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Manipulation of subjects for the shot.


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#81 AllisonFinch

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 12:02 AM

I stand by my assertion, you only take a special stick along to touch something. You're planning on it from the begining.


Absolutely WRONG! I carry a sand spike as a tool to help me stay immobile in any kind of water. I can push it into the sand and use it to position myself. I can hold my camera with the spike in the same hand and use it like a monopod. It really helps get that focus lock.


Anyone who thinks "using one finger" on a rock is better that the tip of a sand spike is nuts.

As far as "not touching anything"....what do you do when a sea creature demands that you touch them? I have had groupers swim right up to me begging to be stroked. I have had octopus crawl up my hand, sit on my arm, and absolutely purr when it is stroked. When it turns bright blue, it is happy. A gentile nudge is less stressful than the bigger fish rushing at it for less loving reasons.
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#82 Cerianthus

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 12:50 AM

Hey guys,
Before I get flamed to death I would like to stress that this is for DISCUSSION only:

snip

ONE animal is stressed or possibly harmed yet 3500 people or more are made more aware of the beauty or fragility of our marine life. Awareness is the basis of conservation. This ONE animal could then be the basis of behaviour change for 3500 people (A very optimistic and hypothetical view, I know).......


My tought is that the bahavioural change may not be in the direction you want. in these 3500 people, there are divers too, maybe also photograpers. They may know the subject is disturbed, but since the aquarium clearly feels OK with it, they will behave the same.
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#83 Drew

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 02:05 AM

As far as "not touching anything"....what do you do when a sea creature demands that you touch them? I have had groupers swim right up to me begging to be stroked. I have had octopus crawl up my hand, sit on my arm, and absolutely purr when it is stroked. When it turns bright blue, it is happy. A gentile nudge is less stressful than the bigger fish rushing at it for less loving reasons.

Allison, with your experience, you should know that touching wild groupers 'may remove or thin that layer, possibly causing infection. The groupers you had contact with were probably fed. Cod Hole in Queensland is one example.
We all know cephalopods are relatively intelligent creatures and by their nature, very tactile. However, if you don't stick your arm out, it won't crawl over it. If you seek physical interaction, then it's more likely to happen. Much like cleaner shrimp on a hand or in the mouth. The analogy of a bred pet vs a wild creature is out of context.
Obviously there are examples of wildlife initiating interaction. The mantas of Socorros are very accustomed to divers and often approach closely, 'seemingly' wanting to be touched. Then again I doubt they like to be rode on like we see in the old pics. I've also seen frogfish swim up to my strobe arm to perch. Were they asking to be touched or just see another place that suits their needs? I've also had a few sea snakes crawl into my BC while I was shooting other sea snakes hunting and I assure you that was DEFINITELY not initiated by me.
The issue here is whether a photographer should actively use physical means to move a subject for a shot. A photographer has a choice to move on to the next subject as well.

Does it make me an evil nature hating coral wrecker?

Well none of your examples mention coral wrecking...so... NO. :) But you are possibly a home wrecker :( Shark feeds take the sharks off the reef and doing their thing. So the reef system is upset...and you're the home wrecker :excl:
Then there's the issue of sharks so accustomed to being fed they swim right up to the diver. This may not go so well with other divers who have no idea why a 14ft shark is swimming up to it mouth open. It also happens to spearos and the result usually isn't good for the shark.

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#84 Scuba_SI

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:34 AM

Anyone who thinks "using one finger" on a rock is better that the tip of a sand spike is nuts.


Not really, by saying that you're being just as bad as the people who say all people who take a stick poke things...

Pressure is force per unit area, ie if someone pushes off at the same force with two fingers say (~3cm2) rather than an aluminium stick (~0.5cm2) there is a higher chance of breaking something with the stick in my opinion - it seems to be basic physics to me. Imagine when you realise the rock you're pushing against is actually sponge etc. However, if they both break something then the fingers will break more of it as they have more surface area.

It's all a matter of personal opinion, i never wear sunscreen or deet, and im not that greasy so i feel i cause less damage than should i push off the 'reef' with a stick. There is also a lot more feeling when using bare skin, and you're more careful where you put it!

