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July 2002 Vol. 17, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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from the July, 2002 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Thumbs DownEndangered green turtles are federally protected and divers are not permitted to touch them. Do so, and its a $2000 fine, guides with the Maui Dive Shop in Lahaina told two of our subscribers, Dawn and Brent Davis (Oakdale, CA), who were diving with them. But it seems that their protective attitude extends only to turtles:

On the way to the divesite, one divemaster polled his group of six about whether or not they wanted him to take the octopus out of its hole and pass it around. On a different day, another dive master found a Spanish dancer and passed in from diver to diver, then stroked its back with pressure like he was squeezing toothpaste. I requested it twice and put it back on the wall twice. He removed it again both times. I doubt it had any protective mucous covering left.

We then encountered a whale shark and all divers made a beeline toward the whale shark. Several (some of them Maui Dive Shop employees on a day off) touched and harassed to the point that it left quickly. It showed up again after most divers had exited the water. The captain (Dan) told us we could snorkel with it, then dove off the bow of the boat and swam toward it in front of guests who were entering the water. He free dived 15 feet, gripped the pectoral fin, and rode the whaleshark. It was gone for good then. The videographer from the shop was most pleased with himself: Im just glad that I got the captain [riding the whaleshark].

We seemed to be the only ones on the boat disappointed with this approach to seeing a perhaps once-ina- lifetime experience. We did not feel comfortable speaking with the captain or crew as many of them were overheard making comments such as it is just ridiculous, nobody can touch anything anymore. There were many new divers on the boat who, in large part, learn what is acceptable by watching the professional divers they go diving with. So a precedent was set for those new divers that treating marine life in that manner is acceptable. This is extremely troubling when one looks to the future and contemplates what will be left for future generations.

Thumbs down Maui Dive Shop, double thumbs down.

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