Along with what I imagine to be a good chunk of the worlds divers, I first learnt in Koh Tao, Thailand. This was only in January 2013. I imagine most people who learn to dive in Koh Tao only continue for a short while, but are happy to have their certificate, simply due to its proximity to Koh Phangan, the party island of Thailand. Why not learn something new if you’re so close to one of the cheapest dive destinations in the world?
Well, not only did I get my basic certificates for diving while travelling this year, but I continued diving as much as possible. Anywhere I go, I want to see the underwater world there too! In my eyes, any destination with a coast line now has 2 areas of life that I want to observe, the life of the people on land, and the life of the creatures underwater.
Not only does the diving as an activity interest me, but also how the creatures underwater live and their behaviour. When I was passing through Indonesia through the months of April, May and June, I was lucky enough to visit the famous islands of Komodo and Rinca, home of the Komodo dragons, the biggest lizards on the planet (they’re huge). While there, I decided to do a couple of dives from the nearest town of Labuan Bajo, on the island of Flores, as I’d heard it was a nice spot with lots to look at… 6 weeks later, trained as a PADI Divemaster I left!
Thanks to Marij and her team at Divine Diving (web/facebook), I learnt so much about diving, and how the underwater world works together, as well as developing a passion for the critters that live there. On occasion we would be diving, and hear a loud bang! After looking around to make sure that nobodies equipment had malfunctioned, we realised that it was a local fisherman using dynamite to assist in catching fish. This was one of the first things that opened my eyes to inbalance of the underwater world there.
There is one fish inparticular that I was lucky enough to see on a regular basis while there, the Manta Ray! While there I learnt a lot about these majestic animals, and one of the most worrying of these was how much they’re being fished!
The life span of a manta ray is thought to be between 30 and 40 years, so it’s granted that they live a long time, but due to this, they don’t see the need to mass reproduce, and therefore produce normally a single pup every other year. It doesn’t take a genius to work out, that if the adults all get fished, it’s going to take a long time for the population to restore itself, if ever.
I don’t normally do this, but after seeing it first hand, I think that this warrants a little bit of help off myself. I attended a meeting while still in Labuan Bajo hosted by a charity called Manta Watch. Manta Watch is an NGO who aim to get fishing bans, and then in turn complete conservation for fish like manta rays, whale sharks, napoleon wrasse, and various other endangered or at risk animals. If you can spare a minute, please help by either donating a little bit of money to the cause, or signing their petition.