It has already been way too long since we got wet and who knows how much longer it will be before we can go diving again, other than alone at a local dive site that may be open, if we are lucky.
The coronavirus outbreak is an eyeopener in so many ways. It is giving us lessons on what is important. When the pandemic hit in earnest, many of us suddenly found ourselves focused on more basic needs than usual. If not food and shelter, then at the least, safety and health, and the wellbeing of our loved ones, some of whom we were not permitted to visit.
Last week, our good colleague Stephan Wheelan wrote an excellent recap "The Day the Diving Stood Still" - Is the diving industry facing an existential threat from coronavirus?" on his website, DeeperBlue. It is close to what I had originally intended to post here today, but Stephan beat me to it. Instead, let me expand a bit upon the matter.
Local diving recommencing
Local diving seems to be recommencing in some countries, depending on what local regulations permit. Supervised or guided dives at various local spots are now on the calendar again and off to at least a modest start. One Italian operator explained how he hands out masks for clients to wear aboard his dive boat and everyone is supposed to sit at least one metre apart.
A thought that crosses the mind of many divers at some point in their diving lives is: “Do I have what it takes to be a full-time dive professional—or even just start a scuba side hustle?” The enticing concept that if you are a keen diver, you can turn your hobby into a career is one that commercial training agencies promote heavily because they make good money from instructor courses.
Who would have thought that the day would come when I would publicly state that there are more important things in life than diving. After all, the aquatic environment has been my passion and calling for as long as I can remember. I was that toddler on the beach collecting starfish and small crabs in my red bucket, the public swimming pool was my preferred playground after school, and I specialised in aquatic ecology for my master's degree, not to mention taking up diving early on and becoming an underwater photographer.
The international dive community was shocked and grief-stricken when the news broke of the devastating fire that consumed the award-winning California-based liveaboard Conception and the 34 people who perished, including divers and crew members. The accident struck close to home, as many of us have taken dive trips on liveaboards at some point. Some among us had even been on that particular vessel.
What we see is that sharks are being targeted by international factory fleets around the world who trail millions upon millions of baited hooks through their realm, trawl the sea floors for rays, skates and other bottom dwellers to 4,000 metres, and slaughter them by the millions. Sharks are the only profitable prey remaining, now that ninety percent of the original (fish) fisheries are fished out.
In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, historian Yuval Noah Harari traces the path left by Homo sapiens as our species spread over the world, causing the extinction of other human species and sub-species, and half of the planet’s big beasts. He describes the extinctions as happening in three waves.