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August 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 33, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A Unique Hazard When Visiting Sulawesi. A local woman has been found dead on Muna Island inside the body of a 23-foot-long reticulated python, after being swallowed head-first. This species of snake is common in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and they make good swimmers, so if you come across one diving there, be careful. They are constrictors, which suffocate their prey by wrapping themselves around it.

The Oldest Are Getting Older. Ray Woolley, a British diver living in Cyprus, got into the Guinness Book of Records last year for being the oldest active scuba diver at 94, when he dived the deep wreck of the MV Zenobia . This year, Woolley has become the subject of an award-winning documentary titled Life Begins at 90. The WWII veteran and ex-Royal Navy Special Forces officer is now 95 and still diving.

Say What? Deeper Blue just issued a blog post that names the "Top 5 Scuba Diving NonFiction Novels" [sic], listing such diving classics as Shadow Divers by Robert Curson, and Deep Descent, Adventure and Death: Diving the Andrea Doria by Kevin F. McMurray. Problem is, all five books listed are entirely true stories, and I doubt the authors take kindly to having their research called fiction, which, as my seventh-grade English teacher taught me, is just what a novel is.

A Sad Dive Fatality on the Fourth of July. Authorities in Wendover, UT, report that a 10-year-old boy died while scuba diving with his father, a certified diver, at the 60-foot-deep Blue Lake on Independence Day. Apparently, the boy was breathing from his father's alternate second-stage when he ascended too quickly.

Fake News and the President. It's interesting that Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI, felt it necessary to send out a message to the group's members and the diving trade, denying that the consortium of American and European investors who bought PADI in 2017 have involved themselves in any way in the running of the business. Make of that what you will. He's obviously been disturbed by fake news on social media.

Getting The Message. Cerys Hearsey was diving off Dorset, England, when she noticed a flashing light 33 feet down on the bottom. It was an iPhone still in its waterproof case, with 84 percent battery life -- and it was receiving a text message. Scrolling through the phone's contact list, Hearsey was able to return it to Rob Smith, whose Canadian cousin had dropped it in the sea while kayaking two days before. The phone and its grateful owner have been safely reunited.

Deepest Museum in the Highest Lake. Why anyone would dive in the world's highest lake is beyond us. However, the Bolivian government plans to build an underwater museum in Lake Titicaca for exhibiting archaeological objects from the Tiwanaku culture, the oldest in the Americas, dating back to 300 BC. Thousands of incredible artifacts discovered deep in the lake by a Belgian research team, prompted the idea. We'll see how many visitors the museum gets -- at 12,506 feet above sea level, the deco ramifications of diving at altitude are tricky.

Cave Diving is the Latest Craze. Summer is usually the slow season for scuba diving at the water-filled Bonne Terre Mine in Missouri, an hour south of St. Louis. But not this year. The well-publicized rescue of the young soccer team from the caves in Thailand last month has seen an upswing in demand for cave diving courses. According to PADI, Cavern Diver certifications have increased 150 percent over this month last year.

Hooray for Belize. The country has been very proactive by introducing a moratorium on maritime oil exploration, as well as strengthening forestry regulations, which help protect the mangroves. Those efforts are so successful, UNESCO has just removed Belize's barrier reef from its list of World Heritage in Danger.

Check-In or Carry-On? Bob Speir (Falls Church, VA) wrote us to say that when flying through Atlanta, he had his checked baggage with TSA locks rifled through twice since reporting an initial incident in 2015. He complained to the airline and followed up with a TSA report, but officials simply replied he should report it to the local police, at which point Speir gave up.

New Features on the Paralenz Plus. An improved version of the Paralenz POV camera, designed for divers with an automatic white-balancing feature, now has an increased depth rating of 820 feet. With screws now made of titanium, it has a new aluminium end cap and a scratch-resistant glass window. Better anodizing of all parts makes for a more scratch-resistant surface overall, and it has an improved screw-less selector ring . $699 (www.paralenz.com)

Watch That Diver, Or It Could Be Expensive. A New Zealander boating around Auckland who failed to observe a dive flag and ran over a spearfishing diver last year, causing deep cuts to the man's head and breaking his arm, has been ordered to pay the equivalent of US$11,900 in reparation by the local courts.

Beware of the Scopel. In the July 2017 issue of Undercurrent, we warned about the lung-expansion injuries to untrained swimmers that the Skorkl, a pump-driven mini-scuba tank offering 10 minutes of underwater breathing, could cause. But it's back, now being promoted with a new name -- the Scopel. Warn anyone you might see about to use one!

Rats Are Killing Coral, Too. Rats are present anywhere man lives, and that includes the idyllic tropical islands you vacation on. But in the remote Chagos archipelago, south of the Maldives, some of the islands have no rats. This gave scientists the opportunity to compare, and they found that on the rat-free islands, seabirds deposit rich nutrients from the fish they eat that benefit coral and boost reefs' overall health. Not so on the other islands. Rats decimate the seabird populations, which in turn decimates the volume of bird droppings, a natural coral fertilizer.

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