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April 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 28, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the April, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Canon's Camera Housing Floats for Six Years. When Lindsay Scallan of Newnan, Georgia lost her Canon PowerShot during a 2007 scuba dive in Maui, she thought her vacation photos were gone forever. But the camera, still in its underwater case (Eric Hanlon, sharp-eyed editor of the underwater photo blog Wetpixel, identified it as also made by Canon, from its WP series of polycarbonate housings), was found 6,200 miles away and six years later on the shores of Taiwan by a China Airlines employee walking the beach. It was covered in barnacles but the memory card was still intact. Thanks to the power of social media, Scallon found out about her camera, and China Airlines offered to fly her to Taiwan for free to pick it up. She just started a new job but plans to collect it in June.

Saudi Women Just Want to Scuba Dive. Women-only diving courses are expensive in Saudi Arabia, but it hasn't stopped women from taking up the sport. The Arab News reports that more of them are asking for designated dive areas in the Red Sea to avoid the obstacles they face when trying to obtain a permit for a dive trip. Currently, the country's Coast Guard doesn't let women dive without male guardians, so many have gone abroad for their certifications. Samar Al-Fatih is one of them, and she said she would travel to Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates to dive with a club and do group trips without limitations. "Private pools are a dull alternative to the ocean for any diver."

Dolphins Call Each Other by Name. Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated. Other than humans, they're the only animals known to do this, according to a study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves with a "signature whistle" that encodes other information. The new finding is that dolphins copy another animal's signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual, says lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit. "Dolphin whistles can be detected up to 12 miles, depending on water depth and whistle frequency," she told Discovery News. They copy the signature whistles of loved ones, such as a mother or close buddy, when the two are apart. These "names" are never emitted in aggressive situations, and are only directed toward loved ones.

Wave a White Cap. After reading last month's article "Lost at Sea," about a group of divers stranded 10 miles off the Baja California coast, subscriber Keith Anderson (Champery, Switzerland) wrote in with a suggestion. "In almost all stories of divers being lost or having a long wait for the boat to find them, there is always the danger of overexposure (sunburn), particularly in the tropics and for follically-challenged men. I suggest that divers take the simple precaution of bringing a light baseball cap, or perhaps a tie scarf, which can significantly reduce this risk. It takes up almost no space in a BC pocket, and it may even aid recovery."

What's the Name for an Aquarium Certification? When I got certified in the 70s, I was required to spend a weekend with wetsuit, fins and snorkel gear in the cold, rough waters off California's Sonoma coast, with one of four dives being devoted to basic rescue. Two weeks later, I headed to Monterrey for three ocean dives before I was awarded my PADI basic diver card. All that, after six hour-long lectures and six nights in a swimming pool. Last month, Olympic gymnast Missy Franklin competed her basic certification dives in the Denver Aquarium. Of course, there were big differences in our training and surely in the skills we carried away (think she is ready for Cozumel?), but one thing I suspect she didn't practice in that aquarium: how to pee in her wetsuit.

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