Updated September 20, 2007
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Hurricanes Dean and Felix
Dive resorts in the Caribbean and Central America received pardons as Hurricane Dean in August and Felix in September passed them by with only slight lashings of wind and rain. Costa de Cocos, the Mexican Yucatan resort we profiled in our August issue, also got off easy during Dean. "No structural damage, just a lot of trees down, beach clean up, and some roofs to put back on," report owners David and Illana Randall. The diving area most affected was Mahajual, 40 miles north of Costa de Cocos. On its Web site, Maya Palms Resort states it suffered moderate damage but gave no details, however this is not a resort we can recommend, damage or not. Read our August travel feature about Costa de Cocos for free at Undercurrent.
On August 23, Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa supported liveaboard owners' proposals to continue dive trips until December 31 and all Galapagos National Park dive trips through 2007 will operate. The GNP will issue new diving permits for 2008, but local fishermen will be given priority, which may mean fewer Galapagos dive trips. . . .No changes were made to Correa's lifting of the ban of taking shark fins "caught accidentally." As we reported in the September issue, hundreds of sharks are now being slaughtered daily. Divers will notice the impact in the GNP, says subscriber Aaron Wiltfong, who dove there last month on the Galapagos Aggressor. "The diving is still world-class and the critters are still there but I am disheartened to see fewer hammers, less jacks and less everything."
Last month, two British divers were abandoned off Antigua for five hours after dive crew from Sandals Grande Antigua Resort failed to notice they were missing. The two drifted for miles after the boat left the site for lunch without them, and continued to dive elsewhere in the afternoon without noticing. Their disappearance was discovered only when their wives asked for them when the boat arrived back at the dock. Sandals fired four staff but later reportedly reinstated two of them and refused to comment.
Crikey: A 16-year-old boy died after being stabbed through the heart by a needlefish last week as he was diving for sea cucumber in northern Vietnam's Halong Bay. Duong Trong Anh was in six feet below the surface when the three-foot needlefish, a type of gar with a long, pointed snout, stuck its bill into his chest then pulled it out. Anh died shortly after. Attacks by needlefish are rare but investigators believe the fish might have been startled by the divers and tried to swim away but accidentally stabbed Anh. Needlefish are common in all waters divers visit and this danger another caution that most of us hadn't considered.
In July, diver Stephen Wilson, 36, died from electrocution when a lightning strike hit in his tank after he had resurfaced from a dive near Deerfield Beach, Florida. Potentially, lightning is the biggest weather danger for divers. What precautions should divers take during a storm? Read this article at Undercurrent.
Print subscribers to Undercurrent now have full online access to 12 years of issues, 12,000 reader destination reviews and the current issue, all for one low price. Interested in a trip to Belize? Easter Island? The Maldives? Little Cayman? Anything included in Undercurrent in the past ten years is accessible with a simple search. Want to know if you'll be treated as a serious diver or seriously restricted, what the water temperature is that time of year, and whether the shore diving is real or the food decent? It's all at Undercurrent. Visit for a sample issue and sign up for a special introductory rate.
The trade journal "Dive Center Business" recently surveyed dive stores about the price they charge for air and Nitrox fills. Compared to the same survey done in 2005, air is now more expensive to breathe. The average charge for a standard air fill is $5.67, compared to $4.97 in 2005, a 12 percent increase. The typical Nitrox fill increased 10 percent, to $11.19 from $10.09. The Southwest typically has the cheapest air fills, averaging $4, while the Southeast has the cheapest Nitrox fills, averaging $10.14. The Rocky Mountain states charge the most for both, averaging $6 and $13.22 respectively.
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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