The Blue Bottle Jellyfish

Posted in At Sea, Dangerous on August 3rd, 2009 by MadDog
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On Sunday up at Blueblood I was enjoying a particularly fine conversation with a friend while being comforted and nourished by my cheap cigar and a cold brewski. This is one of my favourite of all times and places to follow dear brother Bob Marley‘s advice to, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” It works for me.

Suddenly Eunie came hippity-hopping up out of the water crooning, “Ouwy, ouwy, ouwy, ouwy . . .” I heard somebody yelling, “Blue bottles!” Eunie chased all of the kids out of the water and came to me to put some hydrocortisone cream on the red streaks on her arm.

If you’re going to be stung by a jellyfish, you couldn’t do much better than a Blue Bottle.  This jellyfish is known elsewhere as the Portuguese Man of War. Though it feels as if you’ve drenched the area in napalm and set it on fire, nobody dies from it. You might, however, temporarily long for death if you get enough tentacles stuck to you.

Here’s a typical warning on an Australian beach:

A Blue Bottle Jellyfish warning on an Australian beach

Though we only saw possibly a hundred on Sunday, they can blow up for miles on beaches. Check this image that I filched from a National Geographic site:

Blue Bottle Jellyfish on an Australian beach - filched from National Geographic

After treating Eunie’s stings and making sure her wine glass was full, I went jellyfish hunting. It wasn’t difficult to find a specimen:

Possibly the Blue Bottle Jellyfish that attacked Eunie

It’s a fairly good image, so click it so that you can see it larger. You can see that the single tentacle is quite long. Large individuals can have tentacles as long as ten metres. We are often stung by tentacles of dead jellyfish when no jellyfish can bee seen. The tentacles remain poisonous long after the organism has died.

As with most marine stings, you don’t want to rub the area of the sting. We always keep vinegar on the boat, as it helps to neutralise most common venoms. I also keep hydrocortisone cream to apply to stings as it seems to calm down the pain and inflammation very quickly.

I’ll end up the post with a pretty sunset that we enjoyed on Friday evening as we went out on Tab Anchorage  to Pig Island  for a little swim:

A lovely sunset on Friday evening on Tab Anchorage

Fortunately, there were no jellyfish.

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The Last Fish

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on April 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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The Game Fishing Association of Papua New Guinea 2009 Titles are over now. I enjoyed going over the The Madang Club each evening to take photos for the Madang Game Fishing Club, but I am, as are not a few others, breathing a sigh of relief that it’s all over for another four years. They rotate the host club of the Titles around so that nobody has to host it more than once every four years.

The last image that I want to show you from the competition is this beautiful sailfish. I have never seen one in the water. I’ve been told that the colours are so fantastic that they appear unreal – as if it were some kind of incredible neon sign. Immediately upon being removed from the water, the colours begin to fade as the fish dies. It’s sad:

A beautiful sailfish
I should say that it is sad for the fish. Obviously the fishermen are happy with their catch. We have lived off the sea from the time the first human walked for the first time to a beach, picked up a bivalve, smashed it open, and found something tasty inside.

On to other matters.

If you are a regular reader you know that I am a sky freak. Just about any place on earth you can stand in one place, practising a little patience, and you will be rewarded by the sky with relief from boredom. The sky is a forever movie. It’s never the same scene twice.  Here is a stormy morning in Madang. About fifteen minutes later it was bucketing down rain:

Stormy morning panorama in Madang, Papua New Guinea

The image above is a stitch-up of five exposures and covers a viewing angle of about 160°. It is ridiculously simple to take these panoramic shots. Most new digital cameras have a special mode to help you line them up. There are a variety of programs, some of them free, that will stitch the individual images together smoothly so that it appears that the image was captured with one exposure. The advantage is, of course, that it is the only way that you can get such a wide field of view in one image. For instance, have a look at these panoramic shots of Prague and Budapest. You may want to click on the panoramas to feel the full effect.

