You stepped on WHAT????..:
Why do people learn to dive? Is it so that they might explore the aquatic realm and experience (if only for a short time) what it must be like to live under there. Is it so that they might catch a glimpse of a few of the many wonderful creatures that live there? Is it to observe the behavior of sea creatures in their natural environment? Perhaps it is all of the above, and more.
It is not unusual for people to want to explore the oceans. It is natural for people to be curious about what’s down there. Taken with a bit of caution, a good measure of common sense and due regard I believe that this natural curiosity about the aquatic world can be both healthy and beneficial for the individual as well as for the environment.
The ocean can be a very dangerous place. There are many hazards and challenges that the aquanaut will face. The very fact that we, as air breathing mammals, are immersing ourselves underwater with only limited quantities of breathable air is in fact a hazard. Not to mention the myriad of other hazards one might encounter such as (currents, poor visibility, depth/pressure, strenuous activity of swimming, and oh yes sea critters that bite and sting and maybe even eat divers).
Too be sure, there are many hazards down there that the would-be diver must learn to manage. And as a dive professional, a concerned and conscientious instructor, I and my colleagues attempt to do our very best to teach our students how to effectively manage all of these hazards. But what about the hazards that we, as divers, present to those who live naturally in the aquatic environment?
As I have said before, we do everything that we can to make the experience of diving as safe as possible for divers. But what do we do to make the experience safe for all of those critters that we are going to visit?
Our mere, brief intrusions into their world can constitute a hazard to their wellbeing. Simply by swimming near a school of fish or a sea turtle may alter their natural environment and natural behavior. They are meant to be there naturally; we, on the other hand, are not.
By brushing up against a coral formation, we destroy possibly hundreds of years of colony growth. This damage affects the natural immune system that is in place, and so infections of bacterial and virus often follow.
By touching or petting fish, we are basically disturbing not only the animal but also the protective slime layer that is a critical part of their immune system.
By landing on, or setting down on the bottom, we are damaging both the bottom dwelling critters and their home.
All of these things are analogous to our world. If we get injured by the careless acts of someone else, what happens? What do we do? We are open to pain, physical degradation, and risk of serious infection.