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January 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 38, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Beware of Cape York Crocodiles. A decision to stop for a spearfishing break near Australia's Cape York proved fatal for David Fordson. A coroner confirmed that the barge skipper from Cairns was attacked and killed by a large saltwater crocodile while spearfishing off Bushie Island on December 5. Fordson, 49, was motoring the Torres Star to Thursday Island but because they were ahead of schedule, the crew stopped for some spearfishing around noon. The alarm was raised when Fordson failed to return to the boat, and his body was found early the next day. Though he was diving in a shipping channel, crocodiles are all over northern Australia. As a local commercial diver told the Torres News, "You need to know where you can dive, and when to dive, because of the risk of crocodiles around Cape York."

Why David Swain Was Released. As we reported in Flotsam last October, David Swain, the dive shop owner convicted of killing his wife during a British Virgin Islands dive trip, was freed from a Tortola jail after serving two years of a 25-year sentence because his verdict was overturned. In a newly written explanation, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal excoriates Swain for his "reprehensible" conduct but says the evidence "falls short" of the heavy burden of proof to sustain a murder conviction. It also stated that the trial judge erred in her instructions to the jury, prejudicing the defense, and that it would be unfair to retry Swain.

Will a Balloon Ban Save the Turtles? What happens to all those balloons released into the air at football games, county fairs and other outdoor events? Lyndie Malan from Australia's Great Keppel Island, says they eventually come down, drift into the sea and become lethal food for turtles. After seeing 17 turtles perish from eating balloons over the past decade, she wants to end the carnage by calling for a ban on hydrogen-filled balloons along the Capricorn Coast. She already got the town of Noosa to ban balloons at all its functions, and one of its council members said she would press for a widespread ban in Queensland." As Malan told the Morning Herald, "Once we are alerted to these serious events, we have a duty of care to do something constructive to prevent future injury and death." Why not a ban everywhere?

Putting Out Fires? Use Your Scuba Gear. Peter Fabrisi of Margaret River, Australia, was caught by surprise when a November bushfire was headed straight for his home, so he reached for his scuba gear as protection to put out spot fires. "I went to the shed adjacent to our carport and made up a basic breathing apparatus with one of my tanks," Fabrisi told his local radio station. "I put on my goggles, doused myself in water, fully saturated my clothing, and pulled the hood over my head. Wherever I went, that tank went with me." Once the blaze got too hot, Fabrisi jumped into the swimming pool and sat at the bottom until fire crews came. He's convinced his tank, wetsuit and mask helped save his life and lower the fire damage.

Diver Finally Found After 26 Years. Peter Devoe was 29 when he went for a dive with family at North Vancouver's Cates Park in 1985 and failed to resuface. He was finally found last October in the Burrard Inlet by a pair of fishermen. Coroners identified his remains by the jewelry he wore and marks on his bones from a car accident. Devoe's corpse was surprisingly wellpreserved within his wetsuit, and his weights and gear kept him floating in the inlet just west of where he disappeared for 26 years. Devoe had founded a wheelchair scuba diving club in 1983, helping others like him with disabilities discover diving as a way to enjoy life, and the Peter Devoe Memorial Award and scholarship fund was established the same year he went missing.

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