John Christopher Fine
is a marine biologist with two doctoral degrees, has authored 24 books, including award-winning books dealing with ocean pollution. He is a liaison officer of the United Nations Environment Program and the Confederation Mondiale for ocean matters. He is a member of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences in honor of his books in the field of education. He has received international recognition for his pioneering work investigating toxic waste contamination of our land and water.
Latest by John Christopher Fine
By John Christopher Fine | February 17, 2015
Digital photography is more forgiving than film. Digital cameras have light gathering abilities and low light capabilities that require less artificial light than film. Computer enhancement techniques can bring out images that otherwise seem buried in darkness. My trusty Made in USA Oceanic underwater strobes sit on a shelf, relegated to antiquity. Their sturdy Electro-Oceanic connectors and cords anachronisms. My Nikonos cameras with optical glass corrected 15 millimeter lenses likewise gather dust. I still have blocks of Kodak Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide film in the refrigerator and that is likely where they will stay until chosen for display by a museum.
Just as the point-and-shoot camera changed a generation, enabling anyone with a steady hand to take credible pictures, digital …
By John Christopher Fine | February 12, 2015
I came up from 120-feet. I was enjoying an extended safety stop 20-feet below the surface holding onto thick yellow line the Captain had me tie to a shipwreck below. It was March. The weather in Florida was unseasonably cool. The Atlantic Ocean temperature was in the seventies. Wearing my Pro Mate 7-millimeter wetsuit I felt comfortably warm. With no other chores than to surface, drift away from the large red ball floats at the end of the line and return to ‘Explorer,’ I was in no hurry to return to the dive boat.
I had an uncomfortable feeling the night before. One of those things some call premonitions. Captain Kevin Metz telephoned me that evening. He said that his …
By John Christopher Fine | February 8, 2015
“It’s the Caribbean you can drive to. You don’t have to change your currency, you don’t need a passport. This year was the best year for anyone in the Keys. We’ve tapped into a market we’ve never had before. No hurricanes. The Keys are family friendly,” Robert DiGiorgio said. The affable owner of Bayside Grille said it all. In a world of turmoil, when air travel has become an uncivilized hassle, more people are turning to vacations they can drive to without leaving the U.S. Foreign visitors have discovered the America they always dreamed about and Key Largo has become one of the most popular destinations.
The name will live forever from the classic film ‘Key Largo.’ Humphrey Bogart and …
By John Christopher Fine | February 4, 2015
Dolphins are protected marine mammals. It is unlawful to capture or injure them in the wild. Among the most intelligent creatures on Earth, dolphins, especially the bottle nose dolphin, are seen by most people to be alluring and adaptable. While it is rare to be able to see them underwater in the wild and encounters are truly special events in the open ocean, programs have been developed that enable human interaction with dolphins.
One of the oldest dolphin swim programs is Dolphins Plus in Key Largo, Florida. Captured dolphins breed in captivity. In many cases they were owned by trainers before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed and were considered pre-act animals. Their use in swim programs in protected …
By John Christopher Fine | January 26, 2015
Soft music drifted across the bay. The vocalist sounded every bit as good as Jimmy Buffett. His songs added to the mood of Bayside Grille’s sandy terrace and long pier that juts out into the water. The sun was still yellow as it slowly began its nightly parade. By evening the bay is usually calm and there is no wind. Sailboats rode placidly at their moorings. A distant island was green with trees. Coconut palms on the beach added to the tropical setting. It was not a far away Caribbean island, the setting was off Mile Marker 99.5 in Key Largo, Florida. A place to take time to walk out on the pier at sunset. A wonderful spot to snap …
By John Christopher Fine | January 24, 2015
“D-Hooker.” Restaurant owner Steve Bencomo laughed when he explained it. “There’s a kind of tool fishermen use when a hook is buried deep in a fish’s mouth to get it out. It is like long nosed pliers, called a dehooker.” The restaurant’s red neon sign at Mile Marker 102 along U.S. 1 on the bay side in Key Largo, Florida, certainly arrests the eye. A Mahi Mahi in bright neon relief accentuates the logo. They specialize in locally caught fish.
