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July 1999 Vol. 14, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the July, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

NON DIVING/NON SMOKING PILLS: If youre popping pills to keep from smoking, you may be taking an unnecessary risk while diving, says Underwater magazine, a publication for commercial divers. Zyban, Wellbutrin, and Wellbutrin SR cause difficult breathing, shock, and seizures in as many as 3 out of 1000 people, making them risky drugs for divers.

FLYING FIRST CLASS: Im getting too old and cranky to fly in cramped, stiff, and unpleasant coach-class when my destination is 14 hours away. But I found a way around the high price of international business and firstclass travel getting two business or first-class tickets for the price of one. Its one of many benefits available to anyone sporting the American Express Platinum Card, which carries a pricey annual fee of $300. So where can you get the twofers? Anywhere Air New Zealand goes, any time of year (Fiji and Tonga, for example). Same for Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, or Aeromexico. If you dont care about diving, then Aer Lingus, Air France, Aitalia, Iberia, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and SAS are also in the program. To apply, call 800-576-8942.

UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK: You may soon be able to dive on a wrecked Roman ship or the quays of King Herods seaport. You see, Israel is constructing underwater archaeological parks off their Mediterranean coast, where divers will be able to view ancient shipwrecks or submerged Neolithic villages. One park is being built on a sandstone reef off the town of Ashkelon. Another is being prepared near Haifa. A third is at King Herods sunken columned seaport of Caesarea. The exhibits will include anchors, millstones, an 8,000-year-old Neolithic well, Neolithic olive oil basins, and marble pillars that were brought from Italy to the Holy Land 2000 years ago.

DIVING WITH THE MASSES: Though the Guinness Book of World Records has yet to create a listing for mass submersions, when they do, kudos will go to the country of Colombia. In May divers there set the world record for the biggest mass dive ever when 278 divers submerged in an Olympic-sized swimming pool and stayed underwater for 15 minutes.

EATING IT UP: Heres yet another fish were eating to extinction: the Patagonian toothfish, a six-foot creature marketed as the yummysounding Chilean sea bass. Which its not. A menu staple in tony restaurants, in five years its stock has decreased fifty percent. The fish, which is found in cold Antarctic waters, is so profitable that Australia has had to impound Asian boats poaching the fish off Tasmania. The dwindling supply is forcing prices up (its currently about $12/pound), which might be one way to save the fish. Another might be for the government to insist it be marketed under its real name. Its unlikely that Patagonian toothfish buerre blanc would be a hot menu item.

LOOKING FOR WHALE SHARKS: The one reliable place to see whale sharks is the annual appearance of the gentle giants along western Australias Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth, but a cyclone crushed the tourist facilities for this years season (mid-March to mid-May). If you are thinking about next year, follow the reconstruction process closely.

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