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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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August 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Queensland Diving Is Now Cheaper. After seeing divers flock to other parts of the Great Barrier Reef, this Australian state's government decided to woo them back by making a previously mandatory medical certificate for first-time divers now only required for people considered "at risk" (meaning they have a risky medical condition, or are over age 45, or have a body mass index over 30 and a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for males and 34 inches for females). That certificate costs up to $100 and isn't required in any other Australian or Asia Pacific jurisdiction, so divers chose with their wallets. Another new regulation: Two crew members instead of one are now required to count and compare the number of people on board to ensure no one is left behind or still underwater.

But Is Diving There Safer? Two U.S. fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs onto a Queensland section of the Great Barrier Reef last month when a training exercise went wrong. The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard, and each had intended to drop two bombs on the Townshend Island bombing range, but when controllers reported the area was not clear of hazards, the pilots aborted the mission because they were low on fuel and could not land with their load. So they dumped the four bombs, weighing about 4,000 pounds, into 165 feet of water and away from coral to minimize damage to the reef. None exploded. But an angry Senator Larissa Waters asked on an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it? Have we gone completely mad?"

Tag Turtles and Sharks at Cocos. Turtle Island Restoration Network does an honorable job in saving sea turtles worldwide, but it needs the help of divers, both financially and physically, to do so. It's hosting its biannual 12-day dive research trip to Cocos Island November 10-22, aboard the 130-foot liveaboard Argo, and letting divers tag and track sea turtles and sharks in order to protect their migration routes. The cost, which includes meals, nitrox fills, marine park fee and transfers from hotel to the dock, is $7,210, which can be tax-deductible, as it helps finance the research expedition. For more information, go to

The Misery of Coach. When I'm on a long-haul flight and stuck in coach, the only way I can catch some sleep, even with drugs,is with a neck pillow. I've tried many and never found a perfect one, but this new Cabeau Evolution Pillow seems impressive. I admit to not having tried it yet, but I decided to pass on this blog post about it, because if you're flying across oceans soon and are looking to decrease the suffering, this pillow just might be the ticket. Read more at

What Should a Dive Shop Smell Like? British Airways adds scents to its airplanes, Victoria's Secret adds scents to its stores. Funeral homes and medical offices are jumping in to the world of "scent logos" too. So why not dive shops? Dive Center Business recently published results of a scent study done by Manja Zisansewk, a doctoral candidate at Washington State University doctoral . She mixed the smells of organge, tea and basil in a scent that was sprayed in a home-decorating store. Sales increased by 20 percent. But as the Dive Center Training article states, "Finding a signature scent for your dive shop is no small order, considering the wrong one can turn off a customer more than no scent at all. While "ocean" scent is used successfully in hotels, other smells related to diving, such as sunblock or coconuts, haven't been tested. On the other hand, the smell of chocolate chip cookies has been shown in experiments to inspire women on tight budgets to splurge. Still, your scent needs to match you brand." What about the scent of a wetsuits after a three-tank dive day?

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