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Moray eel bites scuba diver and eats his thumb


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#1 aczyzyk

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:30 AM

That is quite drastic video, but I guess it's worth watching as a warning.


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#2 Arnon_Ayal

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:58 AM

I'm not sure but: something connected to us here
Seems that all this 'show' was for photographers around him.
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#3 DeanB

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 10:15 AM

I felt sorry for the eel..

Teasing animals for the purposes of photography to me is wrong. O.k the once to feed it and maybe draw it out quickly..Maybe. but i didn't like that at all.

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#4 Giles

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 02:45 PM

the video is edited to make it look like teasing or harrassing the eel ..

i doubt it was as bad as it seemed. and the thumb was just an unfortunate accident.

the only moron i see in that video was the guy trying to pet the eel wearing gloves .. what is the point ??

not all handling of marine animals is bad .. some even seek it out and enjoy it people shouldn't be so quick to blame the diver. or the fact thatphotographers were present .. the guy who had his thumb bit off looked like he was mostly filming himself as thecamera was on the ground !
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#5 wagsy

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:50 PM

What a idiot. he was asking for it that's for sure. :wacko:
Morays don't have very good eye sight and he was pushing his luck.

Still I think I would of took my reg out and bashed it in the head or free flowed it under it to try and get it to let go.
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#6 Graham Abbott

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 05:19 PM

The name idiot is being way too polite to the guy who got what he deserved here. Me, I simply call this reef revenge, anyone who goes out on reef with the intention of doing stupid things like this deserves to be eaten alive, slowly by a whole pack of moray eels.

The guy was totally harassing the moray, being teased like that with bread and sausages, oh yeah a morays favourite meal too! I was actually hoping the eel would go for the guys weener and not the one in his hand, now that would have been a better kind of revenge hey.

This has to be a Thailand guide or the likes, where your general dive guides are so bad they need attraction dives like this as they can't find anything else that is interesting!

I think I'd have rather had no thumb than cutting off a toe to replace it with!

#7 SkroOob

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 01:09 AM

The link is firewalled here. :wacko:

Is there a way for me to watch it from another site?

#8 Drew

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 03:22 AM

The name idiot is being way too polite to the guy who got what he deserved here. Me, I simply call this reef revenge, anyone who goes out on reef with the intention of doing stupid things like this deserves to be eaten alive, slowly by a whole pack of moray eels.

The guy was totally harassing the moray, being teased like that with bread and sausages, oh yeah a morays favourite meal too! I was actually hoping the eel would go for the guys weener and not the one in his hand, now that would have been a better kind of revenge hey.

This has to be a Thailand guide or the likes, where your general dive guides are so bad they need attraction dives like this as they can't find anything else that is interesting!

I think I'd have rather had no thumb than cutting off a toe to replace it with!


Geez Graham, tell us how you really feel. Too much coffee? :)
While I agree feeding is generally not a good thing, I'm sure many who've been to Tulamben, or shark feeds would disagree. Unfortunately the line between harassment and interaction is broad and very grey.
That guy whose thumb was chowed on was Matt Butcher, somehow the irony in that in poetic. Use to work in PhiPhi Island as well. I think that was shot in the Similans.
And Graham, I think that's a bit "harsh" to say Thailand waters have very little to see. Out in the similans, you can get whaleshark to harlequin shrimp all in a single dive on a single site. There was a time when silvertips dives were awesome but like Indonesia, silvertips are an odd infrequent interloper than a common sight nowadays.

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#9 davichin

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 03:48 AM

It´s a funny social conclusion that it shows an "it´s all good!" useful toe-thumb by playing with a playstation and grabbing a beer :) very important things!
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#10 3@5

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 05:27 AM

...snip...

This has to be a Thailand guide or the likes, where your general dive guides are so bad they need attraction dives like this as they can't find anything else that is interesting!
...snip...

not sure if you are talking about thai guides or thai dives, but in any event i recommend you go and dive a bit around the similans and surin - you may be surprised by what there is to see, and by what you local and expat guides will be able to show you...
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#11 DeanB

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 07:21 AM

Lets not shadow the subject...

To hold a piece of bread.. etc, out and move it away at the last minute continuously and to persist to frustrate the creature , in my view, is wrong. Try that with a shark too many times and you may loose your hand...Its not interacting with the eel, more 'show off' for the divers. I would have told him my concerns as well...

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#12 Graham Abbott

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 07:40 AM

Hey I've felt this way for ages about divers handling moray eels, especially those who feed them. I saw a good friend have a tiny piece of the end of her finger literally ripped off by a tiny white eyed moray. She never even saw it coming as she was inundated with other fish while she testing out her first ever little bit of feeding on the reef.

