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Current Upwellings
The Latest Dive News

Last updated September 17, 2001

Shark Feeding Ban
Florida Reef Destruction
DACOR Console Recall
Hurricane Season
Inzan in zee Deep
Coiba No Longer Exploring
World Coral Reefs to Die by 2050?
Phony Tank Testing
The Death of a Diving Pioneer

Shark Feeding BanSeptember 11, 2001

Feeding sharks to entertain scuba divers is dead in Florida. With the national attention shark attacks have gotten this year, there's no way the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could allow the practice to continue. Last Thursday, it voted for a total ban. To become law, a final vote is required in November. Dive operators and the industry were outraged and are threatening legal action if the ban goes through. However, diving tourism is such a tiny part of the total Florida beach-oriented tourism, the Commission had no choice but to ban the feeds in light of larger tourism interests. While the industry argued that officials had no evidence to prove the shark?feeding dives weren't safe, several commissioners expressed fear that fed sharks could be conditioned to associate humans with food, a notion supported by many scientists. The ban would also extend to other marine animals, including manatees, barracudas, moray eels and manta rays. According to the International Shark File, there have been 15 attacks on shark?feeding divers and eight on professional photographers who used bait to attract sharks. Bob L. Harris, an attorney representing the companies offering shark?feeding dives, said, "We will take any legal means we can, including going after the commission staff." Such an intemperate statement makes one wonder who the real sharks are. After all, the industry drummed up a very big effort to support just FOUR Florida operators that feed sharks. It's all part of the myopic view that the dive industry must defeat any legislation anywhere that regulates any aspect of diving, despite the impact on the larger community. For more information, see the Shark Attack File: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Sharks/ISAF/ISAF.htm Fish and Wildlife commission: http://www.floridaconservation.org

Florida Reef Destruction September 11, 2001

Invasive algae is choking deepwater reefs off Florida's Atlantic coast. Brian LaPointe, a senior scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, says, "It's a mess. This algae is forming a thick mat over the reef and all the organisms that normally grow on the reef, the sponges, the corals." The light-green Caulerpa brachypus usually grows in the Pacific. It has been seen in a few small patches in the Antilles, and in May, LaPointe discovered it in extensive meadows off Palm Beach County. It may have arrived in Florida from ballast water discharged by boats, and now thrives, thanks to polluted and nitrogen-rich water from sewage and runoff. The algae is overtaking good algae eaten by fish, causing the schools that usually inhabit reefs to move away. Divers began noticing patches of the harmful algal blooms this year, along with a resulting drop in fish populations. Scientists have theorized that sewage pumped into the underground aquifer by way of deep wells is seeping out along the reefs. (Miami Herald)

DACOR Console Recall September 11, 2001

DACOR is recalling the 2001 Supreme SPG and SPG consoles because they may have defective metal fittings on the high-pressure hose. These may leak or become separated from the hose under normal scuba pressure loads. The problematic hoses are black with gray lettering and horizontal gray banding along the entire length. According to Rob Cairns, vice president of sales and marketing, the problem surfaced in Europe. He says that there have been no reports of leaking or failing hoses in North America, and less than 150 regulators have been returned for free dealer hose replacement in North America. If you bought your console after February 1, 2001, return it to your nearest DACOR dealer for free inspection and hose replacement, if necessary. For more info, call DACOR at 1-800 323-0463 or visit their website at www.divedacor.com

Hurricane Season September 11, 2001

It's bargain season in the Caribbean, but don't overlook the bargains in Baja Mexico. One such bargain: Cabo San Lucas: Solmar Suites Hotel offers four nights in a garden view suite with confirmed upgrade to oceanfront, three complimentary dinners for $202.50 per person based on double occupancy. Deals are constantly changing for all hotels, so if you want to take advantage of the high 70, low 80-degree water in the Sea of Cortez before the water dips into winter 60's, go now. Contact your dive travel agent or, for the Solmar, visit www.solmar.com

Inzan in zee Deep September 11, 2001

We have reported in Undercurrent about the follies of the Inzan Tiger and the erratic behavior of its owner, Captain Heinz Buchbinder, who pilots his vessel to Colombia's Malpelo Island. While we could never recommend joining that boat, it's no longer a choice. Undercurrent subscriber John M. Andrea (Zurich, Switzerland), who joined a crazy cruise in April, tell us that the Inzan has since sunk, with Captain Heinz and his wife barely surviving a fire on board. Their insurer is investigating the fire, but won't answer our questions about the cause.

Coiba No Longer Exploring September 12, 2001

The Coiba Explorer, which dived the waters of Panama, has closed down it's operation, reports subscriber Tracy Johnson of Manhattan Beach, CA. "I made a trip on the Coiba Explorer every year since the dive part of the operation was started 4 years ago. However, the Coiba Explorer is being shut down (both fishing and diving), a business decision by the owner. The Coral Star is now the only live-aboard serving Coiba Island." Johnson says it was a planned shut down and no one lost any deposit money.

 

World Coral Reefs to Die by 2050? September 11, 2001

"The world's coral reefs will be dead within 50 years because of global warming, and there is nothing we can do to save them," Rupert Ormond, a marine biologist from Glasgow University, told the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference. "Only the coral reefs in nontropical regions such as Egypt stand any chance of lasting beyond 2050," Ormond said, but even the days of the stunning marine parks of the Red Sea are numbered as sea temperatures continue to creep up. Scientists agree the world's oceans are now warming at a rate between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius every 100 years due to the increased amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which trap the sun's rays. But even if humans stopped pumping out greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide tomorrow, it would still be too late to save the reefs, Ormond said. "I don't know what can be done, given that there's a 50 year time lag between trying to limit carbon dioxide levels and any effect on ocean temperature. We are looking at a gradual running down of the whole system. Over time, the diversity of coral fish will die." The only cause for optimism was that new coral reefs could start to emerge in colder waters such as the North Atlantic Ocean. (Reuters)

Phony Tank Testing September 11, 2001

If you took your tank for a hydrostatic testing to Underwater Adventures in Leesburg, Fla., -- or bought a used tank of unknown origins -- you may have to do it again. The U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates pressurized tanks, has discovered that Underwater Adventures marked and certified a number of tanks as properly tested, but they were not. They also marked a number of cylinders with a Retester Identification Number (RIN) that belongs to another company. Some of these tanks may have a compromised structural integrity and explode upon filling. Underwater Adventures failed to keep records of its retests and visual inspections, so it's impossible to determine the number of cylinders they improperly tested certified. Anyone who has a tank that has been serviced by Underwater Adventures -- or, in fact, purchased a used tank -- that is marked with RIN numbers B095 or B059 and stamped with a retest date after 1986, should not fill it until properly retested. As you might imagine, the Feds are investigating Underwater Adventures.

The Death of a Diving Pioneer September 11, 2001

Jon Hardy, a diver for 50 years and a past executive director of NAUI, died August 29 from cancer. Hardy, 62, owned the Argo Diving service, on Catalina Island, off Los Angeles, and founded and directed Rodale's Scuba Lab. Hardy was a volunteer crew member for the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. In 1981, he co-founded the annual Avalon Underwater Cleanup, which has grown to more than 500 volunteer divers. Donations in Hardy's memory can be sent to the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, P.O. Box 5069, Avalon, CA 90704. A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22 at Buena Vista Pointe in Avalon.

-- Ben Davison, publisher

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