What i do think is "nuts" though is that you think that all people are responsible sand spike users, you may very well be the epitome of perfect sand spike use, but there are lots of people who blindly stick them into everything from hard corals to anemones. Ask Pakman, he's Korean :( :P :excl:
Just as there are many people who put their bare hands onto coral, but i can assure you that once they touch fire coral they don't do it again, or they buy a glove... or a 'sand spike' :)

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#85 Scuba_SI

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:47 AM

Obviously there are examples of wildlife initiating interaction. The mantas of Socorros are very accustomed to divers and often approach closely, 'seemingly' wanting to be touched. Then again I doubt they like to be rode on like we see in the old pics.


I once had a female guest insert her hand into the cloaca of the Manta when i was working on the Nautilus Explorer, she couldn't understand why we were a little upset with her. :P :P Apparently that's what they used to do on the first trips there and it is why the Mantas come so close.

Not sure i fancy been elbow deep in a manta though.... :) :( :excl:

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#86 pakman

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:52 AM

Ha - out here in SE Asia it is often the case that the divemaster or dive guide is one of the main culprits. Our dive group has to indicate to guides that their job is to find stuff - not to poke, manipulate, or move stuff.


As an amateur u/w shooter, this was one of the things that surprised me when I first starting taking a DSLR underwater. I guess some of you bigshots have been tipping these local guides well or stipulating that their tips will be proportional to how many well posed critters they find... :)

On one trip, the guide would zip ahead, find an interest critter, get my attention. While I took some shots, he would zip ahead and find another. I naively thought we were just lucky in finding these critters prime positions for a photo... A nudi perched on a clutter free area, a well positioned frogfish there, etc... Then I finally caught on when I came upon the guide placing a nudibranch on top of a black frogfish... :( In other incidents, I had a guide pull off a crinoid arm to show a squat lobster and another take his pointer to dig out a stargazer... :excl:

Now I don't know if it's photographers explicity asking these guides to do this or the guides doing this on their own knowing a happy photographer = larger tip?? But I wish they would just stick to being spotters. To their credit, some of them do a great job of that.

Edited by pakman, 29 December 2007 - 03:53 AM.

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#87 dbh

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 05:17 AM

We have 3 different debates going on within this thread:

1. Manipulation
2. Finger vs. Stick
3. Destruction

#1 & #2 are debatable.....#3 is not!

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#88 indigo

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 05:48 AM

OK - let's get back to basics - PADI Open Water Video #1 and I quote

DIVING 101

'....do not touch, tease or harass an underwater organism as it may harm you are you may harm it....'

What it so difficult about that....and PADI is always bitched about, oh crap I may have started another split in the discussion topic!

B)

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#89 giftie

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 10:24 AM

My 2 cents to the discussion:

1st: it seems that we are debating what would/would not constitute harassing marine life based on our own , human, perception, i.e. what we may consider as harassment does not necessarily translate as harassment to many marine creatures but our ignorance about marine life should not be an excuse to do whatever one feels like.
Now I have seen by myself (and several times) the damage that nets of these local fisherman (that environmentalists seem in general to consider as "sustainable fishing practices") do to the reef and I can tell you that if I had absolutely no buoyancy at all and was dragging on the bottom the all time I would still do much less damage than that fishing net that is thrown twice a day, 365 times a year, by that particular fisherman, which is one of the many living in that fishing village! So sorry, putting one or two fingers (or using a stick) on a bare (or slightly less) patch is nothing compared to the damage the reef incurs from fishermen, local or otherwise on a daily basis.
Some of you seem very concerned with the small picture rather than with the big picture and I would like to know how many of the 71.57% have not eaten any fish (either from the non-sustainable fishing industry or the so-called "sustainable local fishing") for the last 2 years let's say?
No, the problem are not the divers (not yet i.e.) and whoever seems to think that we are responsible for the actual state of the oceans and/or the reef, is to say the least, shortsighted.
2nd, I do not believe that touching a marine animal does any good for the animal (in general terms i.e. I have been known to touch a number of turtles and they seemed to appreciate it enough to stick around perfectly still, waiting me to work on a few more of their parasites), so in general touching marine life it is out of bounds for me, the same goes for following an animal after a very short period, he is using energy to get away from me, energy is a precious commodity (well for some of us i.e.), by making him use a considerable amount I am for all practical purposes reducing its chances of survival.
Sorry, there is no such thing as no impact, what is needed is to minimise the impact. To use, or not use a finger or a stick is rather meaningless compared to the impact associated with other human activities (like fishing).
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#90 John Bantin

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 11:04 AM

Do you eat fish?

