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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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November 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 41, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the November, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fire the Copywriter. I recently got an email from Scuba Diving magazine with the headline, "Are You a Guerrilla Diver?" It was about the joys of the Cayman Islands. Whoever wrote the headline probably had heard the words, never read them but tossed them in, thinking the term clever. Of course, the proper term is "Gorilla Diver," meaning one who pushes or exceeds the limits, a concept neither Scuba Diving nor the Caymans would, heaven forbid, ever dare mention or ever acknowledge, except in error.

Pirates Point to Continue. There will be a memorial for Gladys Howard, Pirates Point's recently deceased owner, at Little Cayman Baptist Church on December 17 at 6 p.m. If you want to participate, email On December 18, in celebration of Howard's life, Little Cayman will have a costume parade, starting at Southern Cross Club at 5:30 p.m. and ending at Pirates Point for an open house, with food, a cash bar and dancing until 10 p.m. Also, Pirates Point will keep on trucking. Divemaster Gay Morse tells us that Howard's daughter, Susan, will keep the resort "and let us continue with the hospitality, food and diving we are known for. Of course, no one can replace Gladys, but . . . we get to continue on with our dream. It was definitely a committed relationship between all of us and Gladys that kept the resort so special."

Phi Phi Island Tries to Ban "Try Diving." Officials on the Thai island want to ban the mass-tourism offering, in which people with no dive experience are brought to a shallow reef to walk around and see marine life. "There were companies that just give the tourists rubber clogs to walk on the delicate coral reef and allow them to handle the wildlife," Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a professor at Kasetsart University's Faculty of Fisheries, told the Phuket Gazette.

He and other officials had to chase off five 'Try Diving" boats moored near a protected reef in Ton Sai Bay earlier this month, but after being ordered off their spots, all five boats moved just 500 meters from the reef. Thon says most of the coral where they were moored was completely destroyed. "Try Diving is really no different from seawalking, which is illegal in Thailand's national parks," he says, adding that Phi Phi's ban would not apply to those who seriously want to learn to dive through Discover Scuba and openwater courses.

A Prudent Liveaboard Choice. In our September article about the Siren Fleet losing five of its eight boats to accidents in six years, we noted how the Truk Siren was looted and burned after being washed up on a reef after a typhoon. The Philippine Siren, while still sailing, has issues -- it's a traditional Phinisi with sails, but one diver found out after the engine broke down that the crew had never sailed it before. Based on those facts, Undercurrent subscriber Harvey Cohen (Middlefield, NJ) was prompted to comment, "I do a lot of liveaboard dive trips, and I limit myself to steel hulls with two engines, or one engine and a suit of sails that gets used every week. When I read 'burned to the waterline' and 'dead in the water,' I wonder why anyone would commit to the open sea in such a vessel."

Marine Population Half of What It Was In 1970. Marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49 percent, according to a report from World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London. The study, which analyzed more than 1,200 species of marine creatures in the past 45 years, says some species people rely on for food are faring even worse, noting a 74 percent drop in populations of tuna and mackerel. Sea cucumbers, considered a luxury food in Asia, have seen the most significant fall in the past few years -- a 98 percent drop in the Galapagos and a 94 percent drop in the Red Sea. Other faults: the decline of seagrass and mangrove areas, which serve as food sources and nurseries for many species, and carbon dioxide being absorbed into the oceans, making them more acidic.

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