Updated May 4, 2009
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Updates on Swine Flu In Mexico
Since it has shown up on the Yucatan peninsula, divers with Mexican travel plans need to stay current. Two good sites to check for the latest information: the U.S. State Department has created a "Swine Flu Alert" page (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html -- if this link doesn't work,follow the link at http://travel.state.gov) to give up-to-the-minute travel information, and the Centers for Disease Control is doing the same regarding health and medical information (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/). By the way, if you buy travel insurance early on in your trip planning, you'll find many policies will allow you to back out for epidemics. If you try to add it later in your plans, you'll probably be out of luck.
Swedish dive gear maker Si Tech is recalling its' low pressure inflation hoses that are used in Mares drysuits. The plastic flow-restricting insert (colored blue, black or green) in the hose may dislodge from the connection valve, potentially obstructing the air flow. Affected hoses were sold between 2006 and 2009 in 15 types of Mares drysuits, including the Dryfit, Icefit and Polarfit models. Send the recalled inflator hoses back to the dealer you purchased your drysuit from, or to a Mares' service center, so the insert can be removed free of charge. For more information, contact Mares Customer Service at 203-855-0631 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you sign up for an introductory online membership, you can read our issues as soon as they're off the press, check out up-to-date reader reports, or research 10+ years of back issues. I'll also send you a free 2009 Chapbook with more than 1,000 resort and liveaboard reviews. Special price is $29.95. Go to www.undercurrent.org/4email. Don't want an online membership? You can buy the Chapbook for $9.99 and I'll cover postage in the U.S. (Canadians, please add $5). To order, go to /chapb2009.
This just-published, 302-page, soft-bound guide by Beth and Shaun Tierney, is a must for anyone contemplating diving in Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand. Where is Sipadan? Raja Ampat? Komodo? Richeliu Rock? Maps make it easy to pinpoint dive destinations and travel routes. Destination and 250 dive site descriptions (with tables on depth, visibility and currents) help you determine whether you'll see big fish in the blue or pygmy seahorses in the muck. There's a lot of supplemental information such as travel tips, health tips, and resorts and liveaboard descriptions. Order at Undercurrent, get the best price Amazon has to offer and our profit will go to preserving coral reefs.
From June 1 to September 7, Cayman Airways is letting kids under age 11 fly free on flights flight from Miami, New York or Tampa. More than 25 hotels and condos will give a free fifth night to families who book four nights, and 14 dive operators offer free diving for kids ages 12-17 and discounts on dive packages or above-the-water attractions. Go to http://www.caymanislands.ky/summersplash/offers.aspx. Other deals: The posh Westin Casuarina Resort on Grand Cayman is dropping its rates by 40 percent between June 1 and September 6; room rates start at $159. http://specialoffers.starwoodhotels.com/Westin_Casuarina_Grand_Cayman/so.htm?IM=PP_LHN_SOP_US_WI_1095&
Reader Mike Boom suggested an interesting spin on our Reader Reports -- ask the dive operators for reviews. "One of my favorite conversations with a dive boat or dive resort manager is to ask about the worst or weirdest customers they've had. That's when the really funny stories come trotting out, like the nudist dive charters, the Russian mafiosos with prostitutes in tow, animal pesterers who get bitten in return." So, dive operators and instructors, turn the tables and tell us your entertaining stories that would amuse and inform our readers. E-mail me at PublisherBenD@undercurrent.org, and we'll compile the tales for an upcoming issue.
A study to be published in the journal Animal Behavior says crustaceans do feel pain and stress, adding to growing evidence that all animals, even shellfish, can suffer. Lead author Robert Elwood collected hermit crabs from rock pools in Northern Ireland and gave some of them small electric shocks. When he provided vacant shells, only the shocked ones left their old homes for them, showing stress-related behaviors like grooming their abdomens and rapping them against the shell. "Grooming is a protective motor reaction, like licking a burnt finger, and viewed as a sign of pain in vertebrates," Elwood wrote. The fact that they showed signs of physical distress at the same time they changed a behavior -- moving into another shell -- suggests they feel pain, too. All the crabs survived and were put back in the rock pools.
In our March issue, we reported on two American divers who got separated from Mike Ball Expeditions' liveaboard Spoilsport and treaded water for seven hours in the Great Barrier Reef. To prevent repeats of that incident, Mike Ball has been testing a new method it invented for locating missing divers at sea. Trevor Jackson, the Spoilsport captain who led the tests, sent us a full report, which you can read at Undercurrent.
Subscribe now, and this is what you can read in our latest issue: Royal Playa Resort, Roatan: the most remote dive resort on the island but the one with the most pristine reefs. . . why a Roatan dive guide went ballistic underwater and is now charged with attempted murder . . . reader tips on great U.S. dive sites, the best dive gear repair guy in Cozumel, and why the Philippines may soon raise its prices for diving . . why sales of "shark shields" are soaring in Australia . . . readers sound off about what the dive industry needs to do to attract more divers . . . why the older you are, the greater your mortality risk during a dive . . . how Belize and the Maldives differ on their stances toward shark protection . . . how dive group leaders can handle the delicate matter of gathering trip deposits and payments . . . a liveaboard operator's new device for discovering lost divers . . . why dive boats are not too small for Somali pirates to overlook . . . will argon keep a drysuit diver warmer . . . and much more. Subscribe at Undercurrent and read this issue online.
Ben Davison, editor/publisher
Note: Undercurrent is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization donating funds to help preserve coral reefs. 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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