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January 2007 Vol. 33, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam and Jetsam

from the January, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Catch of the Day. Two divers were accidently caught by a fishing boat while diving off the eastern English coast. The man and woman were at 42 feet when they got tangled up in lines attached to crab and lobster pots. The fisherman who hauled them in were totally surprised by their human catch, not sure if the duo were pulled up when the ropes were wound in or if they swam up. A British coast guard helicopter took them to a nearby recompression chamber, but the divers left later that day in good condition.

Nitrox, Breast Pain and DCS. In our October 2006 issue, we highlighted a study by Scottish researchers citing breast pain as a manifestation of decompression illness. Undercurrent subscriber Rita Vogel (Garden Grove, CA) swears that Nitrox is the solution. Ten years ago, she started experiencing itchy skin on her breasts after diving. She realized it happened after exhausting dives, so she avoided strong currents and deep descents. But on a 21- day boat trip in the Maldives, Vogel felt severe pain in her breasts. Her husband suggesting using Nitrox for the dives, so she took a two-day course and her problem was solved: No more itchy skin or painful breasts, and she did four dives a day in strong currents for the rest of the trip with no DCS symptoms.

Don’t Forget Your Passport. Starting January 23, you’ll be required to show a valid passport when flying between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The new law does not apply to U.S. citizens returning from a U.S. territory, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. You still have another year to travel passportfree by land or sea between those areas — the passport law for those travel methods doesn’t kick in till January 1, 2008.

Still Guilty. Rhode Island dive shop owner David Swain, whom a civil jury found guilty of murdering his wife underwater while they were diving together, appealed for a new trial to overturn his conviction. The appeal has been denied. Earlier this year Swain was found liable for the 1999 death of his wife and ordered to pay $4.8 million. For the full story, see the April 2006 issue of Undercurrent.

Watch Your Wrasses: If we are being watched, we have a tendency to behave differently than if we are not. Furthermore, a person acting cooperatively is more likely to have others cooperate with him. So, if we think others are watching who may cooperate with us, we are more likely to be cooperative ourselves. Fish too. While cleaner wrasse eat parasites off their clients, they prefer eating their skin mucus. Researchers studying wrasse and bream in the wild found that wrasse “cheat” occasionally, approaching a bream as if to eat parasites, but eating the mucus instead. Researchers noted that when a wrasse was cleaning a bream, other bream took notice. If the wrasse ate parasites, then other bream would approach for cleaning. Yet if the wrasse tried to eat mucus, then the other bream would shun the wrasse. The researchers also noticed that wrasse would avoid cheating if other bream were watching. After observing the same behavior in tanks in a controlled setting, researchers concluded that the evolved behavior increases cooperation, and evolution is all about benefit. Now, see if you can see the same thing at your next cleaning station. (Redouan Bshary, the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, and Alexandra S. Grutter, the University of Queensland, Australia, as reported in the June 2006 issue of Nature.)

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