I categorise this next one under “happy accidents.” If you are a photographer, you will recognise that it is a very long exposure. The primary clue is the appearance of the water. Long exposures give the water that “fuzzy mirror” look. This was a fifteen second exposure. The long exposure cancels out all the little sparkles from many, many wave reflections and blends them all together so that they appear smooth, while fixed features on the land remain sharp:

Long exposure sunrise with Air Niugini plane on approach

The shot above would be unremarkable except for the rumble that I heard immediately after I pushed the shutter release. At that point I noticed the Air Niugini flight coming in on its crosswind leg and getting ready for its turn to approach the runway on my left. If you click to enlarge you will see the tracks left by the lights of the plane and the little blips where the strobes were firing.

Here is another fifteen second exposure that I grabbed earlier on the same morning. I’m tossing it in just because I like the magenta tones and the stars around the lights. You get these star patterns when you have the iris of your camera nearly closed. I had stopped mine down to f8 and added a neutral density filter so that I could get the long exposure time at 80 ISO. Sorry about all the geeky details, but some out there might be interested.

Magenta Sunrise

In olden times, any serious photographer would include all of the information about an exposure in the details of the image. The information would include the camera make an model, the lens used, the opening of the lens (the f  stop), the shutter speed, the maker and type of film, the speed of film, the type developer and other chemicals used to process the film, the type of projector used to print the exposure, the lens of the projector, the f stop and time of the exposure, the type of paper used, its speed, chemicals used to develop the print, any tiltage, burning or dodging used in the exposure, and probably a half dozen other items that I’ve forgotten.

All that was before digital. It’s much easier now.

I leave you today with an interpretation. Taking photographs is only half the fun. Improving Mother Nature’s handiwork is the other bit. Here is my interpretation of a sunrise panorama that I captured last week:

A blazing sunriseI call it Heaven’s Gate.

Pretty corny, eh?

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Back to What Passes for Normal

Posted in At Sea on April 12th, 2009 by MadDog
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I need to get my mind off of fishing now. It’s time to get back to what passes for normal. I confess that I really don’t much care for fishing. I like to eat fresh fish. I don’t mind catching a fish. But, day after day in the hot sun on a boat waiting for a fish to behave so stupidly as to impale itself on my hook is not my idea of fun. I’ll do my fishing underwater with a camera, thank you.

It’s not that i don’t like fisherfolk. They are lots of fun to hang around. I suppose I’m a fishing groupie.

So, on the way back to normality, here’s an image of the Finisterre Mountains  as seen from Faded Glory:The Finisterre Mountins as seen from Faded GloryThe coast along this area is spectacular – white sand beaches, rocky beaches, black volcanic sand beaches, cliffs, rainforest, towering blue mountains in the distance – how difficult are you to please? We’ve got it all. There was a spectacular bush fire that burned all day. we could see if from twenty kilometres:
A large bush fire with the Finisterre Mountains in the background

Yesterday morning, when I left Rooke’s Marine after fueling up, the sky was on fire:Sunrise in Madang as seen from Rooke's Marine

Now we’ve come full circle back to the usual fare of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  – playing with images and making a general fool of myself. I believe that I’m safest when I do what I do best:

An watercolour rendition of "Sunrise with Star"

What I do best is create the kind of ridiculous images that one might find at Woollies (That’s Woolworths for Yanks) in a cheap frame for ten bucks. The image above is a faux  watercolour of a sunrise at my house (yes, the sun rises and sets over my house – the true Centre of the Universe). It’s titled MadDog Sunrise with Star. Click on it if you crave nausea.

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But, What About the Fish?

Posted in At Sea, Opinions on April 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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I got an interesting comment today from my email buddy and Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  reader, John Belton. It is timely and pertinent to the current whoop-tee-doo in Madang, namely the 2009 GFAPNG Titles. To make things simpler and because some may miss the comment and the answer, I’ll quote his comment and quote my answer:

John commented:

I sincerely hope that all of the fish caught were actually eaten. If not, then the GFAPNG should introduce catch and release competitions like most of the ones in Australia are these days. Killing fish just for a competition doesn’t sit well with me me any more.

