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February 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the February, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

This Diver Definitely Needs a Refresher Course. We got a good laugh after hearing about a U.K. dive shop that received a phone call after Christmas from someone who bought an airintegrated computer on the Internet. He couldn't get the transmitter to pair, so he sent it back as faulty. The replacement transmitter wouldn't pair either, so then he thought the computer was faulty. When asked by the dive shop staffer if he tried fluttering the purge of his regulator as he tried to pair them, the guy replied, "I don't have a regulator." He was very dismayed when told that without a regulator on a tank, there was no pressure to measure or to activate the transmitter. Definitely not someone you want to buddy up with for your next dive.

Yes, Batteries Are Confusing. Tom Elliott (New Hope, PA) suggested our comments in last month's issue about taking lithium and rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries through airport security might have confused some people. To be clear, AA batteries are usually NiMH. The fire risks with lithium batteries appear, in the minds of many airport security staffers, to have been transferred over to rechargeable NiMH batteries in smaller sizes. We agree it's confusing. Even though you may know your rights, a confrontation with airport security staff, whether there's a government shutdown or not, is not worth the time delay or the punitive fines you'll probably get stuck with.

Speaking of Exploding Diving Computer Batteries. We just got word about one exploding at the Düsseldorf Boat Show in Germany in late January. A non-rechargeable battery in a Heinrichs Weikamp computer exploded after it was erroneously put on a charging pad. No serious injuries occurred, but 12 people were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Which is why you do not try to recharge non-rechargeable batteries.

Spare Air Correction. In January's Undercurrent, we incorrectly stated that Spare Air was originally developed as a helicopter crash escape device. Christeen Buban, daughter of Spare Air's inventor, Larry Williamson, tells us that Marines stationed at the now-decommissioned El Toro Marine Station in Southern California only adopted it later as such. It was always intended first for use by scuba divers, although it has also since found favor with surfers, and it's also stored in buildings to prevent smoke inhalation and chemical contamination.

The Bad Way This Freediver Burst His Lung. Charlie Young, a music producer from Perth, Western Australia, died on New Year's Day while freediving -- but he did so because he shared a scuba-diving friend's air supply. Apparently, Young, 26, took a breath from her regulator before heading rapidly for the surface. It's not yet determined whether a lung expansion injury or shallow-water blackout caused his demise but taking a breath from a regulator while freediving is a very unwise move.

Bahrain Has Big Plans to Woo Divers. Bahrain, an island nation in the Arabian Gulf, is suffering financially from a slumping oil industry, and while it's not noted for its scuba diving opportunities, the country's tourism officials plan on boosting revenues by building the world's largest underwater theme park. Covering 25 acres, this so-called ecofriendly park will include a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant's house, artificial coral reefs, other sculptures constructed from eco-friendly materials and a Boeing 747 as its centerpiece, all submerged to encourage coral growth and become a potential habitat for marine life.

What's at the Bottom of Belize's Blue Hole? British billionaire Richard Branson led a submarine expedition down there in December, and what did he and his crew discover at 400 feet deep? Plastic. Yes, besides the corpses of crabs, conches and other sea creatures that had fallen down there thousands of years ago, they saw plastic bottles. In his blog on, Branson wrote it was "the starkest reminder of the danger of climate change I've ever seen . . . we've all got to get rid of single-use plastic."

Palau's Jellyfish Lake Reopens. After being closed to snorkelers for two years to allow its diminishing population to recover, this popular spot for divers and snorkeler has seen thousands of new golden jellyfish appear. Jellyfish Lake's population was around 30 million in 2005, but a disastrous drought reduced that number to a few thousand in 2016. The Coral Reef Research Foundation determined in December that the number is now up to 630,000. Jellyfish Lake, 1,200 feet long and 100 feet deep, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But Will Komodo Park Be Shut Down? Indonesia's travel industry is up in arms against a suggestion by government officials in the East Nusa Tengerrara province to close Komodo National Park for a year. The thought is, a ban on humans will boost the population of Komodo dragons, who've gotten lazier in hunting because they're used to scavenging food from tourists, as well as the deer that are their main food supply but are being hunted illegally. Puzzled scientists say Komodo's dragons are doing fine, but officials should do more to save those living outside park boundaries. A closure is still up in the air; however, there has been no mention of plans to stop any diving.

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