Inspired by yesterday’s Black Water dive I decided to leave the macro lens on my camera and photograph some of the reef’s smaller denizens. These types of dives are especially fun for me because I can stay in one spot and comb the reef for all kinds of unique and beautiful marine life. Our first dive was on the Corridor wrecks. A brisk north current meant finding areas leeward of the current to tuck behind.
I found such a place on the west side of the wreck near the southern end. This opening is also a favorite of the resident goliath groupers who watched me from the safety of the lower deck of the wreck. I hovered there for a while photographing the beautiful cup corals that cover the wreck.
After a while I headed out of the wreck and came across a large entanglement of fishing line. I never pass up the opportunity to clean up this mess as it can easily snag marine life including the numerous sea turtles that visit these wrecks. This particular fishing line, made of braided dacron, seems to be the worst of its kind, too. It resists cutting with a sharp pair of wire cutters that easily cuts through thick monofilament line. Its strong and flexible properties shear through sponges and soft coral easily.
I once found a hawksbill sea turtle so badly wrapped with this braided dacron fishing line around it flipper that a friend and I had to take the turtle to the marine life center where it spent months recuperating before it could be released back into the wild. The braided dacron fishing line almost cost this poor sea turtle its flipper. Many sea turtles aren’t so lucky and drown from an entanglement.
Fifteen minutes later things went from worse to worst… As I was traveling from one wreck to the next I came across a very sad sight. A sandbar shark lay lifeless on the ocean floor with a line wrapped around its tail. No doubt the work of some careless and cruel person. I am a strong believer that there needs to be a balance of predator and prey in nature, and I see nothing wrong with killing (sustainably) what you’re going to eat. But this senseless, careless, and wasteful act causes both upset and disillusion. I hope we will come to reason before it is too late.
The lifeless eye of a sand bar shark
On my second dive on Midreef I was hoping the ocean would mend my somber mood. One of my favorite fish, a redspotted hawkfish, appeared to be working a little harder than normal to bring a smile to my face. This elegant little fish with crowns on each of its dorsal spines along with its comical antics of appearing to be doing push-ups was bringing back that smile.
Countless other fish and a very friendly hawksbill sea turtle helped the hawkfish with his daunting task. Almost an hour past and I was left with the reminder that many other creatures depend on us to be their voice in the hope they won’t end up experiencing what that poor sandbar shark went through on her last moments of life. Never stop educating others and sharing your passion of the natural world.
I leave you with my favorite quote from Henry Beston in his book, The Outermost House:
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."