Sight Search

Cultivating Conservation

Text and Photos by Stephen Frink

It is no secret that scuba divers are proponents of marine conservation. We love what we see, and we’d like to see more of it — more fish, more vibrant coral reefs and more artificial reefs — and enjoy it with better water quality and visibility. That’s why divers like to visit marine protected areas: They are better environmentally because we protect them, making them popular dive sites. Divers who embrace a dive site can influence conservation by emphasizing the kinship between humans and marine life.

I recently read an article from the The Guardian with an intriguing title: “How Whale Sharks Saved a Philippine Fishing Town and Its Sea Life” by Hannah Summers (Dec. 10, 2018). The story is about how once-struggling fishermen from Oslob, Philippines, formed a community-based dive company called Oslob Whale Sharks (OWS). The article mentioned a scientific study that explored the financial implications to the local community after they embraced dive tourism for visitors to swim with whale sharks.

Judi Lowe, a marine scientist and sustainable dive tourism expert who was one of the study’s authors, shared the abstract of the study, which drew some conclusions about OWS.
[OWS is] the most financially successful and controversial community-based dive tourism site in the world. Oslob Whale Sharks has generated income from ticket sales of approximately US$18.4 million over five years. We found that Oslob Whale Sharks has created alternate livelihoods for 177 fishers and diversified livelihoods throughout the community, reducing fishing effort and changing livelihood strategies away from reliance on coral reef resources.
Livelihoods from Oslob Whale Sharks increase food security for fishers and their families and improve the well-being of their community. … Our findings indicate connection between livelihoods and the provision of finance to protect whale sharks and manage five marine reserves, indicating that fishers and local government are protecting the whale sharks and coral reef resources their livelihoods depend on.

Oslob sustenance fishers had often experienced whale sharks bumping into their pangas and interfering with their nets, but they viewed the animals as a benign annoyance without resorting to finning or other mistreatments. They eventually discovered that a handful of krill could lure away the whale sharks. In 2011 a diver paid a local fisher to lure a whale shark near for a photograph, leading to the community’s dive tourism interests.

In many areas of the world divers may be lucky to have even a fleeting whale shark encounter, if any at all. But at Oslob they can count on seeing whale sharks on any of the 364 days of the year the authorized fishers operate — plus the water is clear, and the proximity is guaranteed. As the whale sharks go to the pangas for the bait, they are oblivious to the divers and snorkelers nearby in the water. Fees paid by the shore-based and liveaboard divers support the industry.

“As fishermen we were earning as little as $1.40 a day but nothing on days when the current was strong,” said former fisherman Jesson Jumuad, who now works for OWS. “Sometimes in a day I didn’t have any fish to be sold, but now I can give my family good food three times a day. I have built a brick house, bought a motor bike and can afford to send my daughter to school.”
Their newfound success is based on the whale sharks becoming a compelling diver attraction, but it is inextricably linked with protecting the natural marine resources and ecosystem that allow this to happen.

In another example of divers enhancing conservation, local activist divers recently transformed outrage into action at Blue Heron Bridge, an iconic site and shore dive off Riviera Beach, Florida, known for the weird and wonderful macro creatures found there (AlertDiver.com/Blue-Heron-Bridge).

Last October divers were putting bags of fish into containers in a big truck that was parked at Phil Foster Park, the gateway to Blue Heron. These tropical fish collectors from the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid in Galveston, Texas, were there under permit by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The permit did not specifically say they could extract fish from Blue Heron Bridge, but it was broadly expansive in allowing them to extract from four counties, including Palm Beach County. Just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money was, these tropical fish collectors worked Blue Heron Bridge for a full week because that’s where the fish were.

Local divers launched petitions and had heated discourse with local politicians and the FWC. Four months later the FWC approved changes in their regulations that would ensure that the snorkeling and diving opportunities at Blue Heron Bridge and Phil Foster Park in Palm Beach County remain at a high standard. Going into effect April 1 are rules that
  •  prohibit the collection and possession of marine life fishery species (species collected for and managed for the tropical aquarium trade) within the park and surrounding waters;
  •  protect other fishing activities, such as hook-and-line fishing or lobstering;
  •  allow direct transit by vessel of marine life species legally harvested outside the closed area through the closed area so long as the vessel does not stop; and
  •  allow species collected outside the closed area to be landed by motorized vessel at the park boat ramp and docks.

The batfish, seahorses, octopuses and snake eels can now rest a little easier at Blue Heron Bridge knowing that a tropical fish collector is not going to take them away from their home.

