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June 2004 Vol. 19, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the June, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Heal the Ocean: Solutions for Saving Our Seas: This new book by CORAL board member Dr. Rod Fujita details the dangers facing our oceans, while offering a list of sensible and workable solutions. His central chapter on coral reefs is particularly enlightening. If you're serious about understanding the oceans' problems and participating in the solutions, this book is a must. The 224-page paperback is available by clicking on "books" at our website, Undercurrent You can also find plenty of other books for the diver on our website, at the lowest prices anywhere. The profit from any purchases through the Undercurrent website is shared with the Coral Reef Alliance.

Should Medical Exams Be Required? An Adelaide, Australia, coroner has recently suggested that sport divers be required to undergo annual medical checks to prevent minor health problems from causing fatal accidents. He is examining several deaths. In one, the diver was "relatively unfit" and had back problems and an ulcerated esophagus. He believed her health problems had contributed to her death. In another, the diver had asthma and back problems. In America, DAN's studies of diver deaths show that many divers who die have existing medical problems that contribute to their deaths.

Scuba Scofflaw I: Three years ago, Mark W. Samples walked into a St. Paul credit union and stole $70,000 at gunpoint. He then donned scuba gear and hid in the Mississippi River for eight hours while police searched nearby streets, later drifting downstream to his car. Police solved the crime, and Samples claimed insanity, due to post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the Iraqi missile attack on the USS Stark. Prosecutors said he was sane enough to go diving for eight hours, and he was convicted in April.

Scuba Scofflaw II: Then there was the guy in Olympia, WA, who in April held up a bank while wearing a wet suit under his clothes. The man, Charles Coma, led police on a two-mile car pursuit, then plowed through a chain-link fence and crashed into a tree. He fled wearing a weight belt and toting a tank and regulator over his shoulder. He managed to get close enough to Puget Sound to toss the backpack into the water before officers tackled him. "No truth to the rumor he was running in flippers," a police spokesperson said, although officers found a pair of fins inside the car after making the arrest.

Still Saving Nemo: While Undercurrent lamented the collection of tropical fish in our April issue, subscriber Danny McGrory adds an interesting twist: "I live on Long Island in New York and collect fish there in the summertime. The tropicals that I collect come up through the Gulf Stream and make it as far as Shinnecock Bay in Hampton Bays, NY. These include butterflyfish, grouper, angelfish, damselfish, and even juvenile lionfish! I collect these fish as a hobby because come October when the water temperature drops these fish perish. So in fact I am saving a small percentage of them by collecting them."

But No Moorish Idols: At least not in Grand Cayman. In our May review, our Cayman writer mistakenly said he saw a Moorish Idol, endemic to the Pacific. After we discussed this, he admitted to diving on a full tank of some unknown substance, so it was up to me to edited it out, and I failed. - Ben

Underwater Lord of the Rings: Accomplished ring blowers, like dolphins and whales, create expanding doughnuts of shimmering air that gyrate toward the surface. Divers writing in New Scientist Magazine explain how you can too. Alex Vallat (Cambridge, UK) says puff your cheeks out with your lips pursed. Then, with your throat closed, make a P sound with the lips and use the stored air to blow out quickly. The tube that forms the bubble rotates around its core, like a smoke bubble, but the ring itself does not rotate around its center like a steering wheel. Steve Backshall (Bukkinghamshire, UK) says sit on the bottom and rock backwards so your mouth is facing upwards, place your tongue firmly on your upper lip, then forcefully expel air before briefly sucking back in and closing your lips. Like anything, good bubbles, m'lord, take practice.

Coral Trafficking: In April, John Marquardsen of Haleiwa, HI, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for bringing more than 150 tons of live rock and coral from Oahu to Los Angeles. Marquardsen was part of a ring that illegally collected the material from the reefs in Kaneohe Bay and shipped it to L.A. by falsely labeling it as "smoked fish." Others then distributed it to stores, where it was sold for use in home aquariums.

No Spearing With Tanks: Samoan authorities have banned fishermen from using air tanks to avoid the overexploitation of marine resources. A fisheries official says scuba fishermen can take more fish and go deeper than traditional free divers. The ban is also intended to protect the lives of scuba divers, since many had no training. At least two deaths have been known to have been caused by the bends.

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