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#91 giftie

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 11:23 AM

No, not anymore, I decided to stop eating fish almost 2 years ago, not that I did not like to eat it until then but I believe that this industry and their empty sea practices must be stopped, demand drives the supply.
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#92 Paul Kay

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 01:33 PM

Some of you seem very concerned with the small picture rather than with the big picture


If someone doesn't care about the 'small picture' do you think they are bothered about any 'bigger' picture?

But I do agree that it is easier to deal with a problem we can individually see and do something about than the more 'abstract' problems involved in more global problems.
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#93 Drew

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 11:05 PM

I once had a female guest insert her hand into the cloaca of the Manta .... Apparently that's what they used to do on the first trips there and it is why the Mantas come so close.
Not sure i fancy been elbow deep in a manta though.... blink.gif blink.gif guiness.gif


Again a few notches down when you post. :excl: That sort of interaction is plain weird. Sexually stimulating a manta to keep it around?!? Imagine the diseases one would give to the manta. Actually, I don't want to imagine that at all.
But it does bring up the question of behavior of yesterdecades's divers vs the modern diver. I mean Cousteau and others from '60s to '90s have had interaction with marine animals that would seemingly make this crowd drop their jaw in shock. When did this new movement start? Was this due to the rise of PADI mass certification? With my YMCA and NAUI certifications, I can't remember interaction being mentioned.

...Some of you seem very concerned with the small picture rather than with the big picture...

Trust you to bring in philosophical arguments to a very simple thread :). It's unfortunate that some people who take the big picture view to justify harassment the issue.
"Reefs and fishlife are going to disappear in 20XX so what's the big deal if I poke this thing to get my shot so I can show my grandkids what fish there were before it all went dead."
As PGK wisely states, the attitude over something like interaction with marine animals often reflects that person's attitude towards the 'big picture.'
Don't forget that 1 billion people rely on seafood alone for their food. Having spent a bit of time with Indonesian marine park managements, I see that fisheries management is working hard to protect the reefs while enabling the locals to feed AND make a little money exporting their fish. It seems sustainable to that end, barring an ecological effect that is beyond fisheries control.
Ocean acidification, global warming, chemical runoff, toxic/sewage waste dumping, oil spills, plastics... all those things (and many more) affect the ocean. Overfishing isn't merely a function of demand for seafood. It's also about governments keeping people employed so they can keep their votes. Democracy is a bitch sometimes too.
On the bigger picture, we are all hypocrites. Right now, the products we use to type this can't be that good for the environment. It's using electricity (at least mine is partially offset with solar power :( and we use it to plan trips that use 4000 liters of petrol and motor oil in a month, some of which is leaked into the ocean via the outboard motor.
So how minimal is our footprint vs the fisherman who line fishes from his dugout, bring home his fish to be eaten in his non-electric powered home in the Sulu Sea?
Minimizing our footprint is a great step. Then we should push one step more after that and minimize some more. It's the industrialization of our civilization that has given us much of these problems the planet is suffering from. I don't see too many volunteers wanting to go back to the stone age. See how trying to bring in the 'big' picture does nothing but stall any action on the little picture? :P
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#94 AllisonFinch

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 08:48 PM

What i do think is "nuts" though is that you think that all people are responsible sand spike users, you may very well be the epitome of perfect sand spike use, but there are lots of people who blindly stick them into everything from hard corals to anemones. Ask Pakman, he's Korean


I don't think ALL people using spikes are any more responsible as ALL people using "one finger". I only ask that you don't assume that if I carry a spike I will be murdering everything I see. Many of us are much more responsible in their use than you think.

