by Jerry Vovcsko
It's a pretty well accepted notion that fishermen might possibly not be entirely trustworthy when it comes to weighing and measuring their catch. The old thumb-on-the-scales approach has a long history with anglers seeking bragging rights among their peers and measuring length by including a bit of the shadow hasn't been unknown to neighborhood sharpers gunning for king-of-the-hill status. Still, all those machinations are small-potatoes in comparison with the Internet when it comes to exaggeration and subterfuge. Like the tall tales that have surfaced recently on the World Wide Web.
Seems that earthquake that struck Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant a couple of year back has produced some dire effects on this side of the Pacific Ocean. According to "reliable Internet sources" (a concept some would consider an oxymoron), scientists believe that following the power plant disaster in the Futaba District of Japan, certain oceanic creatures suffered genetic mutations that triggered uncontrolled growth – or "radioactive gigantism."
Take, for instance, those folks strolling on the beach in Santa Monica who were said to have discovered what might be the largest modern colossus lying dead on the beach, a creature that supposedly started its life as a rare oarfish known to reach as much as 19-feet in length…only this Santa Monica oarfish was said to measure out at a stunning 130-feet. Radioactive gigantism, indeed!
Even more impressive, however, was the giant squid measuring a whopping 160 feet from head to tentacle tip that ostensibly washed up on another California beach.
Nothing enhances the credibility of a tall-fish-tale like the supporting testimony of various "experts" and Internet sources abound in that arena.
"We are confident that this fish comes from the Fukushima Dai-ichi region," said one supposed Ph.D equipped fish biologist. "We can tell from the radioactive Cesium present in its tissue. We also have strong cause to believe that the nuclear event in Japan triggered radioactive gigantism in this particular specimen."
Another mightily-credentialed fishy expert provided some perspective for the possibilities inherent in these astounding assertions with the following: "These creatures give us the chance to study radioactive gigantism. Imagine a tuna fish that could feed a city the size of Austin, Texas. This is the potential of radioactive gigantism.""
Well, I don't know about anybody else but I'm a little bit wary of mutation on that scale. I mean, if we're looking at individual tunas big enough to feed a Texas city, then it only makes sense that we have to consider the possibility of Jaws the size of a New York skyscraper. Think I'll stick with the relatively benign thumb-on-the-scales maneuvers and leave the mega-fish tale stories to the Internet tale-spinners. Besides, who wants to spoil the Internet fun by suggesting a visit to Snopes.com? Not me; that's for sure.
Having said all that I'm a little concerned that some readers may be less than accepting of the news that the Mexican government says local fishermen found two rare conjoined gray whale calves that died shortly after being born. Biologist Benito Bermudez says the whales were found alive in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon in the Baja California Peninsula but lived only a few hours. Bermudez said Wednesday they were linked at the waist, with two full heads and tail fins. Bermudez is a marine biologist with the National Natural Protected Areas Commission, or CONANP. He said scientists are collecting skin, muscle and baleen samples to study the creatures.
Well, I'll leave it at that and let skeptical readers check it out for themselves on the Web…thing is, I've seen photos…so it must be true, right?
Leaving aside the strange doings out there in cyber world, we've been experiencing trick-or-treat weather on the Cape the past couple of weeks. One minute it's a plunging thermometer that's registering below-zero numbers, the next we're basking in a balmy sixty-degree environment. The other day I watched some kids playing on a frozen cranberry bog that looked to have a solid six inches of ice cover up top. The next day the thermometer hit 58 degrees in mid-afternoon…how does an angler make sense of that?
As it stands, most Cape ponds have at least some ice cover right now but those surfaces are pretty treacherous and best avoided until Mother Nature makes up her mind about the weather. In the meantime, those of us who simply must find a way to wet a line are probably better off returning to the salt water locations that we don't bother with during striped bass season. There are flounder and other groundfish lurking around the dock pilings in places like Woods Hole Harbor, the Sandwich Marina, Bass River, Scorton Creek and, of course, the Cape Cod Canal…this time of year mackerel have been known to show up in and around the Canal. And rumors of cod-from-the-beach date back to a time when Hector was a pup.
Which brings us to playoff time in the NFL. And there we see our beloved New England Patriots still hanging on, still persevering. Not only that but they've sprouted a newfound running game and LeGarrett Blount has morphed into the reincarnation of Jim Brown complete with scatback speed, bulldozer power and the ability to return kickoffs and pound out goal-line yardage alike. Only four teams left standing and the Super Bowl waiting right around the corner. What a year, huh?