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Updated January 5, 2021
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.

Dispose of Your Face Mask Conscientiously
The Caymans Take the Quarantine Seriously
Dane Sets a New Ocean Underwater Swimming Record
Octopuses Are Sometimes Pugilists
The Chinese Threat to Fish Stocks Worldwide
Nadia Aly of Vancouver B.C. -- Ocean Photographer of the Year
Aggressor Disappointment?
Mexico Welcomes American Divers, While COVID Surges
Reports of Serious Issues and Poor Organization
Mammoth Find by Florida Divers
Brainier Than We Thought, Those Cuttlefish
Until January 8, See Amos’ Movie Free

discarded masks

Dispose of Your Face Mask Conscientiously  January 5, 2021

Hong Kong-based conservation group Oceans Asia reports that about 1.56 billion face masks entered the oceans since the pandemic began, but they are only a small part of the 5,000-6,000 tons of marine plastic pollution. Fifty-two billion single-use polypropylene surgical masks were manufactured in 2020. They take about 450 years to biodegrade, so if three percent find their way to the ocean, that’s significant to the ecosystem and the animals living there.

The Caymans Take the Quarantine Seriously  January 5, 2021

During the Black Death of the 14th Century, ships arriving in Venice were required to wait 40 days before their occupants could come ashore. “Quarantine” comes from the Italian quaranta gioni, meaning “40 days.” The Cayman Islands is taking the quarantine just as seriously, as one American couple visiting Grand Cayman discovered. Skylar Mack, 18, a Georgia college student, received a four-month prison sentence (later reduced to two months on appeal) after she arrived and was told to quarantine, but ignored the rules and went out to watch her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, in a jet ski race. Both were arrested. Ramgeet was convicted of aiding and abetting her. CNN

Dane Sets a New Ocean Underwater Swimming Record  January 5, 2021

On November 26, Danish freediver Stig Åvall Severinsen smashed the existing Guinness World Record, previously held by Venezuelan Carlos Coste, by swimming more than 662 feet underwater on a single breath in the Sea of Cortez, off Balandra Beach, 85 north of Cabo San Lucas. He held his breath for 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The record for doing so in a swimming pool is 984 feet. You can see a video of Severinsen’s effort here.

Octopuses Are Sometimes Pugilists  January 5, 2021

According to research published in Ecology, octopuses can throw a mean and deliberate sucker punch without apparent reason, other than the fish might be annoying them. A researcher from the Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre in Lisbon, Eduardo Sampaio, witnessed this phenomenon -- the whole arm of the octopus curls up and uncurls afterwards, like the motion of a boxer throwing a punch . . . By the way, the plural of octopus is octopuses, not octopi. Click here to view the article.

The Chinese Threat to Fish Stocks Worldwide  January 5, 2021

When a Chinese fishing fleet of more than 350 vessels arrived off the Galapagos Marine Reserve earlier this year, Ecuador’s government sounded the alarm and enlisted help from U.S. Coast Guard to keep them at bay. Armed with huge Chinese Government subsidies, this massive fleet is now being deployed in nearly every ocean -- including a new planned Chinese-funded fisheries development near Papua New Guinea’s Daru Island in the Torres Strait. China has a distant-water fishing fleet of 2,500 vessels and an insatiable appetite for seafood. Now, that is a real China threat. ABC News (Australia)

Nadia Aly of Vancouver B.C. -- Ocean Photographer of the Year  January 5, 2021

Winners of the 2020 Ocean Photography Awards have been announced by Oceanographic Magazine and include breath-taking photos of the underwater world we don’t often see. Six categories are open to everyone, both amateur and professional. You can see the winning pictures here. And see Nadia’s work at

Aggressor Disappointment?   January 5, 2021

A reader based in Thailand, Sylvia Brunner, wrote to Undercurrent complaining that she had booked a trip at the end of November on the Thailand Aggressor, departing in January 2021. Two weeks after the booking was confirmed, the trip was canceled because entry to Thailand was closed to visitors. She reckons Aggressor Adventures must have known that was the case at the time of her booking when they collected payment, but then handed out vouchers for a future trip instead. When she contacted Aggressor, they refused to refund her, saying it was in accordance with their cancellation policy -- but it was Aggressor that canceled, not the passenger. (She was already in Thailand.) Luckily, she had paid by credit card, and the credit card company took up her case and refunded her money.

Mexico Welcomes American Divers, While COVID Surges   January 5, 2021

While the borders of many countries are closed to visitors, some intrepid travelers are getting good diving in Cozumel, though the Yucatan Peninsula remains a hotspot. Glen Madsen (Santa Clara, UT) was one of the first allowed back on the island of Cozumel in July and enjoyed an empty ocean with “Dive with Cristina.” Health worker and solo diver Giorgio Bonmassar (Lexington, MA) enjoyed a stay at the Iberostar in November, dived with Dressel Divers in Cozumel and added a Reader’s Report to the Undercurrent database, as did David S. Locker (New York, NY), who enjoyed his stay at the Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, in September, although he thought the cost of diving with Mayakoba Dive eye-poppingly expensive.

Reports of Serious Issues and Poor Organization  January 5, 2021

The Nautilus Explorer liveaboard has a very good reputation with our subscribers, but Sherry M. Wren (Palo Alto, CA) was disappointed in November. In her reader report, she tells of a litany of issues that took the edge off her experience. The trip was listed as one to Cabo Pulmo, in western Mexico, but in fact, the vessel spent only one day there, since the park evidently requires reservations and use of their guides, and this appears not to have been properly pre-arranged. She later received an apology from Nautilus.

Mammoth Find by Florida Divers   January 5, 2021

You never know what you might stumble across during a dive, but divers from Aquanutz Scuba Diver Charters in Venice, Florida, specialize in finding underwater fossils, with rich pickings once a storm has passed through and churned up the seabed. During the last days of 2020, they came across an eight-foot-long Columbian mammoth tusk at an undisclosed site off the Florida coast that might be more than 11,000 years old. It’s the second one they’ve salvaged from the seabed. Members of the Aquanutz crew belong to a group called iHUNTdeadThings. Columbian mammoth tusks fetch up to $10,000. ABC WWSB

Brainier Than We Thought, Those Cuttlefish  January 5, 2021

In fact, they appear to be able to perform calculations that are more complicated than simply “more food is better,” says Chuan-Chin Chiao, a biologist at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Presented with a choice between one shrimp or two, they will prefer the single shrimp when they have learned through experience that they are later rewarded for this choice. Also, they hunt fewer crabs during the day if they know there are more of their favorite shrimps available at night, indicating they can think ahead. Royal Society Open Science Journal

Until January 8, See Amos’ Movie Free   January 5, 2021

If you would like to see Amos Nachoum’s Picture of His Life, you can use the password POHL22 to log on to the Vimeo channel.

Stay Safe
Wear a Mask, Socially Distance, Wash Your Hands
Don’t Share Your Air
Happy New Year

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*

Here are past Online Update emails sent out . You can sign-up for free to receive these in the future here.


4 May, 2024

20 May, 2024

23 April, 2024

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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