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Current Online Updates*
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Updated October 25, 2023

Is it Safe to Travel to the Red Sea Nowadays?
The prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award
You're Reading Our Free Mid-month Email
That Stinking Weed
An Industrial Solution to the Lionfish Problem?
Bret Gilliam Has Passed
A Question for American Dive Boat Operators
Taxing Dive Tourism
Save the Sawfish
Good News for Cocos Divers
Watch Out for Big Bulls
This Month in Undercurrent
Free-to-Read in Undercurrent

Is it Safe to Travel to the Red Sea Nowadays?   October 25, 2023

To a North American looking at a map, the Red Sea seems very close to Israel, but in fact, the Red Sea coast of Egypt is a long way from the conflict. From Gaza, it's 250 miles to Hurghada and 445 miles to Marsa Alam, which are hosting European visitors and carrying on as usual. The Middle East may be a troubled area, but the trouble-free Saudi Arabia is on the opposite coast of Egypt, and those two nations are not at war. If you have a trip to the Red Sea planned, enjoy it and experience some of the most remarkable diving in the world.

The prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award   October 25, 2023

The prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award has been won by marine biologist Laurent Ballesta with a picture of a mysterious and other-worldly horseshoe crab in waters off Pangatalan Island in the Philippines. Ballesta is only the second photographer in WPY's 59-year history to win the competition twice. In 2021, he was awarded the grand prize for capturing a trio of spawning groupers. See the winning shots here.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award

You're Reading Our Free Mid-month Email.  October 25, 2023

Why not receive our ten monthly, 16-page, ad-free newsletters and become a paid subscriber? We cover subjects other dive publications avoid for fear of upsetting their advertisers. But we don't accept advertising. We are accountable only to divers. Our travel reviews are written by undercover authors who pay their way. Our stories cover equipment problems, liveaboard safety, the ins and outs of tipping, how dive insurance can fail you, and much, much more. In December, you will receive the Travelin' Diver's Chapbook, filled with hundreds of travel reviews by fellow subscribers. Not only that, you have full access to more than 10,000 Undercurrent independent readers' reports -- opinions and impressions posted without fear or favor by those who have stayed at the resorts or have been on liveaboards worldwide. I am offering you a seven-month trial subscription for just $19.95. And I'll send you a FREE download of the 40-page e-books Eight Great Liveaboards (and One Disaster) and Eight Great Dive Resorts (and One Dog). If you want your money back at any time during this period, you'll get it, a promise I've kept since we started publishing in 1975. Click Here.

That Stinking Weed.   October 25, 2023

Foul-smelling sargassum has been swamping the beaches of the Caribbean, but it looks like it can be turned into biofuel. Belize is working with a German company, Variodin, to build a $50 million plant to turn municipal solid waste and sargassum into a replacement for diesel fuel. Caribbean nations spend up to $120 million annually to collect and dispose of it. Necessity is the mother of invention.

An Industrial Solution to the Lionfish Problem?  October 25, 2023

Three scuba divers have founded Inversa Leathers in Tampa, FL, with the idea that the invasive species wreaking havoc on Caribbean coral reefs could be used for their skin. The company has raised $2 million in funding and works with a dozen fishing cooperatives that hunt the pests to buy as many skins as possible. A leather lab in Cincinnati tans the product before it's sold for around $35 for a 55-square-inch skin, which so far has been fashioned into watchbands, purses, and shoes.

Lionfish skin bag

Bret Gilliam Has Passed.  October 25, 2023

One of the true pioneers of scuba diving, Bret began working for the U.S. Navy before continuing as a dive shop owner on St. Croix. He later ran liveaboard dive boats in the Caribbean, including the 550-foot Ocean Quest, the largest such vessel ever dedicated to diving. He started Fathoms magazine with Fred Garth, to which he brought both his writing and underwater photography skills. He ran Uwatec in the USA before it was bought by Scubapro. In 1972 he created a consulting company, Ocean Tech, and over the years appeared as a diving and maritime litigation consultant and expert witness, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in almost equal numbers. He set the record for the deepest dive on air (475 feet in 1993) and founded the technical diving training agency TDI. A frequent contributor to Undercurrent, he will be sorely missed. If you ever met Bret, well, you know he was larger than life.

A Question for American Dive Boat Operators:   October 25, 2023

Since the Conception burned and sank with 34 souls lost, insurance laws have changed. Have your premiums jumped up considerably? How much? How has it affected your business? We'd like to hear from you. Email

Taxing Dive Tourism.  October 25, 2023

Divers Lodge, a dive center in Hurghada, Egypt, informs us the Egyptian government has introduced a 10 percent entertainment tax, which will be added to charges for all scuba diving, snorkeling activities, and equipment rentals. Many governments are looking for means to earn more money from tourism, finding that their hotel taxes, arrival and departure fees, and other sources aren't providing enough, so don't be surprised if other nations start targeting tourist activities like diving.

Save the Sawfish.   October 25, 2023

Not many of us have seen a critically endangered sawfish while scuba diving, but their rostra (the saws) are very much in evidence in novelty shops and on eBay, for sale without CITES permits. You can learn more about the fascinating sawfish with the Sawfish Conservation Society and sign a petition to eBay here.

Good News for Cocos Divers.   October 25, 2023

Fishing for hammerhead sharks is now illegal in Costa Rica, thanks to a new executive decree by President Rodrigo Chaves Robles. The decree prohibits capturing, transporting, storing, or selling hammerhead sharks or their byproducts, such as fins and teeth. Maybe those Chinese fishing fleets will back off a little?

Watch Out for Big Bulls.   October 25, 2023

Bull sharks are one of the three species involved in the most fatal attacks in Australia. They can grow to 11 feet long and are considered particularly dangerous as they prefer warm coastal waters and can travel up rivers. Researchers have found certain conditions that increase the chances of encountering a large bull shark: when the water temperature is higher than 68F, after heavy rain, or when the water is murky because these are favorable conditions for ambush predators like bull sharks.

This Month in Undercurrent:   October 25, 2023

Diving with Cayman Brac Beach Resort . . . Diving participation rebounds post-Covid . . . The case of the disappearing Great White sharks . . . With MY. Bilikiki in the South Pacific's Solomon Islands . . . A giant of scuba, Bret Gilliam has passed . . . A PADI 5-star center takes issue . . . Getting bent four hours distant from a chamber . . . PFOs are a greater danger to divers than first thought . . . Snorkeling in the slime of a Welsh bog . . . Sidemounting tanks for older divers? . . . Clarification of our September Wetpixel story . . . and much, much more.

Free-to-Read in Undercurrent.   October 25, 2023

Even if you are not a subscriber, we offer some articles with unrestricted viewing. This month, you can enjoy the full nine yards on what it's like to take a trip on the MY.Bilikiki, a top liveaboard operating in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. Just go to and click on the link to the story.

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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