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September 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the September, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

American Dentist Perishes in the English Channel. A popular dentist from Kingston, NY, Bruce Hottum (63), died while investigating the submerged wreck of a WW II airplane in the English Channel on July 14th. Hottum was interested in locating, recovering and identifying the remains of U.S. World War II servicemen missing in action, and worked with the Bent Prop Project, a nonprofit that searches World War II wreck sites. Hottum felt unwell after a dive, collapsed and was pronounced dead later at the hospital after being evacuated by helicopter.

Dayboat Prop Severs Diver's Leg: A 44-year-old Taiwanese scuba diver named Chiu was rushed to the hospital August 12th after the lower part of his right leg was severed by a dive boat propeller. The boat's captain said he believed everyone was on board and started the engine because the waves were pushing the boat dangerously close to the reef. The other divers searched for Chiu's lower leg, but gave up to rush Chiu to a hospital.

Football Fun. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Julio Jones, lost his diamond earring claimed to be valued at $150,000 while taking a tumble jet skiing in Georgia's Lake Lanier. Julio hired a team of scuba divers to search nooks and crannies 65 feet (20m) deep, but so far no luck. That was in July. Keep looking folks!

Oxygen Can Kill! Hyperbaric chambers are used not only to treat decompression sickness, but also for healing wounds. Liu Hung was undergoing hyperbaric treatment in Nanxiong China People's Hospital for a head injury and lit a cigarette he had smuggled in with him. His lighter blew up the chamber, destroying it and the patient. His family is demanding to know why the hospital failed to take away his cigarette lighter.

Rob Stewart Autopsy. According to a reporter on the Florida Keys News, which obtained a copy of the Monroe County medical examiner's report, the famed documentary underwater film-maker died from drowning after becoming hypoxic at the surface in late January. He was using the same (undisclosed) make of rebreather as Peter Sotis, his CCR trainer, who suffered acute hypoxia on boarding their support boat, Pisces. Sotis recovered after being treated with oxygen, while Stewart slipped beneath the waves unnoticed.(http://bit.ly/2iFIDXL)

Staying Legal and Safe in Tonga. Acclaimed photographer Tony Wu writes to Undercurrent from Tonga, saying many of the whale watching boats are unlicensed, and therefore, illegal. Authorities have issued a list of the legal whale-watching operations (although this list is not publicly available), believing that safety standards are not being observed and tourists are being duped. Some international photographers are promoting trips on unlicensed boats. Ask the question before you book.

Eat 'em to Beat 'em. The world's oceans are becoming infested with jellyfish, thanks to their natural predators being devastated by industrialized fishing. A long-time staple of Asian cooking, they've been scarce in Western cuisine. However, Professor Silvio Greco, Italy's most prominent marine biologist, has demonstrated how to boil them to remove the toxic sting and cook them in a tempura batter and has taken his campaign to turn them into acclaimed cuisine to the Slow Fish Festival in Genoa, Italy. Just as with lionfish, if you can't defeat them, eat them.

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone is 9000 square miles and growing. It runs from the mouth of the Mississippi river far into the Gulf and is primarily caused by fertilizer and sewage runoff from farmlands along the river. Algae blooms and bacteria suck all the oxygen out of the water, and no animal can survive. Unusually heavy rains in the Midwest have caused serious problems for Louisiana fishermen, who are said to catch nearly half the nation's seafood. Hurricane Harvey will add to the problem. Expect the price of shrimp to rise.

Galapagos Postscript. All 18 crewmembers of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 have been jailed for its illegal cargo of 6,000 sharks fished in the Galapagos National Park. The Chinese fishermen will serve between one and four years behind bars and ordered to pay approximately US$6 million in fines.

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