Nautical News: For the week of April 22nd, 2012

COAST GUARD CALLS OFF SEARCH FOR 3 YEAR OLD GIRL

Coast Guard officials have called off their search for a 3 year old Gloucester girl who went missing on a Rockport beach, but local and state police, divers, and harbormasters continue to search. The girl was last scene standing on a footbridge over the water with her mother and 4 year old sister and the family dog. The mother said she turned her back on the children for a minute or two to retrieve a ball. It is believed the girl fell into the water and got caught in a very strong undertow. Helicopters and boats searched, but sea conditions were described as rough with the 15 to 20 mph winds. Anyone with information regarding the missing girl is asked to call 911 or the Coast Guard command center in Boston.


RIGHT WHALES SWIMMING CLOSE TO SHORE IN SCITUATE & HULL

Three North Atlantic right whales were reported swimming off Scituate and Nantasket Beach over the Patriots Day weekend, putting on a show with their tails splashing the water. Officials were not sure if the whales seen off Scituate were the same animals that were later observed off Nantasket Beach. Scientists said that when three or more whales are seen in an area, it usually means they are feeding and strict speed limits for all boats go into effect. Earlier this month, NOAA introduced an app for iPads and smart phones called Whale Alert that tracks the location of right whales around Boston, so it didn’t take long before boaters and jet skiers appeared off the beach looking for the whales.


NOAA ADMITS MISTAKE IN HADDOCK DATA

And speaking of NOAA, NOAA just announced that there was a mistake in their data that called for limiting the recreational quota for haddock. At first they reported that recreational fishermen exceeded their quota for Gulf of Maine haddock. However, new data released by NOAA showed that the recreational fishery did not exceed its quota for fishing year 2010. Therefore, possession limits along with an increase in the minimum size for haddock caught in the Gulf of Maine by recreational anglers aboard private or charter/party vessels are no longer needed.


PLANS TO CLOSE NOAA FISHERIES BUILDING IN GLOUCESTER

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2013 spending plan calls for closing the Northeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Gloucester. If that plan is approved, most of the fisheries management, administration, and law enforcement personnel in Gloucester would move to NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Lawmakers from Massachusetts vowed a fight to keep NOAA’s NMFS office in Gloucester opened. They claim that the Gloucester building was privately developed and built to specs provided by the General Services Administration, which is already under scrutiny for the way it handles taxpayers’ money.


TWO MEN DIE AFTER CRUISE SHIP IGNORES THEIR DISTRESS CALL

Passengers aboard the Carnival cruise ship Star Princess reported that the captain of the ship ignored a small boat with three young men on board, adrift and in distress. The passengers said they notified the ship’s crew about the small boat, and that one person was standing up waving a piece of cloth high over his head. They expected the cruise ship to stop, but it never did. The passengers later read in a newspaper that two of the three persons on board that small boat had died. The third person who survived more than 28 days adrift at sea confirmed that the cruise ship indeed passed them by. Initial reports supposedly obtained from the captain’s log book revealed the captain had made contact with the small boat and was told to change course to avoid the men’s fishing nets, and that the man waving the cloth was thanking him for the maneuver. Now, the latest statement released by Carnival Cruise Lines says concerns raised by the passengers were never passed on to the captain or to the officer of the watch. Carnival Cruise Lines is the same company that owns the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that recently sank off the coast of Italy.


FBI INVESTIGATING MURDER OF 2 COAST GUARDSMEN

Very little information has been released since two Coast Guard men were shot and killed last week at a Coast Guard communications station on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The FBI has assumed the lead role in the investigation and they are releasing few details other than assurances that the adjacent community to the base is not in danger and that there is no indication the homicides were related to terrorism.


1812 BICENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION BEGINS

A parade of naval vessels and square-rigged tall ships including the Coast Guard’s Eagle made their way up the Mississippi River to New Orleans to kick off the nation’s bicentennial commemoration of the U.S. victory in the War of 1812. Often called the second War of Independence, the War of 1812 is best known because much of Washington, including the White House, was burned by the British before the United States prevailed. From New Orleans, the parade of ships and celebration will move to Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore, New York, New London, Connecticut, and to Boston the week of July 4th. Ironically, the celebration started in New Orleans, the site of the war’s final battle in 1815.


SEAWEED FARM STARTED IN CAPE COD’S WAQUOIT BAY

Although seaweed farming is virtually unknown in the United States, Charles Yarish, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut is thinking outside of the box. He is growing sea weed in Cape Cod’s Waquoit Bay, teaming up with an oyster farmer. Yarish claims the sea weed will be beneficial for two reasons. First, it will absorb lots of nitrogen from the water. Too much nitrogen, supplied by residential septic systems, is a major problem on the Cape. The other reason for farming seaweed is that the seaweed can be harvested for food. It turns out seaweed has proven to be very healthy and very popular in Asia.


COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS AGAINST SALE OF E15 ETHANOL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments this past week against the sale of E15 or 15 percent ethanol blended gasoline. We are now awaiting their decision. The National Marine Manufacturers Association was a party in the legal challenge. Also, in another development, officials from car manufacturers Toyota and Lexus have said they will soon include in their owners manuals instructions not to use E15 because their vehicles are not designed to operate on it.


20 FOOT SHARK WEIGHING 2000 POUNDS CAUGHT

Off the coast of Mexico, commercial fishermen in a 22 foot boat caught a great white shark nearly 20 feet long and weighing 2,000 pounds. Because the fish was too big to be put in the boat, the fishermen dragged the shark in the water two miles back to shore. Scientists said if the fish measured 19.8 feet in length, it would be one of the longest great whites ever recorded.


KAYAKER DROWNS AFTER SWAN ATTACK

And last on today’s nautical news, kayakers and canoeists beware of swans. A 37 year old Illinois man in his kayak drowned after a swan unexpectedly attacked him and overturned the kayak. The swan continued the attack while the man struggled to swim ashore. The man’s family said he was a very good swimmer, but feel because he was fully clothed and wearing heavy boots, it was easy for the swan to drown him. Police said the swan attacked after the kayak got too close to the swan’s nest.


About John Shea