The Department of Marine Resources informs the public that the two manatees that were removed from the Nassau Harbour on 15th October 2011 have been returned to the wild after being under the care of the marine mammal team at Atlantis on Paradise Island.
In November 2009, a manatee was sighted in Spanish Wells harbour, North Eleuthera. Photographs of her distinctive scar patterns were provided to the US Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project where they were matched to “Rita”, an adult female known to be residing in south Florida since 1988.
The summer of 2011 wears on, with all its attendant troubles. Hurricane Irene steered well clear of Jamaica, but has been pounding the small and scattered islands of the Bahamas and is now turning its vengeful eye slowly northwards to the east coast of the United States. She’s a mean one. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the hemisphere, three hand grenades were thrown into a casino (Mexico); demonstrators have acquired a taste for rioting and looting (Chile); two European tourists died of heat exhaustion in Joshua Tree Desert (California); there were a couple of major earthquakes this week (Virginia, Peru); and an online journalist was murdered (Mexico again, and this is sadly not an unusual occurrence).
Everything is over-heated and miserable. But hey! The League is back!
Not the League of Gentlemen. In fact, there aren’t many gentlemen in it these days, but who cares? It’s not about good manners. Sports never really was, although it has such pretenses. (Is cricket a gentlemanly game? Perhaps it still has some vestige of decorum…)
But the Petchary digresses. It’s the English Premier League, of course. The season just began, with all its promise and hopes (and fears, for some) and its reinvigorated players throwing tons of testosterone all around the pitch. The fans (including myself) have been waiting for weeks through the tedious football-less summer weekends. The Copa America was enjoyable enough, and my personal admiration for Uruguay’s flaxen-haired star Diego Forlan increased a thousandfold.
But listen, there’s nothing like the Premier League. Week after week it ebbs and flows. The newly promoted teams flounder and try to keep their balance, now they are hanging with the big boys. The big boys themselves flex their muscles and act as if they have already won the League (but they know the race is not for the swift). The middling teams vow that they will do far better this season, because they’ve just signed Joe Bloggs, the latest hot striker (Mr. Bloggs then goes on to score three goals for the season). The managers chew gum rapidly (the ageing Sir Alex Ferguson is the worst gum-chewer of them all); the players curse (lip-reading is easy – their vocabulary isn’t very extensive); the referees make infuriating mistakes and you wonder if they are completely blind; the linesmen hold themselves erect and look very satisfied, even when they have made yet another terrible offside call; and the fans boo, whistle, and sing their team songs (have you heard the Manchester City fans’ rendition of “Blue Moon”? Richard Rodgers would turn in his grave. It was such a lovely melody…) And my son agonizes over his fantasy football team every weekend.
I will comment on the prospects for my beloved team Arsenal Football Club in another blog, when I have composed my thoughts. Suffice it to say that Arsenal qualified emphatically for the Champions League this week, defeating the diving players of Udinese on their home turf. This was due in large part to the stunning save of a penalty (and other great saves) by our wonderful young goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (try saying that when you’ve had a few drinks).
Yes, it’s been a stinking summer so far. But thank God for the League! Welcome back, all you saints and sinners! We’ve missed you.
- “Spring tide” could boost Irene’s storm surge (cbsnews.com)
- VIDEO: Hurricane Irene batters Bahamas (bbc.co.uk)
- 8 dead in grenade attack on northern Mexico casino (sfgate.com)
- Hurricane Irene in pictures (telegraph.co.uk)
- My Copa runneth over (petchary.wordpress.com)
- English Premier League Power Rankings: Week 1 (bleacherreport.com)
- English Premier League: Predicting the Results in Week 3 (bleacherreport.com)
- Fantasy Premier League Tips: Gameweek 3 (epltalk.com)
- Udinese 1-2 Arsenal: Champions League Football Awaits Arsenal. (oleole.com)
- Wojciech Szczesny savours Arsenal’s mental toughness against Udinese (guardian.co.uk)
- Arsenal win £25m Champions League shootout against Udinese to earn Arsene Wenger a reprieve (telegraph.co.uk)
This is an extraordinary video, accompanying a classic Radiohead dream-song from their latest album – which is worth playing inside out and backwards, by the way… The diver is a champion free diver, Guillaume Nery. He is diving (or base jumping, from the soft white sandy sea floor into the abyss) into Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, the deepest blue hole in the world at over 600 feet. The music, and the dive – graceful, effortless, weightless.
Sleepless at three in the morning, the Petchary was eating breakfast cereal and reading a book (“The Riders” by Tim Winton – I will write a review at some point) when the song of the nightingale broke the soft silence.
