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Updated February 15, 2019
These brief news articles below were sent out via email to all divers who signed up for our free email list.
You can sign up here to receive future Undercurrent Online Updates and get news alerts and special offers like these every month.

Ocean Art 2018 Winners Announced
Plastic Filled Turtles
Closed to Divers
Are Fish as Vain as We Are?
A Hint of Good News on Coral Bleaching
Which Are Your Favorite Fins?
Coming Soon in Undercurrent
That Exploding Diving Computer Battery
What’s at the Bottom of Belize’s Blue Hole?
Palau’s Jellyfish Lake Reopens
Some of what You Missed This Month in Undercurrent
But Will Komodo Park Be Shut Down?
Free-to-Read This Month in Undercurrent
Subscribe Now and Get the Low Down on Diving other Media Omits

three giant mobula rays engaged in an underwater ballet by Duncan Murrell - Ocean Art 2018 Winner

Ocean Art 2018 Winners Announced  February 15, 2019

The overall winner of the Ocean Arts competition, organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, with judges including underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, Marty Snyderman, and publisher Scott Gietler, was Duncan Murrell, with an image three giant mobula rays engaged in an underwater ballet. All winning images can be seen at http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/2018-ocean-art-contest-winners

Plastic Filled Turtles  February 15, 2019

A new study by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the U.K. showed that 102 sea turtles examined from three different oceans had each ingested between 150 and 500 pieces of plastics, micro-plastics and other synthetics. They’re dead of course.

Closed to Divers  February 15, 2019

If you booked a Red Sea liveaboard this month you won’t be going to the Brother Islands, one of the best dive sites. Egypt’s Chamber of Diving and Water Sports, the governing body for scuba diving, announced the islands will stay closed to divers at least until mid-March. That action was first taken last year in response to some divers getting bitten by sharks. (See our article “Why are Red Sea Sharks Biting More Often?” in the January issue of Undercurrent).

Are Fish as Vain as We Are?  February 15, 2019

It may have been proved that fish are sentient but the brainpower of marine animals ahs been considerably underestimated. Alex Jordan, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology in Germany, is calling for an overhaul of the traditional hierarchy of animal intelligence, saying that despite their reputation for being “basically vacant”, fish perform exceptionally well on certain tasks. His experiment with cleaner wrasse proved that when confronted with a mirror, after some time they became enamoured of their own image, showing they might have a degree of self-awareness. https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000021

A Hint of Good News on Coral Bleaching  February 15, 2019

As the populations of corals across the world decrease thanks to climate change, there’s some good news coming from Israel. A recent study published by the Journal of Experimental Biology reveals that the spawns of the fully formed corals in the Gulf of Eilat in the northern Red Sea, inherited the same genetic imprint responsible for hot weather adaptation, making the gulf one of the few places on earth where the this underwater ecosystem will continue for years to come in the face of the deteriorating climate change.

Which Are Your Favorite Fins?  February 15, 2019

Split blades, technopolymer paddle fins or traditional hard rubber fins like those of days of yore? We’re working on a story and would like your opinion as well as any problems you may have had. And what about the straps? Spring straps, bungee straps or traditional rubber-style straps? Write and tell us, not forgetting to say your town and state. BenDDavison@undercurrent.org

Coming Soon in Undercurrent  February 15, 2019

MV Odyssey in Truk Lagoon . . . Old Gin House, St. Eustatius . . . MV Kona Aggressor, Marisol . . . Glover's Reef, Belize . . . Nitrogen narcosis can kill . . . Keeping predatory sharks at bay . . . An underwater tent, but not for camping . . . The question of bends . . . The canary on the reef . . . Should you let shrimp clean your teeth? . . . and much, much more.

