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January 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 28, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Anderson Cooper Goes Blind. Yes, you can burn your eyeballs. That's what happened to this CNN newsman when he spent two hours on a boat in Portugal without sunglasses and ended up blind for 36 hours. As he said on his talk show Anderson Live, "I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, and I think, 'Maybe I have sand in them.' I douse my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs." He had a case of photokeratitis, which happens when UV light reflected off water, sand or snow burns the cornea. It usually starts a few hours after coming in from the sun, and while the effects are temporary, it can be so painful that people feel they can't open their eyes, as Cooper experienced. So even if the sun doesn't seem very bright while standing on that dive boat, don't forget your UV light-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hat.

Update to "Dive Micronesia" Discount Airfares. In last month's e-mail newsletter, we mentioned United Airlines' discounted airfare to Micronesia destinations between now and March 31, 2014. Katrina Adams, the co-owner of Kosrae Village Ecolodge who gave us the original information, just alerted us that the net fare code she cited has changed. "The code that United uses is the same as the old Continental code: GG VUS MIC." So give that one to your travel agent or United rep when booking. Adams has the updated details on Kosrae Village's website at http://kosraevillage.com/traveltips.shtml#vismic

Beware the HMAS Adelaide. Australian medical experts say 2012 marked a record high of bends cases in the state of New South Wales, thanks to a new dive site on its central coast. The naval frigate HMAS Adelaide was sunk off Terrigal and Avoca beaches last year to become an artificial reef and since then, doctors have reported significant increases in the number of divers with DCS. In August, when the dive season started, 27 patients had already been treated at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital. In comparison, there were 19 cases in total in 2011 and 28 in 2010. The medical pros say the contributing factors include the depth of the wreck (it lies at 105 feet), time between dives and relative diver inexperience.

Another Use for Old Scuba Tanks? How about for making motorcycles run? That's what Dean Benstead, an engineering grad student in Australia, is doing with his O2 Pursuit project, motorcyles powered by scuba tanks and rotary engines. He started with a Yamaha WR250R frame, then added an scuba tank and a 25-pound engine to power the rear wheel. Squeeze the throttle and air is released to accelerate the bike. The O2 Pursuit gets 62 miles on a full tank, and can hit a top speed of 87 m.p.h. "When the air comes out, it's in the same state as when you compressed it," Benstead said. "You haven't technically used anything."See the bike at Benstead's site http://o2pursuitdeanbenstead.wordpress.com

Thanks, Jessica Biel. This Hollywood starlet was the one who got her new husband, singer/actor Justin Timberlake, to start diving and overcome his fear of sharks. While on a dive trip in Australia, Timberlake got cold feet when he spotted a shark circling the boat as he and Biel were about to jump in. As he told Jay Leno while on The Tonight Show, "It's not so much that I'm afraid of sharks, it's just that if I were in the ocean and encountered one, I'd probably do the same thing everyone here would do, which is flap and scream like a little girl. I had never gone diving before I met Jessica, and she actually talked me into it. I said, 'I got one rule. If we are on that boat and I see a shark, I'm not going in the water, it's not happening.' But he forced himself to overcome his nerves in front of Biel, and admits exploring the Great Barrier Reef with her was an unforgettable experience. "I just had this moment where I looked at her and was like, 'Ahh, whatever!' And we went in. It was actually really unbelievable."

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