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Pithy Stuff & Slight Squalls
A Collection of Maritime Trivia

Text by Bryan Henry
“Mooncussers” was the name given to men — often pirates or stranded mutineers — who lured merchant sailing ships to destruction ashore so that they could collect their cargo as salvage. They would operate on dark nights when nothing could be seen, waving lanterns that ships often mistook for the lights of other ships. They were dubbed mooncussers because they cursed the moon and the light it brought, robbing them of their livelihood.
Three men who spent five days adrift in the Atlantic in January 1980 had a shark to thank for their rescue. The men had fallen asleep when the shark nudged their raft, awakening them in time to see a passing freighter that they were able to flag down.
The Latin name for broadbill swordfish, Xiphias gladius, means “sword gladiator.”
A sailfish can rip off about 300 feet of monofilament line in three seconds, which is an equivalent velocity of 68 miles per hour.
Some blue marlins have been found with juvenile swordfish in their stomachs.
The average angler trolls 10 days or more for each blue marlin caught.
Whales are born tail first.
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia can be seen from the moon, but contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China cannot.
Coral reefs cover about one-fiftieth of the ocean floor, but about one quarter of all marine species make reefs their home.
Corals produce a natural sunscreen, which chemists are trying to extract for use by humans.
More than half of the world’s population – about 2.8 billion people — live within 60 miles of a coastline.
An oyster can smell but cannot see.
There are more than 400 species of oysters worldwide.
Oysters don’t have a brain, and oyster blood is colorless.
Some jellyfish split themselves in two as a means of reproduction.
60% of the Pacific Coast shoreline and 35% of the Atlantic Coast shoreline are eroding at a rate of three feet a year.
The pirate Blackbeard reportedly mixed gunpowder with his rum, set fire to it, and drank the flaming mixture.

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