Categories

 2020
 2019
 2018
 2016
immersion and bubble formation Accidents Acid reflux Acute ailments After anaesthesia Air Quality Air exchange centre Air hose failure Air supply Airway control Air Alert Diver Magazine Alternative gas mix Altitude changes Altitude sickness Aluminium Oxide Ama divers Amino acids Anaerobic Metabolism Animal life Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Aquatic life Archaeology Arterial gas embolism Arthroscopic surgery Aspirin Aurel hygiene BCD BHP BLS BWARF Back adjustment Back pain Back treatment Backextensors Badages Bag valve mask Bahamas Balancing Bandaids Barbell back squat Barometric pressure Barotrauma Basic Life Support Batteries Bench press Benign prostate hyperplasia Benzophenones Beth Neale Biophysics Black Blood flow Blood thinners Blue Wilderness Blurred vision Boat safety Bone fractures Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath holding Breath hold Breath-hold Breathing Gas Breathing gas contamination Breathing Breathold diving Broken bones Bruising Bubbleformation Buddy Exercise Buddy checks Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CMAS CO2 COVID-19 COVID CPR Cabin pressure Caissons diseas Camera settings Cameras Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Cape Town Dive Sites Cape Town CapeTown Carbon Monoxide Carbon dioxide Cardio health Cardiological Cardiomyopathy Chamber Safety Chamber science Charging batteries Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Charlie Warland Chemotherapy Chest compressions Chiropractic Chlorophll Christina Mittermeier Citizen Conservation Cleaning products Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care ColdWater Cold Commercial diving Commercial schools Composition Compressed Air Compressed gas Consercation Conservation Photographer Conservation photography Conservation Contact lenses Contaminants Contaminated air Coral Conservation Coral Reefs Coral bleaching CoralGroupers Corals Core strength Corona virus Coro Courtactions Cristina Mittermeier Crohns disease Crowns Crystal build up Crystallizing hoses Cutaneous decompression Cylinder Ruptures Cylinder handwheel Cylinder valves DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN members DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS theories DCS DEMP DM training DNA DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Danel Wenzel Dauin island Dean's Blue Hole Dean\'s Blue Hole Deco dives Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression Stress Decompression illsnes Decompression treatment Decompression Decorator crabs Deep diving Deep water exploration Delayed Offgassing Dental Diaphragms Diseases Disinfection Dive Chamber Dive Computer Dive Destinations Dive H Dive Industry Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Medical Form Dive Medical Dive Practices Dive Pros Dive Research Dive South Africa Dive Training Dive Travel Dive accidents Dive buddies Dive computers Dive courses Dive excursions Dive exercise Dive fitness Dive gear Dive heallth Dive health Dive medicals Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive operators Dive planning Dive safety 101 Dive safety Dive safe Dive staff DiveLIVE Diveleader training Diveleaders Diver Health Diver Profile Diver infliencers Diver on surface Divers Alert Diving Divas Diving Kids Diving Trauma Diving career Diving emergencies Diving emergency management Diving fit Diving guidelines Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Dizziness Dolphins Domestic Donation Dowels Dr Rob Schneider Drift diving Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits Dyperbaric medicines EAPs EAP Ear pressure Ear wax Ears injuries Eco friendly Education Electronic Emergency action planning Emergency decompression Emergency plans Emergency underwater Oxygen Recompression Emergency Enviromental Protection Environmental factors Environmental impact Environmental managment Equalisation Equipment care Equipment failure Equipment inspection Evacuations Evacuation Evaluations Even Breath Exercise Exhaustion Extended divetime Extinguisher Extreme treatments Eye injuries FAQ Factor V Leiden Failures FalseBay Diving Fatigue Faulty equipment Female divers Fillings Fire Coral Fire Safety Firefighting First Aid Equipment First Aid Kit First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Identification Fish Life Fish Fit to dive Fitness Training Fitness to dive Fitness Flying Fractures Francois Burman Fredive Free Student cover Free diving Free flow Freedive INstructor Freedive Training Freediver Freediving performance Freediving Gas Density Gas consumption Gas laws Gas mixes GasPerformance Gases Gass bubbles Gastoeusophagus Gastric bypass Gastroenterologist Gear Servicing Germs Gordon Hiles Great White Sharks Gutt irritations HCV HELP HIRA HMLI HMS Britanica Haemorhoid treatment Hazard Description Hazardous Marine life Hazardous marinelife Health practitioner Heart Attack Heart Health Heart Rate monitor Heart fitness Heart rates Heart rate Heart Heat stress Helium Hepatitis C Hepatitus B High Pressure vessels High temperatures Hip strength Hip surgery Hippocampus History Hot Humans Hydrate Hydration Hydrogen Hydroids Hydrostatic pressure Hygiene Hyperbaric Chamber Hyperbaric research Hyperbarics Hypothermia Hypoxia IdentiFin Imaging Immersion Immine systems In Water Recompression Indemnity form Indian Ocean Indonesia Inert gas Infections Infra red Imaging Injections Instinct Instruction Instructors Insurance Integrated Physiology International travel International Interval training Irritation Joint pain Junior Open Water Diver KZN South Coast Kate Jonker Kidneys Kids scubadiver KwaZulu Natal Labour laws Laryngospasm Lauren Arthur Learning to dive Legal Network Legal advice Legislation Lenses Leukemis Liability Risks Liability releases Liability Life expectancy Lifestyle Lightroom editing Live aboard diving Liver Toxicity Liver diseas Low blood pressure Low pressure deterioration Low volume masks Lung Irritation Lung function Lung injuries