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Updated September 9, 2020
These brief news articles below were sent out via email to all divers who signed up for our free email list.
You can sign up here to receive future Undercurrent Online Updates and get news alerts and special offers like these every month.

Controversial Shark Expert Dies
Another Legend Passes
Questions Arise Over World Depth Record
Charges Loom for Conception Fire Deaths
Good News for Some
Odds Slimmer Than You Might Think
Indonesia Closed for This Year
Illegal Aquarium Trade Busy in Hawaii
Plastic Crisis Unabated

Shark experts at Walkers Cay: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, Erich Ritter and Gary Adkison - photo by John Bantin
Shark experts at Walker's Cay: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, Erich Ritter, & Gary Adkison
(photo by John Bantin)

Controversial Shark Expert Dies  September 9, 2020

Swiss-born Erich Ritter (61) unexpectedly passed away in his sleep at his Florida home in late August. He gained degrees in zoology and paleontology at the University of Zurich, but it was his shark behavior theories that sometimes drew him into conflict with other shark experts. His approach tended to divide opinion between those who saw him as an insightful champion of sharks and others who regarded his theories as unscientific and his attitude reckless. He reckoned he could lower his heart rate so that the sharks did not recognize him as prey and some thought he took unnecessary risks, for example, denying a shark the bait by putting his body in the way. In 2002, he survived a severe shark attack during filming at Walker's Cay with Nigel Marven for Discovery Channel, during an attempt to prove to Florida shark attack victims of that year that sharks were not dangerous. As a pundit, Ritter came up with terms such as 'angstination' – the combination of fear and fascination inspired in humans by sharks.

Another Legend Passes  September 9, 2020

Pioneering Florida underwater photographer, author, and publisher Jerry Greenberg has passed. He began manufacturing underwater housings way back in 1953 and invented the first waterproof marine identification cards. He was among the first to sound the alarm that coral reefs were imperiled and was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2004. Jerry was very helpful to Undercurrent in our early days.

Questions Arise Over World Depth Record September 9, 2020

Not so relevant to the amateur scuba diver, in 2014, an Egyptian army colonel, Ahmed Gabr, broke the scuba depth Guinness World Record, formerly held by Nuno Gomes, by diving to 1090 feet deep. Now, insiders to the event are beginning to allege inconsistencies that reveal the attempt might have been faked. These deep-diving records are notoriously tricky to adjudicate, but if we find out more, we'll let you know. You can read Michael Menduno’s comprehensive interview with Gabr and the ramifications here.

Charges Loom for Conception Fire Deaths  September 9, 2020

Court documents say criminal charges are imminent after 34 people were killed aboard the dive boat Conception last year. A year after the tragedy Capt. Jerry Boylan was briefed on the evidence prosecutors have against him. Prosecutors would only need to prove simple negligence or misconduct on the part of the captain or crew. A conviction carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Since the fire, the Coastguard has issued additional safety recommendations such as the unsupervised charging of lithium batteries and the use of extension cords and power strips. Click here to view the article.

Good News for Some September 9, 2020

Travelers from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, or Connecticut who can present a negative coronavirus test will be able to fly to Costa Rica starting September 1. Costa Rica is the jumping-off point for Cocos Island. See here for details.

Odds Slimmer Than You Might Think  September 9, 2020

That's what some scientists are saying about your chances of catching Covid-19 on a flight. However, this doesn't account for risks you might encounter within the airport, and at the end of August, sixteen passengers on a flight from Zante to London tested positive after a small number of passengers refused to wear masks, and another 200 faced 14 days of quarantine. You can read it here.

Indonesia Closed for This Year September 9, 2020

Bali, the Indonesian island, popular with foreign tourists from all parts of the world, will not be open to visitors in 2020. The plan to reopen in September has been scrapped over concerns about Indonesia's mounting Covid-19 cases. The move has renewed worries about the impact on residents in an economy heavily dependent on tourism. Not only has Bali been popular with traveling divers but is also one of the ports of departure for some liveaboards operating in the Indonesian islands to the East.

Illegal Aquarium Trade Busy in Hawaii September 9, 2020

A 47-year-old Naalehu man is another Big Island resident to be cited for the unlawful collection of fish for the aquarium trade. Jason Beevers was arrested when enforcement officers spotted his boat while patrolling in waters off South Point, Ka'u, and after they boarded it, they found 333 yellow tangs and three Achilles tangs. Meanwhile, another alleged offender Tyron T. Terazono awaits a Court hearing after his vessel was boarded back in February, and 550 live fish were successfully returned to the ocean. West Hawaii Today

Plastic Crisis Unabated September 9, 2020

Scientists now calculate that the upper 600-feet of the ocean alone contains up to 21 million metric tons of plastic waste. The trash isn't vanishing; it's simply getting ground down and dispersed in the sea. Macro-plastics like bags and bottles are breaking into micro-plastics (defined as bits less than 5 millimeters long) that swirl around and sink eventually sink to the seafloor. They sampled 12 sites in the middle of the Atlantic between the UK and the Falkland Islands, and in a single cubic meter of seawater, they found up to 7,000 plastic particles. Nature Communications

Stay Safe,

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.

Highlights of Previous Online Updates*

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16 March, 2024

16 February, 2024

15 January, 2024

16 December, 2023

28 November, 2023

25 October, 2023

26 September, 2023

18 August, 2023

20 July, 2023

12 June, 2023

27 May, 2023

22 April, 2023

21 March, 2023

21 February, 2023

22 January, 2023

17 December, 2022

26 November, 2022

19 October, 2022

23 September, 2022

15 August, 2022

21 July, 2022

21 June, 2022

16 May, 2022

29 April, 2022

30 March, 2022

25 February, 2022

24 January, 2022


3 December, 2021

27 October, 2021

21 September, 2021

August 18, 2021

28 July, 2021

12 June, 2021

21 May, 2021

26 April, 2021

11 April, 2021

27 March, 2021

12 March, 2021

28 February, 2021

9 February, 2021

31 January, 2021

20 January, 2021

5 January, 2021

20 December, 2020

1 December, 2020

15 November, 2020

1 November, 2020

13 October, 2020

1 October, 2020

21 September, 2020

9 September, 2020

21 August, 2020

8 August, 2020

18 July, 2020

8 July, 2020

25 June, 2020

9 June, 2020

May, 2020

April, 2020

March, 2020

February, 2020

January, 2020

Online Updates* Archive, 2000-2019

* Sometimes referred to as Upwellings

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