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Current Upwellings

Last updated October 18, 2000

The Latest Dive News

Ambergris Recovering Slowly from Hurricane Keith
Red Sea Dangers
Continuing Troubles in the Pacific
Diving Every State
DAN and Skin Diver Come Together

While this month's news is rife with unfortunate news about how hurricanes and terrorism are affecting our dive sites around the world, it concludes with some very good news about American diving and what's got to be, by Guinness standards, a record in American dive touring -- thanks to a good, friend of Undercurrent, Chuck Ballenger.

Ambergris Recovering Slowly from Hurricane Keith October 18, 2000

First, the bad news. Ambergris Caye in Belize is struggling to get back to normal after hurricane Keith, which left up to 1/3 of the 9000 residents of Ambergris Caye at least temporarily homeless. Predictions now are that some hotels, dive operations and restaurants will be operating by Thanksgiving but even now power and telephone service have yet to be fully restored. Neighboring Caye Caulker was hit harder and will take much longer to recover. Bottom line: while I'm sure the businesses there would appreciate your tourist dollars to help them on the road to recovery, I'm interested in you, the consumer, so I'd recommend you find other places to go until well into the year 2001. If you want to help them recover, you'll find much information about the cleanup, its progress, and organizations handling contributions at http://www.ambergriscaye.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi

Red Sea Dangers October 18, 2000

With terrorism again rising in the middle East, divers considering the Red Sea as a destination need to think very carefully about the risks involved. After all, Americans are primary targets for terrorists and the Red Sea, if aboard a live-aboard, is one big body of water. The U.S. state department has asked that all American citizens defer travel to Israel. Egypt, of course, is the headquarters for diving the Red Sea.

Continuing Troubles in the Pacific October 18, 2000

Elsewhere, strife in the Solomon Islands is mitigating, though political problems remain unresolved. Nonetheless, Bilikiki Cruises is again operating. And while Fiji is back to normal, travelers still face risk in Malaysia. In Papua New Guinea, where we've touted the island of Loalata as a haven safe from the thugs of Port Moresby, in late September armed "raskals" arrived by boat, stole the company´s safe, a guest's camera, a guest's wallet containing almost $500 and the watches of five guests. With the assistance of local villagers, the authorities arrested five culprits within forty-eight hours. They are in detention awaiting trial, owner Dik Knight told Undercurrent. Loloata@loloata.com

Diving Every State October 18, 2000

With all this international strife, let us report the travels of Undercurrent neighbor, Chuck Ballenger, who on October 10 completed a dive in Amalga Harbor near Juneau, Alaska. Not that the single dive is monumental, but that was his last in an itinerary that took Chuck underwater in every one of America's fifty states. He discovered seven million-year-old shark teeth in a South Carolina river and historic shipwrecks in Lake Champlain VT, toured an abandoned nuclear missile silo in Texas and a volcano in Utah, and even took a dip in North Dakota with its current governor.

Ballenger says that while most folks consider diving to be just about tropical reefs --– he has dived those too in many of the forty-seven countries he dived -- he says it's really about the uniqueness of the adventure and the people he meets along the way. "The dive-safari concept of exploring both below and above water is just as rewarding in the United States. We have as much diversity as any nation on Earth."

He will chronicle his adventure in a book “An American Adventure Underwater - Fifty Dives in Fifty States.” Meanwhile, you can learn more about his dives at www.dive50states.com.

DAN and Skin Diver Come Together October 18, 2000

DAN and Skin Diver have entered a joint agreement, in which DAN members will now receive 12 issues a year of Alert Diver, but wrapped in Skin Diver magazine. No longer will Alert Diver be a stand alone publication. A few days after the announcement, Skin Diver issued a statement that its DAN edition will not carry direct mail dive product advertising, an anathema to retail stores. Some people are skeptical of the arrangement, saying that DAN, a nonprofit medical organization, is tacitly endorsing Skin Diver and its editorial and advertising policies. Dave Kasper, owner of Huron Scuba in Ann Arbor Michigan told Undercurrent "DAN should not be in the business of promoting one major competitor in the dive industry over another. The retailer/sponsors have played a major role in building DAN up to its enormity, and maybe that's to our ultimate detriment." DAN says the savings they accrue will allow them to increase research, telephone service and recompression chamber assistance.

-- Ben Davison, publisher

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