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Updated February 17, 2014
These brief news articles below were sent out via email to all divers who signed up for our free email list.
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When Do Male Divers Become More than "Helpful"?
Buddy Dive Shut Down in the Galapagos
What You're Missing in This Month's Issue
Strong Sales for Shark Repellant in Hawaii - But Do They Work?
Lionfish: The Caribbean Endgame
Use Your iPhone as an Underwater Microscope
Careless Divers Putting Coral at Risk
Criminal Concerns on Roatan
Whale Shark Protection Not Being Honored in China
The Wolf of Wall Street Can't Swim with the Sharks
Coming Up in Undercurrent

When Do Male Divers Become More than "Helpful"?:  February 17, 2014

A female diver recently asked us this question: "Have any fellow female divers been treated in a patronizing way by men in their dive group? My husband and I dive as a part of larger group, and I am often the only woman. Although we are both fairly experienced, I've had random men in the group approach me to check that my gear is assembled properly, offer helpful tips for beginners, and generally treat me like an idiot. On one occasion, someone came up to me and tested my regulator and BC inflator while I was wearing my gear without even asking me. I know they're probably trying to be helpful, but I'm getting annoyed." We wonder - when does a diver cross over from being friendly to becoming patronizing, especially when it's a male diver? Do you have stories about this happening to you? Do you find it helpful or insulting? And any tips on how to deal with this situation without alienating people? Is there sexism at play? Send your stories and comments to me at BenDDavison@undercurrent.org

Buddy Dive Shut Down in the Galapagos:  February 17, 2014

On December 24, the Galapagos National Park Service suspended the operations of Buddy Dive liveaboards in the marine reserve. Read the reasons why -- and what the repercussions are for divers - in the article from this month's issue, free on our website at www.undercurrent.org

What You're Missing in This Month's Issue:  February 17, 2014

Cabo Pulmo, Baja California: a good marine reserve for those who enjoy "rustic diving" . . . beware of chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes in the Caribbean . . . dive trip party poopers: cold water, smokers and karaoke . . . what the sale of the dive training agency SSI to the dive gear maker Mares means to divers . . . DEMA show followup: the latest in rebreather innovations . . . stories from divers lost at sea . . . the strange case of a missing diver in the Caymans . . . the unfortunate trend of "shark riding" . . . one small -- but potentially helpful -- idea for lionfish eradication . . . and much more.

Strong Sales for Shark Repellant in Hawaii - But Do They Work?:  February 17, 2014

With a recent rise in shark attacks in Hawaii (13 were recorded last year), sales of shark-repellent devices for divers are taking off. Some stores were sold out over the holidays (Christmas gifts?) and waiting for back orders. But University of Hawaii researchers are skeptical about whether the technology works. "In testing various electrical stimuli on sharks in captivity, we haven't found anything that worked," Kim Holland of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology told Hawaii's local Fox News station. "And in casual testing of some of the commercial products a few years ago, we had sharks that swam through the supposed current field." Holland also questioned the safety of the products. "Putting a lot of electric current in the water around you can probably be as dangerous to you as to deterring a shark."

Lionfish: The Caribbean Endgame:  February 17, 2014

Lionfish, introduced sometime in the 1980s to the southern Atlantic and Caribbean, are a threat to scores of native species throughout that region. Yet a new study shows that some control may be possible. Will it be enough? Find out whether scientists have found an answer - read our article about it in the February issue. It's at the top of our homepage at www.undercurrent.org

Use Your iPhone as an Underwater Microscope:  February 17, 2014

Bodelin Technologies, which makes a neat bolt-on microscope for cell phones and tablets, has teamed up with the underwater housing maker Aquapac to create an underwater microscope. The ProScope Micro Mobile, which costs $149, and the Aquapack 418 housing, which costs $40, can be paired up to attach to the iPhone and Samsung S4. (The microscope also works on iPad products, but the underwater housing currently does not.) Features include 20X to 80X magnification, adjustable LED intensity, five-hour continuous-use rechargeable battery, a built-in three-point stand and tripod mount. Sounds good for using to spot critters on muck dives. View Bodelin's YouTube video to see how it works.

