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Divers Riding Whale Shark

Discussion in 'Marine Science and Physiology' started by Jack Hammer, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Jay

    Jay Need to dive more!

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    In an attempt to keep this post-moderated (1x) thread on-topic as per the OP, the simple fact is they broke a law and there's consequences dictated by that law. I note @IncreaseMyT you didn't challenge my quoted post.

    You are entitled to your thoughts that Indonesian law is wrong in this regard (arrest & fines) but what alternative do you propose to apart from arrest for those people that don't care about LOB dive bans, or fines?
     
  2. RainPilot

    RainPilot completey delusional scientology snowflake Staff Member

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    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...

    A LOT of posts have been deleted as being off-topic, political etc etc.

    I have removed anything which was not directly related to this incident being discussed, if I have missed any please use the "Report" link on the bottom of the post.
     
    chillyinCanada, RayfromTX and Jay like this.
  3. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

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    My original post was deleted but I’m reiterating my point. Regardless of what my feelings are about whether we should touch or ride life underwater, these divers were in a marine park and were told and aware of what the rules and regulations are. The whale shark is a protected species in Indonesia and their laws and regulations are there to protect them. Whether one agrees with it or not, you have to abide by those parameters if you are going to be diving there. If you know what those parameters are and are also told what the consequences are yet you still do what you’re told you’re not supposed to do anyway, you can’t call foul. That’s not how it works.

    It may seem draconian but that is probably on purpose. It allows the government to make an example of those that choose to break the laws and regulations in place. It makes it less likely others will follow in their path if the consequences are severe given the action.

    On a personal level...Regarding whether it hurts or affects them or not, I believe if we do not know enough about these creatures to either know for sure that it does or doesn’t, we should err on the side of caution and conservatism and not touch.
     
    Barnaby'sDad, RyanT, flyboy08 and 2 others like this.
  4. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
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    I'm not excusing the conduct of the divers in question here, but I do think after having read the article and looked at the "Diving With Whale Sharks Code of Conduct" list at the end that some of that is a bit much. And I am perfectly well aware that not everyone shares my opinion and that I may likely draw some fire and negativity because of it. But I'll just list a few of the things I think are excessive.

    1. "Do not touch, ride, or chase a whale shark" - I can understand not chasing and not riding but simply touching a whale shark I don't believe is going to do it any harm. I'm not saying go poke it to death or give it a hug. But running your hand along its back or sides I doubt is going to hurt.

    2. "Do not use flash photography, which can stress or harm whale sharks" - Really? Obviously don't put your strobe in the shark's eye, but from a distance where you're out of arm's reach from it, I don't understand why this would be a problem. Without rapid, repeated exposure, I don't believe it would cause the animal any harm. Unless maybe it has something to do with electrical impulses and messing with the shark's sensory nodules on their nose (assuming they have them like other sharks).

    3. "Do not use motorized diver propulsion vehicles" - I seriously doubt a DPV is going to even bother a whale shark, let alone harm it. If it can be proven that this is seriously a problem and does the animal harm then I will rescind this statement.

    The last thing.....the first line of the fourth paragraph where is mentions ...."seeing one suffering at the hands of joyriding scuba divers..."....How do we know it was suffering? Have there been studies into the whale sharks' "emotions" and how they are displayed? Sort of a rhetorical question but not because I honestly don't know the answer. But everything I've read on whale sharks says very little is really know about them.

    Again I'm not condoning poor behavior and I'm not saying what these divers did was acceptable, especially seeing as how it was illegal in that locale. I just believe that there can be responsible interaction with this majestic creature aside from just the "look but don't touch" mentality.

    3.....2......1.......GO!
     
  5. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I'm one who has changed their opinion towards interacting with the marine life. I used to get on SB and argue against shark feeding or touching of anything. Then I read a few studies saying that maybe it didn't have as much impact as I expected it would. Gradually I decided to give the stuff a try. I've snorkled with whale sharks, but I didn't feel the need to ride on them. I have ridden semi wild dolphins in roatan. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done. I've gone on shark feed dives.

    It looked to me like there was a bunch of people on that whale shark in the video. That might be a problem for it, but I don't think I object to someone touching one or even grabbing it's fin and riding along for a little while.

    That said, I would always obey local laws on the subject if there were any. Foreign prisons don't sound fun.
     
    eternaljonah likes this.
  6. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
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    But, by that logic, it should be OK to run your hand along the back or sides of other divers you encounter underwater too? Why do people feel the need to touch an animal underwater? Now, if the animal comes up to you and rubs itself against you, I can understand touching it as it has essentially "told" you it's OK - but I have not seen that!

