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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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May 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the May, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Best Military Diver? Have the Russians enlisted the best breath-hold divers to work on spying missions? Marine experts suspect a white beluga whale recently seen harassing Norwegian fishing vessels has been trained by the Russians for military missions. The whale behaved strangely, actively seeking out the vessels and trying to pull straps and ropes from the sides of the boats. It was wearing a tight harness, which appeared to be for a camera or weapon. What raised suspicions even more: Discovered inside the harness, after it was removed, were the words "Equipment of St. Petersburg."

Ocean Reef's Full-Face Mask Recall. Not to be confused with its Aria snorkeling mask, Ocean Reef is voluntarily recalling around 1,000 Neptune Space integrated diving masks made between March and November 2018, because a manufacturing glitch with the regulator could restrict airflow. Check if your mask is affected by comparing its serial number with those listed at If yours is included, return it where you bought it so it can be checked and adjusted or for a free replacement or refund.

A "Living Fossil" Rises Again. Nobody knows why great white sharks normally found around South Africa's Seal Island are in decline -- it could be overfishing, habitat loss, even predatory orcas. But their decline has allowed a "living fossil" shark species to take their place. A study in Scientific Reports details increased sightings of the seven-gill shark, unique for retaining the seven gill slits of its prehistoric ancestors rather than the five slits in modern species. "In 18-plus years of working at Seal Island, we had never seen [them] in our surveys," Chris Fallows, the report's co-author, told The Independent. "Following the disappearance of white sharks in 2017, seven-gill began to show up for the first time and have been increasing in number ever since."

Renowned Cave Rescuer Just Got Rescued on a Cave Dive. Josh Bratchley, part of the international team effort to rescue the 12-boy soccer team from a Thailand cave, was himself rescued after disappearing in a Tennessee cave on April 17. Bratchley, a meteorologist by profession, had traveled with other British divers to explore Millpond Cave in Jackson County; when his buddies couldn't locate him after an extensive search, they called for additional help. He was found 24 hours later, sheltering in an air pocket 400 feet from the entrance. Bratchley refused medical attention but requested an emergency pizza.

Baby Boom. A little bit of good news about the ocean: Seven newborn right whales were spotted swimming off Florida's Atlantic coast last month, with a further three seen off the coast of Massachusetts. No newborns were seen last year. There are thought to be just 450 of this endangered species left in the world.

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