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April 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Policing Divers Who Harass Marine Life

from the April, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Last year Mark Scott of Diving Vietnam, a dive center, lost his SSI credentials when Adam Hanlon, editor of Wetpixel, complained to the SSI diver training agency after a video of Scott harassing an octopus was posted on-line.

However, Scuba Schools of America apparently took no action against their CEO, Rusty Berry, when the same complaint was made about a video showing him molesting sea hares and octopus in a similar way.

Times are changing, and attitudes to wildlife are changing with them. Four dive marshals are set to become Malaysia's first underwater enforcers. Based at Semporna and operating around Sipadan, they are to ensure visiting divers do not damage or destroy the rich coral environment of Malaysia's only oceanic island, nor harass the marine life. Of the twelve designated dive sites around the island, three (Barracuda Point, Drop Off and South Point) are starting to get stressed even though only 120 divers per day are allowed to buy permits at $10.00 (US). The four will act as undersea police officers.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, local biologists are worried about the effect tourist divers might be having on the bull sharks of the Yucatan's Riviera Maya region. Luis Lombardo Cifuentes, director of Saving Our Sharks, says they have noticed the bulls displaying a fearful behavior this year and are asking divers and tourists to refrain from using noise-generating instruments, such as scuba rattles and air horns, under water. Bull shark diving with organized shark feeds is a popular tourist activity in the waters around Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel.

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