Updated March 10, 2008
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Diver Dies From Shark Bite in the Bahamas
By now, you have surely read about 49-year-old Austrian Markus Groh who died from a shark bite during a Bahamas shark-diving liveaboard trip with Jim Abernathy's Scuba Adventures. For years, Abernathy has been offering cage-free dives with hammerheads, tiger and bull sharks that Abernathy attract with chum. Undercurrent will write more about this in the April issue, but the question of liability will be a big one. Apparently, Groh signed a standard waiver releasing Abernathy from liability - the kind we divers hate to sign. While waivers have held up well in court, with the high profile of this death, expect an all-out attack on the waiver's validity. In a letter last year from the Bahamas Dive Association, all companies operating in Bahamas waters were told to cease and desist openwater, non-cage shark diving with potentially dangerous sharks. Neal Watson, the association' president, confirmed the letter was targeted at Abernathy's company, which was viewed as an "accident waiting to happen". Abernathy has refused to comply. In the March issue of Undercurrent, we write about this topic in "Please Don't Feed the Fish" -- subscribe to Undercurrent and you can read about the hazards of fish-feeding and shark-baiting.
Mysteries of the Silent Deep. This new book by Roger Steene is among the best book of underwater photographs ever published. He has captured unique behaviors of unique creatures - like a harlequin shrimp devouring a sea star -- with an unprecedented level of color and camouflage. Steene has a scientific eye that goes far beyond most professional photographs, which results in an endless array of surprising and stunning shots. More than 500 images fill the 340 pages of this oversized coffee-table book. A must for your library. 13 x 11 inches, hardcover, $60, however order it at www.undercurrent.org for Amazon's deeply discounted price and our profits will go to save coral reefs.
The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker will be on four week-long dive trips with the Aggressor Fleet this year. Join him aboard the Belize Aggressor May 10 to 17; the Palau Aggressor July 13 to 20; the Cayman Aggressor July 26 to August 2; and the Turks & Caicos Aggressor on October 11 to 18. For more information, go to www.aggressor.com
Locals on Providenciales are protesting the construction of the Nikki Beach Resort because it is dredging thousands of tons of sand from the seabed to allow boats up to 200 feet long to pass through. That is leading silt to settle on and smother the coral. Jay Stubbs, owner of Sail Provo, told British newspaper The Telepgraph, "There are places we used to take guests snorkeling which we can't go to anymore. Just last year you could see the bottom, now it's so murky even the turtles can't find their way down." Nikki Beach Resort is scheduled to open this month.
Garry C. Chupurdy, 58, of Thunderbolt, Georgia pleaded guilty last month for running a marijuana smuggling operation in which he sank tons of pot, then brought it to the surface later using GPS and scuba gear. Chupurdy made yearly trips to Jamaica in his 78-foot catamaran Cat's Meow. On the return voyage, he packaged marijuana in air tight, vacuum-sealed plastic bags and sunk them in shallow waters 30 miles off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. Chupurdy then returned in a small motorboat, located the packages with GPS and dived down to retrieve them. He smuggled 1,500 pounds on one trip in May 2006, and 2,000 pounds in June 2007. Chupurdy was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The computer tool Google Earth was responsible for the discovery of rare fringing coral reefs in Western Australia's remote Kimberly region. Chris Simpson, a coral reef specialist at West Australia's Department of Conservation, was viewing Google Earth satellite pictures of the Kimberly on his PC and spotted the never-before-seen reefs. Fringing coral reefs are rare and found only in a few places like the Red Sea, Madagascar and Western Australia's Ningaloo Marine Park. Simpson's discovery now makes the Kimberley a better candidate for marine park status.
Every month, we always make at least one of our articles free for the public to read. In the March issue, we share some subscribers' reports about dive trips from around the world, from Roatan to Oman. One of the benefits of being an Undercurrent subscriber is finding out what fellow readers have to say about their dive experiences -- and sharing your own. Read the March trip reports for free by clicking on "Barbados, Oman, Puget Sound, Samoa," listed in "The March Issue" at www.undercurrent.org.
What we're working on for future issues
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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