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January 1998 Vol. 13, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Editorial Notebook

Looser diving, tighter money

from the January, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Rare Fish

It took three days of 300-foot dives to to do it, but divers for the Curaçao Seaquariam, for the first time, captured and brought to the surface alive an apricot bass. The tiny, 11/2-inch fish with bulging eyes and brilliant orange and red markings across its white body is now swimming comfortably in the Seaquarium. The team went to 300 feet on an exploratory dive near Curaçao, where it spotted the bass on November 15 and captured it inside a tiny acrylic cylinder. Divers needed 21/2 hours for the ascent, after a 15-minute bottom time.

Good Bottom Time

More readers report that Grand Cayman operators seem to be relaxing their bottom time restrictions. Warren Hinze (Minnetonka, Minnesota) writes that he has been diving regularly with Athlee Evans of Quabbin Dives Ltd. for the last 11 years. “From the day I first showed up with my Orca SkinnyDipper, he has always welcomed computer divers. Experienced divers may use their computers, go on their own if they wish, and have as much bottom time as safe diving practices allow.”

Around Bonaire

“Shoulda been here last week,” says Bruce Bowker of the Carib Inn. Calm weather during the week of October 17 permitted him to treat his Carib Inn guests to a rare diving circumnavigation of Bonaire. Both dive boats took their divers first to the northeast corner, usually the roughest area on Bonaire. Continuing around, they traveled to Washington Park, discovered a couple of areas for possible new sites, then dived Playa Benge.

South Caicos Chaos

I’m still tracking the Club Caribe because I like the diving on South Caicos. Numerous reports of problems led me to alert Undercurrent readers in the June issue. By July, Tom Phee and Carol Caron, two former guests who had experienced problems on their visit to Club Caribe, took over as onsite managers with the idea that they could make it run right. Although they lasted longer than other recent managers, they were gone by October. Tom and Carol write: “Having turtle soup on the menu at the local eatery pretty much sums up the fisheries program in the Turks and Caicos. The garbage in front of the ‘Keep South Caicos Clean’ sign does a good job of defining the island’s tourist appeal. The resort is now up for sale. We strongly suggest that anyone considering a stay at Club Caribe reconsider. Let’s hope the place sells soon.”

Don’t Leave Home, Period

Did you know that if you lose your American Express traveler’s checks, AMEX may refuse to cover the loss? They turn down about five percent of the claims that don’t seem substantiated. To get them to say yes, call AMEX immediately upon your loss and be prepared to file a report with local police. Another tip: When exchanging traveler’s checks for foreign currency, foreign banks and hotels often add a surcharge as high as three percent. They don’t do this for U.S. dollars.

Pet Vets of Cozumel

While traveling through the Caribbean, I’m constantly saddened by the way pets are treated by humans. Now, diving veterinarians are doing something about it. At the first animal shelter/clinic on Cozumel, visiting vets are being recruited to share their knowledge and surgical skills with the resident doc. Vets willing to give a half-day of their time for a week will receive free scuba and hotel accomodations, thanks to several Cozumel businesses. Call Monica Velasco at 011-52-987-2-39-52 or e-mail Dhartman@cozunet.finred.com.mx for information.

Cheap, but Not That Cheap

In writing about Wakatobi Resort in southern Sulawesi, the price of $600 for 12 days I quoted was for nondivers. I paid a pioneer package rate of $1,260 for 12 days. With new improvements added, pioneer days are over and the new price is $1,620 for 12 days — still a bargain for “the other best beach dive in the world.” For a remote resort, Wakatobi has a sophisticated Web presence.
Website: http://www.wakatobi.com
Inquiries: planet@wakatobi.com
Quick info: info@wakatobi.com (autoresponder)

They’re Back

Scopolamine patches, worn behind your ear to prevent seasickness, were pulled off the market in 1995. For two years we’ve been hearing rumors that they would be back on the market soon. Now it’s happened. Novartis, the new maker, says the patches should be available to consumers now. A prescription is required.

Missed Opportunity

When Skindiver magazine handed Editor Bill Gleason his pink slip in July, I waited by the phone. I was sure the magazine was going to take a new direction and would be calling to offer me the position of editor. They didn’t call.

The new masthead will move longtime Skindiver editor Bonnie Cardone up a notch, and over her, Peterson Publications has ushered in Al Hornsby, a major player at PADI headquarters and in the diving industry. Will Al shake up the publication? I think they should have called me — not that I would have accepted.

Breaking News

As of press time, one Japanese diver and an Indonsian dive guide have been rescued, but four other Japanese divers are still missing, after failing to return to their dive boat off southwest Sulawesi. The local guide and Japanese diver were found by a fisherman some 50 kilometers north of Bira Island, where the group had been diving. Efforts were still underway to find the remaining four divers.

Closer to home, the cruise ship Leeward hit the reef off Cancun as it left port in December, causing extensive damage. Oceanographer Roman Bravo Prieto is quoted as saying that more than 4,400 square feet of reef were destroyed and that it will take 500 years or more for the reef to recover.

J. Q.

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