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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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May 2006 Vol. 32, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Drink Beer and Save the Reefs: Australian beer drinkers will soon be able to help save coral reefs while they’re at the bar, by diving into a new brew called Beeramundi. The artwork for the beer shows a Barramundi Cod peering out of the label with the slogan, “Saving the Reef One Beer at a Time” It’s an educational campaign for beer drinkers that includes a series of quizzes on coasters, with the answers on the other side. A percentage of the profits from every beer will go to Reef Check Australia.

Mission Accomplished! Three years ago, it was a tough business climate, especially in the scuba industry. 9/11, stock market plunges, etc. We recently came across a May 2003 piece in a scuba industry magazine that proclaimed: “Now that the war in Iraq is over, many in the dive industry are cautiously hopeful that better times lie ahead.... The hope is that the end of the war will mark the beginning of good news and renewed consumer confidence.”

Cheeky Bugger: A English diver who rented an underwater camera from a dive store was shocked when he discovered footage of a woman undressing. He was more surprised when the footage showed the face of Bear Diver’s owner David Hepworth, as he set up the camera. Leed’s police then visited the shop and arrested Hepworth after they discovered a camera on a shelf in a classroom that doubled as a changing room. Film inside showed a girl, 13, and two women, aged 26 and 39, undressing. On film Hepworth told the girl that she should take off her top before slipping on a dive suit to ensure it fit properly. The girl ignored him. Hepworth told one woman to take off her clothes and put on her swimming suit — which she did — to save time when they arrived at a swimming pool. The third woman was filmed in her underwear. Hepworth claimed he had set up the camera to catch shoplifters. In April, a jury found him guilty of voyeurism. After the case, a woman he filmed said: “He was in a position of trust as a diving instructor and what he did was disgusting.” His other victim said: “I was shocked, dismayed and appalled . . . I hope he won’t teach diving again.” Hepworth is awaiting sentencing. His PADI membership has been suspended.

First Cozumel, now Belize, then Grand Turk: For years, tour organizer Lascelle Tillett had been leading tours to see rare crocodiles, stately storks and other wonders of Belize. Not long ago he visited one of his favorite sites and says, “There must have been 600 people in the water, and the boats were lined up like cars. We didn’t see a single ray or shark.” Last year, more than 800,000 cruise ship visitors disembarked in Belize City, nearly triple the nation’s population. Although cruise travelers each pay a $7 visitor’s tax, $1.40 of which is earmarked for conservation, the reefs are showing wear from the increased visitation, said Anna Dominguez-Hoare, executive director of the Belize Audubon Society. “It’s not compensating for the damage,” she said of the tax. “And a lot of damage could be irreversible quickly.” (Marla Dickerson, LA Times)

Alabama Wants its Civil War History: Diver Dennis King objected to an Alabama law that gives ownership to the state of all historical artifacts in state waters. Though he hadn’t recovered any items, he sued, claiming he had the right to recover old bottles, Civil War artifacts, arrowheads, and fossils from the river. The State Supreme court said that his complaint did not identify the source of any such right, and the court was aware of none. In September, the court ruled that the cultural resources the diver might recover would be the property of the State of Alabama and threw out the case.

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