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 28, 2014
“He beats me all the time. Just not tonight,” Bruce Bower smiled. He took a turn sitting on the side lines at Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton where, every Monday and Wednesday, Table Tennis is organized under the auspices of the Palm Beach County School District. Bruce lives in Delray Beach and still, after 70 years in America, retains his English lilt. “Table tennis is so much more popular around the world than it is in the U.S.,” he added.
“It helps your hand-eye coordination. People don’t realize that it is good exercise and how demanding it is. It is good for health and is fun,” Bruce’s opponent said. David Alboukrek is a rheumatologist. He attended the …
By John Christopher Fine | February 10, 2014
There are two trite French expressions dredged up as wisdom from the ages. Famed underwater pioneers spoke them to me almost at the same time during the 1985 World Underwater Congress I organized in Miami, Florida: ‘Il faut prendre rien au serieux,’ take nothing seriously, and its companion given a few hours later, ‘Jouer le jeux,’ play the game. The paradox was how could I be my frivolous, carefree self and play the game with ultimate icons in the diving world that looked to me for leadership. Somehow it all worked when I wore the tuxedo yet left my shoes in the hotel room.
Bret Gilliam must have been given the same advice. He has achieved great success in business …
By John Christopher Fine | February 5, 2014
The History of Diving Museum is located in a modern building at Mile Marker 83 on the Bayside of Highway US 1 in Islamorada, Florida. It is the creation and inspiration of two physicians, husband and wife, Dr. Joe and Sally Bauer. The entrance is alluring with hard hat diver suited up, antique helmeted mannequin and a beautiful mural decorating the building.
Once inside a well-stocked gift shop is prelude to a large door that simulates a ship’s hatch. Before entrance through the portal to the museum itself, a short film in a formal library describes the mission and collections in store for visitors.
“There are 2,500 books in our collection. They are all related to diving. The oldest book …
By John Christopher Fine | February 2, 2014
A cannon graces the main hall of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce building at Mile Marker 106 on US 1. The mostly two-lane road is also known as the Overseas Highway. Recovered by volunteer divers Denis Trelewicz and Chuck Hayes off Key Largo in the Marine Sanctuary, it is thought to be from a British privateer. Marks on the cannon reveal it to be a four-pounder, firing four pound shot, made around 1760. There are ample brochures and rack cards at the chamber that offer discounts and information to make it a first stop.
The Keys are marked with small green roadside signs that give the mileage to Key West. The Mile Markers provide a good indication of where …
By John Christopher Fine | January 31, 2014
The sun changed colors the lower it got to the horizon. As it sank over the bay behind Sundowners Restaurant in Key Largo, Florida, it lost its bright yellow edge and became at first orange then red. All around it clouds on the horizon reflected pastel hues. We had a table at the very southwest corner of the patio. The sun’s fading warmth took the edge off winter in Florida. Champagne bubbles glistened in our glasses in the last rays of the sun.
Florida Keys in winter offer many wonders. A thin strip of islands connected by bridges run about 120 miles. The Overseas Highway, or US 1, is designated by mile markers. Key Largo is the first city entering …
By John Christopher Fine | January 25, 2014
It is an American success story. When Robert DiGiorgio’s father left post-World War II Italy he came to South Florida. “After the war there was nothing left in Italy. My father emigrated from Monte Casino. That is home to the second richest monastery in the world. He met my mother in South Florida. Her parents came from the Independent Republic of San Marino,” Robert DiGiorgio related with a smile.
“Five years later they opened a restaurant and had me and my sister. Dad is 78 years of age and he still likes to visit and check up on me,” he added. Robert’s good humor and sentimentality for his family’s humble beginnings add a special dimension to the way he runs …
By John Christopher Fine | January 17, 2014
“Look at Greek sculptures. They idealized the human body. Their perfection of human form of male and female bodies remain as evidence of Greek civilization’s concept of beauty. In the past painters idealized the female body with portly attributes,” Dr. Manuel Moran said. Dr. Moran is an anesthesiologist and surgeon in Guatemala where he has participated in hundreds of body sculpting procedures.
