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August 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 23, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Diver, 20, Finds Million-Dollar Cup. Mike DeMar, the youngest diver at treasurehunting firm Blue Water Ventures Key West, was only four months into the job when he found a golden chalice estimated to be 400 years old and worth at least $1 million. While diving off Key West, DeMar found what he first thought was a beer can in 18 feet of water. Even though hes not old enough to drink. DeMar was allowed to drink champagne from the chalice. His find presumably belonged to a passenger on the Spanish galleon Santa Margarita that sunk during a storm in 1622, taking down 143 people and a fortune in treasures. So if youre diving the Keys, keep your eye on the sand.

A New Dive Site in Brazil. Scientists have discovered reef structures they believe doubles the size of the Southern Atlantics largest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank. The newly discovered area is off the southern coast of Brazils Bahia state and harbors 30 times the density of marine life on the known reefs, some of them being species found only in Brazil. The reefs are in areas ranging from nine to 124 miles off the coast and in depths ranging from 60 to 220 feet. Abrolhos is the only place where humpack whales go to mate and give birth, between July and November, before returning to Antarctica. For details about Abrolhols diving, check this Web site: www.braziltourism.org/diving_abrolhos.html.

Saddest Photo Wins a Trip to Bonaire. SeaWebs Marine Photobank and Project AWARE wants your most compelling shot for its Ocean in Focus photo contest, but it shouldnt be of pretty fish or vibrant corals. They want photos showing pressing issues detrimental to the health of the oceans. That means subjects like oil spills and coastal development. On the bright side, the grand prize is a week of shore diving at Plaza Resort Bonaire, a $250 certificate for photo and video gear, and a years worth of carbon offsets. Deadline is September 30. Details are at www.marinephotobank.org.

Wheres Nemo? The clownfish is becoming harder to find, thanks to the 2003 Pixar film Finding Nemo. Marine biologists say its facing extinction because of soaring demand from the pet trade, as parents buy the fish for their kids who loved the movie. Wild specimens are being overharvested because captive breeding programs cant keep up with demand. Areas of the Great Barrier Reef where divers used to come across dozens of clownfish now are host to just a few. Because the timid fish doesnt venture far from its sea anemone home, its easy prey for collectors.

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