I really can't believe the amount of gray area people are trying to inject into this very simple topic. Don't touch it. Don't move it. Don't manipulate it. If you can't get a picture of it the way you found it, and aren't willing to wait and see if it moves, then move on to something else.
I think it's because not everyone see it as you do, Jeff. Not all manipulation of a subject or image involves touching or moving. My most common use of a stick (besides poking it in sand or touching dead spots which constitutes the overwhelming majority of its use) is waving it to attract attention or to get a subject to turn. It is equally effective, does not cause stress, and does not involve touching the animal. What amazes me is that everyone who expresses distain for such techniques fails to understand how they are used.
Please explain how touching a sea cucumber is bad...
Yes, exactly! This is the point I tried to make before. We manipulate shots in all sorts of ways and we accept that in images in varying degrees, yet people single out one particular type of diver behavior and condemn it as universally bad.
When you and Gini are taking pictures of that nice angel on your website did you ever ask her to circle around the fish to keep it headed your way or cutoff her escape? Did you swim in front of the angel to get it's image? That is simply another form of manipulation. Did it stress the fish? Sure. Did it harm the fish? I don't know, as hard as I've tried I can't ask her.