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March 1999 Vol. 25, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam 

from the March, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

SWIM HARDER - HANG LONGER: When it comes to DCS, we know that no two bodies are the same, but neither are any two dives. In a report released at the International Congress of Underwater Medicine, a group of nine healthy adult volunteer subjects participated in simulated hyperbaric chamber dives to 50 fsw and 90 fsw. In the first series of dives, all subjects spent 15 minutes bottom time resting at each depth. In the second series, they exercised for 15 minutes on a bicycle ergometer while diving to the same depths as in the resting dives.

After exercising at both 50 fsw and 90 fsw, subjects demonstrated significantly greater post-decompression bubble formation as compared to the bubble formation after diving at rest. The upshot: struggling against a current increases your susceptibility to DCS and therefore merits more hang time. (Morariu, G., Strath, R., Lepawsky, M., Longley, C., “Exercise Induced Post-Decompression Ocular Bubble Development,” in “Proceedings of the XII International Joint Meeting on Hyperbaric and Underwater Medicine.”)

TRAVEL TIP: When flying to Aruba, Bonaire, or Curaçao, consider flying to Caracas, Venezuela, then hopping over on one of the many daily short flights. There are lots of advantages: you don’t have to fly ALM, you may use frequent flyer miles on other airlines going to Caracas (including United, Continental, and American), and you may get better airfares. Within a few miles of the Caracas airport are several beach hotels, small communities with nice restaurants, and a Venezuelan experience without the hassle of Caracas. The Sheraton is a good choice.

REAL TURN-OFF: Not many years ago, some instructors turned off the air of novice divers, forcing them to free ascend. That’s still the practice in police scuba training in Australia. Apparently, trainees were told their air supply would be cut off, but they were not instructed on how to deal with panic or told that someone would hold their legs and that other shenanigans would be initiated. One trainee, after having his mask pulled from his face, panicked, broke free, and kicked to the surface. That ascent resulted in brain damage, impaired memory, and epilepsy. A Sydney jury awarded him $750,000. I expect that if that had happened here, you could add a couple zeros to that figure.

COULD VIAGRA SAVE THE SEAS? Reuters reports many Asian males believe the abalone to be an aphrodisiac — the maritime equivalent of Viagra. The most perfect specimen, which is supposed to closely resemble the entrance of a vagina, says Reuters, is what Asian gourmets pay a fortune to sink their teeth into. So Asian organized crime is moving into the South African abalone business, instigating so much poaching that experts believe abalones will be wiped out in five years. Says Tony McEwan of Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium: “The poaching and smuggling is extremely well organized. The Orientals have moved in, and now while one dives from the beach the other keeps guard with an AK-47.” About 1,500 tons of meat, more than ten times the quota, is being taken illegally every year, then smuggled to Asia. A diver gets up to $8.50 a pound for the meat, but by the time it leaves the country, its price has leaped to at least three times that much, all to fuel the Asian male’s dreams. Hey guys, go chew on Viagra, will ya?

COCKTAIL SCUBA TALK: If you don’t know Fred Calhoun, you ought to. Fred, who hails from Boston and has been in the dive business longer than you and me combined, sends us occasional diatribes. Here’s his latest: “Mask around the neck. Hey! Masks around the neck is as dangerously silly as stipulating that weights need to be released only by the right hand. Imagine? Some straight talk...the silly rule makers whose aim it is to gain notoriety in perpetuity by dreaming up yahoo things need to be escorted out of this sport. They are guilty of ignoring serious issues (like exploding cylinders, uncertified cylinder inspectors, computer users bending themselves here, there and practically everywhere, etc.) while concentrating on fluff. These people are easily identified... they’re wanna-bes, festooned with hoses, wrapped in flak-jackets, armed with slogans and cocktail scuba talk, pretending to be divers and instructors.” So there.

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