All, below I will give two specific examples I have been told in the last few years of diving (from two different resorts). The question is a larger and more philosophical one - does anybody know if flashes from a camera really damage sea life? I ask because of several reasons - I am a scientist and would like to be able to intelligently reference and quote data to illustrate this if its true. If its not, then I think we are doing ourselves a disservice as a community to propagate nonsense. I am an underwater photographer and believe I am extremely conscientious. I don't take shots I know will be bad, I don't risk damage to reefs if I can't get the shot safely. But here are the recent examples I have heard with a healthy dose of skepticism to promote conversation:
1) Pygmy seahorses are damaged and can die from from too much flash exposure - This is the statement from all staff at a high end dive resort in Sulawesi. We are told that because they have no eyelids the flash damages their eyes. Skepticism: I have eyelids but cannot blink faster than a flash. Any evidence to suggest that this is true? Otherwise it comes across as a somewhat coercive, badgering, uneducated viewpoint.
2) Mandarin fish are damaged by flash - you should only take pictures with a red filter - a different resort in Sulawesi. And then I was in Palau and saw them happily swimming in broad daylight.....so what's the truth?
Would love to see some science!