Don’t mess with marine life
One of the first things that you are taught as a new diver is: Scuba diving is a spectator sport, avoid touching fish, coral, and other marine life.
The first rule of scuba diving is to never hold your breath, which is pretty self-explanatory. Why, then, is it so difficult to abide by the second rule?:
Do not touch the sea animals.
Get your fins off the coral.
Do not interfere with the marine environment.
Social media’s role
In the age of social media influencers, there are a lot of people that want to go “viral” by performing crazy stunts to garner attention. As a more diving-centric example, think of someone using underwater noise makers for no reason. In the case of disturbing the marine environment, it not only creates a negative ecological impact, but sets a bad example for those that follow that person.
Could you be breaking the rule without knowing it?
Aside from the everyday influencer’s hand in this issue, there are also certain diving practices that have been generally accepted and taught among the community that are actually harmful to the marine environment.
One example of this is instructors teaching new divers to kneel while working on new skills. This usually leads these divers to then kneel during open water dives, which increases the risk of damaging coral reefs or other parts of the marine ecosystem.
Why we don’t touch sea animals
#1 We can hurt them
Here in Florida, there’s recently been two high profile cases of marine animal abuse.
- one video showed three people that decided to drag a shark behind their boat at high speed until it died. They sent this video to a local shark expert, hoping to impress them. Ultimately, it was the shark expert that turned them into the authorities.
- A man in key west filmed himself fake drowning a pelican, so he could “brag about it on Facebook”
In both cases, the perpetrators went to jail for animal abuse.
#2 They can hurt us
Once again, pretty self-explanatory. Sea animals have teeth, stingers, and in some cases, venom. If you provoke a sea animal into defending itself in a way that thousands of years of evolution have taught it to do, that’s your problem.
Of course, most scuba divers are conservationists at heart. People that enjoy the marine world would want to see it preserved. It is a diver’s responsibility to take the moral high ground and set a good example for other divers. Further, it is everyone’s responsibility to stop giving clicks and likes to content that promotes the abuse of marine life.