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January 2006 Vol. 32, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

How much are coral reefs worth? Specialists hired to evaluate the worth of Guam’s reefs announced in August that the local reef system was worth $147 million annually. Tourism: $102 million. Fishing: $550,000. Diving: $12.3 million. Coastal protection: $8.5 million. Property value: $15.4 million. Professor Barry Smith of the University of Guam Marine Lab said that information would come in handy if an oil tanker grounded and wiped out the entire reef. The island has a price tag for which it can hold the tanker company responsible. Policymakers can use the figure to decide whether to put more money into reef protection. Smith said Hawaii’s reefs, which have much higher usage than Guam’s, were recently valued at $300 million. (Katie Worth, Pacific Daily News)

Diver gashed by prop: At CoCo View, in Roatan, Honduras, the boat captain gave Debbie Shoemaker the go ahead for a back roll entry, but the dive boat swung over her as she bobbed to the surface. The propeller inadvertently engaged, gashing her arm to the bone and damaging nerves in her left foot and the propeller hit here multiple times from the left hip down. She told Undercurrent “I threw my left arm up to buy me a couple of seconds and protect my face.” After the September incident, she said the captain told her, “That’s one reason I don’t like this boat, it has done this once before.”CoCo’s manager, Billy Hale, told Undercurrent that “The linkage on the marine gear and the complete shifter control were replaced as soon as I became aware of the problem.” Shoemaker says she learned three things: “I will never again jump off a boat unless the engine is turned off; I will never travel without pain medicine; and I will never dive without a 3-ml wetsuit because it really saved my butt from deeper lacerations.”

Law Suit Settled. The parents of California scuba instructor Mollie Suh Yaley, 26, who died after a 2002 diving accident in Monterey, have settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against ambulance company American Medical Response. It took an AMR ambulance 12 minutes to reach the beach from nearby Pacific Grove, and an AMR paramedic ceased lifesaving efforts after working on Yaley for 22 minutes -- a county protocol that has since been changed. One of the ambulance crew members told The Monterey County Herald that he and his partner used heroin the day Yaley was found unconscious in about 15 feet of water at a Cannery Row dive spot.

Rick Frehsee: The popular and worldrenowned underwater photographer Rick Frehsee died in late August from a heart attack. He was 63 years old. His photographs have appeared in Sport Diver, Ocean Realm, Skin Diver, National Geographic, and scores of nondiving publications He taught underwater photography for Nikon Inc. for ten years.

Sniffing at the Blue Grotto: The clear waters of Florida’s Blue Grotto, which have lured Tiger Woods, the prince of Thailand and thousands of other divers, were offered at auction on December 8. The bidding for the 14-acre property started at $3 million, but the top bid of $1.5 million fell far short of owner Edward Paradiso’s wishes and he refused to sell. Jeff Chadwick, a developer from Largo, said he hoped to improve the dive center and boosted his bid to $2 million after the auction, but said Paradiso wanted “a silly number.” Paradiso has a permit to pull 100,000 gallons a day from the grotto, which he thought would attract water bottlers. The auction had worried Central Florida divers such as Erik Denson, president of a local affiliate of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers. “It would be a huge loss,” he said. “It’s a great facility for scuba training.” If you’re interested in a 100 ft. deep Florida sinkhole, call Paradiso at 1-352 528-5770. (Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel).

Cozumel: Many divers ask us about the post Wilma status. While there is always shallow reef damage after strong hurricanes, the deeper Cozumel diving is less affected, yet there is some damage and sand on some reefs, but not enough to stay away. Check the status of hotels and dive operations at www.travelnotes. cc/cozumel/links/hurricane.php. www. See photos at album/pictures.html?id=2118380855&m ode=guest. Read an excellent Washington Post article at (search for Wilma in the December 11 edition).

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