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May 1997 Vol. 12, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

News on line and in letters

from the May, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

MEXICO/CENTRAL AMERICA CHEAP. A couple of airline passes are available now that you could use, with a few extra bucks, to combine a couple of different destinations on one dive trip or hop around and visit several countries. A Mayan Airpass allows for travel to 11 different cities, including Belize City, Roatan, and Cancun. After you buy a round-trip ticket (Cancun would probably be the cheapest), a Mayan Pass with four coupons cost $360, each additional coupon $90. A few of the longer flights, such as Cancun-Guatemala City, require two coupons. The Visit Central America airpass allows for travel to 14 different destinations in Central America, including Belize City, Roatan, Costa Rica, and Corn Island (I'm curious: any diving here?). Leave from Houston, Miami, or Orlando; $499 ($549 Sept.-Oct.) gets you there plus one more country. Leave from L.A., New York, or San Francisco and it's $699/$769. If you want do it all, $1,059 gets you there plus nine more flights. For both passes, contact Aviateca (800-359-2672), Lacsa (800- 225-2272), or Taca (800-535-8780).

SHOCKING SHARKS. Not likely to be worn by divers going to Cocos Island, Palau, or the Baja looking to dive with sharks, the Shark POD, developed by South Africa's Natal Sharks Board, is designed to repel sharks. The POD uses a rechargeable 12V battery pack and two probes that emit an electrical field. The battery and one probe are strapped to your tank and a second probe is placed on a fin. In a field test off South Africa, the POD repelled a great white away from its favorite food, seal meat, 48 consecutive times, according to a company spokesperson.

NO SHARKS TO SHOCK. There soon may not be a need for a shark repellent, according to Ocean Wildlife Campaign, which says some Atlantic species have declined as much as 80 percent. Between 30 million and 70 million sharks were reported killed worldwide in 1994, according to the World Wildlife Fund. That number could be tens of millions higher in unreported catches. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service is in the process of enacting a ban on fishing for certain species, lowering commercial and recreational limits in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

PNG RIOT SEASON. The State Department recommends that American citizens defer all non-essential travel to Papua New Guinea due to civil disturbances, mainly in the capital city, Port Moresby. If you think diving falls into the category of an essential, you can keep in touch with what's going on by contacting the U.S. Embassy in PNG at 675-321-1455 or fax 675-321-1593.

ON-LINE PASSPORTS. The State Department now offers passport services on the World Wide Web. Useful information at this site includes printable passport applications, an order form for getting certified copies of your birth certificate, and lists of places where you can apply for a passport. Also listed are visa and consular information. The Bureau of Consular Affairs Home Page is at http://travel.state.gov

DIVE SKINS OR BASEBALL SKINS. Diving for fly balls is easier in windswept Candlestick Park, now that San Francisco Giant star outfielder Barry Bonds has discovered O'Neill Lycra dive skins. After trying them, he bought skins for all the other outfielders to wear under their uniforms during April night games. At $7 million a year, Barry can afford Lycra skins for all the Giants -- and, I should think, the 15,000 readers of this publication.

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