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May 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 25, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Manatee Site Shutdown. Citing record manatee deaths this year, an environmental group wants to close Kings Spring in Florida to divers and snorkelers. Its the primary source of warm water an estimated 800 manatees use for thermal regulation, and one of the few places where swimming with them is allowed. But Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the annual 100,000 visitors often harass the animals, driving them into colder waters and causing stress-related illness. Dive operators agree manatees need protection but are opposed to bans and blanket no-touch rules, saying the problem is with private boaters and that more law enforcement officers are needed.

Shark-Finning Protester Wins $150,000. Randall Arauz of Costa Rica won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize this year for leading a campaign to halt shark finning in his country, the worlds third-largest exporter of shark products. He secretly recorded video of a ship illegally landing 30 tons of shark fins (thats 30,000 dead sharks). The video caused national outrage, allowing Arauz to make the goverment enforce its endangered-species protection laws. Arauz, a sea turtle biologist, says hell use his six-figure check for off-road vehicles to get his staff to beaches where turtles lay their eggs.

Pony Bottle? No Problem. In our January issue, we wrote how airlines charge up to $250 one way to pack a pony bottle. Reader Kevin Kuehn (Park City, UT) says skip that and bring it as a carry on, as the TSA allows it. Ive never had a problem, from my spare air to 30-cu-ft. tank. But you must have the valve completely removed before going through security. If you do pack it, best not to declare anything to the airline. Divers I know put a copy of the TSA regs for a scuba tank in the bag with their name and cell number in case anyone has questions.

A 61-Year-Old Meth Head Diver? Medical examiners discovered that James Mettee, who was found dead at Swamis Beach in Encinitas, CA, last December drowned in the ocean while under the influence of methamphetamine. A surfer found Mettee, 61, in the early morning, clad in a full wetsuit and flippers, face down in the sand and obviously dead. His brother said Mettee was an avid diver and had gone lobster diving a couple of days prior. Besides the meth, cardiovascular disease was also a contributing factor to the drowning.

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