Nautical News: For the week of September 16, 2018



A 26 year old Revere man was attacked by a shark in Wellfleet on the Cape Cod National Seashore. It happened around noon yesterday while he was on a boogie board surfing with a friend. It was the friend who dragged the victim ashore. CPR was performed on the beach, but he was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. This was the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936, and the second shark attack this season. A local politician blamed the government for protecting the seals that have attracted the sharks. Wellfleet and Truro Police have closed all ocean beaches in their towns until further notice.




So many boats washed ashore in North Carolina. In Wilmington, a big barge floated out of the Cape Fear River and ended up on the street. Rescuers used inflatable boats to rescue people who refused to evacuate from their homes. The rain and tidal surge has cause the most disastrous flooding in North Carolina history. Boats were stacked up on each other at a marina in New Bern. A video from New Bern’s waterfront showed sunken boats, damaged docks, and boats that floated and rolled over on the main street. At last report, 30 inches of rain had fallen in Swansboro, North Carolina, and Florence claimed the lives of 13 people including a mother and her child.




The National Hurricane Center reported a “phenomenal” 83-foot wave was recorded in the eastern quadrant of Hurricane Florence early Wednesday morning. Its image was detected by satellite radar when Hurricane Florence was about 660 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C. Meteorologists said to see a wave that big is very rare. In Sebastian Junger’s book The Perfect Storm, it was written that the maximum possible height a wave could reach was 100 feet.




Peter DeCola, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain from Plymouth was just appointed by NOAA to be the new superintendent of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. He replaces Craig MacDonald, the previous superintendent. DeCola said his main goals are to protect the historical resources found in the sanctuary and to educate people, making them more aware of it rich diversity in marine life. The Stellwagen Bank sanctuary sits between Cape Ann and Provincetown and was named after Henry Stellwagen, a Navy officer who mapped the area. The bank is an underwater plateau formed in the last ice age and today serves as a feeding and nursing ground for a number of whale species, including humpbacks, northern right whales and fin whales.




The re-authorization of the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act which includes the 2018 Modern Fish Act finally passed the House this past July, but according to the Boating United advocacy page, “the U.S. Senate only has a few days remaining to pass the act.” Recreational fishermen said the bill will modernize the way recreational fisheries is managed, promoting conservation while stimulating economic growth. Those who oppose the re-authorization oppose it for different reasons. Some oppose the re-authorization saying it is no longer needed since it accomplished its goal creating regional management councils and boosted the fish stock. Others oppose it because they feel the new act has been gutted and has too many loopholes.




For a month this summer, researchers from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and colleagues surveyed the waters south of Cape Cod along the edge of the continental shelf, about 200 miles offshore, looking for True’s beaked whales, a species that very little is known about. This time, researchers made what could be a beaked whale breakthrough, finding multiple True’s beaked whales nearly every day they were in their study area. These whales are so elusive that they have rarely been seen alive, much less studied. The beaked whale is named after Frederick W. True, who first identified the species in 1913. They are known as deep diving animals, which has made them very difficult to study. An exciting accomplishment this year was tagging for the first time a True’s beaked whale with a suction-cup digital acoustic recording tag. The tag recorded the movements and acoustic behavior of the individual for over 12 hours before it fell off and recovered. The data from that tag was entered into a computer for further study.




An international team of scientists have discovered three new species of fish living in one of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean off of South America. Cameras were sent down in water nearly 5 miles deep and recorded an abundant number of see through gel-like fish. The three species were temporarily named the pink, blue and purple snailfish. The scientists said the pressure is so great down there that larger animals would be crushed under their own mass. With more than 300 known varieties of snailfish, these snailfish have adapted to survive in one of the harshest environments on Earth.




And last on today’s nautical news, the 67th International Whaling Commission meeting finished in Brazil denied Japanese’s request to kill more whales for scientific research. The commission agreed that that the use of lethal research methods on whales was unnecessary. The Japanese proposal for the return of commercial whaling lost, with 41 votes against 27. Four countries abstained from voting. However, in the past, the Japanese and the Scandinavians have shown no respect for any rules or regulations prohibiting the killing of whales and it is questionable whether they will respect this latest resolution. More than 32,000 whales have been killed by Japanese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Russian whale hunters under the guise of research since a worldwide moratorium was passed in 1986. Even so, Sea Shepherd’s founder, Captain Paul Watson, who has spent many years opposing Japan’s “scientific research” programs, the commercial killing of whales is to no longer up for further discussion.


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