June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
Testicular fish and other wonders of diving Taiwan
- February, 2001
When you think of world famous diving sites, you probably don’t think of Taiwan.  There are a lot of really good reasons for this.  For one thing, like many aspiring tourism sites in Asia, they don’t seem to know how to name things with an eye towards marketing.  Cozumel has “The Wall.” In Boracay I dove on “Crocodile Island,” and of course Australia has, “The Great Barrier Reef.”  Just the names make these places sound like cool places to dive.

            In Taiwan we went diving at “Nuclear Plant Number Three Cooling Vent.” The other popular area is called “Feeding Fish Place.” It was explained to me – in all seriousness - that they came up with this second name after discovering it was a place you could feed fish.  I suggested, “Fish Grotto,” or something nice like that, but they said that would confuse people.  And so goes the tourism business in Taiwan.

            Now let’s return to the fact that Kenting, Taiwan’s number one diving site is near a nuclear power plant.  This would be another reason Taiwan is not on the world’s Top 10 list of dive sites.  Actually, it wasn’t that bad once you got over the idea of bumping into fish with two heads or five eyes.  True, there wasn’t a whole lot to see, but the coral was nice.  Visibility was so-so; certainly no Great Barrier Reef, but not the Puget Sound either.  All in all we had a pretty good time, though I think I saw a fish with a testicle.

            Diving in the shadow of nuclear cooling towers, I asked our guide why we didn’t head over to “Feeding Fish Place.” Not that the name was growing on me, but I figured nothing radioactive would be either.  But he explained that this site had fallen out of favor when the fishermen started throwing their hooks and bait into big groups of scuba divers.  Seems that feeding fish attracts big schools of them.  Later, it attracted people with spear guns, and scuba divers started heading for places where the only danger was glowing in the dark. (Both them and the fish.)

            Looking at our dive guide, he seemed fairly intact for a man who had dodged hooks and spear guns. (I did not see him in the dark.)  I asked him how he’d managed to stay healthy.  He said once you’ve had people throw dynamite off the side of a boat looking for fish, a spear gun really doesn’t faze you anymore.  From this I learned two things:

            1. If you are ever in the water and lit dynamite floats near you, turn sideways to it, curl up in a ball, and put one hand over the ear nearest the blast and your other hand over your groin. This keeps key bodily components from exploding..  As my guide didn’t drool or stutter much, I decided this probably works.

            2. There are LOTS of reasons why Taiwan is not on the world’s Top 1000 list of

dive sites.