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September 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Compasses and Quick-Connection Mounts May Not Mix. Pony bottle holder kits are handy in emergencies when divers need a quick tank-to-tank move, but Peg Hart (Beaufort, NC) found out they could wreak havoc on a diver's compass. "I got one of those new magnetic pony tank regulator gizmos, but if you dive with a compass, its magnet impacts your compass when the two are closer than 18 inches. My husband and I were headed in from a dive, and he was 90 degrees off my heading. Then we luckily realized what was going on. Don't buy these things if you dive with a compass -- too dangerous." Our veteran dive gear tester, John Bantin, agrees. "Yup, putting a large magnet, as used in some of these quick-disconnection mounts, in close proximity to a magnetic compass will completely negate its usefulness. Even trying to use a compass while diving on a steel wreck will prove it to be inaccurate."

More Fish Apps. In last month's issue, we listed some fish ID apps for smartphones and tablets, and here are a couple more to consider. Undercurrent subscriber John Hoover (Honolulu, HI) created Fish ID Hawaii for the iPad ($8), which has full descriptions of 324 Hawaiian reef fish, 300-plus underwater videos of said fish, and recommendations for dive and snorkel sites around the islands ( www.hawaiisfishes.com/APPS.htm ). And we'll reiterate our recommendation for Bob Halstead's Coral Sea Fish Guide ($5), which we wrote about in our April issue. It covers reef fish and critters from the Great Barrier Reef to Vanuatu. It's available for both iPhone and iPad at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bob-halsteads-coralsea-fish/id809624974?ls=1&mt=8

Nothing to Fear from Eating Lionfish. Back in 2012, we wrote how conservationists in St. Maarten warned islanders not to eat lionfish after tests found a naturally-occurring toxin in its flesh that can lead to ciguatera poisoning, which has serious symptoms. (Although the FDA added some lionfish species to its watch list for the poisoning risk, as of July, there were no known cases.) Now, a new study in Environmental Biology of Fishes states those fish-poisoning fears may be unfounded. Lead author Christie Wilcox of the University of Hawaii thinks the reason why so many lionfish are coming up positive on ciguatoxin tests is because its venom proteins might act as ciguatoxin mimics. They have similar activities, and the proteins can make it through common lipid extraction methods, although in reduced amounts. "If they are making their way into test dishes, there's a chance they're messing up our tests," says Wilcox. But the presence of these proteins in your fillets is nothing to worry about, she says. "Unlike ciguatoxin, lionfish venom degrades at room temperature, let alone with heat, so you have nothing to fear from a lionfish dinner."

A Couple of Corrections. In our July issue, we posted a reader report about Roatan's Coconut Tree Divers and how its bad compressor caused one diver to suffer from hyperventilation, nausea and a near loss of consciousness at depth. Her husband said she suffered from carbon dioxide poisoning, but Daniel Vale (Bowmanville, Ontario) writes, "I believe the gentleman was referring to problems with carbon 'monoxide,' not 'dioxide.' His wife needed a hospital for blood gas analysis and perhaps hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She is lucky to have survived that dive." In the same issue, we had a review of the NAD-Lembeh Resort in Indonesia, owned by a couple named Simon and Zee. Our writer described Simon as a German who's lived in Indonesia for years, but David McDougall (Newcastle, CA) wrote us, "Having been to that resort and spending some time chatting with Simon, I am pretty sure he would take umbrage at being labeled as a German as he is most certainly English." Mea culpa, our travelin' diver replies, "I had a brain fart and mixed him up with the assistant chief. They often spoke German at dinner but yes, he is British." Sorry, Simon.

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