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#41036 - 06/20/01 01:44 AM Taking Care of What We Love
ScubaLdy Offline
QUICK TRIP
A week ago Sunday I woke up and realized the only way I could make a decision on which piece of property to purchase on a fantastic island in Belize was to go look at it. I found a round trip fare on American Airlines from San Francisco to Belize City for $445.00. How could I not go?
I won't bore you with the details that would only interest those also purchasing but do want to give a short report.
This was my fourth time to Ambergris Caye and I am so happy to say that I have made some wonderful friends there -- you know who you are!
After doing business in Belize City, where the secretary kindly made a reservation for me on the last Tropic Air from Muni Airport to AC and called a cab for me, I got to sit in the co-pilots seat. I'm a big woman and it was a squeeze getting up there but it was definitely worth it. I got some very good pictures.
I was horrified with what I saw coming into the landing strip! It looked like WWII internment camps being built just south of the airport. When I asked the pilot what it was he casually said "new development."
I later found out from my friends this is the housing being built for the new St. Matthew's Medical School. I know the school and hospital are topics of conversation and for the purposes of this post I will not go into that. What I am concerned about is how anything so UGLY can be going up on such a beautiful island.
Although I considered this a business trip, of course I packed my dive gear. I wanted to get out to Lighthouse Reef and dive boats are the only way to do that. Pity -- beauty and diving too! But I made the sacrifice.

I'm not going to say what dive shop I went with because the stuff that upset me had little to do with them and it would serve no useful purpose.
Let me tell you what I have loved about Belize over other dive destinations I have been privileged to see: Belizians love their reef and other natural resources and have never been afraid of offending anyone by setting strict limitations on visitors. And, I want to remind everyone that we are ALL VISITORS when we are in the ocean!

Uniformed, unconcerned, or simply stupid divers have trashed many breathtaking dive sites in the South Pacific. Although most of the Belize reef is not world class diving, it is alive and well and loved. The Atolls however are wonderful. Keith wiped out a lot of the big sponges and corals on the north end of Turneffe, so don't let the dive boats take you there.
In addition to my dive buddy and me there were twelve newbie divers. The most experienced one had about 50 dives, one gal had just been certified the previous week. I remember when I was new and I talked with three of the women who were having anxieties on the way from AC to Turneffe, so please don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about being inconvenienced. I even spent some time helping the one-week gal getting horizontal instead of sitting in the ocean.

On all my previous trips there was a strict "No Gloves" policy. I couldn't believe it when I saw one dive team putting on gloves. The one with thick gloves had a simple camera set up. I watched as he grabbed onto the nearest thing to steady himself to take a picture. The dive master did not say anything to either of them after the dive. On the next dive it was a different dive master and after the dive he did say something (privately so as not to embarrass them).
Also on the second dive the instructions were to go no lower than 85'. This was a Vincente Wall the viz. was fab. We were all drifting down nicely when I heard banging on a tank. I looked around to see the dive master screaming down the wall. Way below him were the shadows of two divers going very deep. I later found out he caught up with them at 135'. Of course they were into decompression mode but didn't know what that meant. The only stop they made was 3 minutes at 15'. The dive master did his deco stops and as a result ran out of air. Fortunately my buddy still had 1500 lbs. so they buddy breathed for 5 minutes at 20'.
The two deep divers still did not understand that they did anything wrong.

On the last dive we found a wonderful BIG Green Turtle. Between the dive master, my buddy and I we were able to circle him in a big sandy bottom so that everyone could get a close look. Please pray for me that the one shot I got with him filling my entire 15mm lens will come out. What we were doing was not stressing the guy at all; he lumbered around in a circle until one IDIOT tried to grab hold of his shell. The turtle was gone under him and over the wall in a flash. I was the last one on the boat and as I pulled off my mask I asked, "Who touched the turtle?" Young Mr. Newlywed gleefully said, "I did!" I yelled don't ever do that again. Don't touch anything." His bride said, "Oh, he was going to catch a ride on it." I said, "If you had done that I would have to kill you." There was a lot of silence after that.
What's my point?
I had to be taught how fragile our Eco-system is. I therefore am responsible for teaching others. But, the scuba instructors out there need to be teaching this along with Navy tables, nitrogen loading and all the stuff to save the divers lives. We also have to teach the stuff to save the dive sites lives.
Thanks for hearing me out -- and hopefully helping others and me by speaking up.
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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#41037 - 06/20/01 02:32 AM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
seashell Offline
A year ago or so ago, on one of my dives, it was the DM that was riding the turtle and holding it's "tail" to steer it. He handed it off to another of the divers. I was absolutely livid. Who do we report these episodes to anyway?! I made my feelings known once back on board but of course, that just made me the unpopular one. Too damn bad!
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#41038 - 06/20/01 07:21 AM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
Anonymous
ScubaLdy,
Thank you about my observation about the divers and my thinking about Belize, it is NOT the place for quality diving, I have said that and only got ripped on. There are much better places, but most who go to AC don't even dive. So for anybody to call it a quality dive destination is truly a newbie or a blind person or just a snorkeler. I have not been to no other place for the last 10 years who suggested to put on gloves, AC guides suggest it! IS that why the reef looks so shitty on AC! Can't they keep there hands off of the reef? I feel for ScubaLdy, as I have dove with many of those scuba idiots as she has described. As far as I am concerend the place should be off limits for several years to diving and fishing, so it can recuperate from the abuse of the weather and the underwater idiots.

