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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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June 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the June, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Galapagos Liveaboard Runs Aground and Sinks. Subscriber Dennis Smith was scheduled to do a Galapagos dive trip with the Majestic Explorer (formerly the MN Galápagos Majestic ), but was just notified by Explorer Ventures that the boat had run aground May 31 near Cousins Rock, off the northeastern coast of Santiago Island (that's not far from where the Galápagos Aggressor I ran aground in 2013). The Majestic Explorer's hull was breached in the bow area; all 26 passengers and crew were safely rescued before the ship capsized and sank with two tons of fuel on board. No injuries were reported.

Underwater Pole Dancing. It's the latest craze, according to Russia Today. Despite failed attempts to get conventional pole dancing accepted for the Paris Olympics in 2024, underwater pole dancing has a growing group of devotees. It's similar to traditional pole dancing -- acrobatics and dancing performed on a vertical pole -- but the water lets dancers float and hold their poses for a much longer time than when performed on land. And they have to do all this while holding their breath. Seems like that would get more TV viewers than badminton or trampoline, both of which are official Summer Olympics sports.

Bonaire Boosts Marine Park Fees. Ken Kurtis, an Undercurrent contributor who runs the dive travel company Reef Seekers, shared this info with us: Bonaire's new Marine Park fees have kicked in. It's now $45 annually, up from $25, and they base it on a calendar year. (I think it's still unclear as to what will happen for anyone who's doing a week that starts in December and ends in January, since a new calendar year will have begun.) Also, whereas you used to generally pay the fee in cash, they now only take credit cards. (You pay at your resort upon arrival and get a small tag for your BC.)"

The Politics of Shark Bites. Remember the "Summer of the Shark" in 2001, when there were multiple shark bites of swimmers in Florida waters? It led to a ban on shark eco-tourism in the state. In a new book called Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking, author Christopher Pepin-Neff says that although shark bites often have tragic outcomes, they're typically surrounded by an even more theatrical political process, in which an isolated and individual human tragedy is blown out of proportion when politicized and sensationalized by the media. "Politicians select policy responses designed to relieve perceived social anxiety and boost public confidence, which often do little to protect the public."

New Wreck Dives in Greece. Recreational scuba diving was mostly banned in that country's waters before 2005. Authorities were so paranoid divers might loot antiquities scattered about the seabed that even the discovery of diving equipment aboard a boat could lead to confiscation of the vessel. But this year, the restrictions have been lifted for certain known shipwreck sites. One site near the Aegean island of Alonissos has been turned into an underwater museum that's now accessible to the public. Dubbed the Peristera, the ship was sunk around 5 B.C., and the seabed it rests on is still covered in thousands of amphorae, a type of ancient storage jar. Alonissos Tritou Dive Center takes trips there and to other nearby sites (

Are Basking Sharks Back in California? After a 30-year hiatus, in which their numbers were culled by commercial fishing, these gentle giants are being seen along Southern California's coast, most recently by whale-watching charters out of Ventura and Santa Monica. They started showing up in April, but it's still unknown at this point whether that makes it a comeback. "We don't have enough data points or enough basic information to say what is going on with their population with any confidence," Heidi Dewar, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Basking sharks are California's largest shark, and yet, most people have never heard of them." If you spot a basking shark along the California coast, NOAA asks that you email with information about the sighting to help track the species.

One of The Unluckiest Divers We've Ever Heard Of. Shaun Boag, from Ballarat, Australia, was relaxing at the bar inside the Submariner Dive Center on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, when a large metal ceiling fan suddenly came loose, snapped and spun into his face. Badly injured, Boag had to travel for five hours to get proper medical help. He was already blind in one eye, but feared he'd lost the sight in the other; however, after multiple visits to hospitals in the Philippines and Australia, Boag is on the mend. Unfortunately, Boag said that the X-rays in the Philippines revealed many other facial injuries, including previous breaks to his cheekbone from previous unlucky encounters. Our advice: Come up slowly from every dive, Shaun.

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