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 Fine | January 5, 2016
A classical mystery writer could easily plot a story aboard Amtrak’s Auto Train. It is elegance in motion, an inn gliding across the country. It has a decidedly American personality.
In the ’70s gasoline was cheap, and Americans had love affairs with their cars. A flock of cars traveled from the frigid north to Florida’s sunny shores in the annual migration of snowbirds. But as aging took its toll on the snowbirds, the drive lost its allure.
A steady, comfortable trip by train became an attractive alternative. But the problem was not being able to bring a car for the lengthy sojourn in Florida.
Eugene K. Garfield led a U.S. Department of Transportation study to determine the feasibility of a …
By John Fine | December 22, 2015
There are few places on Earth that are truly free. Those wilderness areas that remain are so isolated or inhospitable that the land will not sustain life. Where visionaries have set aside natural reserves they have been beset by poachers, pollution, and human entry for economic gain. In a world of economy competing for natural resources, what will become of public lands in the United States that are now home to wild horses?
“Ranchers pay $1.35 per animal unit per month to graze on public lands,” said Karen Sussman, a prominent wild horse conservationist. “[An animal unit] consists of a cow and her calf. You can’t feed a hamster for that,” she said. Where else can ranchers graze cattle so …
By John Fine | August 14, 2015
Guatemala is a small country bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the southwest and the Caribbean to the east. It is distinguished by its steep volcanoes, vast rainforests, and ancient Mayan sites.
Despite the fact that it is Central America’s most populous state, the atmosphere in Guatemala is relaxed and the people are friendly and helpful.
Guatemala City, home to the stately National Palace, has its own rendition of the Eiffel Tower, although traffic makes it difficult to stop and take photographs. In fact, it requires a certain daring to drive in the traffic-clogged city, so it might be better to take a taxi to where you want to go and then proceed on foot.
If you like to shop, …
By John Fine | July 20, 2015
The political order in Guatemala has been upended. The vice president has resigned, and so too have the minister of Energy and Mines and the minister of Environment and Natural Resources. The president is embattled and clinging to his office, attempting to stonewall accusations of corruption.
The mass demonstrations that have staggered Guatemala’s government are continuing. On July 25, thousands of students took to the streets of the capital, Guatemala City, to commemorate three months in which the people of Guatemala have protested corruption and demanded the president’s resignation.
During these three months a change in the nation’s political culture has become visible. The populace has shaken off the fear borne of the Guatemala Civil War, which left 200,000 dead …
By John Fine | July 5, 2015
There is no joy in flying any more. A newspaper reported that an airline discovered they could save $65,000 a year by not serving pretzels on flights so they stopped serving free snacks while the CEO took another bonus. Passengers are often treated without respect or dignity and are squeezed for every extra including seat space. Luggage fees apply. If a bag is even a pound over the 50 pound allowance there is a hefty surcharge. Yes, one pound. A curbside check in for one airline took huge bags from a Latin American bound passenger that promised a good tip. Cash changed hands while I had to pull a pound out of my bag or pay extra.
Traveling with pets, …
By John Fine | June 15, 2015
“That’s Snake Creek Bridge. It is the last draw bridge in the Keys. We hear the lady that opens it talking by radio to boat captains all the time,” Robert Cvetkovski said. Robert just took over full ownership of Smugglers Cove Resort, Marina and Restaurant on the bay at Mile Marker 85.5.
“Do you know the Islamorada Sand Bar?” He asked. “Four to six hundred boats pull up on the sand every weekend to party. See where the birds are standing, that’s dry land.” Robert pointed out past the drawbridge to an obvious bar where the channel had not been dredged between the islands to permit boat traffic. The resort is on a peninsula that sticks out from land at …
By John Fine | June 9, 2015
Mansions of the super rich dot the shores of Palm Beach. Some form landmarks for dive boat captains. Sites are named for famous places like Bath and Tennis about a mile offshore from Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club reserved for wealthy scions in America. Meriwether Post, of the Post Cereal fortune, built Mar a Largo and entertained the worldâ€™s richest in great style. She would fly in square dance bands and callers for weekend dances at the mansion. There is no limit to wealth evidenced by mega-yachts tied to docks along Palm Beach’s Intracoastal Waterway called Lake Worth in this area.
