Archive for January, 2013

Miami Herald – 

The last underwater research lab in the world, an 81-ton yellow pressurized steel tube anchored 60 feet down next to a Key Largo reef, won’t be scuttled after all.

Florida International University announced Tuesday that it will take over operation of Aquarius, an aging but unique underwater facility the federal government had considered putting on the chopping block because of budget cuts.

“For our students and our marine sciences program, Aquarius offers fantastic new possibilities and is a natural fit for the work we are doing in the Florida Keys and throughout the world,’’ said Mike Heithaus, executive director of FIU’s school of environment, arts and society.

Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which owns the lab, had called for ending Aquarius’ operation, even though it cost a relatively paltry $1.2 million to $3 million a year to run.

But after backlash from scientists and a campaign led by South Florida political leaders — including Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart — NOAA awarded FIU a $600,000 six-month grant to cover basic maintenance of the facility, which boasts six bunks, a bathroom, galley, science lab and “wet porch” allowing divers easy entry and exit.

Full article…


NTD Television –

A French swimmer who lacks legs and arms successfully dived through a 108-foot deep well in Brussels on Thursday (January 10).

The limbless athlete set a new world record in disabled diving, at the world’s deepest indoor swimming pool.

Philippe Croizon, had his limbs amputated after a 1994 electrical accident at age 26. He completed the underwater achievement with the aide of paddle-like prosthetics with flippers and with the help of 15 experienced divers.

Collectively these senior divers can boast 33-thousand diving expeditions.

The French athlete said he was very proud to be in the company of such experienced divers.

[Philippe Croizon, Limbless French Athlete]: “To dive with them, it’s going to be a pretty amazing world record.

And this is proof that diving is for both older and disabled people too, without any problem.

I’m the only disabled person in the group, that means that disabled and non-disabled—it’s all the same.”

Although Croizon’s special prostheses allow him to propel himself through water, his fellow divers assisted him in the descent.

Full article…

Paul Fraser Collectibles –

A cased builders’ model of the SS Peru – a major American steel hulled passenger freighter, which was launched in 1892 – is to cross the auction block on January 25 as part of Bonhams’ Important Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts sale in New York.

Built to a sale of 1/2 inch = 1 foot, the detailed, hand assembled model features in perfect miniature every external detail evident on the SS Peru itself, including black topsides fitted with portholes, Indian ink drawn planking, anchors, deck hatches, deck railings and twin raked masts with standing and running rigging.

The $80,000 high-estimated vessel is displayed on Lilliputian keel blocks, within a builders’ model of a dry dock, which features adjustable bilge blocks, dock stanchions, catwalk, dock posts and painted water, while the original case containing the model is fashioned from mahogany.

The SS Peru served the Pacific Mail Steamship Company for 23 years, from 1892-1915.

She ran on triple expansion engines which gave her a top speed of 14 knots. Renamed the SS Lux by Cie des Vapeurs Francais in 1915, she foundered between Marseilles and Oran on March 3, 1920, with the loss of 122 lives.

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Harvard Gazette –

Julie Broad, director of Alumni Affairs and Development systems, vividly remembers when she watched video of the program called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba Diving (SUDS Diving).

“It really caught my attention,” Broad said. “I’m a former scuba diver, and it resonated with me immediately — the experience you get out of learning to dive and … being underwater.

I support a lot of other military organizations, but this spoke to me personally because I could relate to the diving experience.”

This holiday season, Broad is making a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit group through Harvard’s annual Community Gifts program, which accepts donations to hundreds of charities.

A chapter of Disabled Sports USA, SUDS Diving improves the lives of injured military men and women who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of the service members in the program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are dealing with severe injuries.

Some SUDS participants use their prosthetics underwater, while others use gear such as webbed gloves for propulsion.

Motorized underwater scooters are employed to assist veterans who have lower limb injuries.

Full article…


Global Nation Inquirer –

China’s economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, a joint Australian study found Thursday, with researchers describing “grim” levels of damage and loss.

Scientists from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology said their survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs showed alarming degradation.

“We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island,” said the study, published in the latest edition of the journal Conservation Biology.

“On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by six countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of greater than 60 percent to around 20 percent within the past 10-15 years,” it added.

Coastal development, pollution and overfishing linked to the Asian giant’s aggressive economic expansion were the major drivers, the authors said, describing a “grim picture of decline, degradation and destruction.”

“China’s ongoing economic expansion has exacerbated many wicked environmental problems, including widespread habitat loss due to coastal development, unsustainable levels of fishing and pollution,” the study said.

Full article…