BTW, Pakman, should I take umbrage at the remark made about you on the above quote.....

#95 CamDiver

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 09:12 PM

Opening up a crap storm......

Personally I think so many people are seemingly up in arms about touching and harassing as this provides a smoke screen from their real underwater behavior. I'm not saying all, I'm saying a certain percent. Certain image chasing 'Icons' who post on these pages show zero tolerance for the marine world.

Whilst I didn't personally witness it I do have first hand accounts from sources I will never doubt of an IMAX crew in Palau walking their heavy camera system across the reef at Blue Corner due to currents. When the film came out everyone was cooing and ahhing and piling kudos on the filmmakers.......if people really knew.

When we're all scrambling to the last remnants of the Worlds reefs to take images of the last remaining White Tip Reef Shark I guess the error of our ways will then sink in. I guess then there is always topside nature photography.

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#96 zippsy

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 09:46 PM

What i do think is "nuts" though is that you think that all people are responsible sand spike users, you may very well be the epitome of perfect sand spike use, but there are lots of people who blindly stick them into everything from hard corals to anemones. Ask Pakman, he's Korean

BTW, Pakman, should I take umbrage at the remark made about you on the above quote.....


No. He should.

#97 anthp

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 10:27 PM

I have just read all the posts in this thread since its inception. It has been a fascinating discussion indeed.

Some of the views on manipulation do not sit well with me, but I applaud the concern for ecological well being, which presumably underlies the fervour.

Like many of us on wetpixel, I trained as marine ecologist. If I witness behaviour which I believe to be harmful, I generally attempt to diplomatically question the person about whether they have considered the implications of their interaction. If the interaction involved moving a seastar, I probably wouldn't bother other than to suggest returning the critter to its original location. But if it involved intentional coral breakage, I'd certainly feel compelled to 'have a conversation' although I do take the point about live aboard confines. Other degrees of manipulation such as prodding, poking and flashing are really too ambiguous for me to generalise about. Perhaps it is like pornography - "One knows it when one sees it."

Personally, I was disturbed last year by the actions of a dive guide I witnessed at Mabul. The guide called me over and then proceeded to bend a gorgonian out of shape almost double, to expose a pygmy for me to photograph. It was my first dive with this particular guide. My waving and head shaking elicited profound confusion in the guide underwater, but we had a useful topside discussion afterwards and he graciously modified his behaviour on subsequent dives. Perhaps I should have had the conversation before the dive, but the general principles espoused by the resort included 'no touch' policies which were clearly applied in the loosest possible sense. I have no doubt that the reason he mauled the gorgonian was because he had been previously rewarded for it. As noted earlier, it certainly isn't the guide's fault when poor behaviours are reinforced by tips.

Personally, I find it a challenge to reconcile the view that a slight movement of a seastar or the accidental touch of coral is heresy, but that there is no problem in living the lifestyle common to those of us lucky enough call any developed country home. The former has a relatively small impact, whereas the latter has potentially far greater consequences.

I cannot claim to be immune to the trappings of the developed countries. After all, I'm typing this on a computer as Drew noted above. We also have an air-conditioner in our rented flat and I'll probably run it when I get home tonight (the outside temperature today is 42C/108F). Our power comes through the grid, but we choose to pay extra to the electricity company to invest the equivalent of our consumption in solar generation to feed into the grid. I waste fuel flying overseas (like Drew and many others) at least once a year for diving, but I always offset my flights and voluntarily donate time and photos from the trips to environmental NGOs with a view helping them with their causes. I have been vegetarian (almost - see below) for more than a decade, but if I was being really good, I could choose to only eat locally sourced produce to minimise the carbon footprint further. I choose not to eat meat because I know the consuming it is a primary cause behind many of the bigger issues affecting our oceans raised such as global warming, chemical runoff, coastal sedimentation and eutrophication. The FAO agrees and are looking at strategies to mitigate the damage.

