One of the things that every diver should know is that being able to experience and witness marine life in such close proximity is a great privilege. As such, it is important that everyone respects the ocean. Divemasters, at least the good ones, will be sure to remind every diver not take anything with them from the ocean depths and not to tease or touch the marine life. Many times though, divers, out of sheer arrogance or from ignorance, do these things all the time. There are several good reasons why you should not touch marine life:
- Touching the marine life underwater can harm both the creatures and you. If alarmed, aggravated or disturbed, many of the underwater creatures can cause great injury to you. Some of these include the lionfish which, though beautiful, is quite venomous. Stinging hydroids, urchins, scorpion fish, jellyfish, sea snakes are better off admired without touching and from a respectable distance.
- We have all heard that we need to take care of the coral reef, but one of the things we may not know is that the reef can also cause injury leading to some very nasty wounds. The cuts from coral reef are very painful and take a long time to heal.
- Sharks are some of the most feared sea creatures and have been known to bite. However, the majority of these bites where divers are concerned are due to reckless contact and inappropriate behavior by divers. This only feeds into the public perception of sharks being vicious creatures when they really are not.
- Touching marine life makes the animals vulnerable to diseases due to being exposed to contact with humans. This contact brings them into contact with harmful bacteria. Corals are also fragile when it comes to touch and polyps, even though they have a hard exterior. You may end up with a weakened immune system leading to death in the end.
Even though we should be concerned for our own safety, it is important to consider the well-being of the creatures we interact with underwater. The rule of thumb is not to remove anything from the ocean. However, people want to take creatures out of the ocean, collect starfish and shells to keep as souvenirs without thinking about how their actions are disrupting the balance of the marine ecosystem. In many countries, taking plants or animals from the ocean is against the national and local law. Divers should work to protect marine life by abstaining from touching both plants and animals.