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May 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 23, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Watch Out for Speedboats. Divers being struck and killed by powerboats is an ever present issue. The latest victims were Polish divers Jona Kosic, 45, and Wizo Kosic, 43, who were run over by a fast-moving powerboat near the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on April 11 and died instantly. Besides the Red Sea, Cozumel and the Florida Keys are other high-traffic areas for speedboats. The most high-profile death was that of British pop singer Kirsty MacColl in 2000. She was diving in Cozumel waters where watercraft were prohibited but was struck and killed instantly by a speeding powerboat.

Ripoff for Fijis Coral Harvesters. Some Fiji villagers make a living harvesting coral used in home aquariums, but theyre being shortchanged by middlemen who reap the profits. According to the Fiji Times, exporters pay villagers $150 to $200 for coral, but theyre recording up to $2 million in annual profits. Some export companies are only operated by four or five people, and all they have to pay the Fiji government is $30 for a permit. Coral is shipped to the U.S. and Japan and sold for around $2.50 per kilogram.

A New Fish Encyclopedia. Undercurrent reader Ken Paff (Detroit, MI) alerted us to the Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org), in which fish are the first species to be categorized. The Web site, which launched in March, is the brainchild of Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist E.O. Wilson. The long-term goal is to centralize all available info and research from taxonomy to ecology to DNA sequencing for each of the 1.8 million species of life, says Paff. That may take decades, but the good news is that fish have jumped the line and are the first class of animals all 30,000 species of them -- headed for inclusion.

Banning Plastic Bags to Protect Reefs. American Samoas government is debating a bill to ban plastic shopping bags from the territory. Its Marine and Wildlife Resources Department says 60 percent of corals in the territory have been damaged or destroyed due to runoff and plastic bags, and fish ingesting plastic litter die from starvation because their digestive tracts are blocked. The bill has widespread support from Samoan government officials and residents.

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