As you may know, here at The Scuba News we are quite active on Instagram. This means that I spend a lot of time admiring other peoples scuba diving photos. I like all photos that relate to diving. Whether they are taken underwater, on the boat on the way to a dive site or even photos of kit drying in someones kitchen. If it involves diving then I’m in!
What I do see, with frightening regularity however, is people taking the idea of interacting with the wildlife a little bit too far. I am not going to share any photos of the kind I mean because when I describe the problem you will understand. It seems to be extremely popular to have a photograph taken with marine wildlife in your hand. The most common is people holding a starfish but it extends way beyond this.
Offending examples include:
- Holding starfish
- Having a Moray Eel in a headlock (or holding by the neck)
- Holding turtles
- Grabbing fish
These are not hypothetical things. These are just a few examples of photographs I have seen within the last week.
Now everyone gets into diving for their own reasons. The pleasure derived from it is different from person to person. For example I wasn’t really excited by the idea of the wildlife. I got into diving for the rusty stuff, I love wrecks. My understanding of the ethics of diving however is that we are in an environment that does not belong to us and our interaction should be as passive as possible. As divers we should be there to observe these ecosystems whilst causing the minimum amount of disruption possible.
I don’t know what it is like to be a fish but what I do know is that if someone in the street grabbed me by the head in order to have a photograph taken with me I would be a little annoyed to say the least. Any kind of physical interaction with the wildlife has got to cause problems for the ecosystems we are engaging with. What may seem like a trivial, quick photograph could have much bigger consequences that we don’t yet understand.
I am not a marine biologist, I don’t fully understand the way different underwater ecosystems interact with each other but surely any “hands-on” interaction by humans can’t be a good thing!
What’s your opinion? I would love to hear your thoughts. I am sure that the type of people who are taking these kinds of photographs are in the minority but even in small numbers, it is a practice that I consider to be wrong on many levels.