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May 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

More Unwelcome Immigrants. It's very pleasant to be diving among a colorful school of orange-striped Mayan cichlids that dart among the boldly spotted tilapia and ruby-colored African jewelfish, but not if you're out in Florida's Big Cypress swamp. It seems these exotic fish, originally dumped by aquarium owners or perhaps escapees from fish farms, are now found in the remote canals criss-crossing the Florida Everglades. These invasive species, of which around three dozen have taken up residence, reproduce faster than native species and hunt in small packs, devouring crayfish.

A Big Fine for Aussie Dive Operation. A dive company in the Whitsunday Islands, North Queensland, has been fined Aus$160,000 (US$120,000) following the death of a British tourist in 2015. The 23-year-old victim, Bethany Farrell, was taking part in an introductory dive with Wings Diving Adventures when she became separated and was later found drowned. In sentencing the company, the magistrate noted that diving is a high-risk activity and that the victim relied on the company for her health and safety. Such action is rarely taken in the U.S.

Who Said There Was No Money in Diving? Al Giddings, diver and film-maker, one of three underwater cameramen for the making of the 1977 movie The Deep, has put his ranch in Montana on the market for more than $7 million. It includes a 5,500 square foot, six-bedroom main house sitting in 3000 acres, with two guest cabins alongside a trout-filled lake. A guest lodge is where the idea for the film Titanic was originally conceived, according to the listing details. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Counting Sharks in the Caymans. Cayman Compass reports more than 100 sharks were counted by scuba divers in Cayman's waters in January as part of a 'citizen science' project to help keep track of numbers of the predators around the islands. Nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks were by far the most often sighted species (there was no systematic way to ensure the same sharks were not counted twice). To get involved in the program, email: sharkloggers@gmail.com

As the Crow Flies. For your DAN insurance to kick in, you must be diving 50 miles or more from your home. Otherwise, you're not covered. Undercurrent subscriber Bob Halem (San Jose, CA) has to drive more than 70 miles from his home to go diving in Monterey, California, so he figured he was covered until he contacted DAN. Nope, he was told, because the distance must be calculated in a straight line, regardless of whether such a journey is possible. Though Halem takes the shortest route he can, DAN hasn't got his back.

Butchered Shark Fins Seized Off Key West. While Undercurrent readers were discussing the pros and cons of shark feed dives, at the end of March, Florida wildlife officers made a grisly discovery aboard a Key West shrimp boat when they came across dozens of pairs of dismembered shark fins. Shark tourism helps pump more than $220 million annually into Florida's economy and produces about 3,700 jobs. Shark finning has been banned in Florida waters for more than 16 years.

Buyer Beware! Our mid-April email mentioned a proposed 2018 trip down to the RMS Titanic. We didn't foresee many Undercurrent subscribers rushing to book in view of the enormous cost, but an impeccable source, who has been down to the wreck four times, tells us that it may well be a scam. He says the Mir submersibles are out of the water and the images used to publicize the trip are not theirs to use.

Undercover Travel Reviewer Uncovered: We never disclose the names of our travel writers, so they can keep their anonymity. They get no recognition, pay all their own travel costs, suffer through my editing of their stories, and eventually get a check from us that will cover dinner for them and three buddies. Regardless, let me unmask one from the 1990s, who in March was awarded the 2017 DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year Award, for his decades of contribution to dive safety and technology. There is no higher award, and Mike Emmerman, who has made diving safer for everyone, is most deserving. Our heartfelt congratulations. http://goo.gl/uNTk7e

Don't Ever Stop Diving. No matter how old you are! Time magazine reports that when people at an Alzheimer's disease facility dined in front of an aquarium filled with tropical fish, they ate more, were more attentive and less lethargic.

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