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September 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fish Pee in It! The pee of fish is rich in phosphorus, and their gills give off ammonia -- two chemicals corals need to stay healthy and strong. Recent research at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and published in Nature Communications, has suggested fish waste is a primary link in the good health of the reef. Part of the reason coral reefs work is because animals play a big role in moving nutrients around. Fish hold a large proportion, if not most, of the nutrients in a coral reef in their tissue, and they're also in charge of recycling them. Well, where did you think their pee went? Moreover, as fish are being depleted, so goes the pee -- and the reefs.

Manatee Casualties Climb. Boats are killing manatees in Florida at an unprecedented rate. Seventyone manatees have been hit and killed by boats by mid-July, a faster rate than even in 2009, when a record 97 manatees were killed in boat strikes all year. The Save the Manatee Club contends that cheaper gas prices, an improving economy, a mild winter and hot summer have combined to put more boats on Florida waterways, but boaters -- the guys who are hitting them -- say that polluted Florida waterways have reduced manatee habitat, thereby making them more vulnerable to accidental boat strikes.

British Diver Still Active at 93. While we were identifying older diving couples in the August issue, news came in of a British diver living in Cyprus, Ray Wooley, who has made more than 40,000 dives. In August, he was 93 and still actively diving. This affable great-grandfather says he only counts dives that are 30 feet or deeper, and is still happy to go beyond 120 feet deep. His 29th dive of 2016 was on the wreck of the Zenobia off Larnaca. While many older divers prefer to take their gear off in the water, he proudly climbs the ladder back on board to dive boat wearing his. (Source: Cyprus Mail)

The Mola-mola Return. The small island of Nusa Penida off Bali's southeast coast has a reputation for diving with manta rays at its cleaning stations, but at certain times, usually late summer, mola-mola, the large docile sunfish -- it can weigh up to 2000 pounds, with a fin-to-fin height of eight feet -- migrate there, too. We hear that they have recently returned in aggregation. The area is notorious for difficult currents, and there have been several instances of inexperienced divers being lost there.

Kill the Whalesharks, says God. Nelson Garcia, the mayor of Dumanjug, Cebu, has said he considers whale sharks and dolphins to be pests because they eat two tons of fish a day. In contrast, fishermen only manage to catch two kilograms of fish daily between the islands of Cebu and Negros Oriental. So, he wants to kill those whalesharks, and when asked if he was aware that killing whale sharks and dolphins is a crime under national and local laws, he responded with a biblical quote, saying God had said man should have dominion over the ocean, the fishes, the birds, and the animals.

The Divers' Flag Reconstructed. Florida State lawmakers have changed the classification of the dive flag, the familiar red flag with a white diagonal stripe, and are now calling it a "divers-down warning device", in the hope that entrepreneurs will come up with innovative ideas for safety equipment. If a dive flag is blowing directly at an oncoming boat, it becomes invisible. A different device, such as a three- or four-sided buoy, would be easier to see. In many other parts of the world, the red and white flag isn't even known. The required "diver down" flag is the international 'A' flag, a blue and white pennant, and in some countries, divers are required to indicate their presence underwater by means of a buoy bearing such a device.

Rajan, the Diving Elephant, Passes. You may not have dived with him, but you've almost certainly heard of him or recognize his image or have seen him in documentaries. In 2004, a film company abandoned Rajan the elephant on a small island in India's Andamans, after it proved too expensive to ship him back to the mainland. A local resort, Barefoot, and their dive operation, Barefoot Scuba, adopted him, and with Nasru, his mahout, he soon became a major attraction for visitors to Havelock Island. The last swimming elephant, he died at age 66.

Endeavour's Remains Found. In 1770, Captain Cook discovered Eastern Australia in the bark HMS Endeavour. It was returned to the Royal Navy and used during the American War of Independence, when it was blown up off the coast of Newport, RI to create a blockade. The Rhode Island Archaeology Project now believes it has found the remains of the wreck alongside 13 other ships in a massive archaeological investigation that combined high-tech mapping of the seabed with analysis of historical shipping documents found in London. But don't expect to dive these historically significant ships.

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