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March 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the March, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Divers, Leave Your Spearguns at Home. Or place them in your checked luggage, but for God's sake, don't try to bring them on a plane. A passenger flying to Antigua from Newark airport learned that lesson the hard way when a TSA screener discovered a 21-inch speargun and utility knife in his carry-on. The authorities were called in to question the guy, who claimed to be unaware that spearguns were prohibited. It's unknown whether he and his speargun made the flight.

Speaking of Guns. An underwater gun is on the Department of Defense's wish list of weapons. Its Non- Lethal Weapons Reference Book was leaked online last month by PublicIntelligence.org, and it describes dozens of weapons -- some already in use, others in development or still fantasy. Currently in development is the "Impulse Swimmer Gun," which uses pulsed sound waves to cause "auditory impairment and/or nausea" among divers engaged in "unauthorized underwater activities."

Another Knock Against Shark Fin Soup. It's a deadly threat to the human brain. A study in the journal Marine Drugs reports high concentrations of the neurotoxin BMAA, linked to Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease, in shark fins. University of Miami researchers tested seven species of shark, including blacktip, bull and hammerhead (they clipped tiny fin samples off their living subjects so not to harm them). Says co-author Deborah Mash, "The BMAA concentrations in the samples are a cause of concern, not only in shark fin soup but also in dietary supplements and other forms ingested by humans."

A Gadget Liveaboards Should Carry. We think they should consider adding night-vision goggles to their search and rescue gear. They worked for the Coast Guard last month while searching for a 46-yearold diver in Hawaii. He went diving with friends in a private boat off Kaena Point around noon on February 19, but got swept away by the current. Thirteen hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter crew using night-vision goggles found him in the dark ocean, in good condition thanks to his drysuit.

U.S. Sets Catch Limits on Caribbean Fish. The federal government is now imposing limits on the number of fish that can be caught in the Caribbean waters it controls, saying previous restrictions haven't protected dwindling populations of multiple species. The new limits cover waters off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Coast Guard is expected to enforce annual catch limits with help from local authorities.

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