In French slang the word ‘Boudin,’ is used to describe a portly woman. It comes from the famed artist’s conceptions of female bodies that are layered with fat. To that Dr. Moran responds, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If beautiful is black skin or superman shape then that is considered ideal. Media influences affect social …
By John Christopher Fine | January 13, 2014
Oscar Marroquin picked us up in Las Lisas. It is a small port on Guatemala’s Pacific coast. With traffic and ‘tumulos,’ or speed bumps, along the way it took us about a two hour drive from the hamlet of Buena Vista where we stayed at Pacific Fins Resort and Marina. It would have been about another two-hour drive had we come straight down from Guatemala City.
“The main highway has been paved and the Pope Bernardino 23rd Bridge is brand new,” Roberto Matheu said. Roberto and his wife Suzette own Pana Divers in the capital. It is a remarkable facility. Roberto is an accomplished dive instructor. He drove his comfortable four-door truck loaded with our dive gear. We made stops …
By John Christopher Fine | January 9, 2014
Greg Stemm is co-founder and CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration. Greg and his team have brought maritime archaeology to new depths. Literally. Never before could scientists conceive of finding, exploring, photographing and recovering artifacts from ships that wrecked miles beneath the ocean surface. Nations whose defenses depended on deep-sea submarine penetration located shipwrecks like the Titanic but left their ‘discovery’ to others. In fact the U.S. Navy’s Project Hebble mapped the North Atlantic in minute detail for nuclear submarine warfare.
What is remarkable is that private funding was used to muster the resources that enabled deep-sea exploration. It is no small undertaking to build undersea robotic platforms from which cameras and working arms can be extended for research and recovery …
By John Christopher Fine | January 7, 2014
Little Deeper dive charters is a family operation in every sense. Captain David Brown and his wife Lynn operate a dive boat out of the Lake Park Marina. David, a former U.S. Coastguardsman, and his family are all avid divers. It was natural that when he left the world of construction and engineering, after his military service, he would look toward the ocean for his new vocation.
David bought a dive boat in Boynton Beach, Florida. It required a lot of repairs. Eventually he had to replace both motors. After a slow start a couple of years ago the Brown family got Little Deeper ship shape and operational as one of south Florida’s premiere dive vessels.
“We came up here …
By John Christopher Fine | January 5, 2014
The last voyage of the steamship Copenhagen took place on May 20, 1900. The ship was carrying 4,940 tons of coal from Philadelphia bound for Havana, Cuba. The collier was a large steel-hulled vessel, 325-feet long with a 47-foot beam. Captain William S. Jones left his chief officer on deck and retired for the night ordering the course set South-South-East after passing the Jupiter lighthouse.
When Captain Jones returned to his post he miscalculated the ship’s distance from shore. His ship was steaming at full speed when it struck what is called the first reef, about three-quarters of a mile off Pompano Beach, Florida.
“The Copenhagen is a State of Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve. When it wrecked in 1900 it …
By John Christopher Fine | January 3, 2014
The stink radiated off the water. It wafted over the marina docks into the pool and dining room area of the resort. There was no mistaking what it was. Raw sewage was being dumped into a lagoon that separated the mainland from a peninsula opposite.
“La peste,” Dr. Manuel Moran said. His eyes followed swaths of sewage as the noxious waste floated along the wide lagoon. The sewage clearly was a plague. Dr. Moran, an experienced physician and surgeon that directed hospitals in Guatemala, saw the danger. Not only did the noisome pollution contaminate the waterfront of this luxury tourist resort, it clearly posed a menace to health.
Children cast fishing nets in the canal. As the tide went out …
By John Christopher Fine | December 30, 2013
He is 80 years old. Born and brought up on the shores of Connecticut and Rhode Island Bob Croft has salt water in his blood. His earliest play was on the bays, waterfront and harbors of New England. As a little boy he was champ diving down for the delectable quahog clams in Narragansett Bay. What fun to swim, row his boat with pals and explore the marine estuaries near home.
Bob Croft remembers the great hurricane of 1938. He was about four when the violent storm wiped out much of New England’s waterfront and devastated homes and businesses. He was 7 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He played war games with his friends from imagined bunkers the boys …
By John Christopher Fine | December 26, 2013
Once a year the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences votes and awards its highest honor, the NOGI, to a select cadre of divers who are simultaneously elected as fellows of the Academy. For any in the marine sciences, arts, sports or those that have distinguished themselves in the international diving community through service, the NOGI represents the ultimate approval of their peers. It is the diving world’s highest award. For those in the marine field it has been said to be the equivalent of an Oscar or a Pulitzer Prize. For Dr. E. Lee Spence it was formal recognition for his career as a shipwreck historian, underwater archaeologist, discoverer, diver and author.
