Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cuttlefish Cargo Cult - Day Two

In 2011 I went diving with the Australian Giant Cuttlefish.  In 2012 they did not come back.  In a spirit of cargo cults and magical thinking, we’re going to have a week or so of cuttlefish:  perhaps, if we wish hard enough, a critical concentration of photo and video will bring them back from wherever they have gone. 


In 2011, I went dove twice, the first time with my sister, Dr Tabubil, off of Black Point, near the Point Lowly lighthouse. We saw dozens of cuttlefish - enormous ones, fighting and flaring as they went through their seasonal mating.  The second time, we didn't have to dive off of Black Point, humping our gear down an escarpment and over the rough sandstone to the water. The winds were in our favor and we were able to dive right off of the beach at Point Lowly - pull the van up to the shore, sit on a wooden deck while we geared up, then follow the fence line of the Port Bonython Natural Gas Refinery right down into the water.

The gas refinery was quite large on our local radar at that time -
            A few weeks prior to the dive, when the craze for planking  was at its height, two young employees at the gas refinery had taken photos of themselves planking right across the mouth of a flare stack. 
            These geniuses were proud.  They circulated those photographs far and wide.
            Have you heard of the Darwin Awards? The purpose of a flare stack is to flare – as needed, which means randomly, and without notice. These two young idiots were high-odds-on gold-medal Darwin Awards contenders.
            In this particular instance, the idiots got lucky and missed the medal - the stack did not turn the subject of the photo into extra-crispy, but if there was ever a case of ‘have your belongings in a box and be off the property in thirty minutes’ this was it.  And in a town as small as ours, where the industries (mining and large-scale agriculture) revolve around familiarity with heavy and dangerous machinery, certain public voices were loud against the prospect of two young louts being considered responsible enough to wield so much as a spanner by any employer between Port August and Port Lincoln. 
            The Port Bonython Gas Refinery has turned out to be something of a boon for the cuttlefish.  Explosive security concerns require that you keep a hell of a wide berth around a refinery,  and the water along  the shore here is shallow enough that their loading jetty stretches more than two kilometers out into the gulf.   The refinery has a null effect on the local marine-scape, and what with the security buffer zone on shore and out on the water, a rather large stretch of shoreline has been marked off from fishermen and recreational divers, and gives the cuttlefish something of a break.  No sanctimonious cuttle-fishermen here.  Just us, on the other side of the fence-line. 

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