Nature has always been a big part of my life. Part of my youth was spent up with lots of hills and forests that were fantastic for playing in or walking around. I was in several different youth organisations: The Boys Brigade, The Scout, The CCF (Combined Cadet Force – basically military training for high schoolers). Through all of these organisations I did a lot of hill walking and one of the mantras we followed when we were out hiking was:
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.
This is something I wholeheartedly believe in. If we don’t follow it we risk destroying the habitats that we visit for future generations or at the very least disrupting them.
I came across the other day the motto of the NSS-CDS (National Speleological Society – Cave Diving Section).
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles, kill nothing but time.
I have to admit that I like this take on the old familiar phrase. It is definitely a motto to dive by. I just wish more divers would live by it. However, I do have my own little rule that I have been telling my students:
Strip club rules apply.
I think that is quite a succinct way of saying the same thing.
So many people disturb, disrupt or destroy the dive sites that they visit. From either ignorance, stupidity or poor buoyancy skills. I have seen divers take living coral from the water because they think it will make a nice table decoration. Walking along the promenade in downtown Nassau it is possible to by giant starfish for a few dollars (animals forcibly removed from their habitat and killed by being kept out of water). On a night dive with my friend Brad we saw a turtle become distressed due to all the dive lights that were being shined on to it.
We need to have more respect for the environment and its inhabitants. We are strangers, visitors in their home and we should be better behaved. Just imagine if someone came into your home and stole part of it, or they kidnapped your dog because they thought it would look better in theirs.
And then I discover this video and it breaks my heart.
A foolish dive guide, someone who should know better, harassing a pufferfish so that it puffs. This is a very stressful thing for a pufferfish to do and it has been known that they can die from puffing up.
This isn’t the only recent example of touching an animal that I have heard of, and I am sure you have your own examples. On a recent dive trip to Honduras my friend Brad spotted an American diver trying to touch a lionfish. A lionfish? Did this guy want to feel excruciating pain? Did he want to ruin his and everybody else’s dive? Yes they are beautiful to look at but with 18 spines that easily inject a protein-based venom. It is really an inconsiderate and ignorant thing to do.
So if you must touch something, touch a lionfish. It will definitely make you never want to touch an aquatic animal ever again. Or if you are willing to take what I am saying on faith then strip club rules apply.