Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

December 28, 2011

Most Valuable Tool on Your Boat?

I have several, simple rules when I'm in charge of a boat and its passengers:

1. I'm the boss. What I say goes. No questions.
2. When you're done in the tackle box, CLOSE and LOCK the box.
3. Knife and pliers go back in the bait box, and CLOSE the box.
4. Watch your back cast.
5. No hooks on deck.

Why? Safety.
Why else? Those tools (especially the knife and pliers) can be invaluable.

I learned my lesson long ago. Back in 2002, I was fishing alone off Bermuda. Catching lots of oddballs. I got lazy and tried to flip a Squirrelfish off the hook instead of reaching for the pliers. I got stuck good. Lots of blood, pain, numbness.

So, please keep your knife and pliers safe, and use them to unhook your potentially dangerous fish! And... DON'T do this:
(PS: That's not a Cookiecutter Shark. If it had been, those fingers would be gone.)

December 14, 2011


It makes complete sense that fishes would 'learn' to walk underwater before moving onto land. But I've never seen video of this before now. This is a really cool clip of an African Lungfish walking in a lab.

Here's a link to the Underwater Times article... ><{{{{*> Enjoy!

December 10, 2011

Fish Prints

Here's the skinny... I really didn't think I'd ever get into this. I never had the time! Always under deadline, always focused on a big project (think: Aquarium or Book or Kids :)

But, I've been needled for years by my friends and compatriots to sell, offer, make available(however you'd like to describe it), prints of my illustrations. Online or in stores. Whatever. There was pressure.

See, I've been blessed with this freaky, geeky gift. I have an ability and desire to illustrate fishes precisely, exactly, and lovingly. The illustrations that come out of me are pretty amazing. I look at them and go: "Cool!" But I'm not just patting myself on the back like, "Yo! I'm Awesome! Fly Val!" It's just what I do. It's what I've always done: marching to my own drummer. When I nail an illustration, when it looks JUST like the subject, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

And, obviously, I love fishes. So I feel a deep need to further understanding, appreciation and conservation of them and their environments. So, I've honed my gift to illustrate, sharpened it, and used it to the best of my ability. If I hadn't...shame on me. I'd have wasted a gift.

So, after almost a year of research and thought crunching, I decided to go for it and finally share the illustrations.
Inspired and coached by my nephew, Leigh, I've launched Val Kells Fish Prints.

Love fish. They rock.

December 9, 2011

Jellies and Jewfish

Last summer I was shooting the breeze with my friend Norman while waiting for sharks to bite our bait. Waiting usually includes sharing many anecdotes and funny stories. (We're good at waiting :)
Norman told me one story about fishing with Jellyfish bait. Apparently, he was using Cannonball jellies to catch some kind of fish (can't remember what kind, sharks, maybe). He decided to stock up and store the jellies in the bait well with the other bluefish bait. Not five minutes later, all the bluefish were dead.

Now, Cannonballs are virtually harmless. Pick one up sometime. No sting. They're like giant, slimy, hard-boiled eggs. BUT, put enough of them together, and there is enough toxin in their combined nematocysts to kill.

What made me think of this? This story out of St. Lucie.

Too many jellies and too many Jewfish trapped together. Lethal to all.

Norman learned his lesson. Maybe the power plant engineers will too? If they can split atoms, they can prevent fish from getting trapped.
(I'm surprised the state didn't slap them with a fine. They'd have slapped a fisherman for taking the Jewfish!)

December 4, 2011

What's In A Label?

Answer? A LOT!
Terminology can determine perception, action, and outcome. I've long held a bias against the terms "shark attack". And, I've always felt that sharks do not target people, therefore to label encounters that end in a bite as attacks is misleading.

Seems I'm not alone. This author feels the same. I hope his efforts make a difference, because it IS time to change the statistical and labeling systems. Will the University of Florida take notice and change the name of its 'Shark Attack' files? Hope so!

(Aside: When I was asked to offer comments/changes to the text of the upcoming Field Guide to Fishes of Chesapeake Bay, I asked that "shark attacks" be changed to "shark-related incidents." The authors agreed :)

December 2, 2011

Killing Baby Swords

I thought long and hard about keeping this blog permanently light and airy. Make it all fluff and stuff. Happy happy! In other words: keep the negative news out.
And besides, that would make me (in simple terms) fake.
So, oh well. A depressing video of Swordfish juvies brought to slaughter.

The translation at the bottom reads: "Fishery associations and political forces are fighting to amend the Community rules on fishing bans fishing: the use of the hook no. 7 with the technique of the line makes a real slaughter of small swordfish"

Maybe these fishermen will 'get it'. Maybe not. But one thing's for sure, YouTube exposed it. Until someone takes the vid down.