Nautical News: For the week of February 9, 2014

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PARAGLIDER FALLS INTO MERRIMACK RIVER

Coast Guard Station Merrimack River on Boston’s North Shore received a report from a good Samaritan that a paraglider had crashed into the water off the coast of Plum Island. A Coast Guard 47 foot motor lifeboat from Station Merrimack River was immediately launched, found the man unconscious, and pulled him from the water. He was transported to a waiting ambulance. The Newburyport Police Department has reported that the man died from injuries sustained from the fall and that he never regained consciousness. His name was not released pending notification of his family, but he was described as a 49 year old Rhode Island man. Witnesses said he crashed into the water about 50 yards from shore. Two of the man’s friends attempted to go into the water to save him, but retreated because of the freezing cold conditions. They had to be treated for exposure at the scene and were released. The water temperature was 36 degrees and the air temperature was 28 degrees. You only have three or four minutes in cold water like that before you succumb to hypothermia.

 

DISTRIBUTION OF FISHING DISASTER FUNDS DEBATED

Although Congress has approved a million dollars in disaster funds to be distributed to northeast commercial fishermen, not a penny has been received by any fishermen. Chaterboat captains complain they have suffered plenty of harm from all the government’s failed regulation policies, but they will not receive any of this money because the government classifies them as recreational fishermen even though fishing is their livelihood. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren confirmed that the process for developing the distribution formula remains a work in progress. If and when the money is distributed, it will be shared by commercial ground fishermen in the six New England states, as well as commercial ground fishermen in New York and New Jersey.

 

MAN CLAIMS HE SURVIVED 14 MONTHS ADRIFT IN PACIFIC

An official with el Salvadore’s embassy said the 37 year old Salvadoran man who claimed he spent 14 months drifting across the Pacific Ocean before making landfall in the Marshall Islands is too weak to travel. He was released from the hospital, but will remain in a hotel on the island for a while. His health was described as simply “too frail” for him to make another journey. He can’t stand on his feet without assistance and is suffering from pain in his kidneys. Although some question his story about catching birds and fish with his bare hands and drinking turtle blood and urine when he had no water, doctors said everything he said was quite possible. He told officials he left Mexico in late 2012 with a 24 year old friend for a day of shark fishing. They got caught in a bad storm that threw them off course and disabled their small boat’s motor. The younger man died about 4 months into their ordeal, and his body was tossed overboard. Finally, 14 months later, the boat washed up ashore on the Marshall Islands, in between Hawaii and the Philippines.

 

LOTTERY FOR “OLD IRONSIDES” CRUISE IN PROGRESS

If you want to ride aboard the USS Constitution on its annual Fourth of July turn around cruise in Boston Harbor, the official lottery for a seat on the cruise is now open. One hundred and fifty people will be selected for a seat in this year’s 4.5 mile voyage. Each lottery winner will be allowed to bring one guest between the ages of 8 and 70 years old. Everyone must be able to walk and climb aboard the boat in all weather conditions. Entries must be made by completing the entry form on Constitution’s official website and returning it by e-mail or standard mail. All lottery entries must be received by noon on April 15, with the drawing scheduled for April 30th. Lottery entries are limited to one per household, and winners will be notified by e-mail and standard mail. The next turn around cruise won’t be until 2018, because the U.S. navy’s oldest commissioned floating warship will undergo restorations and repairs.

 

LOT MORE FISH IN MIDDLE OF OCEAN

Researchers and marine biologists are now claiming that the biomass of fish in the middle of the ocean could be at least 10 times higher than previously thought. The greater number of fish was based on acoustic observations taken from a research vessel circumnavigating the world. In the past, when trawlers dragged nets to count the fish, it was thought that once you got into the deepest parts of the ocean, 600 – 3000 feet deep, the ocean was barren of fish. Now, using acoustic instruments, researchers are learning that there are plenty of fish in what was previously called ocean deserts. The acoustic instruments showed that the fish came up at night to the upper layers of the ocean to feed, and then went back down during the day in order to avoid being detected by their predators. The new study is published in the Nature Communications journal.

 

IRANIAN WARSHIPS HEAD FOR U.S.

Boaters and fishermen might be in for a surprise this Spring if they see Iranian warships off the U.S. east coast. A senior Iranian naval commander, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, told the Obama administration that Iranian warships are heading for the U.S. across the Atlantic Ocean. The fleet includes a destroyer and a helicopter carrier. This is the first time in history that Iranian warships will be approaching the U.S. coast.

 

PHOTOS OF WHALES’ TAILS WANTED

Markings on a whale’s tail or fluke are the equivalent of human fingerprints. No two are alike. Humpback whales are identified by the black and white patterns on the underside of their tails. Photographs have allowed researchers to identify the whales and to monitor their movements, health, and behavior. When humpbacks dive, they often raise their tails above the water’s surface and provide the perfect opportunity to be photographed. Now, the federal government is asking boaters who come across whales out on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, to help track the movements of the whales. Photographs of whales will be matched with other photographs so that the whale’s migration patterns can be followed. Of course, all federal regulations apply, including not approaching within 100 yards of the whales. Vessels should not approach whales head on, should not surround whales, or separate mothers and calves or other whales traveling together. The ideal picture is taken at the moment when the whale has lifted its tail heading away from you. For details on how and where to submit your photos, go to caribtails.org.

 

BOATS COLLIDE AGAIN IN WHALE WARS

Whale wars between the Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd conservationists reached a fever pitch this past week after the Japanese whaling vessel collided with the Sea Shepherd’s boat the “Bob Barker.” No injuries were reported, but both boats sustained minor damage. Now, both parties are blaming the other for causing the collision. The Japanese claim they are killing the whales in the name of research. The Sea Shepherders claim the whale meat is being sold in Japanese markets and furthermore, the Japanese are killing the whales in what is supposed to be a whale sanctuary. The Sea Shepherd’s boat Bob Barker is named for the “The Price is Right” game show host who has donated millions of dollars to stop the Japanese whale hunt. Before the collision, the Japanese ship, the Yushin Maru, tried for hours to disable the Bob Barker by dragging steel cables in front of the ship, hoping to damage the Bob Barker’s propellers. It was during one of these attempts that the Japanese ship collided with the Bob Barker, which flies the Australian flag.

 

CHINESE SEAFOOD EXPORTS PASS 20 BILLION DOLLARS

Chinese officials are ecstatic that their seafood exports broke the 20 billion dollar mark in 2013 for the first time. This means China keeps its place as the world’s top exporter of seafood. Business people in the global export markets said that China is cornering the markets in emerging economies like Southeast Asia and Africa, while the U.S. government’s tough restrictions prevent American fishermen from competing. China’s per capita consumption of seafood is growing by an average 10 percent annually according to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

 

FISH ON WALL SCARES BURGLAR

And last on today’s nautical news, police said a plastic novelty fish singing Al Green’s ‘Take Me to the River’ thwarted a robbery at a bait and tackle shop. Police said the intruder kicked in the door to the shop, but was scared off when a motion activated Big Mouth Billy Bass broke into song. Money that had been left in ‘a very visible spot’ was incredibly left untouched. Police said the thrashing bass was better than a burglar alarm. There were plenty of things to take, but nothing was missing, but there was $700 in damage to the door. The singing fish, designed to look like a trophy catch, was extremely popular about 10 years ago.

 

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