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August 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 26, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Next Time, Check Your Bags: Darrell Lapp and his son had just finished a Boy Scout diving trip and were headed home to Liberty, MO, when Bahamas airport screeners found an old bullet in a fanny pack, and immediately put him in a Freeport slammer. "There are bare walls with a bench," he reported, "no restroom, nothing." Lapp says the bullet was left over from a hunting trip. He was told he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, but a lawyer and the U.S. Embassy got him back home with all charges dismissed. Now how did that bullet get past TSA screeners on his outbound flight? A spokesman told Fox News that loose ammunition is prohibited, but a single bullet is unlikely to cause catastrophic damage.

Unbelievable Adventure: Sir Richard Branson, 61, has done it all, but I wonder about this. Says his lordship. "I was swimming around one of these gentle giants off Cancun in Mexico - and then, suddenly, I realized I had managed to get myself right inside it," he told the Telegraph's Tim Walker. "Whale sharks have got enormous mouths and this one just literally puffed me out. They are gigantic, but gentle. I think the story of Jonah most likely came from a whale shark. I can't really think of anything else living in the sea that could swallow you without also killing you." Yup, unbelievable.

Make the Coral Kickers Pay. The Australian government is increasing its "reef tax" on Great Barrier Reef tourists. While the increase is insignificant - tax on a one-day trip to the reef will go up 50 cents to $6 -- some struggling dive operators say the increase comes when the industry is having its worst period in 25 years. The tax hike doesn't go into effect until April, but companies are already building the increase into their prices. The revenue goes to the Marine Park Authority, which protects and manages the reef. Since the customers on these one-day dive and snorkeling boats are usually the inexperienced ones who kick the coral, we think they ought to be paying for the damage they do. Complaining over halfa- buck they pass on seems frivolous.

Missing Diver Swims Four-Miles to Shore. Just after a massive search and rescue operation off England's Dorset Coast for a diver separated from his dive boat was called off, the guy showed up on shore after swimming four miles. Apparently, he was a scallop diver and simply drifted with the tide. As he swam, he watched the helicopters overhead searching for him. Four hours later, he stumbled ashore and climbed to the top of the cliffs, where he managed to alert authorities. He told the British coast guard that he was unable to attract their attention -- probably because he wasn't carrying any safety devices with his dive gear.

A Power Snorkel? Just the Thing a Traveling Diver Needs. The Power Snorkel, which is touted as a compromise between snorkeling and scuba diving. A 20-foot hose leads from a floating air tank to a Y-divider below, where it splits off into two additional 20-foot hoses that end in regulators for two people. You can go for dives averaging 60 minutes on a single full charge, and it comes with a dive flag sticking out of the top. And it's only $2,495. Maybe if you live in Dubai, you'd buy such a thing.

Takes Americans Less Time to Make a Baby. Italian free divers Mike Maric and Ilaria Bonin set the new world record for the longest underwater kiss. Holding their breath, they made out for three minutes and eight seconds in an oceanic tank at the Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium in northern Italy.

Want to Have Dinner with Dr. Eugenie Clark? Or how about Amos Nachoum, Valerie Taylor, Richard Ellis or any one of the more than 50 shark experts? Then cast your winning bid in the silent auction being offered by the Shark Research Institute's conservation programs. For details, go to www.sharks.org. Two hitches: you have to travel to the experts' locale and you're buying dinner, but it's ok to bring friends. (Flimmakers Tom Campbell and David Shiffman will also be taking their bidders out to sea on their boats to meet sharks face-to-face. Auction ends August 10.

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