A recent discussion ensued on Google+ recently with a photograph of a dive guide interacting with marine life. He was kissing a Scorpion Fish. It was interesting in so much as it made me reflect on how I’ve developed since my first tentative steps into diving 15 odd years ago. Shortly after training I dived with someone who ticked a Moray Eel. I thought it was brilliant. I stroked the eel too and enjoyed the interaction. Now I wouldn’t condone this in anyone else, least of all myself!
As I’ve learned more about our environment I’ve come to appreciate the responsibility we have as divers. As guides, DMs or instructors we have an increased responsibility to ensure those who dive with us also appreciate the expectations. This can be difficult perhaps. It takes more confidence than I had at the start of my diving to point out that something is not acceptable.
So how do I do it? Well, it starts within the dive club which is a group of responsible divers. They have great fun, push the limits on occasions but are good divers who know their place in the water world. It’s about role modelling and setting the culture. When guiding tourists it’s a little more difficult as these are strangers. Some are looking for the photo opportunity but this can be covered in the briefing and by ensuring all the professionals on the boat are singing from the same song sheet.
Maybe it won’t create an ecological downfall by touching a Moray but how we treat our marine life on a small scale reflects perhaps how we behave on a larger scale. We have this opportunity to instil an awareness and understanding that has greater ripples than simply this dive. It leads to discussions on sustainable fishing, on how we treat our rubbish and how we respect our place as another animal on the planet.