- One Diver Dead, One Missing in BC Diving Accident
- Florida Saltwater Bacteria Infects 31 People, Kills 10
- Discarded Seashells Could Clean Wastewater
An incident that occurred at a deep dive site of BC’s Snake Island Friday afternoon has left one diver dead and another missing. A search for the missing diver was immediately undertaken with the help of recreational boaters, a research vessel, a Coast Guard lifeboat, two aircraft, and a dive team, but was called off late Friday evening due to the diving depth limitations of the search team.
Three divers were shuttled out to the area by Sea Dragon Dive Charters, where two of the divers disembarked to dive a deep site known as The Wall; the other diver went off separately on a shallow dive and returned to the boat unharmed. At some point after the first two began their dive, one of the divers surfaced distraught, on his back and unable to assist himself, telling the crew that he had to leave his buddy at the bottom. He later died of cardiac arrest resulting from severe decompression illness.
Thirty-one people in Florida have fallen ill with an infection of vibrio vulnificus, a naturally-occurring bacteria in warm saltwater, resulting in the deaths of ten people so far in 2013. Contraction of vibrio is possible through two main sources: raw, tainted shellfish, or contact between open wounds and saltwater, particularly the warmer waters closer to shore and in estuaries.
However, biologists are assuring people that death or even severe illness from vibrio is very rare, and typically only besets those with weakened immune systems. Deaths that occur from vibrio average roughly 10 per year, and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If the bacteria makes it into the bloodstream, victims may experience fever and chills, reduced blood pressure, and blistering lesions. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating shellfish or playing in warm saltwater, contact a medical professional.
Wastewater treatment is comprised of three main steps: removing oils and solids, filtering the water, and improving the quality by removing any trace chemicals that come from pharmaceutical drugs or fertilizers. The final step typically uses titanium dioxide to remove contaminants, a costly component of the process, but chemical engineering professor Dr. Darrell Patterson from the University of Bath has a more eco-friendly solution: mussel shells.
Mussel shells are discarded by the millions each year by the shellfish industry, and happen to be loaded with calcium, which can be used to create calcium oxide, or lime. Calcium oxide would produce the same effects as titanium dioxide, at a fraction of the cost and no harm to the environment.
Dr. Patterson’s research has thus far only included mussel shells, but other types of seashells could be considered, as all shells contain calcium. Other applications for his process are currently being explored as well.