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April 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the April, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Guam Dive Safety Concerns. The islands Visitors Bureau and members of its dive community say small dive shops may be putting tourists underwater without proper training or certified instructors. In October, a dive instructor and two divers hed taken to Fish Eye Marine Park had to be rushed to the hospital after running out of air on the dive. Micronesian Divers Association instructor coordinator Chris Bangs told the Pacific Daily News he has seen dive companies giving novices a dangerously abridged lesson before their first dives. Some just stuff them in a van, drive them to the [dive sites] and tell them, Here, stick this in your mouth. They dont get a formal certifying agency course. The Guam Divers Industry Association wants to be given authority to inspect and license the dive operators.

Fish with Heart Disease. If there needs to be another reason why divers should stop feeding fish junk like Cheez Whiz, this is it. To understand how heart disease develops, scientists at the UC San Diego School of Medicine gave zebrafish a high-cholesterol diet (young ones are transparent, so its easy to see what happens to their blood vessels). Just like in humans, the fishes artery walls thickened and hardened as a result of fat deposits, and they grew little fat fish stomachs. To reduce the effects, researchers added the cholesterol-lowering drug Zetia to the fish tank water, and they could literally see that the medication greatly reduced thickening of the zebrafishes arteries.

Thai Dive Boat Capsizes, Killing Six. Search teams have recovered the bodies of four European divers, one Japanese diver and the Thai cook on the Choke Somboon 19, which sank on March 8, 12 miles off the coast of Phuket. The boat, operated by Dive Asia, was returning to the resort town from a dive trip near the Similan Islands when it capsized during a storm. The five divers were trapped in their cabins when the boat capsized; the other 23 divers onboard were rescued shortly after the boat sank. The cooks body was found floating on the surface four days later and 12 miles away.

Judge Favors Reefs Over Beach. Judge Robert E. Meale ruled to deny the town of Palm Beach a permit for a beach-erosion project, saying officials failed to assure that the project wouldnt cause coastal damage. Palm Beach wants to dredge 700,000 cubic yards of sand from offshore to rebuild beaches, but Meale agreed with petitioners that the project would cover reefs and harm marine life, and that reef protection is a matter of exceptional regulatory concern.

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