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January 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Thanks from Our Favorite Nonprofits. We recently awarded $1,000 to each of three marine-focused nonprofits that we profiled in our October issue, as their stellar work oclearly deserved recognition. The founders wrote us back to say thanks for the financial support. "We really appreciated the publicity," says Don Stark of the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund. Ken Nedimeyer wasn't expecting a donation to his Coral Restoration Fund, "but it is greatly appreciated and will be well spent." Heather Hamza of Ghost Fishing says her eyes welled up when she read our e-mail about the donation. "Your $1,000 will pay for two weekday charters or one weekend charter. This is a huge help, and I cannot thank you enough! On behalf of all the volunteers, I want to express my deepest gratitude."

Blackfish Is Hurting Seaworld. The documentary describing the 2010 killing of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau by Tilikum, an orca previously associated with the death of two other people, traced the grim story of killer whales in captivity. While thousands of parents have decided to take their kids elsewhere when in Orlando, rock muscians are also stepping up. Heart, Willie Nelson and the Barenaked Ladies have pulled out from SeaWorld Orlando's annual Bands, Brew & BBQ Festival, slated to begin February 1. Joan Jett has issued a letter demanding that her hit song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" be removed from the park's "Shamu Rocks" killer-whale show.

Of Course Sharks Like the Taste of Human Flesh. Daniel Bucher, a marine ecologist at Southern Cross University in Australia says there's no evidence to support the claim that they don't. "Normally, they eat fish, but they don't mind red meat if they can get it," he told the Australian newspaper Northern Star. "Seals have very red meat (like humans) from oxygen-binding proteins in the blood, and great white sharks feed on seals." He adds that tiger sharks and bull sharks are scavengers, and "they will eat any carrion. To them, it's just food." Because most shark attacks on humans have involved only a single bite, people assumed sharks didn't like the taste, and attacks were a case of mistaken identity. It's more likely they were taking an exploratory bite, Bucher says. "They're trying to work out if it's alive, whether it will fight back. Depending on how hungry a shark was, it would attack, or not."

Fishermen Protesting Protection of Cocos Island. After two years of negotiations, Costa Rican government officials, environmental groups and fishing representatives agreed upon the creation of a marine-protected area of 6,000 square miles around Cocos Island. But there's one group holding it up. Longline fishermen have filed a lawsuit to kill the plan, saying it would reduce the area they're allowed to fish by 60 percent, and that is "the main source of income for more than 2,500 fishermen who work on some 500 boats in the Pacific region," according to a spokesperson for the group. Government officials will hold a hearing on January 7, during which fishermen can present reasons for their annulment request. In the meantime, plans for the marine preserve around Cocos can't be put into place.

An Undercurrent Reader Saves a Marriage. Jim Garren (Boynton Beach, FL) wrote in about the good deed he did while aboard the Kona Aggressor in October. "During my second night dive, down at 50 feet at The Dome, my light suddenly reflected a flash in the sand. It turned out to be a man's diamond wedding band in good condition. Back on board, I could make out an inscription inside, but it did not belong to any crew or guests. Using a magnifying glass, I saw the ring was made by a Hawaiian jewelry company named Na Hoku. Back home, I contacted Martha in its customer service department, who was able to determine the ring's original purchasers using its inscription (Rhina & Gabriel 3-13-11), and she gave them my contact information. The couple, who live in California, did contact me and said they lost it while snorkeling on vacation last June, and losing it ruined the rest of their trip. I returned it by FedEx the next day. I was almost as excited as they were because it was the only real 'treasure' I've found after nearly 700 dives."

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