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November 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the November, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Waterproof iPhone7? Just to prove a point, a team from an Apple promotion company took a naked iPhone7 on a scuba dive and found that it could record 4k video at a depth of 25 feet. They made the unscientific water resistance test at Timothy Lake in Oregon, around 3000 feet above sea level. When immersed, the touch screen could not be operated, so they started recording before each test dive.

A Last Chance Destination? A report published by the Journal of Sustainable Tourism says that 70 percent of tourists visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef are doing so because the decline in the reef's health has been publicized as a last chance destination. The report highlights the paradox that people traveling great distances to view a destination at risk from climate change are burning fossil fuels to do so, hastening the destruction.

So, Why Burn the Fuel to Do This? The 280 divers who turned up on Limassol on the island of Cyprus broke a Guinness record, previously held by Italians in Elba in 2015, for the longest underwater human chain. Held together by a rope fastened to the dock, they submerged to 15 feet for 10 minutes. Divers on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion held an earlier record with a chain dive during 2013.

Invasion of The Spider Crabs. In a mass aggregation, thousands upon thousands of giant spider crabs have invaded Britain's Devon coastline. The formidable-looking spiny spider crab has a carapace of up to 8 inches (20cm) and legs of up to 20 inches (50cm) in length. Divers Dan Bolt and Terry Griffiths made amazing photographs, with Bolt saying, "Everywhere we looked were crabs, upon crabs, three or four individuals deep in places, like something out of a horror film." www.underwaterpics.co.uk/2015/08/09/crabs-2

For the Love of Seahorses. Thailand, the world's largest exporter of dried seahorses, will temporarily ban exports of the critters, which are traditionally used in Chinese medicine for such hocus pocus as erection-production (use Viagra, guys). Thailand exports about three-quarters of all seahorses in international trade. However, the ban does not protect seahorses from the effects of by-catch when fishermen use trawl nets to catch shrimp.

Hurricane Troubles. David Inman (Devon, PA) wrote to tell us that, in August, Hurricane Earl destroyed the dock used by the Belize Aggressor in Belize City. The boat is still moored at the ruined dock, which now consists only of bare pilings. Access to shore is by tender only. The voluminous supplies needed to restock for the next week-long voyage have to be transported to the boat by the small tenders, too. Rumor has it that it will take two years to construct a new dock. We tried to confirm it with the Aggressor folks, but they are unhappy with us, apparently for reporting problems with their vessels. www.aggressor.com

Panic Kills at Wakatobi. Pulling your regulator from your mouth when you panic is the last thing you want to do, but unfortunately it's a common reaction. That tragic move killed 17-year-old Gregory Mills, a British tourist, during the last weekend of October, while diving at 30 feet (9m) with his father, Chris, and Wakatobi dive guide, Nicola Jaeger. They were at the Maya Bay site in South Sulawesi. He was rushed to a nearby medical center where he was pronounced dead.

Ocean Geographic Photo Op. Entries are now being accepted for this year's Pictures of the Year Photo Competition. With 15 categories, contestants should submit up to 20 pictures before December 12th. The Young Photographer of the Year Award, for contestants aged between 8 and 18, will be judged by Alex Mustard. www.ogpicoty.com

Singing Fishes. If you thought it was noisier than you expected underwater, it could be the dawn chorus. Scientists at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, recorded vocal fish off Western Australia and identified seven distinct fish choruses happening at dawn and dusk. Most of this underwater music comes from soloist fish, repeating the same calls over and over. But when the calls of different fish overlap, they form a chorus -- a dawn chorus! Says lead scientist Robert McCauley, "We still have only a crude idea of what is going on in the undersea acoustic environment." (Source: New Scientist)

Clever Cuttlefish. New research suggests that cuttlefish can not only count better than a one-yearold child, but also they can distinguish quality over quantity when it comes to food. University researchers in Taiwan studied 54 one-month-old cuttlefish hatched in captivity, and fond that cephalopods can count potential prey such as shrimps, crabs and fishes, making judgment calls as to whether to strike or not. With cuttlefish able to distinguish between one and five, the researchers concluded that they were at least equivalent to infants and primates in terms of numbers sense. Given a choice between a single live shrimp and two dead shrimp, the cuttlefish opted for the better quality rather than the larger quantity.

Local Hero. When Bob Hood took the job as a rescue and recovery diver from the Bandon Dive Team in Oregon, he didn't expect he would become a local hero. He's helped save at least 10 lives since his first recovery of three fatalities after a small plane crashed at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport back in 1994. He's had some near misses in his time, too, and despite dealing with 19 drownings, he continues to head up the team.

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