Monday, 29 August 2016

Why you shouldn't feed or touch marine life...

Lonely squid in a big ocean
Diving everyday I see some of the most amazing things, sharks, turtles, eels and a number of itsy bitsy teeny things that not many people take notice of; but we are strangers in their least we should be.

There are so many things changing within the ocean from temperature rises, pollution, over fishing and so on, that scientists are even seeing animals adapting to different environments and eating species they normally wouldn't (google sealion eats sunfish).

Hawksbill turtle a bit unsure about my intentions. 
I'm not going to lie, there have been numerous occasions I've been right over top of a sea turtle watching it chomp away at coral and I've thought 'just a little touch'...'it won't hurt'.... but then why?

What will I gain from touching the turtle?
Will I scare it away or make it have a bad day?
If I touch it, will it be worth it?
Is being this close to an amazing animal and observing it's behaviour not enough?

I can still say I've never touched one.

Where I work in Cozumel, Mexico, we are lucky that where we dive is all a Marine Park area. The marine park rules include no fishing, no touching or feeding, no knives and no gloves; but there's always somebody who wants to break the rules.

One of my favourite things to see underwater. Purple Crowned Sea Goddess, Nudibranch. 

I think one of the worst inventions is the gopro (wait, wait, wait, let me explain). First of all, I have one, so it is not the item itself I have a problem with. It is the people who use them without working on their skills first.
I've seen people with 4 dives to 4000 dives and I can tell you, it doesn't matter how much experience you have if you don't put effort in to improve yourself. Before you even consider bringing a camera on the dive you should be able to complete dives without touching anything, either with hands or fins, and be able to maintain neutral buoyancy throughout a dive. Too many times I see people touching corals or chasing animals for the 'perfect shot' and honestly, not many photos turn out great anyway. The animals and the coral come first. Always.

A customer snapped this picture of me before we jumped in! 
At the pier I also see people sneaking water bottles filled with bread to feed to the fish. Feeding marine life means animals begin to associate people with food. I have seen this first hand with nurse sharks. I've seen a nurse shark harassing a diver on a dive who was holding a spear for lion fish hunting. Obviously this shark has associated people carrying this item with a meal; this particular time though, the diver did not have a fish.
Animals generally get their sources of food from multiple areas, by feeding them, they are only receiving it from one source interrupts their natural feeding cycles. By affecting their natural feeding behaviours, it can destabilize multiple ecological relationships. Also, I don't know about you but I haven't seen too many fish go to the supermarket for a loaf of bread. Processed wheat probably isn't the best thing for a marine animals digestive system.

Take selfies, don't touch :)
I have no idea why so many people have such little respect for something that covers most of the earths surface, that supports our life. Just remember, we are guests in the under water world....and uninvited ones at that.

*Whilst I feel on the fence about fishing, I support the fishing and hunting for lionfish, an extremely invasive fish in all international waters. 

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