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THE WATERFALL              

A Story and Book Review 

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

By Mark Kurlansky


Kurlansky manages to tell this story of how humankind delivered scarcity from abundance so that it reads as a delightfully entertaining tale. In addition to the fascinating historical record about the cod and its importance in so many times and cultures, this books points out with exceptional clarity how all of nature is one system.  And we are a critical part of that system.


Ocean Cod

Frequently better known as sheepherders in the mountains of Northwest Spain, the Basques have a long and successful tradition as seafaring people and traders.  They fished for cod in the areas of Iceland, Greenland and Canada.  Unlike the Norse, who dried cod, the Basques had salt and were able to cure their cod catches.  Salt cod lasted longer than dried, and it tasted better, therefore it was also a more valued tradegood.  By the year 1000 the Basques had an international trade program based on cod.

In the  early 1500s, Portugal, Spain, England and France were frequently fishing cod in Newfoundland.  Half of the 128 trips from Europe departed from La Rochelle on the Southwest Coast of France (just a little north of Basque country). (The Big Splash spent a summer in La Rochelle one year. It has a beautiful secure port with the entrance flanked by old middle-age towers.)  But the French Basque ports of Bayonne and St.-Jean-de-Luz were also important cod ports.


There are a series of shallow areas off the North American coast that run from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to Georges Banks of Massachusetts. This is an area rich in phytoplankton, which feed zooplankton. Krill feeds in turn on the zooplankton.  Herring and other mid-level fish eat the krill.  Combined with just the right temperatures, these were the richest cod waters anywhere.  This was the Basque’s secret.

In time, New England, particularly Boston and Gloucester, became a powerful cod fishing center.  The area was perfectly positioned to benefit from their location and cod patterns, and there was strong demand in Europe and European colonies. Right up to a moratorium in 1992, Newfoundland sold its cod to Boston. (There is still a “Blessing of the Fleet” event each year in Gloucester Mass., which we’ve attended.)


Lighthouse Gloucester, Mass

Lighthouse in Gloucester Massachusetts

As early as 1868, the cod stock in several areas had failed off Newfoundland and Labrador.  In the 1900s new inventions permitted the taking of cod at levels never dreamed of before.  Schooners got much bigger and much faster.  Engine powered trawlers dragged the ocean bottom like we sweep the floor.  Lawrence Birdseye’s system for freezing food combined with automated filleting machines led to a great commercial success – and led to over- fishing.  During World War II these inventions came together in the factory ship.  We humans always seem to think that if we can do it, we should do it bigger and more.  Schools of fish were found by sonar.  Other technologies increased our ability to find and catch fish.  The results were predictable.

Late in the book is a chapter called “Requiem for the Grand Banks”.  A quote reads:  “Everyone talks of ‘when the cod comes back’.  But nature may have different plans.”


This is a delightful book that delivers a great history lesson as well as an environmental one.  Will we learn from our history, or keep repeating the same mistakes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ocean Rowboat


Celebrate Water, Filter Water, Save Water

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First City to Run Out of Water?

Maude Barlow is theorizing that Sydney may be the first major city to run out of water. She predicts that Sydney Australia will be limited to drinking water only in 3 to 5 years. Maude says that Sydney is in the running with Mexico City and Beijing to be the first city to run out of water. 

She tells Australians that they have a limited amount of time before you're going to have to evacuate their country. The Wave and The Big Splash at Friends of Water have heard Maude speak. She is an extremely intelligent, caring and dedicated person, and one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about water resources. Learn more about Maude.

Decreasing Supplies

Across the U.S. High Plains, farmers are faced with increasing irrigation costs and decreasing water supplies. As this trend continues, farmers will have to change their management practices to conserve water, and in some cases cease irrigation all together.

A later addendum:

The High Plains continue to deplete their water supply - they are using us groundwater and aquafers.  See the Newest FLOW for additional info.
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No Fluoride

A story in The Herald-News in Dayton Ohio has pointed out that a practicing physician who also serves in the Tennessee legislature says all fluoridated drinking water is harmful to humans, especially infants and young children. Dr. Joey Hensley said: "Information is now coming out showing that the health risks associated with drinking fluoridated water significantly outweigh fluoride’s limited cavity fighting action. Giving an unmeasured amount of fluoride through drinking water and not monitoring people’s response to it makes no sense at all and violates fundamental principles of toxicology, pharmacology, and ethics.”  The Doctor states that “the Centers for Disease Control last year admitted that 32 percent of school-age kids have some form of dental fluorosis.” Stockin said that the issue of fluoride in drinking water “is going to dwarf tobacco in terms of lawsuits.”For more information about drinking fluoride, please see new material on the website:  no fluoride.  Evidence is mounting.

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            Fluoride Water Filter

Water Filters that Remove Fluoride has kitchen water filters for above and below the counter that remove fluoride, arsenic, bacteria and other contaminants. The under-counter fluoride water filter is discounted there is no shipping charge in the contiguous US.

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Saving the Dead Sea

Officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan agreed on plans to use fresh water from the Red Sea to save the Dead Sea. Cooperation in the Middle East!

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