Effect of divers on fishes

mel keys mekvinga at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 26 10:15:20 EDT 2001

  Divers want to EAT fish.  They come someplace like
Bonaire, where I'm living at the moment, and go to
restaurants named "It Rains Fishes", and they order
grouper, snapper, barracuda, whatever Catch of the Day
is on the menu.  Spearing, traps and nets are illegal
here, but not hand line fishing, which is a viable way
to catch the preditors.  I carry scissors on every
dive to cut fishing line off coral.
  In Grand Turk, where _any_ fishing in the park is
illegal, there are many large preditors, seen on every
  If these fish are bothered by divers, they wander
off for the few minutes that the divers have for their
dive.  Perhaps they even learn the sound of boats
stopping, and bubbles, and leave the vicinity for a
short spell.  Bugged sleeping Nurse Sharks will do
that.  But, on repeated dives in the same area, the
same number of similar sized, similar species 
preditors will be seen.
  The few preditors I've seen at the "House Dive" for
Cap't Don's Habitat resort aren't very concerned with
me, unless I get very close, looking at them.  The
fish I speak of are one smallish barracuda, and
several Tiger Groupers.  Again, seen on every dive, in
an area that gets huge numbers of divers, at all
hours, every day of the year.
  Fish do learn to avoid divers where there is
spearing, such as St. Croix, USVI, where the fish are
generally much more shy than the fish here in Bonaire.
  It's the commercial value, the dinner plate, that
depletes preditors from reefs.
  I hope I haven't offended by not offering a
published scientific paper.  I do offer the
observations of several thousand Caribbean dives done
since I was certified in 1980.
  Melissa Keyes,
  s/v Vinga, Bonaire/ St. Croix

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