Careless Divers Putting Coral at Risk:  February 17, 2014

It's no secret that careless divers, especially those with cameras, can harm coral. A new study out of Hong Kong shows just how serious that harm can be. Chung Shan-shan, a professor of biology at Baptist University, found that more than 70 percent of divers came into contact with coral, potentially causing irreversible damage. Her study surveyed and observed 80 divers at dive sites near Hong Kong, and found that each touched coral 14.7 times on average in each dive. The majority of those were inexperienced or carrying cameras; contact was unintentional and mostly caused by their hands and fins. Nearly 40 percent of divers said they made contact with coral because they lost control of their buoyancy; 8.6 percent said they were taking pictures; and 6.2 percent just found the coral convenient to hold on to. Camera-carrying divers made contact an average of 23.8 times per dive, compared with 11.6 times for others.

Criminal Concerns on Roatan:  February 17, 2014

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, but the Bay Islands have long been considered a safe haven - until now. A string of recent crimes on Roatan has locals and tourists concerned. A notable one happened January 2 when an armed bandit fired a shot at an American family doing a day trip from aboard the Carnival Conquest, and robbed them in broad daylight near the Palm Beach Resort. According to the police, there were 17 homicides on Roatan in the first eight months of 2013 (none involving tourists), compared with nine during the same period in 2012.Amy Robertson, author of the Moon Handbook to Honduras and the Bay Islands, told the New York Times she believes that Roatan is still a safe destination, but that visitors should check with locals before venturing to the island's far east end past the town of Oak Ridge. Expats advise visitors not to walk alone on the beach between West Bay and West End, avoid Coxen Hole after dark, and stick to the island's main road unless you're with a group.

Whale Shark Protection Not Being Honored in China:  February 17, 2014

A three-year undercover operation recently revealed that as many as 600 whale sharks a year are killed to supply one factory alone in China. Photojournalist Paul Hilton, who's also co-director of the Hong Kong-based NGO WildLife Risk made three trips between 2010 and 2013 to the town of Puqi in southeast China. "We set up a small seafood trading company and we organized a business trip," he told Radio Australia. "We met with a Mr. Li who runs the China Wenzhou Yueqing Marine Organisms Health Protection Foods Co Ltd., [we were taken to] the processing plant, and the courtyard was just full of giant whale shark fins." The whale sharks, a migratory species, had been caught off China's coast China in the South China Sea. Whale shark hunting, as well as the sale and export of those products, are banned in China, which has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Despite that, authorities say they lack the resources to stop the trade. "There was a spokesperson who wanted to remain anonymous from the Chinese Fisheries side saying they are just totally understaffed and they don't have the resources to do more for endangered species," Hilton said. ""So there's loopholes all through the system, people are taking backhanders."

The Wolf of Wall Street Can't Swim with the Sharks:  February 17, 2014

While promoting his latest film, Leonardo DiCaprio says he is terrified of sharks after getting stuck in a cage with one. He told Ellen DeGeneres that a "gigantic great white" tried to attack him when a shark cage diving expedition went awry in South Africa in 2006, while he was on a break from filming Blood Diamond. "They actually said in 30 years this has never happened, but the tuna kind of got stuck on the top of the cage, and the great white leapt out and tried to bite it and went into the cage with me," he said. "Half of its body was in and out, and I flattened down at the bottom, and it chomped a few times but I survived it." He was invited on the expedition by a nonprofit devoted to shark protection, but he admitted it left him mentally scarred. "I don't want to discount their work because they're doing great stuff. But it was absolutely terrifying."

Coming Up in Undercurrent:  February 17, 2014

Swimming with the manatees in Florida . . . sweet diving in Fiji's Sau Bay . . . how narcosis affects divers' memory and thought processing . . . why dive agencies' training standards are going downhill . . . is this the fastest-growing segment of the diving industry?. . .John Bantin takes a look at gas-integrated dive computers . . . and much more.

Ben Davison, editor/publisher
Contact Ben

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Note: Undercurrent is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization donating funds to help preserve coral reefs. Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.

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