“We buy it fresh from fishermen in Key Largo. We get Mahi Mahi, yellowtail snapper and hog fish. We are the only fresh fish restaurant with a sports bar. We have an NFL package so get all the games, all …
By John Christopher Fine | January 11, 2015
The place brings a smile to your face. There’s a big Red Bone Coon dog with wagging tail in red neon outside. The name itself is unusual. “Dale Barth, the owner, named it after his favorite Red Bone Coon dog,” Holly Beaumier said. Holly moved to Florence, South Carolina from Erie, Pennsylvania by way of Taiwan and loves the city. Red Bone Alley is one of her favorite local restaurants.
We got off I 95 at exit 160 A for Florence. It was mid-way in our journey from New York to Florida. It had snowed in New York and the trip was through pretty dismal and cold weather until we reached South Carolina. Balmy breezes made it comfortable to be …
By John Christopher Fine | January 5, 2015
When I went to French school ink wells were built into the right corner of student desks. We had handwriting class and were given pens with steel nibs. Thus at a very early age I was taught to form letters in the character of artful European script. My interest was less in penmanship than dipping the long pigtails of the girl that sat in front of me into my inkwell.
Throughout college and graduate schools my handwriting didn’t improve. It became an almost illegible scrawl as I cribbed notes, writing fast to keep up with my professors’ words of wisdom.
It was only when I decided to take up the advantage of typing my graduate school examinations, in a room …
By John Christopher Fine | January 2, 2015
Florence, South Carolina is a modern, progressive city of some 38,000 people. The surrounding Florence County’s population is 138,000 making it a destination that supports culture and the arts, fine dining, museums, convention venues and a revitalized downtown that maintains the flavor of this beautiful city. There are hiking and river paddling trails that venture into majestic wilderness areas of cypress swamps with live oak trees hung with Spanish moss.
Pee Dee Indians inhabited the land before white settlers began developing agriculture in the region. Rivers made the area a convenient transportation hub. Plantations were started to export cotton, tobacco and rice. By about 1853 railroads converged in Florence creating a center of commerce at their junction. Likely called James …
By John Christopher Fine | December 22, 2014
Hershey, Pennsylvania is not near a fishing port. While it would seem an unlikely place to build a restaurant that specializes in seafood, Devon Seafood Grill, on Chocolate Avenue downtown, has established a network of suppliers that fly fresh fish in from around the world. The secret to preparing good seafood is ocean fresh and culinary skill.
Hershey is the town that chocolate built. Devon is just a driveway away from the Hershey Story. There is Hershey Park, ZooAmerica and world famous The Hotel Hershey all within a stone’s throw of fine dining. Visitors are enthralled by the history of the town built by Milton S. Hershey to support his chocolate factory workers. Hershey turned failure into success and the …
By John Christopher Fine | December 16, 2014
Ken Gladysz was born in Pawpaw, Michigan. His parents owned a local bar and restaurant. The area was mostly agricultural, known for fresh fruits and vegetables. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in accounting. Summers Ken made good money working for a construction company. As he tells the story his employers bid on and got a contract to do bridge repair in Florida. It was Ken’s first real opportunity to travel so he went to Florida to work on the bridge project. When the company he worked for was terminated he was left with the choice of returning home to the family business or get a job.
“I had $13 to my name,” Ken Gladysz recalled. He …
By John Christopher Fine | December 15, 2014
Born on a farm in central Pennsylvania in 1857, Milton S. Hershey did not seem destined for great things. His father attempted many business ventures. He became estranged from his Mennonite wife and traveled seeking to make a living. Milton’s early childhood saw him in school in Derry Church, then in Lancaster. He never graduated and likely never had more than a fourth grade education. He spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, the popular regional dialect of German and German Swiss, at home. He was apprenticed to the editor of a German language newspaper.
Fired for dropping his straw hat into the printing press, young Milton was next apprenticed to a candy maker in Lancaster. That he liked. He even set up his …
By John Christopher Fine | December 9, 2014
When South Dakota became a state in 1889, the West was still a vast wilderness. Dakota Territory was a land of rolling prairies, magnificent mountains in the Black Hills and home to many tribal nations that comprised the first peoples of the area. Many homesteaders planted their roots, their hopes and aspirations in the land. The 1875 gold rush into the Black Hills was over, miners left or took jobs with the big, hard rock mining companies that used machinery to extract gold from deep tunnels into the earth. Farmers came from Europe to make their lives in this harsh environment. There were freezing cold winters, floods and droughts, plagues of locusts and hardships. The hardy proved up their claims …
By John Christopher Fine | December 8, 2014
Terry Philip is the snake expert at Reptile Gardens just outside Rapid City, South Dakota. He handles the most dangerous snakes in the world. Two questions he gets asked a lot are: Have you ever been bitten? and What does it feel like? Terry answers yes to the first question. He was once bitten by a rattlesnake. To the second question he explains, “It’s like putting your hand in fire and every time your heart beats it’s like hitting your hand with a hammer to put the fire out.”
