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January 2003 Vol. 18, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Snorkelers versus divers in Cayman: Watersports operators in the Cayman Islands killed two tiger sharks at Stingray City in September. The killings were prompted by appearances of a 9 ft. hammerhead at the site, where large groups of semi-tame southern stingrays congregate. Snorkeling operators were afraid that a large shark would discourage tourists from visiting the site, so they tried to capture it, but didn't, while killing two tiger sharks as accidental bycatch. Their actions were condemned by Tim Austin, of the Cayman Department of the Environment. 'The sharks were taken by members of the fishing community and watersports operators," Austin told the British magazine, DIVE. This episode has generated a lot of outrage, but he said Cayman authorities could not prosecute because sharks are not a protected species in Cayman waters and the Sandbar is not in a 'no-take' zone. Underwater photographer Doug Perrine said it was particularly ironic that the killings came just after the Cayman government passed a law banning the feeding of sharks.

Myths of Diving: Louis Jankowski, who directs the diving program at McGill University, reminds us of some myths of diving. One: "You have to make a mistake to get bent." DAN has found that 57 percent of divers in accidents used a computer, while 93.8 percent were within the acceptable limits. Two: "You can't get bent on a single tank." What if it is an eighty-cubic-foot tank? At rest at sixty feet it will let you exceed the no-decompression limits on both DCIEM and USN Tables. Use a smaller tank? Same problem, the air available can exceed the limit. Three: "You can counter your buoyancy problem with lead." You have to work harder to swim and use more air. The drag increase may be ninefold. You'll wear yourself out working.

Curb Your Kitty, Save A Sea Otter: Since 1995, the population of California sea otters has plunged to 2,000. Scientists have traced the decline in part to cat feces transported into the ocean by freshwater runoff. The California Department of Fish and Game spent four years testing 223 live and dead sea otters for the parasitic protozoan T. gondii. Cats shed the eggs in their feces, but in otters they can cause a fatal brain infection. They found that 42 percent of live sea otters and 62 percent of the dead ones carried antibodies of the protozoan. Otters near coastal freshwater runoff -- rivers and streams that ferry untreated water from fields and yards into the ocean were three times as likely to be infected as those elsewhere. The otters apparently catch T. gondii by swallowing seawater or by eating tainted shellfish. (Discover Magazine)

Wave Dancer Fund: After the Wave Dancer sank last year, killing twenty people, people contacted Peter Hughes Diving to make contributions to the victims families. Sue Hamilton, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Peter Hughes Diving. told Undercurrent that they referred all calls to DAN, saying "We didn't think it would be appropriate for Peter Hughes Diving to donate." Hughes put notices that DAN was accepting donations on its website and by mail. DAN collected about $10,000. There it remains because Chief Operating Officer Dan Orr told Undercurrent that they are still waiting for distribution instructions from the lawyers on both sides.

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