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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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October 2000 Vol. 26, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the October, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

THEY COME AND THEY GO: Provo’s Flamingo Divers got a strong recommendation from us in our August issue, thanks in large part to the enjoyable Brit who ran it, Andrew Watts. In September, after a dispute with the American owner, Andrew resigned. We must withdraw our recommendation as well since, in such a small operation, the staff is everything.

NO BRAINER: Several studies have suggested that sport divers are at risk of accumulating lesions in the central nervous system. So German researchers decided to see to what extent the brain might be affected by evaluating the prevalence of cerebral white matter changes in healthy elderly divers with a long diving history in comparison with subjects who have never dived. MR images showed no morphologic abnormalities in the brains of divers. There was no significant difference with respect to white matter changes of the brain between divers and the control group. The study concluded that “extensive sport diving may not necessarily be related to radiological changes.” Acta Radiologica 41 (2000) 18-21. Does Diving Damage the Brain? A. Hutzelmann, et al.

BIG BITE: If you’ve ever been diving along the Great Barrier Reef, you may have encountered one of those enormous, Volkswagen-sized potato cod, which look big enough to swallow a man. The smaller ones look big enough to swallow a man’s head, which is exactly what seafood processors in Cairns found when they cleaned a 6-foot fish on August 30. The head, which was not yet decomposed, may have come from a man who “fell” off a trawler just days before the fish was caught. Did the fish bite it off, or did someone on board cut it off? Either way, can the movie be far behind?

SURPRISE FIND: For twenty years, two biologists from the Seattle Aquarium have groped the depths of Puget Sound for a glimpse of the reclusive six-gilled shark. After hundreds of dives, they have briefly sighted the big sharks on about six occasions. Little is known about these critters, which can reach lengths of 15 feet and weights of 1,000 pounds. They are deep-water fish that rarely stray close to shore, and then mostly at night. But in August fishermen in West Seattle, across from downtown, caught four of the sharks. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced an emergency ban on fishing for six-gilled sharks, so scientists must return underwater to study these critters. One biologist, Jeff Christiansen, said “the first thing you see is a big, fluorescent-green eye, then the six gills (most sharks have five), the elongated body, the single dorsal fin and the high, sweeping tail fin. When you see one, you will definitely hear the music.”

FREQUENT FLYER FIND: It’s a little easier to use your frequent flyer miles to get to the Caribbean, at least if you’re a United or Star Alliance frequent flyer. United has partnered with British West Indies (BWIA), which flies nonstop from Washington, D.C., New York - JFK, and Miami to Antigua, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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