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July 1997 Vol. 12, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

News on line and in letters

from the July, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

HULI OIL SHEIKS. An interesting thought for anyone who's been to Papua New Guinea and visited the Huli tribe is the prediction that they may become the new oil sheiks of the southern hemisphere. The Huli people -- known as the Wig Men of Papua because of their magnificent ceremonial wigs made of net, human hair, plant sap, and possum skins -- are set to become millionaires because their home region in the PNG southern highlands has potentially the largest oil reserves in the southern hemisphere.

PAVLOV'S CUTTLEFISH. A researcher at Southwestern University in Texas believes cuttlefish are much smarter than we think -- maybe as smart as a dog. His experiments suggest that the fish are intelligent enough to associate a flashing green light with food.

SEA STUDS. The seahorse is the only male creature to get pregnant and bear children, which could be reason behind the widespread notion (in the Orient) that consuming them in potions and powders or pickled in brine will improve sexual performance. It's estimated that more than 20 million seahorses are harvested each year for the Chinese medicinal market. With an estimated of 70 percent drop in the world's seahorse population in the past 10 years, many scientists are now forecasting extinction unless preventive measures are taken soon.

DEFINITELY RECOVERED. Francisco "Pipin" Ferraras, who was rushed to a hospital in May after passing out on a dive boat after making a 450- foot practice free dive followed by a scuba dive, must have recovered nicely. He just broke his old record of 439 feet on one breath. With just two breaths, he set a new world freedive record of 515 feet, stopping short of his original 600-foot goal due to what the 35-year-old, Cubanborn Pipin called safety considerations.

SHARK BITE. It could have been a tiger shark or a bull shark. It could have been four to nine feet long. The diver didn't get a good look. He was attacked by a shark as he was trying to get back onto his boat clutching a spear with a bleeding fish. According to George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, "In the Bahamas, we've had a series of attacks with the Caribbean reef shark, a smaller species that tends to be aggressive -- they've come in to grab a fish off a spear." The diver was taken to nearby Spanish Cay Resort, then flown back to Florida. It appears that his quick-thinking girlfriend may have saved his life by tying off a severed artery with dental floss.

SHARKS ARE NO HELP. In a lucky break for sharks but bad news for cancer patients, the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation announced the results of the largest study conducted to determine whether or notshark cartilage is effective in the treatment of cancer. The conclusion: "Shark cartilage was inactive in patients with advanced stages of cancer, specifically in breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer."

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