Please, touch nothing, if not for the animals, then for you

December 30, 2019

By Scuba bill

As Aliyyah Eniath wrote, "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."  Even what may look like simple uninhabited sand could be creatures small and large trying to exist in our oceans and lakes.  And what may seem to you to be a harmless touch, could be devastating to our marine ecosystem:

  • Parasite protection - many marine species have an anti-bacterial layer to protect them from parasites.  If it is touched by a diver, it can get damaged and become vulnerable to infections.  Manta rays and whale sharks are just two examples of such creatures that have been known to become ill after being touched by divers.
  • Energy loss makes them vulnerable - being touched or otherwise harassed, however innocuously by a diver makes them expend energy which then makes them vulnerable to predators.  A great example of this is the puffer fish, an inflated pufferfish is slower moving and more likely to be eaten by a predator.  And it can take several hours for the puffer fish to deflate.
  • Please, never touch the coral - they  are living animals and are very slow growing and fragile. By touching coral to stabilize yourself or to take a photo you could kill hundreds of polyps. Corals is another animla that has a mucus layer that is damaged by touching.  After which, they may become sick and vulnerable for infections. Breaking off pieces of hard corals is another huge risk. Especially table corals are often severely damaged by divers that accidentally bump into it due to strong currents or the lack of proper buoyancy control and/or focus. Dead coral will no longer provide a habitat for the animals living around it and the whole reef ecosystem will suffer.
  • And if preserving the marine environment isn't sufficient, keep in mind, it could ruin your whole vacation! -Stone fish, Lion fish, urchins and jellyfish are animals that can sting as soon as you touch them. Moray eels, sea snakes and stingrays and some shark species may bite when feeling threatened. There are quite a few venomous marine life species that are deadly to humans, even shells! The Blue ringed octopus can paralyze a human body (long functions) and kill you in 30 minutes, a Box jellyfish in minutes.  So, best to touch nothing, harass nothing!