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January 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the January, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dive Shows for Divers. Our World Underwater has one for sport divers in the Dallas Metroplex area on January 25-26, then Chicago from February 27 through March 1. New gear, new travel destinations, demonstrations, film festivals, and get-togethers for sport divers and their friends ( www.ourworldunderwater.com ).

Why Divers Should Avoid Sunscreen. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology shows how sunscreen chemicals can wreak havoc on marine life. The problem? Certain kinds of sunblock react with the sun's rays when they hit the water to create hydrogen peroxides. That, in turn, can prove toxic to phytoplankton, a vital source of nutrition for fish and whales. Sunscreens that morph into hydrogen peroxide are made using a process called nanotechnology. In Europe, sunscreen manufacturers must label products made with nanoparticles, but the U.S. has no such requirement. So even if you're using sunscreen that says it's green or environmentally friendly, you have no idea whether it was made via nanotechnology, or its impact on the ocean.

Diver Versus Crocodile in South Africa. Jody Saunders, 37, was doing maintenance work on the Rust de Winter Dam last November when a crocodile suddenly clamped down on his head and dragged him down into the water. "I was shoulder-deep in the water while giving my colleague, standing on shore, my gear," Saunders told the Rekord East. "Everything suddenly went dark and I felt immense pressure around my head." Saunders stuck his hands in the croc's mouth in an attempt to pull its jaws open. "If I didn't put up a fight, the crocodile would snap my neck and it would all be over." The reptile thrashed and spun Saunders' body around, and "after about a minute -- which felt more like 10 minutes -- the croc finally let go. Saunders sustained injuries to his hand, and received 10 stitches to his head and a neck brace, but said he was not afraid to go diving again.

The Potato Cod: Too Friendly for Its Own Good. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is investigating reports that illegal fishing and fish "framing" are responsible for declining numbers of the refrigerator-size potato cod at the popular Cod Hole site near Lizard Island. At least two have been spotted with fishing line stuck in their gills. Col McKenzie, CEO of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, told the Brisbane Times that visitors have been dangling fish heads or carcasses into the water to attract cods to the surface. "They'll drop them over the side, almost have a wrestle with the cod, and bring them right up behind the boat," he said. "We used to have more than 10, and now we've only got three or four . . . Their friendliness is killing them."

Dive for Free in the Philippines. Starting in March, the Biri Initiative, a nonprofit focused on restoring reefs around Biri Island in Northern Samar, will begin deploying artificial reefs offshore. To get volunteers, it is offering diving free of charge for those interested in helping, plus a 20 percent lodging discount at the Biri Resort and Dive Center. Biri Initiative founder Richard Ewen says, "All we ask is that while there, you assist with either a deployment of reef buds or a Crown of Thorns cleanup in return for free diving." Get more info at www.biri-initiative.org, and to book your Biri diving, contact Ewen at richard-ewen@biri-initiative.org

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