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 | 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 Christopher 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 Christopher 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 Christopher 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 Christopher 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 Christopher 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 Christopher 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 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 …