NOGI stands for New Orleans Grand Isle, …
By John Christopher Fine | December 19, 2013
It is the most valuable gemstone in the world. Christie’s auction house in Hong Kong sold an emerald color necklace consisting of 27 jade beads that ranged in size from 15.09 to 15.84 millimeters, all made from the same piece of rough jade, in 1997 for $9.3 million. The cut came from about one kilogram of a larger jade rock aptly called the ‘Doubly Fortunate’ boulder. Every time it was cut the family that owned it doubled their fortune.
Hong Kong is the place where fortunes in jade are turned over while mainland China, now likely the richest consumer nation in the world, is where jade is most coveted. True jade or jadeite brings the highest prices at auction. Christie’s …
By John Christopher Fine | December 14, 2013
Freddy Gomez unlocked a glass showcase in Casa del Jade’s main retail store in Antigua, Guatemala. Jewelry glistened in gold and platinum settings. A security guard repositioned himself to keep the doorway in view. Surveillance cameras were everywhere. With immaculate precision Freddy removed a magnificent man’s ring. The Imperial Jade stone caught the light and radiated its brilliance overpowering diamonds that surrounded it in its white gold setting. Holding the ring under the store’s projector bulbs brought the Mayan legend to life. This jade is the Stone of Kings.
“I’ve been here almost forty years,” Gerald Leech said. Gerry is the founder, owner and president of one of the world’s most important jade factories. It is one of the largest …
By John Christopher Fine | December 12, 2013
New York City was covered with a soft blanket of white. Snow stopped falling. White dusted the esplanade on Park Avenue. Christmas decorations glistened at every pedestrian entrance to stately buildings. People huddled in their scarves and mufflers, rushing home in the cold crisp air. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel stood out in the cold. Flags unfurled, doormen whistling down taxi cabs, people coming and going. It is an American landmark. An oasis in midtown Manhattan. An icon of beautiful construction that mixes art-deco with turn of the century opulence.
There is always something going on at the Waldorf. Banquets, parties, events, conventions. The complex takes up an entire city block between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue east and west and 49th …
By John Christopher Fine | December 6, 2013
Pacific Fins Resort and Marina is an oasis along Guatemala’s western coast. The area boasts volcanic black sand beaches, small fishing towns, a modern container port and big game fishing. Billfishing in Guatemala is world class, sometimes called the Sailfish Capital of the World.
The owner is the son of a Danish father and Guatemalan mother. Niels Erichsen speaks perfect, colloquial English. He welcomes guests personally. His staff is all bilingual and the hospitality for which this Central American nation is known predominates any visit.
The resort is located on a canal that leads out into the Pacific Ocean. Niels has five deep-sea fishing vessels, all fully equipped for billfishing with a staff of experienced captains. The resort is intimate. …
By John Christopher Fine | November 5, 2013
Highway 14 A off Interstate 90 leads through mountain passes into town. It is a modern road. Beautiful monuments bid welcome coming down into the gulch where once a rowdy settlement housed thousands of miners in 1875. Much has been written about this historic town’s early frontier days. A fictional film series portrayed it as a city of vice, corruption and evil where murderous thugs ruled by force and power.
Deadwood has settled down some since frontier days although gambling has been legalized and casinos dot the landscape everywhere. Revenue from casino gambling enabled the city to restore and improve many landmarks in town. There are luxury hotels and fine restaurants, inns and boarding houses. Historic Main Street’s brick buildings …
By John Christopher Fine | November 4, 2013
There is something about roadside America that highways haven’t completely quelled. Gone are the scenic byways along two lane roads that crossed the country. Automobile travel was an adventure shared by the whole family. Kids in the back would harp about things they wanted to see, parents would look for antique stores and curio shops. Life was carefree if not careless and a nickel went a long way, especially since gasoline was something like 25 cents a gallon.
Undaunted by the cost of living, Hustead’s Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota still brags about their coffee for 5 cents, free for veterans and people in service. Ice water is still free as is the playground, which in fact is …