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Last updated January 28, 2002

Brand New Paul Humann ID Books
Shark Fin Soup
Irian Jaya, Komodo, and Alor with a Discount
Little Cayman Death
Become a Tax-deductible Fish Collector
Nikonos V Production Stopped
Coming Up in Undercurrent

Brand New Paul Humann ID Books February 13, 2002

The three set fish, creature and coral ID books by Paul Humann are the unparalleled sources for information on Caribbean sea life and identification. This month Paul and his partner Ned deLoach released updated and expanded editions of each, with scores of new critters, even better photos, and information unavailable anywhere else. Why, the Reef Fish Identification book, at more than 500 pages, is 20 percent larger than the previous volume, which came out in 1994. Whenever I travel to the Caribbean, I tote all three books and spend my down hours figuring out what I saw and where to look to find rare creatures. Paul's splendid Reef Creature book (420 pages), covers sponges, nudibranchs, octopus, crustaceans, Christmas tree worms and plenty more. His Coral ID book (276 pages) helps you identify all the hard and soft corals, spawning, and even the growth on top of corals, as well as algae and other plant life. Beginners may want to ID only fish, but I'd recommend that all three books be part of every diver's library. And, if you have an old set, by all means replace it. You'll be delighted at the additions and improvements. Each book normally retails for $40, but are discounted when you order here. And the boxed 3-volume set is available now at a bigger discount, $84 (March 2, 2002). You'll get the best prices Amazon.com has to offer, speedy delivery, and the knowledge that a large hunk of our profit will go to preserve coral reefs, which is working to keep our reefs alive and well. [N.B. Select the book/set directly from our website and order by clicking on our link, to ensure the Coral Reef Alliance gets more of this money.] Our Editor's picks of diving books gives you even more choices.

Shark Fin Soup January 28, 2002

While the Thailand government turns a blind to to the shark finning industry, a Thai marine biolgist, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, says that sharks -- including whale sharks -- have been almost wiped out from Thai seas, and divers instead are going to Malaysia, which has strict laws protecting sharks. He said a shark could generate more than US$45,000 from scuba diving activities while a shark fin would fetch only $25. The nonprofit organization WildAid, based in San Francisco, is conducting a tough campaign to persuade the Thai public to reject shark fin soup as a dish of fraudulence and cruelty -- and even as a health hazard. A fan of shark fin soup told the Bangkok Post that she did not know her favorite dish was responsible for sharks dying a miserable death. She said she was told sharks had a body mechanism to recreate new fin. Recent tests of shark fin bought from Bangkok found them to contain mercury as much as 42 times above safety standards. Local shark fin sellers might have used a chemical to enlarge the size of the fins to fetch a high price. You can help stop shark finning by going to www.wildaid.org.

Irian Jaya, Alor and Komodo, with a Discount January 28, 2002

Visit some of this planet's most unique seas on a superb liveaboard, a 115-foot all-wooden Kararu with a spiffy crew that accommodates up to 16 divers and specializes in underwater photography (E6 processor, camera workstations, and 110/220V charging tables). Kararu Dive Voyages will give a 10% discount for the Undercurrent family on cruises to three Indonesian destinations. Most unique: a 9-night cruise (Feb 27- March 8) to Northwest Irian Jaya (which splits the island with Papua New Guinea) with photographers Jim Watt (National Geographic), Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock (Secret Seas) who will lecture on techniques and offer advice. (Irian Jaya is one of the world's last pristine areas for marine and terrestrial wildlife with some of the world's least explored islands. A live-aboard is the only way to discover it.)

Or, how about a 12-night cruise from Alor west by Flores and Komodo back to Bali (March 16-28) or 7 night cruise from Bima, Sumbawa to Komodo and back to Bali (May 23-May 30). Sailing and diving back through the Alor Strait and on through the Komodo National Park back to Bali, offers the opportunity of diving some of the most varied marine habitats in Indonesia. Larry Tackett and Denise Nielson Tackett will be photo pros on the May trip. Two exceptional photographers, they will lecture on marine life and share their experience. A good write up in the 2002 Chapbook tells it all about Kararu. To get more information and sign up, visit www.kararu.com or email them at info@kararu.com. To get your discount, tell them Undercurrent sent you.

Little Cayman Death January 28, 2002

A popular instructor and dive guide who worked on Cayman Brac, Andrew Collins, disappeared while leading a Brac Aquatics dive at Marilyn's Cut at Little Cayman. The plan was for him to dive under the boat and the four divers with him would then follow. Bob Degouvia, his boss, said: "He had gone down 30 to 40ft, which is nothing. He has been to the site many times before. He told the other divers to meet him below and when the divers went down, he was not there. It's a total mystery. There were no signs of anything. There was no sign of any shark attack. If there had been, some of his gear would have become detached and floated up. The only possible indication is that he said he was feeling hot getting into the water." Degouvia said he may have been taken ill, lost his buoyancy and slipped over the edge of the wall, sliding thousands of feet to the sea floor. Thirty-five people spent five days searching the area, but found no clues to his disappearance. A heart attack is suspected. (The Times of London)

Become a Tax-deductible Fish Collector January 28, 2002

One of the more unique dive trips is the annual Bahamas fish collecting expedition sponsored by the Boston's New England Aquarium. Aboard the Coral Reef II, you travel to the Exuma Cays and Conception Island from April 29 - May 9 to collect reef fish and invertebrates for the Aquarium's popular 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank exhibit. You spend the last day in Miami preparing fishes for shipment to the Boston Aquarium. For $3,640, you get airfare from Boston, transfers, accommodations, all meals, and the opportunity to dive in the Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank. For more information, or to reserve your space, call Holly Martel Bourbon, Senior Aquarist/ Head Diver, at 617-973-5248 or email Holly at hbourbon@neaq.org. Since you're traveling as an official volunteer for the Aquarium, a large percentage of your expenses are tax deductible and you can get a reduced price and arrange your own air transportation.

Nikonos V Production Stopped January 28, 2002

After the current batch of NikonosV bodies is finished being manufactured, Nikon will stop production, taking Nikon out of the underwater camera market. They said that "in light of relatively low sales volumes for this niche product....Nikon determined that it could no longer continue to justify the cost and effort of specialized production required to manufacture it in small quantities." Nikon will continue to manufacturer lenses and accessories through the remainder of 2002, but then may cease support all together. While a decade ago it, the NikonosV was virtually the only camera for amateur underwater photographers, it has faced serious competition from Sea and Sea. Furthermore, as the price of superior SLR land cameras with autofocus (and now digital cameras) has dropped and foolproof housings have become more available, many divers don't begin with a Nikonos, but rather choose to house their own SLR. Nikon itself developed an underwater SLR, the Nikonos RS, but canceled production when they found the small diving market would not bear its high price.

While Nikon has no plans to introduce a new camera, there is a strong market in used bodies and accessories. Divers hell bent on owning a Nikonos V, lenses, and close up kits, should have little problem finding them for years to come. (From the January 2002 issue of Undercurrent)

Coming Up in Undercurrent

In the next few issues we will review a private island in Fiji, a trip to St. Vincent (a real sleeper in the Caribbean), guaranteed whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez, and plenty of other interesting spots. And, we'll tell you about a new case that affects your legal liability to your buddy, what the sea lice in the Caribbean will mean to your diving enjoyment, where you ought not to go next year with el nino coming, the latest on the demise of three dive travel agents and how divers got ripped off......and much much more. Only for subscribers and Online Members to Undercurrent, the private, exclusive guide for serious divers.

-- Ben Davison, editor/publisher

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