Sam Keck Scott is a freelance writer of both fiction and nonfiction. He is a regularly featured author and photographer on the National Geographic Society Blog, was a 2016 Writing By Writers Fellow, and is the co-author of the children’s book, Sip the Straw. Sam’s work has won the John Gardner Memorial Prize in Fiction; been a finalist in the Machigonne Story Contest; earned honorable mention in Glimmer Train; and has appeared in Harpur Palate, The New Guard Literary Review, The Earth First! Journal, and Nautique Magazine. In addition to writing, Sam is a terrestrial and marine biologist, a conservationist, and an avid adventurer. When not living out of his truck or a hotel room for work — or exploring some far-flung land or sea — Sam lives in an Airstream trailer tucked between two dilapidated chicken coops in rural Sonoma County, in Northern California.
"The Red Sea runs like a long blue finger separating Africa from the Middle East. A fleshless finger, bony and thin; or perhaps the shed exoskeleton of some desert insect, its northern antennae made of two gulfs: the Aqaba and the Suez. The six countries that border it are some of the hottest in the world — Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Djibouti — the names alone carry with them images of yellow sand quivering beneath the glare of a white sun. But I can assure you, the sun was not white, and the sand was not yellow.
In July 2010 a haboob was blowing east off the Sahara; a dust storm of atmospheric proportion. It covered us in a red dust as fine as flour. The entire ship was coated in it, turning our off-white sails a firebrick red. The dust filled our galley drawers, covered the compass on the helm stand, and left a thin red film on the bilge water. Our bodies were covered with it as well; our hair was red, our sweat ran red, the red dust was between our teeth and in the corners of our eyes. The sky became a hazy apocalypse and the sun glowed a photochemical orange, so dimmed by the particulates in the air that we could stare right at it."