PDA

View Full Version : Respect for Marine Life - what were you thinking?



AquaDuck
June 25th, 2006, 12:41 PM
We're still getting to know the local dive spots in the area and accompanied a few local divers last weekend on a dive to explore one of the beautiful little coves down at Laguna Beach, CA. To my astonishment one of the divers came up to me with an outstretched hand holding out a beautiful Warty Sea Cucumber to show me. I ended up taking the creature and returned it to a nicely protected spot on the bottom, only to find the same guy prying off a sea urchin with his knife to feed to the fish a few minutes later.

In this case we realise that the diver in question is a fairly newly certified student who is completing his AOW at the moment (which in some ways alarms me even more,) and also realise that the role models this guys has been presented with thus far in his diving career have not exactly been A Grade material so we feel that a little bit of retraining on a social level is necessary to get him to realize how his actions can severely contribute to the damage impact divers have on dive sites. Ignorence and indifference IMHO can be seen as one of the greatest dangers divers bring to the marine environment.

What do you guys think about physically handling marine life? Are there justified circumstances in your opinion? When, why? What do you do when you notice someone disturb some critter on your dive? How many Instructors here teach their students to respect all creatures and keep their hands off?

It's a phenomenon that I have noticed amongst divers in South Africa also so it's not just here in the US that this happens, I'm just curious to know what arguments other divers take in justifying the right to disturb or protect. Give 'em to me! :D

scubadobadoo
June 25th, 2006, 01:19 PM
It happens. I don't like it.

I have a nice photos series of a DM breaking coral chunks with his arm in an attempt to wrestle a fish from under a coral head. This same DM bumped a sea horse several times in an attemp to get it to move.

At Ginnie Springs a guy I just met decided to take his knife out and carve his intitials into the rock inside a cavern.

I have watched several DM's grab puffer fish and annoy them to the point of puffing up.

The list goes on and on and on. SO, what do you do? It's hard to do something when you are a newer diver and visiting a far away place. Some options include asking him not to do that please, refuse to dive with this person or DM, complain to the boss, don't tip, and take a photo (or a whole series of photos) and send it to the local authorities with their name on it.

rawls
June 25th, 2006, 01:40 PM
In NC you get in BIG trouble breaking off coral...yes, we have corals in NC:). You even get in BIG trouble taking a piece of coral that has broken off. No way you can prove that you didn't break it off. If I see it...Like scubadoobado wrote...If I have my camera I will try to take a pic of it. I don't ask them not to do it again I will turn them in in a heartbeat...unless, perhaps, you have a new diver who doesn't know any better...These and other creatures have a right to be left alone. I just don't have much tolerance for things like this...

skinnydogdives
June 25th, 2006, 02:00 PM
i'm with you on that rawls. over here we only have soft coral and very little of it
when i'm leading dives i will always warn people about it.and have been known to give a tounge lashing to people who interfer with it. we have a lot of spider crabs where i dive and i've seen people turn them upside down and spin them just for fun. there are just some people who dont know any better.
I think its our job as dive professionals to educate them so that the place we all love to go will remain vibrant for those who follow

Amy B
June 25th, 2006, 02:14 PM
In general, I really don't agree with people touching marine life. It did seem exciting on my first ocean dive when someone picked up a crab to show us - but he put it right back where he picked it up from. On one dive, someone smashed an urchin open so the fish could feed off it (I didn't see it happen). At the time it was nice to see the fish in a feeding frenzy (VERY large ballan wrasse) - but on the surface, when I realsied it had been done on purpose, it made me feel sick. I do pick up the occasional mollusc (e.g. the odd topshell) to see if there's a hermit crab inside (if it's not obvious) but always very gently, and I put them back exactly where I got them from.

Unnecessary handling of marine animals is unfair, and potentially dangerous. Not all species are harmless - perhaps a good point to mention to new divers who pick up anything and everything in sight??

meekal
June 25th, 2006, 02:41 PM
the critters should fight back:

http://www.cdnn.info/eco/e031123a/e031123a.html

and some do!

randy learned the hard way... but he learned...

http://www.jupiterdivecenter.com/newsletter/Mad%20Puffer%20Fish%20Attacks%20Diver.htm

skinnydogdives
June 25th, 2006, 02:48 PM
he really should have known better
lets hope this is a lesson to others should be included in training . they may look cute but then so dose a lion cub you wouldn't go waving your fingers in front of one of those would you

