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July 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 48, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the July, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

COVID Can Still Imprison You Abroad. Keep in mind that if you're traveling and test positive, you may be stuck awhile. Katherine Burns (Alameda California) had a good diving trip in June to Fiji's Blue Lagoon Resort and reports, "To return to the mainland, the resort was obliged to test us again. Five people from the same dive group tested positive. Immediately everyone pulled out their masks and those who tested positive were separated and were transferred later in the day to the Pearl Resort for their seven-day quarantine." So, add seven days to that vacation, and a lot of extra expense, especially in changing plane tickets.

Lionfish on the Run? Jim Wedel (Sarasota Florida) who has owned and run a diving charter boat on the west coast of Florida for over 20 years, tells Undercurrent he's witnessed the explosive population of lionfish but has good news. In the last couple of years diving at the Florida Middle Grounds, he has seen a dramatic decrease in numbers. As a teacher of marine biology, he surmises that something has figured out that lionfish are edible and easy to catch. On two trips in May, with 27 divers, he only saw two lionfish, and last year only three during two trips. The local marine extension agent told him other reports are saying the same thing.

Why Does a Female Octopus Die? Once they've laid, brooded, and hatched their eggs, they soon die, having stopped eating while attending to their eggs. But why? Scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, have discovered two glands between their eyes that function like the pituitary glands in vertebrates, secreting hormones, apparently including one that ultimately triggers them to stop eating. When they surgically removed both glands, the female would abandon her brood, resume eating, continue to grow, and live longer.

Rebreathers Cannot Fly Alone. That's what British diver Kevin Openshaw discovered on May 8 after he arrived in Malta for his dive vacation. His $7000 JJ rebreather had been held at the Manchester airport from where he departed because it was a "suspected item." The airport staff could not tell whether it contained compressed oxygen, despite it being without tanks, and though Openshaw had paid more than $200 to check it as sports equipment, officials kept it off the plane. He called to explain, but they refused to send it to him in Malta. He bought a round-trip ticket to the U.K., retrieved his rebreather, and returned to Malta, days late and many dollars short.

GBR Reef Bleaching. According to a report published by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 90 percent of the GBR suffered bleaching during the recent summer months. The Reef snapshot: summer 2021-22 states the high accumulated heat stress this summer had caused 654 of the 719 reefs surveyed to suffer from bleaching. The report also suggested that despite the La NiŮa conditions, the GBR's water warmed early in December 2021, exceeding historical summer maximums that typically occur in the hottest summer months.

Indonesia's Scuba Seraya Disappears. Undercurrent's special reporter in Bali tells us that the popular dive resort Scuba Seraya appears to be no more. Their major building has been flattened and closed for renovation, their phone disconnected, and its domain name is for sale. More than one U.S. booking agent in the U.S. has been stiffed for money paid before the pandemic.

Dive Boat Operator Fined. The Malaysian company Winter Snow, on April l6, had several divers drift away for hours ( one 14-year-old boy died) before they were located and recovered (Undercurrent April). Officials have now fined the equivalent of $1,135 for operating a dive boat without an adequate crew, as Malaysian law requires.

Komodo Now Only For the Well-Heeled. To limit the number of visitors to the Komodo National Park, the government is set to raise the foreign visitor's fee in August from around $12 to a whopping $240. The number of visitors has more than doubled during the last decade, affecting the dragons' behavior and the environment. Let's hope the additional money goes to conservation, not pockets.

What a Whopper! A Cambodian fisherman caught what has proved to be the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. Fishing from a remote island in the Mekong River, he accidentally hooked the 661-pound giant stingray measuring more than 13 feet from snout to tail, setting a new world record. Global populations of freshwater megafauna have declined twice as much as vertebrate populations on land or in the oceans, leaving many giant fish species critically endangered.

giant stingray in the Mekong River

Diver's Rebreather Technology Used to Help COVID Patients. A British designer learned hospitals had a ventilator and oxygen shortage during the pandemic, so he designed a more efficient machine. As the human body only uses five percent of the oxygen breathed, Martin Stanton's machine recycles the excess air into a reusable bag. He attached a soda-lime canister containing a CCR diver's CO2 absorbent to the machine to remove the carbon dioxide created as a by-product of exhaling. The machines cost about $4,500, much less than the huge cost of a typical VC70 ventilator used in intensive care units.

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