Lung squeeze Lung surgery Lung MOD Macro photography Maintenance Malaria Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Marine Biology Marine Scientists Marine conservation Marine parks Marinelife Masks Master scuba diver Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical emergencies Medical questionaire Medical statement Medicalresearch Medication Mehgan Heaney-Grier Mermaid Danii Mesophotic Middle ear pressure Mike Bartick Military front press Mixed Gas Mono Fins Mooring lines More pressure Motion sickness Mozambique Muscle pain Mycobacterium marinum National Geographic Nausea Nautilus Neck pain Neuro assessments Neurological assessments Nitrogen Narcosis Nitrogen build up Nitrox No-decompression Non-nano zinc oxide Non-rebreather Mask Nonrebreather masks Normal Air Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean Research Ocean pollution Oil contamination Open water divers Optical focus Orbital implants Oronasal mask Osteonecrosis Out and about Out of air Outreach Oxygen Administration Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deficit Oxygen deicit Oxygen dificiency Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supplies Oxygen supply Oxygen systems Oxygen therapy Oxygen P J Prinsloo PFI PJP Tech Part 3 Partner Training Perspective Philippine Islands Philippines Phillipines Photographers Photography Physioball Physiology Physiotherapy Pills Pistons Planning Plastic Pneumonia Pneumothorax Poison Pollution Pool Diving Pool workout Post-dive Pre-dive Predive check Preparation Prepared diver Press Release Preventions Professional rights Provider course Psycological Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Pulmonary Edema Pulse Punture wounds Pure Apnea Purge RAID South Africa RCAP REEF Radio communications Range of motion Rashes Rebreather diving Rechargeable batteries. Recompression chamber Recompression treatment Recompression Recycle Reef Conservation Reef safe Reef surveyors Refractive correction Regulator failure Regulators Regulator Remote areas Renewable Report incidents Rescue Divers Rescue Procedure Rescue breathing Rescue breaths Rescue training Rescue Resume diving Return to diving Risk Assessments Risk assesments Risk assessment Risk elements Risk management SABS 019 SafariLive Safety Stop Safety SaherSafe Barrier Salty Wanderer Sanitising Sara Andreotti Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scombroid Poisoning Scuba Air Quality Scuba Injury Scuba Instructor Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Scubalife Sea Horses Sealife Shark Protection Shark Research Shark conservation Shark diving Sharks Shoulder strength Sideplank Signs and Symptoms Sit-ups Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Social Distancing Sodwana Bay Solomon Islands South Africa Spinal bends Spinal cord DCS Spinal pain Splits Squeezes Stability exercise Standars Stay Fit Stents Step ups Stephen Frink Stepping up Stroke Submerged Sudafed Sulawesi Sun protection Sunscreen Supplemental oxygen Surface supplied Air Surfaced Surgeries Surgery Suspension training TRavel safety Tabata protocol Talya Davidoff Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Tips and trick Tooth squeeze Transplants Travel smarter Travel tips Travel Tropical Coastal Management Tunnelling Tweezers Ultrsound Umkomaas Unconsciousness Underground work Underwater hockey Underwater photographer Underwater photography Underwater pho University of Stellenbosch Urinary retention. Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Valve stem seals Vape Vaping Vasopressors Vasvagal Syncope Venting Virus infections Volatile fuels Washout treatments Wastewater Watchman device Water Resistance Water Weakness Weigang Xu Weights West Papua Western Cape Diving Wet diving bell Wetsuit fitting Wetsuits White balance Wide angles Wildlife Winter Woman in diving Woman Women In Diving SA Women in diving Work of Breathing Workout Wound dressings Wreck divers Wreck dive Wreckdiving Wrecks Yoga Youth diver Zandile Ndholvu Zoology abrasion acoustic neuroma excision adverse seas air-cushioned alert diver altitude anemia antibiotics anticoagulants antiseptics bandages barodontalgia bent-over barbell rows bioassays body art breathing air calories burn carbon dioxide toxicity cardiovascular cerebrospinal fluid checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba corrective lenses currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants decongestion dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver in distress diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits drowning dry mucous membranes dry suits dry e-cigarettes ear spaces elearning electrolyte imbalance electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment emergency training environmentally friendly equalising equalizing exposure injuries eyes fEMAL DIVERS fire rescue fitnes flexible tubing frediving freedivers gas bubble gas poisoning gastric acid gene expression health heartburn histidine hospital humidity immersion and bubble formation immersion pulmonary edema (IPE jaundice join DAN knee longevity lower stress malaise marielife marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment medications mental challenge mental preparedness micro-organisims micro minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal near drowning nematocysts neurological newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain perforation phillippines physical challenges pinched nerves plasters polyester-TPU polyether-TPU post dive posture prescription mask preserve prevention psychoactive pulmunary barotrauma rebreather mask rebreathers retinal detachment risk areas safety stops saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections smoking snorkeling. spearfishing sterilising stings strength sub-aquatic sunscreen lotion swimmers ears tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection tissue damage toxicity training trimix unified standards upwelling vision impaired warmers water quality zinc oxide