GO FOR IT, TRASH ME IF YOU WANT. THE PLACE NEEDS MAJOR MEASUREMENTS TO HELP IT FOR FUTURE ENJOYMENT.

[This message has been edited by Idaho_diver (edited 06-20-2001).]

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#41039 - 06/20/01 07:36 AM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
ScubaLdy Offline
Idaho
Have you ever heard the saying "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar"?
When you get so agitated and attac, people will automatically get defensive and you loose your power to contribute constructively. Then you end up being the topic, instead of the very legitimate topic you want to address.
Belize does have some GREAT diving. I wouldn't be going there if it didn't. It also has some so-so diving which may be all some people want/need.
Everything needs respected. That can only be accomplished through education and information. Actually the more people dive in an area the better it can be understood, appreciated and protected. As divers it is our responsibility to carry the message about this wonderful resource
I think you misunderstood me - the dive master did NOT suggest people wear gloves. I've never heard of a DM doing that.
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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#41040 - 06/20/01 08:05 AM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
Anonymous
I guess I must have misunderstood you, but it is to late to go for it now, but our dive master did suggest for those who had gloves to put them on. As far as catching more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Go for it, I don't like flies, they are a pain in the ass like idiot divers who are able to go the blue hole or equal depth and manhandle the corel and sea life, and could not give a hoot of there safty or others. What can I say , if belize has some great diving, I never seen it, AND I never took a picture to prove it, and I can operate a camera with the best of them,

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#41041 - 06/20/01 10:06 AM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
KC Offline
Scubaldy -- Thanks for your post. I appreciate the concern you have for the reef and how it is being treated.

And I think that most people know that "attitude is everything."

Kathy
_________________________
"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

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#41042 - 06/20/01 04:09 PM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
AC Beach Bum Offline
Idaho Diver,

Surely you must not realize what a moron you sound like when you make comments like that. I though that Scubaldy was making a point that is often over looked on this board and in the diving comunity in general. I am not a diver, but I very much appreciated her eloquent and gentle plea to preserve the natural resources she so loves to visit underwater. She never said she hated Belize and the diving there, but that's really what you were hoping to find in her report, I guess. Her post was more a public service announcement.

You pounced on her report as an opportunity to create that "balance" you see is so lacking on this board. Are you still so angry about your trip that you have to say such hostile things as the confrontational comments you made? Yes, we are all aware of your photographic talents and what an experienced diver you are, but what exactly do you feel you are contributing to this board with your angry remarks? Really, I am very curious. Balance? I don't think so.

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#41043 - 06/20/01 04:34 PM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
coconutlady Offline
AC Beach Bum,

Amen. Amen. Amen. Congratulations for the ability to be far less "direct" than I might have.

ccl

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#41044 - 06/20/01 04:41 PM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
BRYORS Offline
SCUBALDY
Thank you for your post. As many new divers are obviously reading this board it is good that we can help educate them on proper dive protocal. My diving in Belize was fine. I've had better and I've had a lot poorer. I am in the Pacific Northwest (came from Idaho 10 years ago) and any chance to dive warm water is greatlly appreciated. For those who are worried that they will be dissapointed in the dives, don't. There are more spectaculor dive sites but for the vast majority the experience will be great. Though nothing has been said I find that Belize has lots of little things (small sea life) that can make a dive interesting. Sharks are okay to start with but the sea has lots more to offer if a person takes the opportunity. I have never been bored on a dive anywhere. If we are on a boat with new divers (lets show respect because they need to be educated) help them out. Our sport will be better because of it. (Hey Idaho, I came from Pocatello. Where are you from).

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#41045 - 06/20/01 04:42 PM Re: Taking Care of What We Love
JillB Offline
I am very grateful Scubalady took the opportunity to bring this subject to our board. Although I am "only a snorkeler" I've seen plenty of careless snorkelers over the years who don't realize what a gift it is just be in the water and enjoy what God has provided for us there. This board is the PERFECT place to discuss this because people don't always realize what results their actions in the water have and I think if they knew what they were doing to impact the environment they would change.

So, let's make this a constructive conversation. What can we do to help. Perhaps we should suggest to our DMs and tour guides before we go out that they instruct the group in snorkeling and/or diving etiquette. A little talk above board can save a lot of coral below the surface!

Peace!

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