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September 1998 Vol. 13, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

SEXUALLY FRUSTRATED DOLPHINS. If you like to anthropomorphize your dolphins, consider this shocking fact from Science News: scientists believe they pummel their babies to death, but they don't know why. Young dolphins apparently killed by adults have washed up on beaches in Europe and the U.S. Dr. Dale Dunn of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington said they had broken bones, ripped tissue, and bruised organs. "It looks like someone had taken a baseball bat and beat these animals to death." Scientist Tony Patterson of the Inverness Veterinary Center in Scotland said carcasses showed a "specific and consistent pattern" of injuries typical of dolphin attacks. There is this public ethos that dolphins couldn't do a thing like that...but that's probably not true. "Dolphin fratricide isn't new. Sixty percent of harbor porpoises found dead in Scotland appeared to have been killed by other dolphins. The attackers made no attempt to eat their victims, and theories about why the killings occur range from rough play to sexual frustration.

FISH CALL FOUL. Underwater camera technology has some fishing purists crying foul. Minnesotan Jeff Zernov has taken an underwater video camera and connected it via fiberoptic cable to a monitor on his boat, where he watches schools of perch rip into shoals of bait fish, small mouth bass patrolling eggs, and large pike skulking in the weeds. And then he makes his cast. While the government is trying to ban the use of the camera for fishermen (it will destroy what fishing is all about," says State Sen. Bob Lessard, a fishing guide), People Weekly reports that Zernov has sold 900 of his Aqua Vu cameras at $1,495 each and has just released a $700 version.

CALYPSO MUSEUM. Jacques Cousteau's Calypso has arrived by barge at the French port of La Rochelle, where it will be transformed into a marine museum. The 137-foot ship was deemed unseaworthy after having sunk in Singapore's harbor in 1996. Built in Seattle in 1942, the Calypso began its life as a minesweeper named the JB 26. Cousteau acquired the ship in 1954. (Note from Ben: During World War II, my father was a shipfitter at the Seattle shipyard that built those minesweepers, so there's a piece of my heart in that boat.)

CAYMAN IS HOT. Last year, the average temperature on Grand Cayman was 82.5 degrees, the warmest since records started being kept in 1942; the average temperature was 77.5 in 1971. Tourism is increasing right along with the temperature. Grand Cayman had 1.246 million visitors, 381,000 staying overnight and the rest arriving by cruise ship.

FIRST ONE THERE. While sea secrets remain in the deep, it turns out we don't even know the shallows. From the Journal of the International Coral Reef Society, we learn that scientists have just discovered "extensive and hitherto unknown coral communities off the islands of Socotra, 'Abd-al- Kuri, Darsah, and Semha, at the eastern end of the Gulf of Aden, half way between Southern Somalia, on the coast of east Africa and Djibouti, in the western Gulf of Aden." They discovered "moderate to high" hard coral coverage at a few sites and a reef fish community that "differs considerably from those of the Red Sea or Djibouti." A memo to Peter Hughes and Aggressor mogul Wayne Hasson: whoever is the first one there gets a free one-year extension on their subscription.

ST. VINCENT. The corrected contact info for Dive St. Vincent is:
809-457-4928 or 457-4714
FAX 809-457-4948,
E-mail: bill2s@Caribsurf.com
http://www.divestvincent.com

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