Sunday, May 25, 2014

5 Things That Are Scarier Than Sharks

Sharks get a bad rap, but they are not the worst creatures in the ocean.  Here are 5 things that are scarier than sharks.

#1 Stone Fish
Stonefish are a family of cryptic little bastards that can't wait to kill you.  When my uncle Frank was a young man he stepped on a stone fish and nearly died.  This is probably why nearly every cousin I've ever been spearfishing with will kill every stone fish they encounter immediately.

#2 Fire Coral
Fire corals aren't really coral; they're also not really fire (I should write another post on ocean things that aren't really what we think they are).  When I was 17 my stomach brushed against some fire coral and I had a festering wound the whole summer.  It is best to avoid fire coral.

Titan triggerfish in Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
#3 Titan Triggerfish
The triggerfish I was most familiar with as a child was the Picaso triggerfish, the colorful state fish of Hawaii.  We didn't fish for them because my father said their scales were too tough.  So we just snorkled with them and all was happy.  Then I learned to dive and I found out about titan triggerfish, the big daddy triggerfish on the reef.  These babies aren't so bad normally, but if they are laying eggs they will attack divers to defend their nest.  In 2012, during a dive in Ulong Channel in Palau, several dozen titan triggerfish were laying eggs in the center of the channel, right where our drift dive was supposed to be taking place.  We gave the fish a respectful distance, and enjoyed the dive from the edge of the reef, not the center of the channel.

#4 Sewage and Garbage
As far back as I remember, the locals on Saipan have not eaten the fish in Puerto Rico (the village in Saipan, not the island in the Caribbean) due to contamination from the dump and the waste water treatment plant.  For years the people of Tanapag village have had to ask themselves what level of PCBs they were comfortable ingesting.  Sharks will not keep me out of the water, but the thought of human waste and industrial contamination do.

#5 Sea Cucumbers
Sea cucumbers, sometimes called bêche-de-mer, are bottom dwellers that crawl along the ocean floor hoovering up little bits of whatever they find tasty. This helps clean our beaches. I don't care. I hate them. They look like footlong turds. Sea cucumbers are the grossest thing swimming in the ocean, and there are a lot of gross things in the ocean. On Saipan the boys would (yes, this is not going to be very conservation minded, so if that bothers you, stop reading now) pick them up out of the water and fling them at the girls who would delightfully scream and cry. There was one species that my cousins told me to never touch because it was particularly horrible, but I don't know the english name.

1 comment:

Angelo Villagomez said...

I had a hard time finding other photos. I didn't want to steal other people's. I hope you enjoy the photo of the triggerfish.