Shop's gift to feed aquarium critters for 7 months

THOM BENSON/Tennessee Aquarium/An electric ell named Miguel Wattson lights up a Christmas tree at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The aquarium says a system connected to Miguel's tank enables his shocks to power strands of lights on the nearby tree. 

The spirit of the season is upon us here at FishOn, only we're sorry to say that season is winter.

So color us cold and gloomy as the weather, a countenance frankly not all that different for us in the months when the sun is shining and the temperature is above, oh, say 25 degrees. We are New Englanders and apologize for nothing.

Still, an act of generosity is always enough to lift our spirits. It would even warm our cockles if we had any idea what those are and where they reside. Some things are better left unknown, we thinks.

Anyway, a nice shoutout to Skip and Matt Sheppard over at Three Lantern Marine & Fishing Supply on Parker Street. The Sheppards, reprising an annual act of kindness, cleaned out the store's bait stock of frozen clams, squid, herring and mackerel and shipped them over to the nice folks at Maritime Gloucester to be used to feed its aquarium animals.

"We've done this for a number of years now," Matt Sheppard said. "Whatever we don't sell and have left over from the season, we offer to them. It really does us a favor because we don't have to keep storing it and it helps them.

Does it ever, according to Maritime Gloucester Executive Director Michael DeKoster.

"Our friends at Three Lantern are incredibly generous to us," DeKoster wrote in an email. "We are so appreciative that each November they empty their freezers to fill ours. This donation will feed our aquarium animals for almost seven months. Our staff and sea creatures are very thankful."

So, there you go. Hands across the ocean. Fish across the harbor.

Nothing says X-mas like eel-ectricity

"In a Tennessee aquarium, there is an electric eel named Miguel Wattson." If that isn't a great opening line for a novel, we don't know what is. It's almost Dickensian. Feel free to borrow it.

Wattson, who has his own Twitter account with 30,000 followers (The reviews: Electrifying! Shocking! Spine-tingling!), resides at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and the folks at the aquarium have figured out a way to use use Miggie's electrical emissions to power up lights on a Christmas tree near his tank.

The flashes, according to a story from The Associated Press, usually come when he's looking for food. Their intensity usually is representatives of what he's doing or how he's feeling. Just like us!

"The bigger flashes are caused by the higher voltage shocks he emits when he's eating or excited," said Kimberly Hurt, a staffer at the aquarium.

Throw a Delaney's pizza in his tank and we bet that tree would look like a super nova.

The AP story said Miggie also powers his own Twitter account.

"Coders at Tennessee Tech University's iCube created the algorithm, powered by his jolts, in 2015 to help give Wattson a voice and an ability to engage with the public," the story stated. "He typically tweets out fun messages like 'za-BOOSH!!!!,' 'KRASNAPPA-TAT!!!' and, most recently, 'BAZINGG'."

He should run for president.

Fishing for big coin

One of our favorite stories from the past year was a feature we did on Capt. Joe Sanfilippo's innovative start-up course, Extreme Gloucester Fishing, that uses a classroom setting to teach commercial fishing novices some of the the mechanics of working on a commercial fishing boat.

Extreme Gloucester Fishing this year entered the North of Boston Business Plan competition organized by the Enterprise Center at Salem State University and rose to one of three finalists for the top prize of $10,000. It is at least assured of receiving $3,000 if it finishes second or $2,000 if it takes the bronze.

On Friday, Sanfilippo was set to make a final presentation at Salem State. No word when the prizes will be awarded. We called the Enterprise Center a couple times to inquire, but no one apparently was enterprising enough to answer the phone.   

A really good Samaritan

This is a tough one.

A group of Florida snorkelers was celebrating Thanksgiving Day with a dive off the coast of Palm Beach when a motor boat bore down on the group, striking a diver named Carter Viss, a 25-year-old marine biologist at the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Jupiter, Florida, and severing Viss' right arm, according to several local reports. 

"A boat came along and went right over them," Samantha Marulli, a witness, told a local television station. "When they pulled (the victim) out of the water, he didn't have an arm."

The unidentified good Samaritan, according to witnesses, used a paddle board to retrieve the arm and place it in a bag before turning it over to the Coast Guard rescue team. 

Viss was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries that included the severed arm, a broken left wrist and severe injuries to both legs.

Crustacean Nation

You may have read in these here pages last week, and online at, that we continue to grieve — crying wee salty tears — for our Gulf of Maine northern shrimp and their inability to gain any traction in the rebuilding of the highly coveted, yet imperiled stock.

Already closed for six years, the fishery is operating in a three-year closure not set to end until after the 2021 fishing season. Regulators from the northern shrimp section of the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission, which regulates the stock, reviewed the most recent data on Friday. It offered no solace — or even optimism — and the fishery remains shuttered.

Meanwhile, to the south of us, shrimp are on the move and suddenly there is a white shrimp fishery off the Eastern Shore of Virginia where before there really was none. And researchers believe Maryland could be next as the shrimp make their way north.

"White shrimp, which thrive in the Gulf of Mexico and south Atlantic Ocean, typically only venture as far north as North Carolina in any significant amount," according to a story on the news website. "A ghost of a shrimp market has existed off Virginia for only one or two weeks out of the year. But this year, it's something different."

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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