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June 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the June, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Presumption and Error. In an item entitled 'Most Dangerous Inland America Dive Sites?' we were misled by contemporary news reports into presuming Shane Thompson, the diver who lost his life, might not have been using a cave line. This is not true. The team partner was actually able to reach Mr. Thompson but it was too late for rescue. We are sorry for any distress this incorrect information might have caused.

A Breathtaking Achievement. New Zealand free-diver, William Trubridge, has done it again -- twice! On Saturday, April 30, during the Vertical Blue competition at Dean's Blue Hole in the Bahamas, he plunged on a single breath to 400 feet deep, a new world record in the free-immersion category. Breath-hold divers pull themselves down a weighted line without the aid of fins to clip off a marker tag at the greatest depth they achieve. Observers were said to be 'awe-struck' by his display of human endurance. But that wasn't good enough for him! The following Monday, he extended that record depth by achieving a depth of 407 feet while holding his breath for 4 minutes and 34 seconds. American free-diver, Nicholas Mevoli, died during a record attempt at the Vertical Blue competition in 2013.

Mermaid Harassment. It doesn't matter if you're a well-known conservationist and filmmaker, you can't afford to make a clumsy pass or allude to cheap sex with a woman at the Asian Dive Expo (ADEX), the most important diving trade show in the Far East -- even if she does often dress like a mermaid. What a boob! He later claimed he was tired and emotional or over-indulged at the after-show party, but he was the talk of the show, and Facebook is ripe with the tawdry story.

Diver Finds Gold Nugget: Sixty-year-old Vince Thurkettle, a professional gold prospector, suffered a rush of adrenaline when he struck lucky, stumbling across an egg-sized 23-carat nugget of gold while diving in only 15 feet of water off Anglesey in North Wales, UK. It's the biggest nugget ever found in Britain, weighing around 3.4 oz. The gold would originally have come from gold miners aboard the 'Royal Charter' when she sank during a storm in 1859 on a voyage from Australia. In the UK, all such finds are the property of the government and Thurkettle will be awarded a percentage of the value as a finder's fee.

Attenborough at Ninety Years Old. The one moment that stands out most for Sir David Attenborough during his brilliant career "was the first time I put on scuba gear and dived on a coral reef." Sir David loved "the unbelievable fact that you can move in three dimensions," he told Britain's Daily Mail. "That minute, when you suddenly move your weight, do that with your fin and know you're going to move off. Suddenly, there are all these extraordinary creatures -- wonderful shrimps or shoals of triggerfish or the looming shape of a shark. It's an individual communion. That's really revelatory, and it's part of our world."

Rare Jaw Find. Savannah diver Bill Eberlein was diving in about 45 feet of water when he recently found a mastodon jaw embedded in the mud of the Intracoastal Waterway near Richmond Hill. Ex-schoolteacher Eberlein, now a professional diver, who searches in the muddy waters of coastal Georgia for prehistoric teeth from sharks that went extinct more than 2 million years ago said, "I was doing my normal dive when I found what I thought was a fossilized log, but when I felt the molars I knew I had found something very rare."

Another Wet Dream? The idea of getting oxygen from seawater to facilitate breathing underwater might have had a setback with recent months after the attempts to crowd fund the ill-fated Triton device failed, but that dream is still alive and well in Israel where 15 years ago Alan Bodner first mooted the idea of 'reaeration'. That plan ran up against the energy demands required, but his Like-A-Fish technology has been resurrected in the intended development concept of a small submarine accommodating a pilot and three passengers that it is claimed will be able to stay submerged for four or five hours at one time. Guiseppe Carusi of iNova, creator of the submarine-with-gills project, says that a small-scale prototype was exhibited at Expo Milano 2015 and he expects to have a full-size version some time in 2016. He is seeking financial support. Only the gullible should apply.

Palau versus the Poachers. With 250 islands spread over 177 square miles, it's a major effort for Palau to keep shark finners and fish poachers at bay with their single patrol boat. A hopeless task? Maybe not. Nearly 9000 miles away in West Virginia, Bjorn Bergman, a data analyst for a non-profit research organization called SkyTruth, uses satellite data to guide the patrol vessel to intercept pirate fishing boats. Palau continues to face incursions of up to one hundred pirate vessels annually. With insufficient jail space, Palau has to meet the cost of repatriating arrested fishermen. The cost of patrolling can also be high in other ways. Last year a Cessna pilot and two police officers were lost when their navigation equipment failed while out searching for the mothership of smaller pirate vessels that had been caught.

Go to Jail. Do not Collect $64,000. Commercial diver Vincent Woolsgrove claimed he found three extremely rare 17th Century Dutch bronze cannons worth around $64,000 in international waters before selling them to a Florida collector. However, it was later revealed he found them during 2007 on the 400-year-old wreck of the Royal Navy flagship HMS London in the Thames Estuary in Kent, UK. Had he reported them with the correct procedure, he would have been entitled to a substantial salvage award, but instead, he was jailed for two years and ordered to pay around $50,000 prosecution costs.

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