Many jokes are traditional among divers off the Palm Beaches. When a freighter came ashore and landed in …
By John Fine | May 28, 2015
The invention was long overdue. I’ve dug many holes on land to uncover finds my
detector signaled were hidden in the earth. I’ve searched the world for
shipwrecks and sunken treasure. I’ve climbed mountains looking for lost gold and
silver mines. For all of that I’ve damaged my share of valuable artifacts. I
remember vividly bringing bags of coins aboard the dive boat, dumping them out
on deck and watching while clumps were broken apart with hammers. The excitement
was just too much to contain careless attack on numismatic finds.
With the advent of the Garrett Pro-Pointer it is possible to pin point the
exact location of a hit. This isolates the find and enables its careful
excavation. Far too …
By John Fine | May 25, 2015
Their meals are delicious and substantial. These are not Californians playing
with food. Everything is tasteful and savory, only the restaurant’s name is
unconventional, perhaps hard to pronounce. Oo-Tray is a consternation of the
French word ‘outré’ which in my old Larousse French dictionary from school means
Yoel Sanchez and his partner Chef David Matlock expand the adjective on their
menu as “Passing the bounds of what is usual or considered proper;
unconventional, bizarre.” Culinary awards over the entrance to the kitchen prove
that David is not only considered ‘Best Chef’ judged at the Florida Keys Island
Festival, he has won other awards for his dishes as well.
Oo-Tray has been open only a year at Mile Marker 80.9 …
By John Fine | May 24, 2015
Oltremare is brand new and beautiful. Created off the lobby of the Amara Cay
Resort oceanside at Mile Marker 80 in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, Oltremare
boats ‘Cucina Italiana.’ The setting is open with an open modern bar. A huge
grouper mural in black is set against translucent glass behind the bar. It
immediately catches the eye as diners enter the space of tables set in the bar
area. There is a partitioned dining space facing floor to ceiling windows that
overlook the resort’s swimming pool and Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Dining is comfortable in the oceanside area with only nine tables. There is a
spectacular view of planted gardens and palm trees, azure waters and, with the
quiet of …
By John Fine | May 23, 2015
Nothing is really remembered without nostalgia. The way things were during
vacations taken long ago are memories of wonderful times, simpler times, when it
was normal to take time, to spend time, to enjoy time. It was more than just
getting some place, cell phone and computer in hand, then getting home; it was
an era when families traveled to Florida by car. There were gasoline wars.
Stations competed for business by busting prices. Some threw in a bag of oranges
or grapefruits with every fill-up. There were monkey farms and alligator farms
and produce stands and gift shops catering to every tourist delight from sticky
pecan rolls to ice cold watermelon.
Those were the days of our parent’s generation. …
By John Fine | May 10, 2015
A weatherbeaten fisherman was getting ice from bait lockers at Bud ‘n Mary’s
Marina. The place is legend in Florida’s Keys at Mile Marker 79.9, just north of
the Tea Table Relief bridge, right on the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a large
concrete deck that overlooks the marina. A perfect place to relax in early
morning before sunrise. Commercial fishing boats turn over their diesels and are
usually the first to leave, deep sea fishermen anxious to get lines in.
Just next door Mike Goldberg’s Key Dives shop opens at 8. Divers check in for
the morning trip aboard ‘Giant Stride,’ their 42-foot Newton. “It is powered by
two 8.1 liter John Deere’s, Bertha and Rita,” Captain Ken Wangen said. Captain…
By John Fine | April 17, 2015
April 17, 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Black Death, the anthhmer Rouge entry into Cambodia’s capitol city of Phnom Penh. The scourge that followed will remain a blot on world history forever. Two—perhaps three—million people were murdered or starved to death by communist criminals inspired by their hatred for the United States.