My answer:

Not a fish is wasted, John. I cast a jaundiced eye toward some fishing practices also, but these fellows are doing it the right way. I don’t know what the percentage is, but listening on the VHF radio reveals one after another report of fish that were tagged, released, and reported in for points. When I took two fishermen out on charter for two days, I was given a handful of tag cards and the little numbered tags that you stick in the fish. We caught nothing.

All of the fish that are brought back to Madang are immediately moved to a big freezer container. These fish will be given to the Madang General Hospital (I think – or some other institution or charity). As far as I can determine, not a single fish out of (guessing here from the catch numbers that I heard yesterday) about 500 fish caught during the Titles will be wasted.

A few fish will die after release from injuries sustained during capture. As near as I can see, that is the only “waste”. The truth is that most fish suffer far worse from predation by their fishy kin than they do from game fishing, IF IT IS DONE RIGHT.

Thanks for the comment, John.

For those still having problems with the concept I ask, “What about the cows?” If you’re a vegan or suffer the milder form of the disorder, a vegetarian, I ask, “What about the carrots?” (Carrots have feelings too.) The truth is, humans cannot live without eating something that has once lived. It’s nature’s way. Get used to it.

As for myself, I eat very little meat these days, mostly because I can’t afford it. Fresh fish are — strangely enough — very difficult to get here in Madang, so there are none of them in my diet.

Okay enough philosophising.

John also sent to me this link to a very interesting YouTube clip featuring the weirdest living thing that I have ever seen (and I’ve seen some very weird stuff, kiddies – I’m a connoisseur of weird):

If you yawned at that one . . .

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KarKar Island As Seen From Faded Glory

Posted in At Sea on April 10th, 2009 by MadDog
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My posts will be a little sparse for the next couple of days. I’ve been taking photos of the fish for the GFAPNG 2009 National Titles for the last week. Last night, a couple of fellows charted Faded Glory  for two days of fishing. I almost hate fishing, but I could not turn down the money. Of course, where the boat goes, so does the skipper.

Here is Kar Kar Island  as seen from Faded Glory  as we approached. It is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes:

Kar Kar Island as seen from Faded Glory

We put 90 nautical miles on Faded Glory  today and hardly saw a fish. We caught nothing. I felt a little sorry for the guys, but they were cheerful about it and we’ll be off again at 5:30 in the morning.

Hopefully I’ll have some fish stories by tomorrow evening.

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A Big Marlin – GFAPNG 2009 Titles

Posted in At Sea on April 9th, 2009 by MadDog
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Yesterday was dramatically different from the day before at the 2009 GFAPNG Titles here in Madang. There were two large Black Marlins at the weigh-in.

We’ll start with a happy little guy who caught a tasty Yellowfin Tuna nearly as big as himself:

A happy little kid who caught a Yellowfin Tuna nearly as big as himself
He seemed a bit put off by all the attention. His smile looks a little forced. It is great fun for me to see these little kids come in with very respectable fish. When I fished as a child with my Grandfather, we called it a big fish if you had to cut it up to fit it in a skillet.

So, you’re not satisfied. You want a bigger fish. Okay, how about this 100 kilo Black Marlin:

So, you want a bigger fish. How about a 100kg Marlin?
The angler, on the right, was so overcome with joy that it was comical.

If you’re going to be difficult and hard to please, then I’m prepared. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a fish this big on the other end of the line:

The biggest fish of the day - a 134kg Black Marlin
That is 134 kilos of Black Marlin.