I also feel strongly about the stingray city kind of dives with kids and the likes; I think this is also asking for trouble!

Don't get me wrong I've dived Thailand and loved every minute of it; even found it to be well beyond my expectations. I managed to dive round the Similans and even found that Phi Phi had fantastic places with amazing critters right in the bay there! Though way too many divers out in the Similans and those places for me! I prefer to get away from crowds when I’m diving! Hence - Fakfak, Banda Sea, Halmahera, Alor being my favourite places and hey even Komodo, plenty of great sites where no other liveaboards go, all right in the National Park as well, they all hit the same sites.

Dru -- check it out again -- I never said that Thailand has very little to see, just that the general dive guide there is bad, meaning uneducated about marine life, Matt Butcher here shows my point really well I think -- ooh very harsh I know, so sorry! Oh OK, so I generalised from my experience in Thailand... I only had a few days on Phi Phi to try find a dive company, well a dive guide that sounded like they could show me something interesting, this proved nothing but hard work, I went round a bunch of dives shops who were more keen on trying to sell me a PADI dive course. I reckon some of the dive guides on Phi Phi must have more different PADI certificates than actual logged dives... Oops bit of an exaggeration there! Though if you’ve been on land round Phi Phi you must know what I mean?

I don't know Matt Butcher, but anyone who wants to go dive and play round with morays eels, then tease them food deserves everything he gets, to me the guy was just showing off, hey look everyone I can play with a moray and it..... Ahhhhhhhhh!
The moray even looked like it wasn't happy being teased with food, and come on if your gonna feed an animal underwater feed it with something that it may actually eat in its natural habitat and not bread and sausage, I mean the guy could have taken this one step further -- maybe by taking down a McDonalds Big Mac Burger for the moray eel. I won't tell a dive guide not to do this kind of thing, just let them wait for the day when some animal gets its own back for teasing. I would not allow anyone on a trip with me to do this, as it may jeopardise the trip for others.

Was this from a live aboard or land based operation? I’m sure they would have had to head straight back to shore/hospital immediately when the dive guide lost his thumb… Hence a very stupid thing to do as his paying divers probably lost dive time due to the his stupidity.

I also disagree when guides feed Napoloen wrasse eggs -- now who thought of that one first -- Napoleon wrasse eating chicken eggs?

#13 Giles

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:02 AM

To hold a piece of bread.. etc, out and move it away at the last minute continuously and to persist to frustrate the creature , in my view, is wrong. Try that with a shark too many times and you may loose your hand...Its not interacting with the eel, more 'show off' for the divers. I would have told him my concerns as well...

SO you disagree with people training dogs for pets using treats as rewards ? Really I don't think anyone here can criticise what the guide was doing .. from either point you have probably done it yourself at some point .. or you have been that diver who enjoyed the dive guide doing that even if it was a long time ago.

What is correct to say is there is a right and wrong way of doing it, and using food they are used to is definately better. Drew is correct saying there is a grey line, and as someone that loves feeding and interacting with everything this planet has to offer I am flabbergasted at how people always jump in and say it wrong when this subject comes up. It's not wrong at all IMO.


The moray even looked like it wasn't happy being teased with food and if your gonna feed an animal underwater feed it with something that it may actually eat in its own habiat and not bread and sausage, I mean the guy could have one step further maybe by taking down a burger for the eel.

From completely disagreeing with your first statement i completely agree with that.

I truely doubt that there is anyone who has not at one point in their life enjoyed an animal feeding of some sort .. be it at home with a pet to make it roll over .. or at the zoo ... at seaworld ... stingray city ... giving polly a cracker... feeding birds in the park during winter etc etc .. it's all the same .. so can we get off our horses and give it a carrot ? :)
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#14 DeanB

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:19 AM

Giles, Please...Your telling me training a domestic dog is the same as coaxing a wild Moray eel... Get a grip.. No I haven't done it myself and the only time I witnessed a guide pulling a eel out of his hole I did say something...We all have different opinions on these things, It depends on what you have been used to seeing through your diving life. But to me teasing a wild animal for shooters is wrong...Even if I did witness anything like this years ago I'd have now wised up through experience.

As Graham mentioned, at least try to give it some realism. Don't harass.... Oh yeah you agreed with this statement.. :)

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#15 Graham Abbott

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:37 AM

I love dogs but don't train them when people are paying me to guide them and show them a good time.

