Monday, March 06, 2006

Undercurrent Online Update

Undercurrent -- Consumer Reporting for
The Serious Scuba Diver since 1975
Reprinted with permission

March 6, 2006

Dive News

Just How is Post Hurricane Cozumel Diving?: It was a rough year for Cozumel. Emily struck in July, then in October Wilma, one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history, visited. Topside the island has rebounded remarkably. You can generally expect to stay and play at your favorite establishments and submerge with your favorite dive operators. But, divers want to know what it's like underwater, so Undercurrent's Doc Vikingo visited in February to update our readers. His full report will be in our April issue. To give you a heads up, he says: "Even to a 32-year Cozumel veteran some sites were unrecognizable. Despite contrary reports, the underwater environment has been significantly rearranged and changed forever. The reefs, where not entirely covered in sand or denuded of delicate marine growth (e.g., Chun Chacaab shallows, Dalila, La Francesa), are silted to varying degrees. While some mid level sites like Palancar Gardens and the upper reaches of the Santa Rosa Wall fared better, choking silt on corals and sponges can still be seen. Not surprisingly, the deepest reefs survived best (e.g., Maracaibo Deep, Columbia Deep), but here massive hunks of reef have tumbled off in some sections. On the bright side, many delightful new swim throughs, caverns and holes have been created. These strikingly beautiful alterations in underwater structure put a fresh face on Cozumel scuba. The fish and reef creature life also has been altered, yet there remains much to see." When you go, choose the good operations we report on in Undercurrent with a thorough knowledge of the reefs, tanks and rules that allow you to dive relatively deep for extended times, and a willingness to visit the least damaged sites.

Saving Reefs the Painless Way: From your travels, I'll bet you have brought home foreign currency that only gathers dust. Why not get a tax deduction and save a reef with it? Undercurrent is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization and we are raising money for reef preservation in Belize and Fiji. If you send me those foreign bills, I will exchange them for dollars, send you a receipt for your tax deduction, and direct ALL the money to one of two projects:

Belize: In southern Belize's 133-island Port Honduras Marine Reserve, poachers are taking manatees and other marine species, especially at night when stealth fishermen slip in. The underfunded park rangers want to repair and outfit their sailboat _ so silent at night _ for overnight patrols to prevent gill-netters from illegally fishing these breeding grounds and capture them. Your money will help them do it . . . Fiji: At the southern tip of Taveuni, virgin reefs and rain forest are under the control of Vuna Village chiefs, who need money to help their people. Outsiders want to pay to fish the reefs and cut the trees, but the villagers have struck an agreement with our partner, Seacology, to establish two marine protected areas and protect a forest preserve (silt from logging destroys reefs) in return for a much-needed school house. Your contribution will help ensure that it is completed and the reefs and forest are protected.

Send your foreign currency (we'll even take your personal check) to Undercurrent, c/o Ben Davison, POB 3120, Sausalito, CA 94966. I will send you a receipt for your tax-deductible contribution and ALL OF YOUR MONEY will go directly to these projects. If divers don't save the reefs, who will?

Jury Says Dive Shop Owner Murdered His Wife Underwater: A Providence RI civil trial jury has unanimously awarded the parents of Shelley Tyre, the deceased wife of David Swain, more than $3.5 in compensatory and punitive damages for her death. During the trial, they heard lawyers for the plaintiff describe how in the British Virgins in 1999, Swain had killed her in 80 feet of water by turning off her air and holding her down. His reason: to inherit her property. Swainn, who has never been criminally charged with her death, says he may appeal. The complete story will be in the April issue of Undercurrent.

DAN Insurance Update: The disagreement we reported earlier between the SSS Recompression chamber network and Divers Alert Network (DAN) has resulted in three of the network's chambers refusing to accept DAN America insurance. The three, all owned by SSS founder Mauricio Moreno, are in Cabo San Lucas, Nassau, and Cancun. Nine other chambers affiliated with SSS are still accepting DAN America coverage _ at least for now. A DAN spokesman has assured Undercurrent that if the chambers do not accept the insurance, DAN will reimburse policy holders according to their agreement. Nonetheless, it would be prudent for DAN-insured divers to carry credit cards with high enough limits to cover typical chamber treatments, which can run to $15,000 or more. More on DAN's lawsuit in the April issue of Undercurrent.

Been Diving in the Past Six Months? We're already at work on the 2007 Travelin' Diver's Chapbook and would like your report on your dive trips. You can complete an online form at Or, you can email the report to me at Be sure to include your name and home town. Or you can fill out the form in the March issue, which will be mailed this week. The Chapbook is only as good as the reports from the readers, so get yours in now. Thanks.

Divers and Internet Purchases. We're working on a story about Internet purchases, how divers fare, and the long range consequence for local dive stores. We need your help. Have you ever bought dive gear over the Internet? Did you check out the product at a dive shop before ordering? If you returned anything, how was it handled? How did you have the equipment serviced after your purchase? Have you had any warranty issues? Generally good or bad experience? Please provide the specific URL of website, and when you made the purchase. And email your comments to Thanks.

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