Updated July 1, 2005
In the Caribbean the season runs through the summer and the culprit, the tiny thimble jellyfish larva, sends hundreds of divers directly to their doctors with serious welts and even vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and muscle spasms. Our May issue describes in great detail actual cases and how to avoid the larva should they get under your wet suit or dive skin. In brief, don't rub, don't take a warm shower, and immediately apply a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and vinegar. Lacking that, try pure vinegar or even Windex. Next, apply a hydrocortisone cream/lotion twice a day.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a first stage Scubapro regulator split in half and ordered all their Scuba Pro Mark 20 models out of the water. Scubapro told NOAA that the problem was due to over torqueing the yoke nut. NOAA disagrees. Dave Dinsmore, director of the NOAA diving program, said, "Both Scubapro and NOAA hired independent experts to evaluate the cracks and assess the likely cause. NOAA's expert determined that no deformation, thread damage or gouging was noticed at the yoke thread (male) and yoke adapter (female) indicating that the yoke had not been over torqued." NOAA discovered cracks in 3 out of 298 regulators. Scubapro has replaced all of NOAA's MK20 regulators with MK25 models. Undercurrent has heard from several divers with similar problems. If you own a MK 20, examine the second stage for cracks and if you find one, contact your Scubapro dealer. (Have a look at the crack at www.ndc.noaa.gov/pdfs/sb05-01.pdf
While perhaps the most dangerous patch of underwater real estate anywhere, the Grand Cayman Tourist Bureau promotes Sting Ray City by showing people handling the critters. Even, though attacks on humans are frequent. On April 1, reports the Wisconsin State Journal, eleven-year-old Justin Weber was scuba diving with his parents, when a six-foot green moray chomped down on his forearm, severing several arteries. The eel held on tight until Justin's dad pried its jaws apart (Justin later said "It was more pain than I've ever had. I was just scared"). The moray may have been attracted to the diabetes medical bracelet Justin wore, thinking it was another bit of chum tossed into the water. Justin underwent six hours of surgery on Grand Cayman, where doctors used a vein from his leg to help restore blood flow to his hand. The Webers arranged for a chartered medical jet, which cost $21,400, to fly Justin to Madison, Wisconsin, for further surgery. His family is hopeful he'll regain full use of his hand. His mother Laura said the family will resume diving, but not where fish are fed. "We believe this changes the way the animals react to human beings," she said. The eel was "relocated."
In 1959, Lion City, a Ming Dynasty walled city once home to 6,000, was flooded as part of a hydroelectric project. It now sits at the bottom of Thousand Islands Lake, five hours' drive west of Shanghai, China. The walled city lies at 80-95 feet, depending on the lake's water level. Visiting scuba divers swim through the city's North Gate, where the wooden door that sealed the city at night remains intact; a 25-foot tall imperial tablet erected during the time of the Qing Emperor Kang XI (1662-1723), and one- and two-story homes with their roof timbers and tiles intact. SinoScuba regularly runs trips to the sunken city. Interested parties should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two species of tropical octopus have evolved a neat trick to avoid predators. They lift up six arms and walk backward on the other two. These octopuses use the outer halves of their two back arms like tank treads, alternately laying down a sucker edge and rolling it along the ground. Robert Full, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, thinks that this is a strategy octopuses use to backpedal away from predators while remaining camouflaged. For a video clip of this two-legged marvel, check out www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/03/24_octopus.shtml.
-- Ben Davison, editor/publisher
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