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September 2000 Vol. 15, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

On May 31, California Fish and Game wardens arrested twenty members of three northern California coast abalone poaching rings, one of which is suspected of poaching 1,000 abalone per month off the Mendocino Coast to the tune of $2.1 million. The arrests follow a similar bust last September in which 16 people were arrested on suspicion of poaching $1 million of abalone. Free divers may poach up to four abs a day for personal use, but pink, green, and white abalone, can no longer be harvested.

Talk about sleaze. Some South Florida idiot has created bogus Visual Inspection Tank stickers and sells them on ebay, the Internet auction site. Any old fool can buy them and say his tank has been inspected. The jerk says, Save time and money inspecting your own scuba tanks. Will he be remorseful when some cheapskate slaps it on his old tank, and the dive operator thinks its the real McCoy, and loses his arm in a tank explosion? I doubt it. If you see a sticker head by DIVEMASTERS consider it phony.

A bite from a South Pacific blue ring octopus is deadly. Makes no difference whether youre a man or a woman. In fact, when it comes to sex, it doesnt make much difference to the blue ring, either. Researchers from the University of California observed males touching other males as readily as a female, that is placing its specialized sperm-transfer appendage into the body cavity of the other octopus. In their lab they observed 15 close encounters between male octopuses and 9 between a male and a female. A male that had reached into another male, however, voluntarily withdrew in about 30 seconds, no force required. With a female, he hung in there for as long as 160 minutes, at which point she ended the contact, often with force. Only in the female did he release his sperm. Now, a question. What would the platform of your political party say about that? (Science News, July 22, 2000).

Theres big money in purloining golf balls. Late July in Ontario, Canada, a couple of diving dudes picked up more than 4,000 balls, expecting a resale value of as much $6,000. When police saw a couple of guys in wet suits at 4 a.m., they surmised they were up to no good. Club owners like to keep the business themselves. One club hires a diver at 25 cents a ball and recovers 1,000 balls a week, which they buff and resell $12 or more a dozen. While it seems like easy work, a diver retrieving balls drowned in seven feet of water in 1996. At that depth, he surely didnt have the balls to be a diver.

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