The Jamaican “nightingale” is not a nightingale, but a mockingbird. There is the Northern Mockingbird and the Bahama Mockingbird (the latter lives only in Jamaica and the Bahamas). Those that patrol our Kingston garden are the Northern ones that are also common in the southern United States, where for many years they were kept in cages to preserve their singing. And if that mockingbird don’t sing… And the male Northern Mockingbird can learn up to 200 new songs in its lifetime, mimics many other birds, and rarely repeats a phrase. Musical genius.
Like several other Jamaican birds, the Northern Mockingbird was re-named after a melodious British bird that also sings at night by the colonial occupiers of this island; the name stuck and became a “local name.” Another example is the Saffron Finch (introduced to Jamaica in the 1820s), a bright citrus gold bird Jamaicans call the Canary. And of course, the John Crow is not a crow, but a Turkey Vulture.
Sadly though, overnight another resident of our garden left this earth, and was in the process of being reabsorbed into the moist ground when I found it. Its passing appears to have been violent. A Common Ground-Dove (called in Jamaica the Duppy Bird) had died, and when I carefully scooped him into a bag, he almost floated inside it – he was so light. These small grey birds, delicate and sweet (they are only six or seven inches long), can also be aggressive at mating season. They do fight and arch their wings at each other, like their larger companions the White Wing Doves.
They breed all year round, and they mate for life – so one little Duppy Bird is alone now, and seeking a new mate. You can hear his lonely little ghost-cry here.
Well, my companion in the wee small hours of this morning sang for about ten minutes, in cascading bursts of notes. He stopped, and the night folded itself around the house again.
- Monday musings on Australian literature: the Great Australian Novel, or? (whisperinggums.wordpress.com)
- Listen to the Mockingbird……… (bobzeller.wordpress.com)
- Clubbing and Crunching (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Beautiful/Sad (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: The Common Ground-Dove (allaboutbirds.org)
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: The Northern Mockingbird (allaboutbirds.org)
- Birds and Blood (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Bird Watching: Jamaica’s Rocklands Bird Sanctuary (repeatingislands.com)
The Petchary was listening to the gloriously liquid guitar of Jimi Hendrix, flowing through the garden on a warm and sunny July afternoon. An emerald green hummingbird hung in the air. Delicious.
Jimi’s album “Electric Ladyland” has a lot of watery references. In the meandering, dreamy song “1983…A Merman I should Turn to Be,” he sings about he and his lover bidding farewell to the bomb-ravaged, despoiled earth and descending to Atlantis under the sea. (Yes, in those days there was a lot of talk about Atlantis, and some fervent believers in its existence).
No, we are not discussing the mega-hotel in the Bahamas, but the lost island of Atlantis that sank beneath the waves during a catastrophic event of some sort. This is an ancient legend, first recorded by the Greek philosopher Plato, and since expanded and elaborated on and never, quite, forgotten. Atlas – yes, the man who holds the planet on his shoulders – was the king of Atlantis, and Poseidon carved one of its mountains into a palace for his love Cleito (who bore him five pairs of twins). Then, in a day and a night, it simply sank.
What a beautiful legend; the best ones are always rich with possibilities, letting the imagination soar. But of course, there were as many ancient scholars as modern ones who were doubtful Atlantis ever existed.
The dreamers wanted to find it. A Brazilian scientist, Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos, dedicated his life to its study and worked out that Atlantis in fact lay in the Indian Ocean. His son Bernardo continues his research. Some say it lies in the Atlantic, others the Mediterranean. Yes, even the Caribbean…
An American Congressman also became fascinated by the legend and wrote a book in 1882 extolling the virtues of Atlantis as a highly developed society. Even the Nazis investigated whether the citizens of Atlantis where, in fact, highly advanced and superior members of the Aryan race. Poor old Atlantis has been messed about with, quite a bit, over the centuries. Perhaps one of its most interesting modern interpretations is “Hearts in Atlantis,” a series of novellas and short stories which use Atlantis as a metaphor for a lost dream – the unfulfilled dream of the “baby boomers” growing up in the 196o’s. It is written by that master of the imagination Stephen King, and well worth a read.
Come to think of it, Jimi Hendrix, whose flame burned so bright and was blown out so suddenly and quickly, would have been a baby boomer. Now the Petchary likes to think of him as a merman, living in a slowly crumbling palace under the sea with his mermaid, amidst kelp forests waving in slow motion. The palace is furnished with pink and black and white coral, and the carpets are made of sand woven into patterns like Tibetan paintings. Striped sea snakes adorn the columns. Silver shoals of fish dive in and out of the windows. The merman and his queen float through their days in a flickering blue dream; and sleep their nights away, safely entwined in their bed of sea moss, while the sharks come out to hunt their prey.
The Petchary hopes we never find that underwater kingdom. It might be such a disappointment.