#16 Scuba_SI

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:50 AM

Here's my $.02

As Giles said, i wouldn't necessarily call it teasing, in many respects i think if it makes the animal work a little for its food then its a good thing, in the wild they would very rarely get some food without having to search for it. Teasing it with the empty bag like that is wrong though. But the more times they go for the food and miss, they faster they are going to strike, he lost his concentration or got too relaxed and got bit, simple as that.

On a liveaboard trip, where do you think all the waste from meal time goes? Sure some bits can be saved for soups, but if you were to follow regulations about what can and cannot go back in the fridge, most of what is cooked has to be thrown away, and all the excess off plates? If you were to follow marine regs, then no solid matter until well offshore, but most liveaboards and diveboats don't go offshore, it has to go over the side or the boat stinks for a week!

Is it any different throwing unwanted sausages from breakfast over the side to the fishes underneath the boat, or taking them diving with you and having a play, as long as it is only the divemaster doing the feeding it can be controlled and regulated.

I personally think if you are gutting a fish on the boat then it is probably better to save the excess for the fish life if you are feeding them away from the boat, and away from areas with human population.

If you chuck the remains over the side directly, Barracudas etc get accustomed to receiving a free feed and would quite happily bite a dangling foot as a snorkeller puts their mask on.

If at the start of every charter you threw away 3 -5 trimmed carcasses in the port/dock area where in remote locations kids frequently play, you may entice a tiger shark etc, resulting in less kids playing! Locals don't like you putting it in the trash as the landfill is in many cases close to town and they already have dog/cat/rat problems.

I would say from the editing on the video it was shot over a long period of time, and i would image the diver has a good sense of humour about it! The fact the diver didn't reach for his knife or start trying to kill the animal shows how much respect he had for his 'dive buddy', you can see him trying to gently pry its month open with his thumb and forefinger in the video, much as i'd do when playing with my dog and trying to get a toy out of her mouth.

I am all for shark and fish feeding if done in a responsible way, i have done it very badly and very well in the past, to start with we made lots of errors in divesite choice etc, but we learned from it quickly and in the end had a pretty well run operation for shark feeding in a remote area. I have been bitten, and i accepted that that was going to happen from day 1, luckily for me though it was only a little shark and barely got though my wetsuit. The most important thing is that the animals are respected and not overfed, and that the divers who experience it also see the sharks when not in feeding mode, so they understand the myths, and see that even when a shark is harassing the feeder, you can be 6 feet away and fine, they are not killing machines.

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#17 Graham Abbott

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:03 AM

OK so back to your $0.2 with a hypothetical question. You book a live aboard trip and then... say a little over half way through your trip your dive guide goes and tries to grab a some big animal, he looses a hand and the boat has to go back to shore to get the guide to a hospital. As you are way out in the open ocean this means you have to miss the rest of your dive trip as you steam back to shore. Would you be OK with this?

#18 kriptap

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:16 AM

I think feeding has it's time and place, both above and under the water. In this case I would also call him an idiot just because of the way he was feeding, bare hand feeding, then touching the nose again with his bare hand, just stupid, I'm not saying use a chainmail glove but some barrier between your hand and the sharp end of him might have been prudent in this case. :)

#19 DeanB

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:27 AM

What about dropping the said item and letting it float downwards as the eel / creature approached so it does not associate a hand / fingers on the end..

I still think letting 'wild' animals take food from body parts is wrong and done to 'Impress'. What next strapping chum to your privates and having a tigger shark nibble at it.

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#20 Poliwog

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:28 AM

The saddest part of this “episode” for me is that, in the real cost to the diver to rehabilitate himself, he had to sacrifice part of, and, a good deal of the functionality of one foot. The Eel may have gotten a thumb but the real cost was twice as much, or more.

While this diver is in young, robust health and quite happy to content himself with the functionality of being able to grab a beer or play video games, he may have severely limited his abilities to gain useful employment in the future. As time goes by, and this diver grows older, that functionality he is marveling at will start to decline. His mobility as well as dexterity will diminish significantly in comparison to his contemporaries. He will find life very difficult if he ever needs those physical skill sets that make use of either his hands and/or his feet for employment purposes.

It is hard to watch a fellow diver get injured in such a frivolous way. I would suggest pity and a fair number of prayers for his future, instead of self-righteous condemnation. This diver will not have an easy life from here on in. Even something as minor as losing a thumb will have a dramatic impact on one’s quality of life.

One area where the video does rise above itself is in showing the long and suffering path of rehabilitation a person would have to endure to try and replace what was taken from them. All to often people do not realize the possible consequences of their actions. If anything, this segment of the video should have been longer and more involved.

The only saving grace to this video that I can find is, it may make some people think twice about their interactions with wildlife both above and below the water.
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