Interacting With Marine Life Can Prove Harmful

A tendency in the recreational diving industry has been to encourage more and promote feeding, touching and / or handling of marine life.  Showing scenes of divers engaged in such activities are common in advertising diving tourism.

Perhaps the purveyors of these images are trying to convey the idea that diving is interactive, for whatever reason, but the activities of these images and the marketing community dive promote in this regard are advocating a policy harmful to the environment.

Trying to communicate feelings of affection, support or understanding by stroking or feeding marine animals may be satisfactory for humans, but all available evidence suggests that such practices actually hurt the “friend” planned. These activities constitute serious behavioral disturbances to marine life and threaten their health and survival.

There are several ways in which these activities can be harmful. First, the possibility of artificial feeding, can cause lasting changes in behavior that may in the long term, be against-productive. In general, animals are adapted to rely on some natural foods found in their environment to meet all their nutritional needs and other food can be unhealthy for them. Fish are surprisingly quick and opportunistic learners, and our efforts to feed can lead to an increased risk of falling prey themselves or attempting to use food sources that can be harmful.

Because as widespread among managers and experts of protected areas recognized as “feed the bears” syndrome is a serious problem, rigorous educational programs, regulations and enforcement have been developed in our national parks and refuges eliminate this form of environmental damage. Thus, it seems intuitively this very irresponsible behavior prohibited in almost all U.S. and Canadian national parks, both terrestrial and marine, is actually encouraged for example by segments of the recreational diving industry.

Touching marine life can also be dangerous to their health. The precise positioning and orientation of simple marine invertebrates is often essential to their survival.  In addition, fish, corals, and some other animals secrete a protective mucus layer that serves as a barrier to infection and water loss to the surrounding Sea. Disrupting this barrier by touching these animals can present an increased risk of infection as well as increased stress in maintaining water balance risk.

Increasing Problems

It seems ironic that such problems are multiplying today rather than being systematically and methodically eliminated. One of the strongest reasons for people to scuba diving and reefs to explore motivations is that it provides too rare to leave for a time the artificial worlds occasion, we have created and see the nature of near, and rough.

One of the main reasons for visiting places such as coral reefs is a great diversity of marine life in its natural state. Watch a beautifully tailored predator like a shark or barracuda pull dead fish in the hands of an artist underwater circus is a cheap carnival ride, not an observation of nature at its best.

cage-divers-great-white_45671_990x742The past years, the practice of feeding sharks and fish has been banned by the U.S. states of Florida and Hawaii, and in some countries heavily invested in the diving tourism, including the Cayman Islands (Caribbean). Some of the major marine conservation organizations in the world and government agencies (U.S. National Parks and Canada, NOAA Marine Sanctuary Program, the United Nations) have denounced the practice of power and harass marine animals.

However, the practice and promotion persist in the recreational diving industry. The Bahamas are particularly known to actively promote shark feeding dives, although many dive operators Bahamas environmentally there refuse to participate is such improper practices.