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October 2003 Vol. 18, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the October, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Hard-learned Lesson:A Minnesota scuba class got a search and recovery lesson they'll never forget when they discovered a woman's body in Lake Leander, near Duluth. The class, from Tall Pines Enterprises, first spotted Carol Jean Gunderson's car in about 15 feet of water, then noticed her body inside the vehicle and contacted the local sheriff. Sheriff's deputies, local police, and the St. Louis County rescue squad pulled the vehicle to shore. The victim had been missing for two days, since going out for gas and cigarettes. Preliminary autopsy findings showed no indications of foul play.

Uwatec Recall: As we reported in August, Scubapro has recalled 6,000 Uwatec SmartPRO and SmartCOM computers, telling owners that once they return the faulty units it will take 90 days for a replacement. That's bad news for any diver headed out to dive. Spokesperson Cynthia Georgeson told Undercurrent that the replacement time has been less and when divers "required a computer sooner, we have worked diligently to ensure they had the computer they needed when they needed it." She suggests that anyone with an urgent need for a replacement should call 800-808-4948 to request priority service. The reader who notified us of the problem, Paul Stewart of Newton, MA, sent his computer off the first week of September. As we go to press in early October, he has yet to hear from Scubapro.

Damn, Are You the Envy: In preparation for a new TV show, the British Broadcasting System surveyed 20,000 citizens to identify the 50 experiences they want to have before they die. And yours are at the top: 1. Swim with dolphins. 2. Scuba dive on Great Barrier Reef. 4. Go whale-watching. 5. Dive with sharks. 13. Escape to a paradise island. 29. Explore the Galapagos Islands. What beat whale watching and diving with sharks? Flying on the Concorde. Number 50, by the way, was to go polar bear watching.

Diving and Terrorism: "There is evidence that terrorists are learning about diving, with a view to attacking ships from below. The Abu Sayyaf groups in the Philippines kidnapped a maintenance engineer in a Saba holiday resort in 2000. On his release in June this year, the engineer said his kidnappers knew he was a diving instructor; they wanted instruction. The owner of a diving school near Kuala Lumpur has recently reported a number of ethnic Malays wanting to learn about diving, but being strangely uninterested in learning about decompression." (The Economist, October 4-10)

Bonaire Theft: As we've reported many times, if you leave valuables in your car when you're beach diving in Bonaire, expect them to be gone when you return. In fact, thieves even hit hotel parking lots these days. Here's a new twist, reports subscriber David Smedley (Rialto, CA), which occurred on his trip this June. "The punks cut your gas line to steal your gas, because of a locked gas cap. So remove the locked gas cap. Cheaper to buy gas then pay for cut gas line, which insurance doesn't cover."

New Kind of Marine Conservation: Two divers in California's Channel Islands rescued a downed 4-month-old female bald eagle that was about to go under. The species was being reintroduced to the Islands. She was malnourished and dehydrated when Mark Ferguson spotted her floundering eight miles off Santa Cruz Island. "We saw something in the water and sea gulls were circling, so we went over to take a look," said Ferguson, of Thousand Oaks. "It looked like it was using its wing to do a breaststroke. I could see the transmitter attached to its back." After some debate, Ferguson and his friend maneuvered their boat close, and Ferguson grabbed the eagle by the tail. "I was afraid of getting scraped by its claws, but it looked pretty exhausted," Ferguson said. "We put it in the front of the boat. After 20 minutes it started to revive." They turned the bird over to the Ojai Raptor Center.

Divers Help Bust Shark Poachers: The Majuro branch of a Hong Kong shark fishing company has been fined $110,000 for violating its fishing agreement with the Marshall Islands. Dive operators from Bikini Atoll Divers provided videos and eyewitness accounts of Edgewater longline vessels fishing closer to the reefs of Bikini and Jaluit than its contract allows. Divemasters at Bikini report a 50 percent reduction in the shark population at the atoll's famous Shark Pass in the past year. Jack Niedenthal, Bikini Atoll's trust liaison, says that fines for illegal shark fishing aren't enough and argues that the company's license should be revoked.

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