    Not sure on this one - I know I personally don't like flashes in my face so I imagine they don't like it either - but certainly not clear if it causes any real harm.

    Not sure on this one, but I suspect the logic is that you could accidentally collide with the whale shark at a higher speed and with more mass/momentum - so liikely not a good idea to use a DPV in close proximity to a whale shark.

    Agreed - but, as we don't know, it's far better and more responsible to err on the side of caution and not create the potential for harm.

    The problem becomes where you draw the line - to me, as a visitor in their world, it's better to just observe the majesty and not assume I can touch it...
     
    Jay, caydiver and Nick Steele like this.
  7. caydiver

    caydiver Manta Ray

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    We have marine parks and the no touch is enforced. There is no reason for anyone to expect anything different. People who think they are better than the rules are not the type of people I want to dive with, be around or have anything to do with. I would report them in a heartbeat. If you can't respect something as easy as a marine park rule, what can you respect.
     
    Jay, RyanT and Nick Steele like this.
  8. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

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    Hi, @Sh0rtBus.

    For a moment, let’s assume it’s actually fine to graze our fingers on them as they are passing. My guess is that if we start telling people it’s okay to touch, it becomes a slippery slope. Divers will have different interpretations of what is permissible and/or it will create a situation of “give an inch, they take a foot”. Someone will then start petting it, swimming towards it (chasing) to do it, crowd them to accomplish it, etc. It is sometimes easier to just say don’t touch in order to ensure no one starts going down that path. Same with the DPV. Imagine if you could keep up with a whale shark for a while, almost an entire dive, and swim alongside it with a DPV. Now imagine that with a group of divers, perhaps 8 or so, possibly chasing it around. I imagine the divers’ formation, behavior, and darting around the whale shark is difficult to regulate to ensure any malfunctions or sounds/actions with a DPV would not hurt or disturb the whale shark, respectively. This also may circle back to the idea of we know so little, if we're not sure whether it does or doesn't affect them, we should err on the side of caution and conservatism. The suggestion for DPV may be the same as the no touching in this instance. It’s just easier to say no.

    As for the strobes...These always require you to be very close to the subject in order to work since light falls off dramatically underwater. Someone shooting a whale shark will also likely be using a wide angle lens. Couple that together and you are extremely close. Strobe firings are very quick but bright. It startles many fish when they fire and they dart away, but usually after you’ve already captured the shot you want. Having been around wild, unfed whale sharks and seen strobes fire near them, I don’t know how the whale sharks feel about them. They are very large and move gracefully and somewhat slowly without jerky or quick movements so I can’t tell. However, I suppose you can liken it to flash photography for us. We see effects of the flash and react to flash, too. I think this suggestion may be erring on the side of caution as well.
     
  9. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

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    @Joneill Why do people feel the need to touch an animal underwater? For the same reasons they want to touch animals on land. The same reason you see a stranger in the park with a puppy and you almost immediately want to pet it. To feel at one with nature. To form a bond. To feel accepted. To portray to the animal that you don't mean it any harm and that you are there to share that space at that moment with it. For the same reasons you'd share a random conversation with someone you've never met before. Interaction. It makes us feel alive.

    @outofofficebrb I can certainly see your points and I know you and I have discussed this some recently. If you look at the very bottom of that "flyer" that was at the end of the PADI article, it mentions a whale shark awareness class. This could be a great way of teaching people how to interact responsibly with the animals. You're absolutely right. it does become a very slippery slope and you will undoubtedly have those few divers that break the rules ( as with anything else for that matter) but I think the majority of divers, if properly educated on the "How & Why" would take extreme caution in their actions so as not to harm the animals. Not to mention they could help police others interactions as well. And I think this could apply to the use of a DPV as well.

    With strobes, like you said they fire bright and fast. But once it's done, it's done and other marine life usually go on their merry little way. I just don't see any harm or damage being done. These animals have been around for centuries or longer. They don't live close to land so for most of civilization they are quite far out of reach. We're not talking thousands or even hundreds of bright lights here. A simple split second flash of light and it's over.

    I do understand erring on the side of caution. And I'm definitely not saying it should go completely unchecked. Maybe there should be a separate certification for certain types of marine life. Something beyond Underwater Naturalist. And maybe with the right studies and data that can become a possibility with whale sharks.
     
    outofofficebrb likes this.
  10. Joneill

    Joneill Loggerhead Turtle

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    I get that - but I never touch a puppy/dog unless the owner says it's OK or if it runs up and jumps on me, etc., - just because we may want to do something doesn't mean it's OK. Just my opinion/philosophy on the subject (unless it's against the law, then it's more than that - as was the case here)
     
    caydiver likes this.

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