I work with a fisheries management agency in Australia and although I love seafood, I hardly ever eat fish. I only eat from fisheries I understand well and I'm very conscious of the fishing methods used. This year, the sum total of my seafood intake has been two snapper. Why did I eat them? Because I know the population in Port Phillip Bay is currently booming. The abundance is not governed by fishing or lack thereof but rather environmental and habitat factors are far more important. I know that there is almost zero bycatch with the hook and line methods used. I also know that because it is locally caught, the food miles are very low. Will I eat it next year? I don't know, I'm constantly reassessing. In other cases where I don't know the fisheries in sufficient detail or I know enough to know most things are a poor choice, I choose not to eat any seafood at all. For example, even in the best managed prawn/shrimp trawl fisheries in the world, a typical bycatch is 10 tonnes (sometimes double) of unwanted turtles/fish/invertebrates caught and killed for every 1 tonne of prawns. If that is the best case, I can't justify any prawns anywhere, even though I dearly love them.

As Drew suggests, it is about the degree of contribution/sacrifice we are all prepared to make. And it is also about awareness of the implications and context of our decisions.

I don't think it is reasonable to apply the same standards I choose to apply to myself, to those in developing countries. I am lucky that I have the money and the dietary flexibility to make the choice to not eat meat or seafood and can easily source a balanced diet without these components. On the flip side, I support subsistence fisherman in developing countries using their natural resources as food. I will go out of my way to assist them to use the most sustainable methods possible, but to deny them access without providing an alternative form of food/income is unreasonable and cannot be effectively enforced anyway.

What frustrates me, is the decision by some to not consider the broader implications of actions such as food/travel when they are in a position to choose, while at the same time condemning minor actions (such as moving a seastar) which in the broader scheme have little or no consequence. As others have noted, it is about the degree of hypocrisy.

That said, I think espousing responsible behaviours in the water such as minimising harmful marine life manipulation can only be a positive. We should all strive to have minimal impacts on the environments we cherish. I believe though, that any principles should be couched in the context of broader impacts on the environment and the consideration of all the actions we as individuals make, which affect the ecosystems we love and on which we depend.

So with this background I propose an idea. I see this debate on manipulation as a segue into discussions about the bigger issues that Drew, Paul and giftie have raised and what kinds of steps we can take to mitigate them.

Perhaps we can all diffuse into our respective communities and attempt to provide information to the diving and broader community (which is tough without being seen as didacts ramming dogma down people's throats) about making informed choices and thinking about the way we interact with the world in general.

I also heartily endorse the sentiment proposed earlier regarding avoiding magazines/books/photographers/movies which elevate shots of manipulated/damaged wildlife to brilliance. I don't personally have the experience to spot every instance, but would be delighted to learn. It is only through this forum that I learned of the IMAX indiscretions described above.
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#98 MikeVeitch

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 10:44 PM

No. He should.



Hehe.. no, its a private joke between them from another board.. they are friends

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#99 pakman

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:19 PM

What i do think is "nuts" though is that you think that all people are responsible sand spike users, you may very well be the epitome of perfect sand spike use, but there are lots of people who blindly stick them into everything from hard corals to anemones. Ask Pakman, he's Korean


I don't think ALL people using spikes are any more responsible as ALL people using "one finger". I only ask that you don't assume that if I carry a spike I will be murdering everything I see. Many of us are much more responsible in their use than you think.

BTW, Pakman, should I take umbrage at the remark made about you on the above quote.....





:D Oh, hehehe I didn't see Simon's post til now... LOL... Allison, it's an inside joke...



Yes, [sigh] it's in my blood... I have to fight the urge every time I dive to scrawl graffiti on brain coral with my pointer or stand on table coral. It's just part of my heritage, like Canadians who wear women's clothing and hang out in the bars... j/k



Back to the topic of u/w photographers behaving badly, I remember reading a story about a diver of a certain Asian nationality cutting up a frogfish with his knife after taking his photos to prevent others from getting the same shot during a competition... :) :P

Edited by pakman, 30 December 2007 - 11:21 PM.

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#100 MikeVeitch

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:54 PM

actually its the English who wear women's clothing and hang around in bars....

Such good timing that you mention that...

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