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August 1997 Vol. 12, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam 

News on line and in letters

from the August, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

DEEP FRIED MANATEE. If you've ever been diving with the manatees in any of Florida's springs, you understand why these guys are endangered. When I went snorkeling with a group in Blue Springs, a large female pursued me, repeatedly turning her belly toward me as an invitation to scratch her underside -- not a good survival instinct for a mammal with up to 3,500 pounds of edible flesh. Protected, yes, but poaching is a problem. Recent discoveries in Belize indicate that manatees are being caught and slaughtered for their flesh, and manatee is being sold in local markets in Colombia as "pork." Many Colombian cookbooks continue to include recipes for manatee, even though it is one of the world's most endangered species. One cookbook says the fleshy, flippered mammals boast four types of meat -- resembling pork, beef, fish, and tortoise -- and recommends that all of them be deep fried.

HANGING OUT A SHINGLE. Divers who traveled to CocoView back in the days when Doc Radawski was the head divemaster will appreciate that Doc is setting up a new operation back on Roatan. Doc is the one with the force fins, but don't hold that against him. I attribute the number of excellent dive guides in Honduras to his training and influence. Doc told me he was looking to offer custom diving with a six-pack boat. He has teamed up with Connie and Romeo Silvestre, who will provide food and seven rooms. I should mention that the negative reports on the old Romeo's Resort that used to appear in Undercurrent occurred after Connie and Romeo had left. When you try out the new operation, let me know.

EL NIÑO RETURNS. El Niño, an equatorial surface warming phenomenon that occurs about every four years off the Pacific coast of South America, is a mixed bag. It is believed to cause devastating floods and droughts in different regions of the world, but it can bring a bumper harvest for Chilean fishermen, and it seems to suppress hurricane activity in the Caribbean (not this year -- scientists are predicting El Niño will arrive too late to affect the '97 hurricane season).

El Niño may have brought death to a 43-year-old man stung by an unknown creature last month while bodysurfing at Newport Beach, California. It's believed the victim encountered a Portuguese man-ofwar dragged in by El Niño. If you're ever stung severely, don't mess around -- seek medical attention immediately and demand a toxicology test. The victim didn't check into the hospital until the next day. The doctors wanted to amputate his leg immediately, but he requested a waiting period until the next morning. He died that evening.

ABALONE STING. After a three-yearlong sting operation, California state fish and game wardens seized more than a ton of abalone with a market value of $234,600. A similar case of abalone poaching (it's illegal to collect for commercial purposes in California) occurred in 1994 when scuba divers plucked about 20 tons of abalone, worth $1 million, over a year's time. It's a misdemeanor to violate fish and game laws, but several divers have been convicted of conspiracy, which is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

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