Saturday, January 14, 2006

Undercurrent Subscriber Online Update

Reprinted with permission

Undercurrent -- Consumer Reporting for The Serious Scuba Diver since 1975
www.undercurrent.org

January 12, 2006

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Dive News

Recompression Chambers Reject DAN America Insurance: The SSS Recompression chamber network, operator of hyperbaric chambers in a dozen popular dive destinations, has announced that some facilities will no longer accept the Divers Alert Network (DAN) America insurance for payments at some chambers: Nassau, Bahamas; Cabo San Lucas, Merida and Cancun, Mexico. SSS has other chambers, which they say may also stop accepting DAN insurance payments: Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico; Ambergris Cay, Belize; the Galapagos Islands, and five in Thailand. In a prepared statement, SSS declared it could "no longer tolerate unpaid services, and since the only insurer in the world who has refused to settle our bills is DAN America, some SSS chambers have no other choice but to ask DAN America patients to pay for services when rendered and file the claims themselves with DAN America." SSS owner Mauricio Moreno told Undercurrent that their chambers are still "duty bound to render services despite a patients' ability to pay." SSS has filed a lawsuit against DAN over the matter.

DAN issued a statement saying: "The dispute involves what constitutes reasonable and customary charges for hyperbaric chamber treatment. Even though some insurers may have signed exclusive arrangements with [SSS] in exchange for lower rates, DAN believes exclusive arrangements are not in the diver's best interest, when the diver needs help at the nearest available chamber to avoid medically unacceptable delays." DAN CEO Dan Orr told Undercurrent that discussions are ongoing and he hopes to work out a solution "that's right for DAN members as well as the industry."

Meanwhile, make sure your credit card limit is high enough to cover emergency medical expenses, no matter what insurance you carry. The full story will be in the February issue of Undercurrent.

Norine Rouse Dies: Norine Rouse, who for nearly three decades guided dives from her Palm Beach Florida Norine Rouse Scuba Club, has died at the age of 80. In 1966, Rouse moved to Freeport, Bahamas with $125 she had won on a television game show and became one of the world's first women diving instructors. Later, she was one of a handful of people licensed by the state of Florida to swim with sea turtles and would steadfastly record and photograph their behavior for scientists. From the 1970s to the 1990s, she tracked the annual return of two loggerhead turtles to the same local reefs. When Robert the turtle returned each Christmas, Rouse would don her trademark yellow wet suit and take kitchen scrubbies out to clean him. (Palm Beach Post)

Somewhat Serious About Underwater photography? Time magazine selected the SeaLife DC500 digital underwater camera as one of the "Most Amazing Inventions of 2005." They said, "The camera eliminates the traditional bulk of underwater cameras, measuring a mere 3.5 in. by 5.5 in. and weighing just under 17 oz. But there's no sacrificing image quality. The SeaLife 500 captures ultra sharp, high-resolution pictures and overcomes underwater photography challenges including poor light, waterborne particles and quick-moving subjects. The camera is waterproof down to 200 ft. and has six modes for land." It's a 5-megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. Price is $550, strobes are additional. www.sealife-cameras.com

Disallowing a diver to dive: We occasionally get a complaint from a diver who has been told by the captain or crew member that he will not be allowed to dive, and we'd like to gather more incidents. Have you ever been at a resort or live-aboard when the captain disallowed a diver -- or you -- to dive for any reason, e..g. a health issue, breaking rules, alcohol consumption, bad conditions, insufficient experience for a particular dive, anything. How was the issue handled? In your mind was the action proper, i.e., were there safety issues involved? What effect did the discipline have on the other divers, and crew? If you are a professional in the industry, have you ever kept a diver out of the water? Include specifics (where and when the incident happened, name of responsible captain or crew member). Please email your response to clickundercurrent@comcast.net.

Fish, Critter, Coral ID Books: You'll find the best in fish ID books at www.undercurrent.org, everything from Paul Humann's series on the Caribbean and Galapagos, to the hard-to find books specializing in the South Pacific, Indonesia and other exotic waters. All profits from any purchase through www.undercurrent.org go to preserve coral reefs.

Coming up in the February Issue: Sky Dancer, Galapagos, Where the big fish are, Ashore on the Islands, Holbox Whale Sharks, Bonaire Wild Side, Providencia/San Andres _ not as good the second time, Divebag Security Screeners; watch your gear. Undercurrent, Now a nonprofit organization. ... and much more.

In future issues, look for first hand reviews of diving with white sharks south of San Diego, the undiscovered Corn Islands off Nicaragua, Deep Ships on Midway Island, a unique site in the Sea of Cortez, an Aussie live-aboard ... and much much more.

Note: 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.

Ben Davison, editor/publisher
editor@undercurrent.org