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January 2000 Vol. 15, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

UNFIT DIVER: Are you among those who don’t think staying aerobically fit means much to a diver? Think again. Researchers have found a positive correlation between aerobic capacity and the amount of nitrogen expired. In testing three subjects, the subject with the highest aerobic capacity eliminated up to 15 percent more nitrogen than the one with the lowest capacity. While the data is insufficient to allow firm conclusions, it does indeed suggest that the higher the diver’s level of physical fitness, the less nitrogen-bubble formation he’ll have — and the lower his likelihood of a bends hit will be. (P. Ronning and G. Bolstad, XXIV Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Underwater and Baromedical Society, M. Gennser, ed., Stockholm, Sweden).

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID OVER THE MILLENNIUM: Fiji divers went through some changes recently following the death of Taveuni’s Paramount Chief. During the mourning period, a tabu was imposed banning all Somosomo Strait water activities, including diving and snorkeling, for 100 nights, however, meetings between dive operators and local chiefs resulted in a partial lifting of the ban allowing dives on the Rainbow Reef and Rabi Island to resume in time for holiday travel and millennium celebrations. Although most Fijian dive operators obviously breathed a sigh of relief after the compromise was announced, apparently not all Fijians shared their sentiments. Fijian chief Ratu Tevita Vakalalabure claimed that the decision to allow the festivities was a mistake and announced that he would exercise his chiefly powers to call up sharks and direct them to attack millennium partiers.

HIGH DOLLAR BEER: In October, members of a British dive club discovered seven bottles of Scottish beer in the 106-year-old wreck of the Loch Shiel off the Wales coast. Jim Phillips and his fellow divers recovered the brew from the silt, and, as they brought them to the surface, the cork in one popped open. Phillips took a swig.

“It was flat and a bit sour, but the salt water had not contaminated it. I offered it around, but no one was interested, so I finished it off.” The auction value of the century-old beer turned out to be $1600 a bottle, making Phillips’ pint about the most expensive ever tippled.

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