July 18, 2002
:Famed marine biologist and diver Sylvia Earle doesn't eat fish because she knows how destructive fishing practices are destroying species. While you may not care to be as radical, if you're concerned about the oceans, there are some species you clearly should not consume. Chilean Sea Bass, Icelandic Cod, Monk fish, Atlantic Swordfish, all sharks (except the Thresher) and Atlantic salmon top the list. Get a full list of fish to avoid and the skinny why at http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp You can also download a wallet-sized list to carry with you.
We're looking into several malfunctions reported by our readers, so if you've had problems with your dive computer in the past couple of years, please detail the problems, the date, and tell us the brand and model and email Bendavison@aol.com. Speaking of computers,
The screen may freeze if: 1. the unit is in Nitrox Mode, 2. the SIMPLAN dive planning function is used before the dive and 3. the Mode button is pressed for more than two seconds. Todd Anderson, repair technician at Aqualung, says the unit is safe for diving, as long as a Nitrox diver who has used the SIMPLAN function puts the computer back into set mode, and then resets it in the Nitrox mode before diving. However, when a computer screen freezes when being used according to instructions, we don't call that safe. If your model has serial numbers from 205000 to 223700, send it back to Suunto for reprogramming. Bad news: it will take up to eight weeks, since reprogramming will be done in Finland. See your dealer or call 760-597-5000 for an authorization to return.
1,700 UWATEC computers issued between January and May give inaccurate depth readings, causing the user to risk the bends. Four malfunctions have been reported. The recalled computers are produced by Johnson Outdoors and include the UWATEC Smart PRO, Pro ULTRA and Sport PLUS consoles with U-Line gauges. The gray consoles have ``UWATEC'' printed on front, and the following codes are on the back of the gauges: Tested-IL, Tested-JL, Tested-KL, Tested-LL, Tested-AM, Tested-BM, Tested-CM, Tested-DM and Tested-EM. Return them to where they were purchased or call (800) 382-2211. Johnson Outdoors Inc.: http://www.scubapro.com U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://www.cpsc.gov/
A new airline -- Sol Air -- has begun flying from Miami to San Pedro Sulu, so it's kicking off its service with a "two for one" $399 special. Buy tickets by July 31 and complete travel by Dec. 10. They have specials at CoCo View Resort on Roatan and Utila Lodge on Utila, with savings up to twenty percent. For packages contact Roatan Charter at 1-800-282-8932. For air tickets, Sol Air's number is 1-866-4SOLAIR. Only hitch: fare from San Pedro Sulu to the Bay Islands is additional.
The latest on el Niño is that it is still coming, but scientists aren't certain how strong it will be, though "moderate" is the operable word. Warmer waters around the Galapagos and Cocos island mean a lot of the big sharks, especially the hammerhead, disappear or go deep, out of the range of divers. Whether that will happen this winter, when el Niño is expected to peak, is anyone's guess, but in the last el Niño of 1997-1998 the big animals did disappear, disappointing divers. Meanwhile, new Undercurrent subscriber Larry D. Gohl visited the Galapagos with Aquatic Encounters in June and said, of his first liveaboard trip, "we encountered hammerheads as well as the elusive whale shark that I had been dreaming about for over a year."
Twelve Iowa divers who dived Cuba in 1999 received a Treasury Department notice earlier this year, fining them $7500 each for breaking federal laws that forbid casual travelers from spending money there. The Des Moines Register reports that the trip was organized by Leydens' Dive Shop, which used Canada's Scubacan to book the trip. "They assured us that everything was on the up-and-up,' said Matt Leydens, owner of Leydens' Dive Shop. Leydens said he would not pay the fines until he gets an administrative hearing on an appeal. His attorney told him that could take years. The Treasury Department asked Scubacan in 1998 to stop promoting the Cuba trips as permissible after calling company advertisements misleading. Scubacan continues to promote trips to Cuba and divers frequently report having trips canceled and not getting refunds. Avoid this operation.
For avid divers, there really are only two sets of books you need. The Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide by Gerald Allen and Roger Steene is the bible for that part of the world. Great book, good traveling size, and it covers everything from fish, shells, marine plants, mammals, corals, and invertebrates to sea birds and more. Good for the Red Sea, East Africa, Seychelles, Maldives, Andaman Sea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, Micronesia (Fiji), Polynesia (Tahiti), and Hawaii, it has 1,800 color illustrations in a 6x8½ paperback format with 378 pages. $40. . . . . .For the Caribbean, there is nothing like the newly revised 2002 version of Paul Humann's Reef Fish, Reef Creature and Coral ID books. If your toting old books or none at all, note that the new Reef Fish Id book, at more than 500 pages, is 20 percent larger than the previous volume, which came out in 1994. Reef Creatures (420 pages), covers sponges, nudibranchs, octopuses, crustaceans, Christmas tree worms and plenty more. Reef Coral ID (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. While each book normally retails for $40, you can get all three for $84 by ordering through our website. 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 the Coral Reef Alliance, which is working to keep our reefs alive and well. (To ensure that preserve coral reefs gets more of this money, select the book/set directly from our website and order by clicking on our link.)
-- Ben Davison, editor/publisher
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