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April 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 40, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the April, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Coral Bleaching Makes Fish Behave Recklessly. Fish on bleached coral reefs are fearless, according to a study in Journal of Animal Ecology. Instead of staying hidden at home, they stray out, making them easy prey for predators. Scientists at the Australian Research Council released fish onto both live and dead coral, and found that those on dead coral took more risks and moved further afield. While the smell of an injured mate prompted fish on live coral to take cover, their counterparts didn't react -- the death rate was 75 percent higher on dead coral. Apparently, dead coral masks key chemical signals, so the fish move away to access them.

Plastic Bag Fund to Fight Lionfish. The Cayman Islands supermarket chain Foster's Food Fair IGA is diverting $20,000 it raised from environmental charges on plastic bags to help fight Cayman's lionfish problem. The funds will go toward lionfish culling tournaments organized by the Cayman United Lionfish League. Foster's has also agreed to sell lionfish fillets in its supermarkets, when stocks are available, as part of a push to put the fish on menus in Cayman homes and restaurants. The Cayman Islands Tourism Association hailed Foster's for its contributions and issued a press release stating, "The funds from Foster's Food Fair came from monies collected for plastic bags in the stores as per the 'BECOME' program that started a few years ago. Foster's Food Fair committed that all funds collected for the plastic bags would go back to the community. This generous initiative will allow for funds to directly support [lionfish culling] tournaments throughout the year."

British Diver "Sliced to Death" in New Zealand. Bruce Porter, an English civil engineer who left his native Nottingham with his wife for a new life abroad, died after a catamaran's propeller sliced him through the head during a diving trip. Porter, who was described by friends as an experienced diver, was aboard the Pacific Hideaway, which runs out of Tutukaka, on New Zealand's north island. It's unclear whether Porter was ascending from or descending for a dive, but according to the British website Metro, he was in the water near the boat when he got caught up in the boat's blades. He was pulled back on to the boat with severe injuries to his face. Resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful and he died soon afterwards. Kate Malcolm, who manages Tutukaka Harbor told Metro, "In my time here, we've never had an accident like this."

Thanks, Facebook Fans. On March 19, nine months after we started our Facebook page, Undercurrent reached the magic number of 10,000 "Likes." As a thank-you, we asked our Facebook fans to try to win a free annual subscription to Undercurrent by answering this three-part question: There was once a liveabord dive boat that carried more than 200 divers --name: 1) the vessel; 2) at least one year in which it sailed; and 3) and at least two destinations it visited. Maryellen Gibson (Destin, FL) is our newest subscriber; she guessed the Ocean Spirit, which she went on back in 1990 to do diving in Honduras, Belize and Cozumel. We're now up to 10,500 fans. If you haven't joined us on Facebook yet, please do. We post extra dive news, videos and other relevant stuff at

I Don't Care If a Shark Bit You, Get Out of My Bar. A New Zealand man who was bitten by a shark calmly stitched up his own wounds, then joined his friends at the pub while still bleeding, and drank a beer before heading to the hospital. James Grant was spearfishing when the shark clamped down on his leg. "[I thought], 'Bugger, now I have to try and get this thing off.'"he said. He stabbed the predator with a knife and headed back to shore, where he sewed up his two-inch-long wound. Apparently the wound did not hurt much -- Grant went to the hospital only after stopping at a bar for a pint, but it was a quick drink because the bartender complained he was dripping blood all over the floor.

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