I posted the video below on Facebook a few days ago, as the diving community has recently been highlighting the importance of correctly interacting with marine life (thanks to a few well written articles by Dr Alex Tattersall amongst others). Whether as underwater photographers, snorkelers or simply visitors to the oceans, you would imagine that everyone has marine conservation at heart.
Sadly this isn't always the case. All too often divers are found damaging and even destroying the very things that they spend time and money to witness.
I’m publishing this video, taken by a friend, to highlight the important role held by the peers of the diving community, in promoting environmentally friendly diving practices across the globe. Unfortunately, far too often does the urge to excite and satisfy customers steer people towards practising bad habits, for which marine life pays the ultimate price. These bad habits of diving professionals are often then mimicked by less experienced divers, who consider this to be “normal” or “acceptable” conduct. Environmental awareness is also an extremely inadequate part of most diving courses; new divers are regularly taught the “official” approach on land and then swiftly shown another one once underwater.
I do not think we should be afraid to name those who do not hold enough respect for marine life, as this will surely push for localised change. This video, for example, was taken whilst diving with Bicheno Dive Centre in Tasmania. I have no doubt that if their customers request them to stop interacting with the sea dragons in such a disrespectful way, they will listen for fear of losing business.
We need to work together to banish these practices from our community, and it is so encouraging to see people stand together against this. As the eyes and ears of the oceans, we have the responsibility to ensure its protection every time we don our masks.