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February 2004 Vol. 19, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the February, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Luggage Locks: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration requests that when you're flying, you keep your bags unlocked, otherwise they may break your locks to inspect the contents. Now, Travel Sentry has a TSA-approved locking system that allows travelers to secure their bags using traditional-looking luggage locks but also allows TSA screeners to open the locks -- which are identified with a red diamond logo -- using a series of codes and a special master key. Locks using Travel Sentry's technology are $20 a pair at Brookstone. www.brookstone.com

You Go, Girl: Last month, we reported on a scientific study of fins, by faculty at the University of Buffalo, debunking several advertising claims. They studied fin effectiveness separately for men and women, finding no noticeable advantage from features such as winglets (flanges), longitudinal splits, vents, or ribs. Fin performance is dependent upon the diver's powerkick and the metabolism to sustain muscle contractions during the swim. The researchers reported, "It is well documented that women have significantly lower muscular force than men. The most economical fins for women were the split and taped Apollos and the rigid Attack fin, with all others performing similarly to each other. The taped Apollo fin (solid blade) was significantly better at faster speeds (14%) than the split Apollo and Attack." The researchers found it clear from the subjective opinions of the divers and quantitative data that a more flexible fin was better for the females in this study. "However," they concluded, "increasing leg power could change these findings, as this seemed to be the major factor in the performance of the fins for female divers."

A Diver's Guide to Underwater Malaysia Macro Life: We just discovered the ultimate guide to Indo-Pacific macro life, published late last year by marine photographers and writers Andrea and Antonet La Ferrari, who have several other winning books in their portfolio. They picture and describe in full detail 600 different species, focusing on those found in the South China, Sulu, and Sulawesi seas. From colorful nudibranchs to cleaner shrimps and pipe fish, and larger species like cuttlefish and clown fish, each description offers an insight on distribution, habitat, size, life habits, and U/W photo tips. Illustrated with more than 800 extraordinary color photographs and written in a clear, concise, informative style, this book is both a macro and fish field guide for all serious divers visiting anywhere from the Maldives to Australia. A must for traveling divers. $45, paperback, in a handy 6"x7" travel size. Order this book through Undercurrent and part of the profits will go to the Coral Reef Alliance.

Every Breath You Take, I'll be Watching You: Researcher Dr. Brandon Brown reports in Nature that great white sharks and reef sharks can detect tiny differences in temperature that they probably use in their hunting strategies. A special gel in shark noses is excellent at picking up electrical signals from distressed animals. Some scientists believe sharks can even detect the heartbeat of a swimmer from the tiny electrical signals it generates. The nose jelly acts like semiconductors in computer chips, converting temperature differences less than a tenth of a degree into electrical currents that are picked up by the shark's brain. Brown believes it helps the great white find places where cold, nutrient- rich water wells up from the bottom. Because fish are attracted to the upwellings, sharks that detect temperature changes are likely to get a good feed.

Dead Diver Surfaces: Former Marco Island, FL, businessman Raymond David Young, 56, was two days away from being sentenced to prison for tax fraud when he disappeared in April 1993. Young's relatives said he'd gone scuba diving near the mouth of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, failed to resurface, and apparently drowned. In 2001 he was found living happily in Costa Rica. He was extradited and sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $3.8 million in unpaid taxes. Now his wife has been indicted for concealing him in Costa Rica and faces a five-year prison sentence. This reminds me of another American fugitive who skipped bail in the '80s after stealing millions of dollars. He was found about five years ago operating a dive operation in the Maldives.

Tabata Rescues Sea and Sea Camera owners: Sea and Sea Underwater Photography U.S.A. has closed its doors. Tabata has taken over distribution of the Sea and Sea full product line and will handle warranty and service. Underwater Photo Tech: New Hampshire (603-432-1997); Underwater Camera Repair: Florida (305-234-0903); In-Depth Camera Repair: Colorado (970-224-1071); Sub Aquatics Camera Repair: California (831-484-6230); or call Tabata (562- 498-3708) for more information.

Filled Tanks From Fiji: Someone shipped filled scuba tanks from Fiji to Sydney Australia, but they weren't filled with compressed air. Instead, inspectors found 2.4 kgs of pseudoephedrine, which is used to produce speed and ecstasy. Four men were arrested.

BCDs Recalled: If you purchased a Sherwood or Genesis BCD after July 1, you might have a defective inflator valve that could continuously inflate your BC, a serious problem. The models have a black or gray inflator button: Sherwood Silhouette, Magnum, Avid Luna, and Freedom models, with serial numbers 90010001 to 90350167, and the Genesis Cayman, Cobra, Athena, and Phantom (same serial numbers). To find the serial number, check the "Important Notice" label inside or behind the BCD pocket. A spokesman said they discovered the defect during quality control checks at a Thailand manufacturing facility. About 90 percent of the affected units were still in warehouses and were upgraded with a blue colored button before being shipped. If you believe you have a defective BCD, return it to your dealer or call 800-815-9740, ext. 233.

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