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April 2006 Vol. 32, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the April, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Golfers to Displace Divers: A developer plans to build a gated community and golf course on Guana Cay, Bahamas. Dive Guana operator Troy Albury, who heads the Save Guana Cay Reef Association, has sued the Bahamian prime minister for leasing more than 100 acres of public land to help the Discovery Land Company. The association argues that golf course fertilizers will get washed into the water and destroy the reef and there are no plans to protect the nesting grounds of green and loggerhead turtles. Marine biologist James Risk says the development would be the death of the reef within three years. Help them out. Go to

Cut Your Engines; You’re Freaking out the Fish. Engine noise stresses fish, says Lidia Wysocki at the University of Vienna. She played recorded Danube underwater ship noise at the underwater volume, 153 decibels, to Danube lab fish, then measured the amount of cortisol, a stress marker, released through the fishes’ gills. They also tested no noise and white noise at 156 decibels. Fish exposed to ship noise secreted significantly more cortisol than those exposed to either no noise or white noise. Fish exposed to white noise had normal cortisol levels. Wysocki suggests that fish can probably adapt to constant white noise. But unexpected and unpredictable ship noise may trigger stress and affect growth, sexual maturation, and survival. Hey, Cayman Cowboy: maybe this is why there are fewer fish. (Biological Conservation, vol 128, p 501 and New Scientist, January 21, 2006)

Or Offer the Fish Zinfandel: There’s evidence that red wine contributes to a longer life for humans — and even fish. Italian scientist Alessandro Cellerino fed lab fish a component of red wine — resveratrol — known to prolong the life of flies and nematode worms. The lowest dose had no effect, fish on the medium dose lived a third longer; those on the highest dose lived 60 per cent longer. At 12 weeks, when all abstaining fish were dead, those on the highest dose had the physical and mental agility of a young fish. “It wouldn’t hurt to drink one or two glasses of wine a day,” says Cellerino. Divers, bring a decent Zin, not Cheez Whiz. (Current Biology, vol 16, p 296 and New Scientist, February 11, 2006)

You Can’t Always Believe the Chapbook: I try to weed out love or hate missives from the Chapbook. One phony comment did make it into print: Dive Komodo, page 410. I’ve since learned that a Mr. Heighes, who wrote the report, is an employee of Dive Komodo. Consider his report to be an advertisement — unpaid for, unsolicited, and unwanted.

Bananarama Shapes Up: Last October, we gave a thumbs down to Bananarama Resort & Diving Center, Roatan, Honduras, for enforcing an arbitrary 45-minute bottom time for divers, claiming it was island policy and everyone else did it. Perhaps our item did a bit of good, since Bananarama’s owner/manager Ron Smith informs us that divers are no longer restricted to 45-minute bottom times, and our readers have reported recently that they’re getting long dives. Thumbs up!

Flotsam & JetsamDriving a Boxfish: While divers spend hours marveling at cute boxfishes, Mercedes designers marveled at how they swim — and why they have evolved such a seemingly inefficient shape. Once they figured it out, they crafted their Bionic concept car in the shape of a boxfish, which, it turns out, sets a new automotive standard for slippery, when dry.

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