That Exploding Diving Computer Battery  February 15, 2019

You may have heard about a dive computer battery exploding at the Düsseldorf Boat Show in Germany in late January. A non-rechargeable battery in A Heinrichs-Weikamp OSTC Plus computer can accept either a 3.6v rechargeable lithium-ion battery or a 3.6v non-rechargeable one. Someone got confused as to which was which and a computer exploded after it was erroneously put on a charging pad with a disposable battery installed. No serious injuries occurred, but 12 people were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Which is why you do not try to recharge non-rechargeable batteries. The company now no longer recommends the use of a non-rechargeable lithium-ion battery in this product.

What’s at the Bottom of Belize’s Blue Hole?  February 15, 2019

British billionaire Richard Branson led a submarine expedition down there in December, and what did he and his crew discover at 400 feet deep? Plastic. Yes, besides the corpses of crabs, conches and other sea creatures that had fallen down there and died, they saw plastic bottles. In his blog on Virgin.com. Branson wrote it was “the starkest reminder of the danger of climate change I’ve ever seen ... we’ve all got to get rid of single-use plastic.”

Palau’s Jellyfish Lake Reopens  February 15, 2019

After being closed to snorkelers for two years to allow its diminishing population to recover, this popular spot for divers and snorkeler has seen thousands of new golden jellyfish appear. Jellyfish Lake’s population was around 30 million in 2005, but a disastrous drought reduced that number to a few thousand in 2016. The Coral Reef Research Foundation determined in December that the number is now up to 630,000. Jellyfish Lake, 1,200 feet long and 100 feet deep, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of what You Missed This Month in Undercurrent  February 15, 2019

Great snorkeling in Baja California . . . Jordan’s Red Sea backwater . . . A huge great white shark controversy . . . DSD is deadly . . . Letters from our shocked and appalled readers . . . Tips for getting around Baja . . . Would you like your own Fiji shark? . . . The proposed Cocos-Galapagos swimway . . . Do you have bedbugs infesting your dive gear? . . . Diver scallops? Give us a break! . . . New Zealand bans cage diving with sharks . . . Are traditional fins making a comeback? . . . Reef Safe isn’t safe . . . and much, much more.

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But Will Komodo Park Be Shut Down?  February 15, 2019

Indonesia’s travel industry is up in arms against a suggestion by government officials in the East Nusa Tenggara province to close Komodo National Park for a year. The thought is, a ban on humans will boost the population of Komodo dragons, who’ve gotten lazier in hunting because they’re used to scavenging food from tourists, as well as the deer that are their main food supply but are being hunted illegally. Puzzled scientists say Komodo’s dragons are doing fine, but officials should do more to save those living outside park boundaries. A closure is still up in the air; however, there has been no mention of plans to stop any diving.

Free-to-Read This Month in Undercurrent  February 15, 2019

Why do divers die?
Last month, Undercurrent dug into annual reports from Divers Alert Network (DAN) and the British Sub-Aqua Club. They collate dive accidents and fatalities. The basic factors for many of those: being lazy, becoming obese and succumbing to panic. In this article, we'll look at other reasons why divers die, including heading into running boat propellers, being unfamiliar with the dive gear, and a not-that-well-known health hazard that leads to a quick death by drowning. You can read it for free here.

Traditional Fins are making a comeback.
Back in the day, all diving fins were made of hard rubber. There was no choice - thermoplastic technology was in its infancy. The big advantage was that, apart from the fin straps, they seemed to last forever. Then came lightweight technopolymer fins. You can read it for free here.

Subscribe Now and Get the Low Down on Diving other Media Omits  February 15, 2019

For a very short time, you can receive eight months of Undercurrent for only $29, as well as gain immediate access to 20 years of back issues and more than 10,000 honest resort and liveaboard reviews submitted by our experienced readers. What’s more, you may download for free the exciting scuba thriller, “Tropical Ice,” set on the reefs of Belize. Moreover, if during your trial subscription you are dissatisfied for any reason, I'll return your $29, no questions asked. To subscribe at this special rate of $29 for eight months, simply click here.

Ben Davison, editor/publisher
Contact Ben

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Note: Undercurrent is a registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization donating funds to help preserve coral reefs. Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.

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