Updated July 10, 2007
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The Thorfinn Sinks
Lance Higgs, who has been serving divers in the Truk Lagoon on his funky liveaboard, Thorfinn, for 26 years, ran the boat aground in Pohnpei on June 8. It’s unlikely to serve again as a dive boat. Higgs said the Thorfinn began taking on water and he had to put it on the reef to avoid sinking in the channel, but it contained gallons of oil. Amid the complex legal wrangling over salvage of the craft, oil leaks, moving it from the reef and preventing sinking, Thorfinn does not carry pollution or indemnity insurance. If oil spillage causes ecological damage to Pohnpei, the cost would be inestimable. Read the full story at www.stpns.net .
The FBI thinks scuba terrorists might be planning nefarious activity and has asked the dive industry to turn in any individuals who request “specialty training, including odd inquiries that are inconsistent with recreational diving.” These may include: requests to dive in murky water or sewer pipes; requests to learn advanced skills associated with combat swimming, including use of rebreathers and diver propulsion vehicles, deep diving and extra navigation training; requests for advanced diver training by applicants from countries where diving is not a common recreational activity; training sponsored by religious organizations, cults, associations, or charitable agencies not normally associated with diving; paying cash for diving instruction; and refusal or reluctance to provide personal information.” Time magazine reports that the FBI described the advisory as routine and said it was not prompted by any threat. On a related note, we’ll have an article about underwater weapons to combat scuba-diving terrorists in our August issue.
St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida discontinued emergency hyperbaric chamber services as of July 1, so anyone bent in nearby waters will have to be transported to Miami or Orlando. The chamber had fewer than 50 emergency patients a year, and many divers who got hyperbaric services were uninsured. The two physicians overseeing the hyperbaric services did not like being on call without being paid by the hospital.
The Reef Environmental Education Foundation is holding its Great Annual Fish Count in July, conducting fish ID courses around the country and recruiting divers to survey fish in coastal waters of the continental U.S., Hawaii and the Caribbean. Past fish count surveys led to the discovery of the Mardi Gras wrasse in the Gulf of Mexico and two goby species near Veracruz, Mexico. To participate, sign up for a free fish ID course or request survey report forms to take on your next dive, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fishcount.org .
For UW photographers at all levels, we recommend the following two books by Jack and Sue Drafahl. Their Master Guide for Underwater Digital Photography gives great how-to information about professional exposure and lighting techniques, dealing with blooming and backscatter, and equipment maintenance, with scores of photos and diagrams. 128 pages, 11 x 9 inches, $23. Order this guide at our website Undercurrent's Book Picks, and all proceeds will go to coral reef conservation. The Drafahls’ latest book, Adobe Photoshop for Underwater Photographers, explains how to use your computer as a darkroom to perfect underwater images, fine-tune underwater film scans, and retouch and enhance digital images with Adobe Photoshop software. 224 pages, 9 x 6 inches, $26.
If you have not yet done so, there are issues to consider before buying a policy. Would you prefer a check to cover damages, or have your gear repaired or replaced? Will filing a claim affect your policy? Read the article from our June 2007 issue for free at Undercurrent to compare and contrast policies.
This 510-page volume with more than 1,300 reviews of dive destinations is normally available only to Undercurrent subscribers. However, we have a few left and we’re selling them for $11.95, plus $7 shipping. (Canada shipping is $12, foreign is $20). Go to Undercurrent and place your order. Better yet, subscribe to the print edition of Undercurrent for $33 and we’ll send you this Chapbook absolutely free.
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Ben Davison, editor/publisher
Note: Undercurrent is a not-for-profit organization. Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.
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