It would at first seem that a place like Reptile Gardens would be more appropriately situated in a tropic environment rather than in South Dakota’s Black Hills. There is a relatively …
By John Christopher Fine | December 3, 2014
Nobody is going to war with China. Not even the idiots that advise policy makers in Washington. Military technology U.S. defense contractors sent to China to make into parts has been funneled into Chinese Communist military illegally. But that is not the right word. Legal or illegal means nothing to Chinese Communists. In fact they have no moral scruples. Secret and proprietary information do not exist. Contracts made with them not to steal U.S. military technology are worthless. Try to enforce anything in China, especially with the Communists in power. Enemies will be looking down gun barrels of the mightiest military power in the world. All modernization stolen, compliments of the United States government.
Now a little lesson in economics. …
By John Christopher Fine | November 28, 2014
A lot of posturing goes on among wine connoisseurs. In France’s magnificent Burgundy region there is even a castle in Nuits-Saint-Georges called Chateau du Clos du Vougeot dedicated to La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. These Knights of the Wine Table are feted to some of the finest wines in the world. Members enjoy great fellowship and merriment at their dinners. Some of the best wines in France have been made from grapes replanted from vines imported from America after a blight wiped out vineyards in France.
It is the grape of course that makes fine wine or indeed the fruit or berry. No good grape becomes fine wine without the masterful hand of a wine maker. South Dakota at …
By John Christopher Fine | November 21, 2014
The television series ‘Deadwood’ portrayed Al Swearengen as a cold blooded killer. When he arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876, the camp was a violent, illegal settlement. Miners invaded lands protected by treaty with Native Americans in quest of gold. Placer gold was found by prospectors that accompanied George Armstrong Custer’s expedition in 1874. Immediate news reports opened the floodgates. When gold was found in streams along Deadwood Gulch in the northern Black Hills a year later there was no stopping the influx of fortune seekers. With the miners came people ready to exploit their need for supplies and services.
Deadwood was still a shanty town thrown up along the creek. Its main street was a muddy track. Men …
By John Christopher Fine | November 10, 2014
American robber barons raped the land and destroyed forests, polluted water resources and turned once pristine rivers into contaminated sewers. They are still doing it. They were vicious criminals then; there are vicious criminals destroying natural resources now. They got away with it through the complicity of corrupt government officials they bribed or put in office. The law meant nothing to them, driven by greed and ambition. Confronting cruel slaughter of wild horses by these same opportunists, a petite polio victim saw blood running out of the back of a truck. She followed it. When it stopped Velma Johnston was shocked at what she saw. One horse had its eyes shot out, babies were trampled on the floor, the frightened …
By John Christopher Fine | November 2, 2014
“This restaurant is about Deadwood legends,” Tom Rensch remarked. That said it all. Deadwood, South Dakota is about legends. A stroll down Main Street is like stepping back in time to an era when the 1875 gold rush brought thousands of miners to the area hoping to strike it rich. On a hill above town is Mt. Moriah Cemetery. The overlook dominates the valley below where once the raucous and rowdy gave vent to their anger in a place where there was no law other than the six-shooter. Legends of the frontier and American West are buried in Mt. Moriah. The town’s sheriff Seth Bulloch’s grave is at a promontory above the graves below. Wild Bill Hickok, shot in the …
By John Christopher Fine | October 30, 2014
Texas Rancher Sam Maverick didn’t brand his cattle. Cowpunchers took to calling them Mavericks. If you want good grub put your branding iron on Mavericks Restaurant above Deadwood, South Dakota’s Gold Dust Casino. The town has been tamed, mostly. Gold made Deadwood famous. The Wild West of 1875, in the Black Hills, when thousands of miners crowded mountain streams looking for a pan full of nuggets, passed slowly away. Gambling remained.
“There was always gambling in Deadwood. We just made it legal,” Bill Walsh once said. Bill and other visionaries kept Deadwood’s charm and character, its Saloon #10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and bawdy mannequins in period costumes in second story windows reminiscent of the days when the …