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February 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the February, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The Calypso Will Sail Again. Last April, we reported that Jacques Cousteau’s famous research vessel was about to be scrapped due to unresolved squabbles between his family and a French boatyard, where the old boat was languishing. But the Calypso is getting a second chance. The Cousteau Society says that this spring, the “Calypso will be able to leave the . . . shipyard. Restored, she will sail again as an ambassador for the seas and oceans as Captain Cousteau wished.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Scary Dive. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio says he owes his life to fellow actor Edward Norton. The two were diving in the Galapagos while filming a documentary about climate change when DiCaprio noticed his tank was out of air. Norton was a great dive buddy -- he stayed close by, rushed over to offer his octopus, and the two made a controlled ascent. Good thing DiCaprio made it -- he recently gave more money to environmental causes, with the biggest chunk ($6 million) going to the ocean-focused nonprofit Oceana and to Skytruth for Global Fishing Watch, a platform that uses satellite data to monitor fishing activities. (If you believe his story, another in the long list of celebrity near-death diving stories, please honk your horn -- your dive horn, that is.)

Tag Turtles and Sharks at Cocos Island. Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) does an honorable job in saving sea turtles worldwide, but it needs the help of you, my fellow diver, both financially and physically, to do so. They’re offering three splendid dive trips to Cocos Island to tag and track sea turtles and sharks to protect their migration routes -- April 22 to May 6 and August 19-31 aboard the Sea Hunter, and November 29 to December 9 aboard the Argo. Rates start at $6,132 and include meals, nitrox fills, marine park fee and transfers from hotel to the dock -- it’s largely tax-deductible because it helps finance the research expedition. And there’s more! TIRN is raffling off one spot on its Argo trip -- tickets are $100 each. For information, go to http://seaturtles.org/events

Will Paul Allen’s Billions Fix This Cayman Reef? If you’re the co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, of course you own a big yacht. But Paul Allen’s 303-foot Tatoosh has been charged with destroying a large swath of protected coral reef in Grand Cayman. The Cayman News Service reports the Tatoosh was anchored near the Doc Poulson wreck and The Knife dive site in the West Bay on January 14 when its anchor chain destroyed 14,000 square feet of the coral reef, 80 percent of it. Allen’s company defended itself by stating, “The local port authority had directed the Tatoosh to anchor in a designated area, and the crew moved the vessel on its own accord as soon as it learned from local divers there might be a problem.” Allen, probably distracted because his Seahawks failed to make the Super Bowl, could incur a hefty fine if he’s found responsible, but the Cayman government seems to shrug its shoulders at the giant cruise ships and billionaire mega-yacht owners who have dismantled the beautiful reefs with errant chains. By the way, “Tatoosh” is derived from a native American word meaning “nourishing beast.” Allen got it half right.

Good News for Many Mantas. WildAid, the late Peter Benchley’s favorite conservation organization, says the Peruvian government has approved strong regulations to protect the giant Pacific manta ray. According to the Manta Trust, Peru has the largest population of Pacific mantas. It now joins dozens of other countries with manta protection laws, including neighboring Ecuador, which is crucial since the animals migrate to the Galapagos. However, Shawn Heinrichs of WildAid warns, “Manta rays are targeted across the world for their meat, skin, and gills. This has driven many regional populations to the brink in the last decade.”

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