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September 1997 Vol. 12, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

News on line and in letters

from the September, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

LOST AT SEA. According to Naturalight's web site, which provides audio news clips from a Belize radio station, a U.S. tourist died in July while snorkeling off Ambergris Caye. The snorkler reportedly became separated from his wife, other snorkelers, and the boat, the Royal Blue, during a thunderstorm. (Check out the web site at http://www.bze.net/lovefm/daily.shtml.)

UP IN SMOKE. It's sad to watch the verdant Caribbean island of Montserrat turn scorched and barren, thanks to the the constant eruption of its volcano, Soufriere Hills. We reviewed diving there just three years ago; in fact, Ben visited the volcanic hot spot, standing exactly where the volcano began to spew a month later. Now thousands of people are homeless and, in July, ten were killed. Perhaps the only bright spot is that with people being evacuated, pressure is off the reefs, which had been highly overfished. Someday, again, Montserrat will become an emerald island, its forests and reefs teeming with life.

PICK YOUR CORAL COLOR. If you dive the wreck of the President Coolidge on Vanuatu, you can do your hang time around a small coral garden that Allen Power, diving guru of the wreck, has transplanted into shallow water to provide some interest while divers pass their time offgassing. Now a project on Hawaii has successfully moved nearly 14 tons of coral from an area of pending harbor construction and relocated to an area of previously damaged reef. Coral heads were detached by divers and moved under water in large trays, with a survival rate of 99 percent. What's next, designer reefs?

CHUM VICTIM? In June a New Zealand woman was attacked by a shark while snorkeling in Fiji's Somasoma Straits along the small island in front of Garden Island Resort on Taveuni. Her injuries were serious but not fatal. She was airlifted by Medivac helicopter to Nandi, where she was met by a hospital plane and a surgical team and flown back to New Zealand. Local dive operators, who said they had not heard of a shark attack in the 20 years they had been on Taveuni, are speculating that fishermen could have been in the area gutting fish into nearby waters.

PLANET OF THE PISCES. Lonely Planet, the guidebook publisher that bills itself as being for "adventurous independent travelers," has aquired Pisces Books. With its 55 titles, mainly diving and snorkeling guides for scuba destinations, Pisces was founded by Herb and Cora Taylor, who had a personal interest in diving. After Herb and Cora died in the crash of a small plane, Gulf Publishing, a Houston-based publisher of regional travel guides, acquired Pisces Books in 1989. The imprint may be back in the hands of a diver now; Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who founded Lonely Planet, say they bought Pisces largely because Tony is an avid diver. Pisces titles include diving and snorkeling guides to Cayman, Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, etc., and nondestination titles like Guide to Watching Fishes.

COUSTEAU'S SHOES. The Cousteau Society has chosen a new captain. Sir Peter Blake, the skipper of the New Zealand yachting team that won the America's Cup in 1995, has been chosen to succeed the late Jacques Cousteau at the helm of the new Calypso 2.

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