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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Scuba Tank Explodes. A Melbourne, Australian man in his 40s was flown to the hospital in November after being seriously injured when a scuba tank exploded in his garden shed. The force of the explosion propelled the cylinder, causing it to break the man's leg. The man also had burns to his head, back, hands and legs as a result.

Lionfish -- The War Goes On! Now that lionfish fillets are proving to be good eating, the problem is how to harvest them efficiently. It's labor-intensive to spear them conventionally, so scientists at NOAA and other organizations are experimenting with different traps that will target lionfish but not other species. Some are high-tech, using photography and imaging software to determine whether it's a lionfish in the trap. Another, simpler device is left on the bottom where lionfish congregate, offering a habitat. After a month it slowly closes as it is pulled to the surface, allow faster-reacting species to escape. A good idea, but forget about these traps eradicating lionfish, unless someone springs for the hundreds of millions it might take.

Florida's Diving Museum. Have you heard about the History of Diving Museum in Key Largo? The exhibits explore the world of diving bells and early diving helmets. The museum's holding are said to be one of the largest in the world for diving history. The collection is from the personal collection of two remarkable individuals who were the founders of the museum, Drs. Sally and Joe Bauer, Jr. Sally is still active in the museum, but Dr. Joe passed away in 2007.

A Sticky Situation? City News Service reports that a diver went missing on Sunday, November 13th, near an L.A. sewage plant, north of Manhattan Beach. The diver, reported as being 45-year-old Jeff Holly, went missing three miles north of the Hyperion Treatment Plant's pier. He was last seen wearing a black diving suit and black fins and equipped with a black tank -- not good for being spotted alone in the sea.

Give a Diver a Lift. In February 2016 we wrote about electric lifts that conveniently transport UK divers, often weighed down with multiple tanks and lead belts, from the water to the boat deck. The following March we reported Frank Wasson of the Spree liveaboard explaining the legal ramifications, and hence, difficulties of installing such things on U.S. boats or boats that are flagged in one country but operate in another. Well, what he said may well be true, but the Truk Odyssey now sports such an item of equipment, meaning that divers can be retrieved from the waters of Truk Lagoon in double-quick time and with little effort on their part.

Buck Naked Scuba. Cotton Tail Corner naturists who manage a nude beach near Devon Bridge near Edmonton, Canada, are planning a nude scuba event February 25th, after last year's successful event. It's all in the name of charity, with a collection for Parkland and Edmonton food banks, delivered by people hopefully dressed. www.cottontailcorner. ca

Giant Stingrays Found Dead. Late last year, the corpses of more than 70 giant freshwater stingrays were recovered from Thailand's Mae Klong River. These animals are among the largest fish living in fresh water and can exceed 8 feet (2.5m) in length and 1000 pounds (454kg) in weight. Seems as if the mass fatality is due to excessive water acidity or poisoning caused by an industrial ethanol spill.

Grand Cayman Reef Damage. The 2,900-ton cargo vessel Saga ran aground in the marine park of Grand Cayman, outside the Eden Rock dive site in George Town Harbor, causing extensive damage, during late November. The Department of Environment is assessing the damage and will take legal action. Of course, Grand Cayman is building piers to continue to attract more cruise liners, so there is no lesson for the politicians here.

Historic Wrecks Robbed. American diver Robert Infante (48) and British diver Gordon Meek (66) have each been fined £18,000 ($22,000) after pleading guilty to plundering the wrecks of German WWI battleships Margraf and Kronprinz Wilhelm, scuttled in Scotland's Scapa Flow in 1919 and preserved under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.

Something for Nothing! Written by those medics who run London's hyperbaric center for divers and based on a broad sample of questions put to Dr. Oliver Firth and Jules Eden over 20 years, the answers in FAQ Dive Medicine are readable, informative, even witty. Get both educated and entertained by downloading it free.

Topsy Turvey in Bali. Sea conditions around the small island of Nusa Penida, famous for manta and mola mola encounters, can make diving difficult. A tragedy was narrowly averted at the end of last November when a dive boat from Two Fish Dive was capsized by large waves, sending all aboard into the water. Diver passengers recovered from the water included one French, one Australian, one Swiss and one British national. Nobody was hurt and the capsized boat was towed to shore.

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