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November 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 26, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the November, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A Wetsuit for Closer Encounters. Want to get nearer the marine life? A New Zealand company says it has developed a "stealth wetsuit" for divers to do so. FOB Direct says it has created a carbon fabric called the Hecs Stealthscreen. The fabric supposedly conceals the faint electric signals emitted by humans and detected by underwater creatures. It has been incorporated into wetsuits made by Xcel, and will debut at the DEMA trade show currently going on in Florida. We're as skeptical about it as we are about the shark-repelling magnets we wrote about last month, but the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation has endorsed the wetsuits, stating they've allowed their researchers to get closer to sharks. The wetsuits are scheduled to go on sale in February for $600. ( www.xcelwetsuits.com )

A 24-Hour Mantra of "I Must Survive." A Japanese divemaster swam 20 miles to shore in 24 hours after being abandoned by his boat. Hishashi Koze, 39, was doing a routine wreck dive 50 minutes off Borneo's Santubong peninsula with two other divers, but when the boatman lost sight of their air bubbles, he assumed they were in trouble and went for help. Koze was left alone after trying to swim after the boat and losing sight of the two other divers (who were picked up a fishing boat). Koze struck for shore, swimming backstroke through the afternoon and night. "I kept thinking, 'I must survive,'" Koze told The Star of Malaysia. He followed the stars at night, as well as the current's direction and his compass, until he reached Borneo Island in Malaysia. Asked if he would dive again, Koze said, "Oh yes. Maybe in a week."

Supermodel too Scared to Dive. In the opposite category of fearless, hardcore divers is Kate Moss. The English supermodel pulled out of an openwater dive course during her honeymoon in the South of France. A source told the Daily Mirror, "Kate has been snorkeling before. She was keen to get a formal qualification, did some of the classroom-based stuff and was really getting into it. But then she got convinced she was going to bump into a giant, scary fish, like a shark, ans began to get nervous. When a school of tropical fish swam by, Kate got a bit terrified by one of the bigger, grey ones. Pals were calling her 'Skate Moss' all day." Moss quit the course and spent the rest of her honeymoon suntanning on a yacht.

The Oldest Air. Scientists at Australia's national science agency thought they had found the oldest air in the southern hemisphere when they opened up the dive tanks a Melbourne man had filled in 1968. But it turns out several other Australians also kept tanks that were filled as early as the 1950s. Now that air is being used for climate change research. Scientist David Etheridge told The World radio program that the tank contents are filling an invaluable gap in his studies of Antarctic ice cores, helping him see how the air enclosed in them has changed in the past 50 years.

Two New World Records. A Florida dive instructor's recent dive into Lake David has been recognized by the World Records Academy as setting the new world record for the longest dive in open freshwater. Allen Sherrod from Groveland, FL, stayed under for five days, or more officially, 120 hours, 14 minutes and 11 seconds. Sherrod, 47, is also hoping to get into the Guinness World Records, but the timetable for that is unclear. The current Guiness record was set by Jerry Hall in 2004 for sitting submerged in Tennessee's Watauga Lake for 120 hours, 1 minute and 9 seconds. If you care, the world record for the longest open saltwater dive is 48 hours, 8 minutes and 17 seconds. Meanwhile, over at the Waen Rhydd Bog in Wales, a new world record was set in the 26th World Bog Snorkelling Championships. Andrew Holmes from West Yorkshire, England, set a new time of one minute, 24 seconds, shattering last year's record by more than six seconds as he swam two lengths of a 180-foot-long trench. The record time for this sport has fallen by 14 seonds in the last two years. Event organizer Lindsey Katteringham said the speed of competitors through the brackish waters was due to technique. "You have to be able to snorkel when you can't see where you're going, and you don't want to take a mouthful of the water. And you have to be good with flippers because there is no recognized swimming strokes allowed."

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