Far_X
June 25th, 2006, 02:58 PM
Being a new diver does not make you unaware of what is right and what is wrong. You have a sense of right and wrong and if it makes you feel like you do then you should say something. However, the world is full of jerks and for some, it makes no difference whether you say something or not. However, there are some who don't know any different and may think and act differently if you explain how their actions made you feel. Some of the divers I dive with catch fish to take home and eat. I have no problem with that - I don't do it. I don't like them breaking a mussel to feed the other fish and tell them - how long does it take a starfish to prise open a mussel? It shouldn't be that easy to eat a mussel. I know for the aquarium I have gone into the seas to catch exhibits and yes we pick them up take them out of the water. It is not somehing that I enjoy doing but I would rather I did it and make sure I am careful when I do it than to have some jock do it who doesn't give a damn about the animals he is collecting. Anyway, to summarise, yes, say something even though he may have 2000+ dives. it doesn't make him/her automatically in the right. :)

Guba
June 25th, 2006, 03:55 PM
sigh...here we go again.

I don't touch...anywhere. I was a backpacker and camper long before I was a diver, but the same rules apply. Watch. Take pictures (as the subject lies...you want to maneuver for a better shot, fine. But don't try to get the SUBJECT to move into a better position. That's cheating.). Follow if you have to, but don't stress the life forms. Remember that you're VISITING a wild place, and you're the interloper, so be a good guest.
I just have to wonder about folks who feel compelled to handle the denizens of wild areas. Would you go over to a stranger's house and automatically reach out to touch his/her dog? Not only is it imprudent (that dog might very well not want to be handled by a stranger and will let you know in no uncertain terms--with its teeth), it's also downright against the basic tenets of responsibility and etiquette. How is that any different in the wild? It's not our home, so be a polite guest.

FL_DVLover
June 25th, 2006, 04:09 PM
I earned by OW last year in Sanford, FL which is near Orlando. My dive instructor there told us the story about Randy's finger as an example to not touch or harass the sea life. I know that NAUI teaches "hands off" and I am sure the other agencies must do the same. So far, I have been lucky not to dive with anyone that has acted so irresponsibly. I think if I do, I will probably have to say something about it.

del_mo
June 25th, 2006, 04:52 PM
Unfortunately anyone with a little skill can be certified. The persons behavior has a lot more to do with their upbringing than what they learned in class. Some people have little or no respect for others, let alone marine life. I think what AquaDuck did is the best you can do...undo what another has done. Talking to these people probably will make them wonder what YOUR problem is.

wylerbear
June 25th, 2006, 04:53 PM
I know an instructor who warns all of her students that she will not certify anyone who touches any marine life. She of course goes into a good explanation of "why not touch". If more instructors followed this guideline we'd have a much higher percentage of new divers who know better and who have been exposed to the why nots of touching marine life.

Jason B
June 25th, 2006, 04:59 PM
At Ginnie Springs a guy I just met decided to take his knife out and carve his intitials into the rock inside a cavern.


Did you turn this schmuck in? It's against Fl State law to deface caves.

AquaDuck
June 25th, 2006, 05:17 PM
wylerbear bubbled:
I know an instructor who warns all of her students that she will not certify anyone who touches any marine life. She of course goes into a good explanation of "why not touch". If more instructors followed this guideline we'd have a much higher percentage of new divers who know better and who have been exposed to the why nots of touching marine life.
This is actualy the precise position my wife and I take when teaching our students also. I have in the past warned certified divers on my trips that if they were to "do that again" they would have successfully bought themselves a "left on the beach" ticket. But mostly, as you said, we found their ignorance stems from bad examples set by their mentors and instructors. Throw in a little arrogance when they've done a few dives and start thinking they're now Navy Seals then the knives get strapped on the calves and well, I guess it's not that far a jump for them to start treating the reefs and marine animals like they do their dogs at home.
We've always strived to promote a sense of conservation en respect for the environment and as such often find that explaining the consequences of interfering with the ecology usually illuminates a whole new world for the ignorant ones to learn from. That said, I also only warn once, thereafter I reason they should have learnt and should take full responsibility of punishment either by defense of the organisms themselvesor the local authorities.

drbill
June 25th, 2006, 09:28 PM
I've posted on this issue in other threads here. As a marine biologist with 37 years of diving in SoCal kelp forests, there are species that are touchable and those that are not. Handling a warty sea cucumber would generally be fine as long as one did so gently. Killing a sea urchin with a knife just to feed fish is, IMHO, not OK.

I often touch marine life that I know that easily tolerate gentle handling. I do so to verify identification or to film them or their behavior for the purposes of educating divers and the general public. I don't see a significant problem with touching species you are familiar with and know the degree to which they can be handled safely.

However, most divers are not marine biologist (and many are very poor at species identification) so I always suggest people not touch unless they are very sure about what they are doing.

I try to limit my touching to my female dive buddies... if they'll let me!


Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1