Nautical News: For the week of January 29, 2017



Safe Harbor Marinas announced that it has acquired Brewer Yacht Yards and Marinas. Brewer Marinas are located throughout New England and New York including locations north and south of Boston in Plymouth and Salem. Safe Harbor Marinas is also the current owner of Marina Bay in Quincy. The acquisition of Brewer Yacht Yards and Marinas makes Safe Harbor Marinas the largest owner and operator of marinas in the world with 63 properties and 30,000 boating customers.




The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown reported that two North Atlantic right whales were spotted in Cape Cod Bay, five miles south of Provincetown Harbor. Two days day later, after that sighting, the crew aboard the center’s research vessel Shearwater spotted another five right whales in the same area. This was the first report of the whales returning to their feeding grounds. The whales come to the bay every winter due to the high concentrations of microscopic zooplankton there, which is a food source for the whales. Mariners are now urged to use caution transiting this area. The whales, and possibly their calves, are difficult to see while they are feeding just below the surface.




The Coast Guard rescued an overturned kayaker in Maine’s frigid 40 degree waters at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. The Coast Guard learned of the overturned kayak from a good Samaritan who saw the kayak from land. One of the crew on the rescue boat said when they pulled up to the overturned kayak, the person was underneath the kayak. All they could see was legs sticking out from under it. Luckily, the kayaker was able to breathe from a pocket of air from where he was sitting. The crew pulled the 35-year-old man out from under the kayak and treated him for hypothermia and shock. He was not wearing a life jacket and they used scissors to cut off his cold wet clothing and wrapped him in blankets. He was quickly transported to a pier where EMTs were waiting. The Coast Guard said anyone paddling this time of year in the ocean or bay must wear a lifejacket and should wear a wet or dry suit. Also recommended is to carry a portable VHF marine radio to call for help and a personal locator beacon. It would also be a good idea to paddle with others.




The price of lobsters is going up. There is less supply because of the bad weather in Canada which has prevented many Canadian lobstermen from fishing. Also the demand is great because of the Chinese New Year this weekend. China’s demand for American lobster has surged in the past several years. In 2016, for the third straight year, the United States exported more than 12 million pounds of lobster. According to industry leaders, China’s demand will continue to grow as they build infrastructure to meet more demand.




And salmon prices have reached historic highs due to an outbreak of sea lice in Norway’s fish farms, which are the largest suppliers of farmed salmon in the world. In Norway and Scotland, Salmon prices climbed by 50 percent in 2016 due to the sea lice which nibble on the fish’s blood and tissue. In addition to the sea lice problem in Norwegian fish farms, a deadly algae bloom in Chile, the second-largest farmed salmon supplier worldwide, has also affected the supply. As for the news reports of wild Alaskan salmon containing tape worms, scientists claim cooking or freezing the fish kills the parasites. Frozen or cooked Alaskan wild caught salmon is perfectly safe while farm raised salmon, like most farm raised fish, is a problem.




A new UCLA and Loyola Marymount University study done over the last four years examined the DNA of fish sold at 26 Los Angeles restaurants. The researchers also tested fish sold at high-end grocery stores over the course of one year. Half of the fish examined was found to be mislabeled. Yellowfin tuna, red snapper, halibut, and yellowtail were all mislabeled. Only bluefin tuna was found to be exactly as advertised, while salmon was mislabeled about 10% of the time. The researchers said that the mislabeling could have been accidental in some cases, but suspect the mislabeling was intentional at some point in the supply chain. Starting this month, under the Trump administration, imported seafood that is at risk of fraud, will be tracked from its point of origin to the U.S. border.




Yesterday marked the 37th anniversary of the collision between the 180 foot Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the 600 foot tanker SS Capricon. The Cutter Blackthorn capsized and sank January 28th, 1980 shortly after the collision near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida. Twenty three of the Blackthorn’s fifty crew members were killed in what is considered the Coast Guard’s worst peacetime disaster. A memorial inscribed with the names of the crew members who perished now stands two miles north of the collision site at the Blackthorn Memorial Park in Saint Petersburg, Florida. A memorial service was held there yesterday. The cutter was raised for the investigation, but ultimately was scuttled in the Gulf of Mexico after the investigation was complete. She currently serves as an artificial reef for recreational diving and fishing.




And last on today’s nautical news, a mako shark named Hell’s Bay set a new record swimming over 13,000 miles in under two years. Hell’s Bay was first tagged in May 2015 off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. In the beginning, he traveled north to Nova Scotia and then made a return trip near the original tagging site. After spending some time around the mid-Atlantic, the satellite tag then tracked him in Bermuda and again returning to Maryland. Followers of Hell’s Bay said he was like the Energizer bunny – he kept going and going and going. The shark’s tag is still active and his movements can be tracked on a website. By the way he is named Hell’s Bay after a Florida boat company that sponsored his tagging.


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