Cambodia was a war that should not have happened. So was Laos. U.S. secret societies with government acronyms infiltrated, advised, cajoled and lied to these other peoples. Races that in no way were related to Vietnamese. The U.S. sent illegal sorties into Cambodia and involved the Laotians. Anything to work their will in a war they knew they were losing. Don’t forget communist China was well …
By John Fine | April 16, 2015
April 17, 2015 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the Black Death. The Khmer
Rouge entry into Cambodia’s capitol city of Phnom Penh. The scourge that
followed will remain a blot on world history forever. Two- perhaps three million
people were murdered or starved to death by communist criminals inspired by
their hatred for the United States.
Americans left Indochina like cowards, tail between their legs. Innocents
drafted into the war in Vietnam became victim to cheap prostitutes and drugs.
Soldiers suffered maiming wounds while their commanders lived in luxury mansions
with fine china, leaded crystal for entertaining. U.S. politicians at home fed
off the carrion of war. Their pockets lined with contributions from arms, ship,
aircraft and bomb makers. …
By John Fine | April 16, 2015
Danny McCauley was just seventeen years old when the Jeep Wrangler he was
driving left the road and crashed into a wall and trees off Forest Hill
Boulevard at the entrance to Okeeheelee Park on February 22, 2012. Danny was
killed in the accident. One year to the day later his parents and friends saw a
ship laid down as an artificial reef in his honor in the Atlantic Ocean off
Palm Beach, Florida.
The Danny McCauley Memorial Reef is a World War II tug boat that was built in
Canada in 1944. The vessel had been derelict in the Miami River for 35 years
before Danny’s parents raised $10,000 and Palm Beach County contributed an
additional $25,000 to obtain …
By John Fine | April 5, 2015
Black by definition is “Without any moral light or goodness; evil; wicked;
caused or marked by ruin or desolation.” Why then are we allowing our police
officers to wear black. Why do we equip our U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
agents in black with hob nail black boots. Why do we permit communities to
organize SWAT teams in black garb.
These are not questions rather moral imperatives that require correction in a
democratic society that praises Constitutional safeguards above life itself.
Patriots died to preserve our liberty. Profiteers pass legislation using that
name to rape us of those same liberties. These same elected officials
compromise universal good by enabling legislation that puts weapons of war into
the hands of municipal …
By John Fine | April 2, 2015
Randy Jordan was born in Tampa. He didn’t dive until he moved to Miami. In
1980 he became a scuba instructor and has been diving and teaching diving ever
since. “I evolved,” he said. He was sitting aboard his 46 foot Burpee dive boat
moored at the brand new Harbor Side Marina behind a modern shopping mall just
north of Indiantown Road in Jupiter, Florida.
‘Emerald’ was painted light green. Randy’s logo includes a shamrock. The
vessel’s bow has a unique imprint. Large jaws appear on both sides of the prow
above the water line. Sharks are Randy’s hallmark. That and a unique lifestyle
logging three-tank dives almost every day to the tune of some 600 dives a year.
By John Fine | March 9, 2015
Deadwood was a pretty rough town in 1875. It was Indian Territory, protected by treaty. The peace was broken when gold was discovered in the Black Hills of the Dakotas. Thousands of miners flocked to the area hoping to strike it rich. What grew rich were service industries that provided tools, opium, prostitutes and other supplies. Winters were harsh. Miners did everything just to stay warm and survive.
Deadwood legalized gambling in 1989. While Main Street remains its main attraction with old buildings and saloons, the town’s casinos attract lots of headliners to perform and draws visitors that like to gamble. What this thriving community didn’t have was a spa. What it did have was a kangaroo ranch just outside …
By John 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 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 …