lets stir it up a it - what do you think?

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Postby douglasjhoffman » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:01 pm

How many of you out there think its a good idea to use bait to attract fish or sharks for the sake of photographing them?
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Postby smb2 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:40 pm

I thought I was shark bait.
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Postby James » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:07 pm

In general I do not think it good for the animals, terrestrial or marine, to bait/feed/manipulate natural behaviors in order to facilitate some human desire.

However, I am guilty so will throw no stones but still think it is a wrong thing and blanket statements can always get us in trouble such as "never".

I also think that using trained animals or effectively training wild animals to do something in order to get a photo might be unethical in some cases.

I am a believer in the "take nothing but memories (and photos) and leave nothing but bubbles" and I will add to that, do or cause no harm, operating rule.

James
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Postby bvanant » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:14 pm

I don't think it is OK to do and I don't participate in dives where it is done. I am glad that Scott changed his shark category in the photo contest to animal portrait since most of the really cool shark pics I have seen were from baited/chummed dives. I know many folks think it is fine to do and more power to them, but for the most part, include me out.

Bill

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Postby smb2 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:01 am

Have to agree with Bill. Have done one baited shark dive and got bad photos because there were just to many sharks! (And the current was ripping.)
When you are underwater and a shark shows up it is just cool to watch them in their natural behavior. I have no experience with carnivores on land but captive bird photography (especially when not captioned) isn't really nature photography, for me.
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Postby douglasjhoffman » Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:05 pm

Thank you everyone for your response. It seems were all a bunch of naturalists at heart.

I think it is wrong to change the behavior of any animal be it a nudibranch or a shark for the sake of a photograph.

However, when thinking in terms of conservation some of the shark feeds have a great impact in that large fishing reserves have been established. Each day the people that experience a shark dive go home with the desire to protect sharks and eliminate shark fin soup. Hopefully the images created during these feeds are used to change social attitudes that all sharks are bad and should be killed.

Sadly only a small population of the world share a conservation mindset. So in a way it is up to those that dive and care to share knowledge and end ignorance. That means telling the world population to stop eating shark fin soup.

I would love to hear more comments...................
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Postby bvanant » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:38 pm

Douglas:
If you look at my avatar, you see that it is a nudbranch sliding across a slate, i.e. my white balance slate. Certainly in real nature the nudi would not have had the opportunity to slide across a piece of white plastic; in fact, I nudged him (just a tiny bit) from sliding across the sand to sliding across the slate. I did in fact change his natural behavior but I don't think it was harmful to him/her and I certainly have moved my share of nudis here in calilfornia if they were in a place that I couldn't get a good look. I think we can take things too far in both directions. I am not a fan of shark feeding or shark baiting but was thrilled to see tons of hammerheads in Cocos and Galapagos. Did we disrupt their natural life by being there and blowing bubbles? Who knows. Similarly I think taking 500 shots of a pygmy seahorse is probably detrimental to his vision since my 500 would be only the first of 15 folks shooting the samy pygmy. Do they mind? Again I try to be careful and think about what we are doing but I am guilty of inducing behavior (like putting a mirror in front of a pike blenny). I believe that it isn't causing harm but have no hard data to support my beliefs.

Bill

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Postby douglasjhoffman » Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:54 pm

I am asking these questions to create a dialogue and trying not to instill my point of view. I try to look at both sides of an issue in order to gain knowledge and help other people make good decisions.

I dont think using a mirror or even nudging a nudibranch is bad. However cupping one inside one's palm and swimming around until finding the right colored background to match a composition is something I would frown upon.

Early in my career I did some stupid things. Back in 1993 I was diving in Manado. I had a wide angle set up and while changing settings I looked down and saw a blue ring octopus. I swam back to the boat put my camera inside and grabbed a bucket and returned to the blue ringed octopus. I nudged it gently inside the bucket and put it on the boat while I changed over my camera to a macro system. A few minutes later I returned the octopus to the same spot and took 36 photos. After the roll was exposed I swam away. Looking back, I feel bad. However it is from those lessons that we learn.

I have over 10,000 dives and have been on three shark feeds. It took a lot to get me to participate. While I do not condone feeding or baiting, I do see some positive things as a result. The first is creating more good will ambassadors that will go home and become advocates for shark conservation. Second, I think establishing fishing reserves has done a lot to help protect fish stocks as well as sharks from being wiped out by fisherman. Third, the shark dive companies pay the local villages for the right to dive and this supports the local economy.
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