That seems like a huge fish to me. The truth is that it is nowhere near the biggest Black Marlin ever caught. The world record dates back to 1953 when Alfred Glassell caught a monster weighing 708 kilos off Cabo Blanco, Peru. Here is a photo of that fish:

Alfred Glassell and his long-standing world record Black Marlin (1,560 lbs.) caught off Cabo Blanco, Peru in 1953
It is amazing to me that nobody — and there have been plenty of anglers spending probably hundreds of millions of dollars trying — has been able to beat a 56 year old record. The scary thing that one has to ask is:  have all the Black Marlin this size already been captured? Are fishermen simply whittling away on the smaller ones until there are no elders left? Since I know virtually nothing about the subject, I’ll hope we get comments from someone who knows.

I leave you with this sobering and poignant image:
The eye of a 100kg Black MarlinIf I ever saw an accusing eye . . .

UPDATE:  Weirdness attacks again! When I was doing a final read-throgh of this post and came to the end, I sat for a few moments staring at the eye of the Marlin. Since I spend about as much time under the water with my fishy friends as I do above the water with my mammal friends, this is a powerfully emotional image for me. If you love pachyderms, think of staring into the dead eye of an elephant. As I sat and stared the eye started to move!  i’ve seen optical illusions similar to this before. Please, if anybody else notices this (you have to keep staring for a couple of minutes), leave a comment.

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Boats – Bats – Sun – Fun

Posted in At Sea, Mixed Nuts on April 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s time to show a few images out of my big folder of shots that amused me.

If you don’t find this one amusing, then you may as well skip the rest and come back tomorrow. Rich Jones and Mike Wolfe were fooling around snapping Jenn in the reflection of Rich’s extraordinarily funky sunglasses. Only an Englishman would sport eye ware so in-your-face gauche. The glasses are by Cheesy-Mart. The model is sold only in the UK and is aptly named “Ouch, was that a stingray?”

Jenn reflected in Rich's funky sunglasses

Of course, being the bore who knows all about all things photographic, I had to shoulder in with my boxy-but-safe G-9 and hog the set. The shot turned out the way I wanted, except for one thing. An astute observer will note that there is a physical impossibility in the image. If you click to enlarge, you will note that you can read the “SENIOR OF CIA” warning on my cap. You should not be able to read it nomally. It is a mirror reflection, therefore it should be flipped horizontally and read backwards – “mirror writing”. I fixed this annoyance by flipping the image horizontally in Photoshop. The shot above reminds me of the “Shiny Sunglasses” image that won me a chintzy medal in a photography contest.

The sun was being very coopreative, so Rich got his pasty-white English body out where the deadly rays could do it some good:

Rich and Jenn relaxing in the sun on Faded GloryThere was a big thunderstorm hurtling up the coast. You can see it in the background.

As events were conspiring to change the outing into a camera party, someone said, “Look at the reflection of the boat in the motor.”  Sure enough, the sun was just at the right angle to cause a strong reflection of the entire aft section of Faded Glory in my nearly new Suzuki 140:

Photographer and boat reflected in the shiny cowl of the outboard motorAt this point I would like to mention that I am not nearly so short and broad as the reflection indicates. It’s a sort of fun-house mirror effect.

On to another time – another day. I was at The Madang Club waiting for the game fishing boats to arrive. We sometimes don’t even notice the screeching sound of the Flying Foxes. I just fades into the background after a few years. The ears become desensitised and it’s no longer annoying. The moon was a hazy blob and the Flying Foxes were stirring around in the sky on their way to raid village gardens of bananas and papayas:

The twilight features a coconut tree, the moon, and flying foxes

Of course, they also feed in the rainforest. They don’t ravage the gardens. They just eat the best stuff. I can sometimes hear them flapping around at night on my banana trees.

A game fishing boat rests in the twilight after a hard day's fishing at the GFAPNG 2009 TitlesWinding down now, on the same evening I caught this nice image of one of the game fishing boats snuggled in for the night with the setting sun in the background.

Inside, I would lay odds, beer and wine flow like the waters of a mighty river.

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