner of the Aggressor Fleet.

Unlike any other blurbs/writeups in the book, this one had a note attached to it that the author is very interested in finding out more about these guys and their sightings and whatnot, so after I finish moving this weekend and unpack some books, I'll see if there's any contact info in the back of the book.
Friday, January 27, 2006 7:33:38 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rodale's Scuba Diving has announced the winners of the 2005 Photo Contest, and the photos over there are just absolutely stunning. Of course, they're the top 10-15 pictures out of (probably) tens of thousands of photos, but nonetheless, these are the absolute cream of the crop. I linked over to one of the Honorable Mentions, well, because Octopi are my faaaavorite underwater creatures (if you've ever been around me on a dive boat, you'll already know that) :)

Sunday, July 10, 2005 7:40:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Pictures | Underwater#
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