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May 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Errors are Not Always a Laughing Matter! Our piece on chocolate last month carried our writer's mistake in that we mentioned nitrous oxide when it should have been nitric oxide. Nitrous oxide is commonly known as 'laughing gas.' Well, we thought it was funny! Bill Domb was the first reader to spot it. Scientists at Kingston University in the UK have also recently discovered that eating dark chocolate can significantly boost the performance of athletes. We were misinformed when we wrote that the World War II aircraft recently rediscovered off Malta was a Neptune P2. Reader Harry Haley pointed out that such aircraft were not in service until later.

Most Powerful Dive Computer, Most Powerful Price. The Poseidon M28, claimed by its Swedish manufacturer to be the world's most powerful dive computer, goes on sale in May. It boasts maps, graphics, GPS for surface use, Dive-by-Wire and is said to be incredibly intuitive to use. Naturally, it is designed to have enhanced functionality when used in conjunction with Poseidon's SE7EN/ MKVI rebreather management system and is depth-rated down to 656 feet. Most important, the formula that keeps you safe from decompression injury, the algorithm, is dual in that the user can choose between DCAP and Bühlmann ZHL16C, with the possibility to set gradient factors. At $2000, it might be too expensive for most divers, even those with closed-circuit rebreathers. (www.poseidon-uk.co.uk)

Sad Sea Cows Rescued. Dugongs, of the same order of sirenia as Florida and Caribbean manatees, live throughout the Indo-Pacific. Recently, a group of divers made a disturbing discovery near a remote Indonesian island, Kokoya. They came across two cages in which two dugongs, a mother and juvenile, were trapped, the mother with a rope wrapped around her tail. Apparently, they had been caught by a local fisherman who asked for money to see the dugong or take a picture. After the divers posted their video on Instagram, they were promptly contacted by Indonesian wildlife authorities requesting the location of the cages, and officials arrived the following day to set the animals free.

The Mistake was Mine. Exploring the waters off of Australia's Clifton Gardens, an unidentified snorkeler stumbled across what he believed to be unexploded underwater mines and called the police. Embarrassing for him, they turned out to be large sea urchins. After he was shown pictures demonstrating the clear difference between urchin and bomb, the man still maintained his opinion. "The snorkeler was adamant they were in fact mines, so taking no precautions the Navy was called in to make an assessment," North Sydney Police told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Unfortunately, the Navy's diving specialists weren't available that day, so water police were forced to guard the 'mines' overnight. They were urchins.

Vintage Lady Divers. When Undercurrent wrote last September about 85-year-old Jean Loughry's quest to get the Guinness World Record for being the world's oldest active lady diver, Dr. Samuel Miller wrote to tell us of Dottie Mae Frazier, who was the first female certified underwater instructor back in 1955, and is still diving at the age of 94. Born in 1922, she was the first woman commercial hard-hat diver, and was honored in 2014 with the California Scuba Service Award at the SCUBA show in Long Beach, CA. No wonder the French call it 'L'esport des grands-parents!' But let us not forget filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, who learned to dive at the ripe old age of 71. She visited Cocos Island while at 94 to make an award-winning underwater documentary about sharks, continuing to dive before dying in 2003 at the age of 101.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water! The media was full of hysterical stories of scuba tourist's terror in April, caused when a 12-foot great white shark invaded the shallow waters off Alligator Reef in the Florida Keys. Greg Schlosser, first mate aboard Happy Cat is said to have first spotted the enormous creature circling divers for about 45 minutes and told his captain, Chris Muller, who couldn't believe what he was being told. The pair quickly pulled their freaked-out customers, mostly South Asian exchange students, clear of the water as soon as they could while Muller then entered the water with his video camera to capture images of the impressive creature just a few yards from the boat. Muller later said, "I've never seen anything like this in my life and I've swum with a lot of sharks."

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