Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the
May 26, 2004
Dearly Departed Create Fish Habitat
Here at the The
Outdoor News Hound you recently read about the Irish shotgunner who
wanted his cremated remains turned into targets for his fellow clay
pigeon shooters. We've also heard tales about avid waterfowlers
who've requested to have their ashes placed inside custom duck
decoys to be enjoyed by hunting buddies. Now there's an offbeat idea
for the angler who's looking for something, uh, a little different,
if not eternal.
Also this week, you'll read about how a transplanted crawfish
found itself in an Alaska stream, a sexy manatee hotline, an angler
in Britain who resorts to an unusual surgical procedure to keep
fishing, and much more!
Looking for an alternative to burial,
or simply scattering the cremated remains of a departed loved one
who may have had a special affinity for fishing and water? An
Atlanta-based company that specializes in creating artificial reefs
to improve diving and fishing habitat now offers an interesting
choice to families seeking a lasting memorial tribute for loved
In 2003, Eternal Reefs, Inc., joined with the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department to build a new memorial reef for fishing and
diving seven miles off the south Texas coast. In late April, 2004,
"reef balls" containing the ashes of 16 people were lowered 65 feet
to the ocean floor near Hugh Taylor Birch Park in Fort Lauderdale,
Using a "reef ball" module comprised of environmentally-safe cast
concrete that incorporates the cremated remains into a cement
mixture, artificial reef formations are constructed at locations
determined and approved by fisheries biologists and state
commissions. The balls, which look like large moon rocks, are
perforated with holes and dented with craters that can be used by
marine life. After construction, the memorial reefs are cured prior
to their placement in an ocean location selected by the individual,
friend or family member.
Ashes To Fishes
The largest Eternal Reef is 4 feet high
and 6 feet wide, weighs 4,000 pounds and costs $4,995. The cheapest
is a community reef, which retails for $995 and holds the remains of
multiple individuals. Expected to last 500 years, more than 250
memorial reefs have already been placed off the coasts of Florida,
South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
According to the company, cremation is growing dramatically in
the United States, and by 2010, 40 percent of all funerals will
utilize the process. The Cremation Association of North America
reports that 45 percent of families that have chosen cremation still
have the remains at home sitting on a shelf or in a closet.
In addition to the Ft. Lauderdale installation, for 2004, Eternal
Reefs has plans to build or expand installations in Sarasota and
Pensacola, Fla., Chesapeake Bay, Va., Charleston, S.C., Ocean City,
Md., and Atlantic City, N.J.
Liberated From Gumbo
These days, fisheries and wildlife
biologists are always on the lookout for non-native plants, animals
and fish that may have been illegally introduced into the
environment. They know that such invasive species can spell disaster
for ecosystems, with such difficult lessons having been learned with
the kudzu plant in the southern states and the Asian carp in the
Mississippi River and its tributaries.
So, when an alien crawfish was found in a Kenai, Alaska, stream a
few weeks ago, biologists there were justifiably concerned about the
impact a creature more common to Louisiana could have upon the
state's fishery if it were established there.
Well, the mystery of the Alaska crawdad was solved last week when
it became known that a young Anchorage girl released four live
crustaceans into the swamp to save them from a pot of gumbo her
mother was planning to prepare.
A biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported
that the girl and a friend released four live crawfish into the
creek, and one was discovered on May 4.
"She wanted to make it have a better life," said Fish and Game
assistant area management biologist Larry Marsh.
The department is planning to place crawfish traps into the
stream, in case the remaining three have survived. A spokesman also
said that charges are not likely to be filed against the little girl
responsible for all the fuss.
One Hot Number
The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) recently discovered the phone number
it has listed as a "manatee hotline" to report injured manatees,
inadvertently leads callers to an x-rated, sex-chat line. As a
result, the commission was forced to purchase thousands of decals to
paste over the outdated phone number on signs at marinas and
elsewhere on the state's waters.
The signs refer boaters to a toll-free number to call if they
spot a manatee in distress. Prior to July of 1999, the number ended
with "FMP," which stood for Florida Marine Patrol, but the marine
patrol no longer exists. The FWC changed all its publications in
2001, but some of the agency's old publications and signs using the
old number still exist.
On the discovery, the agency was quick to point out that the old
number leads to "a commercial site, not endorsed by the agency nor
dedicated to helping distressed manatees."
Double Duty Digits
A British angler who lost his
fingers in a work-related accident had two of his toes transplanted
to his hand so he could continue his favored fishing recreation.
Colin Thomas, 58, from Cockett in Swansea, lost all eight fingers
when both his hands were caught in a roller at a steel plant. He
feared his fishing days were over because he could not hold a rod,
much less use a reel.
In a series of operations, surgeons removed the toes next to the
big toes on each foot and attached them to his right hand. He holds
the rod in his left hand with the use of a special glove, while the
thumb and two toes on his right hand give him enough control to
reel-in his catch.
"People stare at me but I've got used to that," Thomas says. "I
always joke that I'm the only man who can pick his nose with his
Quote Of The Week
"I love pack trips and I love getting
away from people, telephones, the smell of gasoline, typewriters,
cocktail parties, television, importunate letters from editors. A
long pack trip enables one to get back to basics. On each pack trip
I relearn how important such things as food, warmth and rest are. A
washpan filled with hot water is an incredible luxury, a seat on the
pack pannier with a Scotch and creek water in hand is
The Stone Sheep
Sheep Hunting," 1974
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and
columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web
site, The Outdoor Pressroom (www.outdoorpressroom.com) to find the
latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of
the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at