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View Full Version : Trashing the wreck/reef?



ektess1
01-05-2009, 18:51
How do you handle this?

You are out on a charter boat. Its is a beautiful sunny calm day. A group of expienced divers having a good time. A mixed group of hunters, photographers, and divers down just enjoying the day. :smiley20:
You drop down to a pristine reef/wreck. Very nice viz, warm water, and almost no current.

Now here is were I have the problem. How do you speak, or do you, and when do you speak to somebody who trashes the reef/wreck? Divers not doing it through malise, but inattention or the desire for suveniors.

I am not talking about fishing. I am talking about kicking up the corals, taking shells, coral, parts of the wreck, etc. These things are what make the location beautiful, and I think that they should be left for everybody to enjoy. This includes the next boat load of divers.

No I am not, nor do I desire scuba police. I feel that we have a responsibility to protect renewable public property. It should be left to be enjoyed by all. In my mind it is no different than somebody going to a museum and taking home something that they like or accidentaly destroying something there.

I have spoken to people who were kicking up the reefs. Most don't know that they are doing it, or don't know how to not do it. I try to get their attention while they are doing it so they see what they are doing.

What do you do? How do you feel?

UCFKnightDiver
01-05-2009, 19:24
well if kicking up the reef, and there is visual disturbence after the fact I usually just get their attention real quick and point back where they were just swimming, also my way of telling someone that they are silting the place up.

BarbadosSlim93
01-05-2009, 19:31
You definitely should inform them that they are fudging up the reef, but be gentle about it, because as you said many of them don't know they are doing it. As a newer diver I try extra hard not to disturb anything but if I were, I would want someone to let me know. That is just me though.

If they are taking stuff though, that is not cool. I would be a little more rough about that. Like you said, its like being at a museum and taking something because you like it.

Splitlip
01-06-2009, 11:34
I have simply gotten the person's attention and wagged a finger or pointed. On occasion I have grabbed a harness to get attention.

One time a few years a ago a guy kept laying on and kicking the reef trying to pick through (shells?) . I made it my mission to stay with him and grab him every time he did. I figured if he wanted to go mike nelson on me, so be it.

I had a little cammera with me at the time and got clever. Kept shooting the flash off in his face. LOL

MSilvia
01-06-2009, 11:48
What do you do? How do you feel?
If someone is accidentally kicking or damaging the reef, I'll try to bring it to their attention underwater. If that isn't possible, or they don't get what I'm trying to signal, I'll mention it to them back on the boat in a non-confrontational way, and offer to give them some pointers if they're interested. If they don't have any interest in correcting the problem, I don't have any interest in diving with them.

As for removing things from wrecks, I believe it depends entirely on the circumstances. On a war grave, artificial reef/diver attraction, well-preserved, or archaeologically/historically significant wreck, I think removing things is wrong, and I'd discourage it strongly. On other wrecks, I have no problem with it. There are dives where I'd be pissed off if someone took a dinner plate, and other wrecks where I'd be happy to help someone remove a brass porthole.

If the wreck isn't of any particular significance, isn't in protected waters, and is in danger of being pulverized by the ocean (as wrecks in these parts often are), I say go for it. In my home waters, the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources mantains a list of "exempt" wrecks that divers can pretty much have their way with so long as no major structural damage is done.

JCAT
01-06-2009, 12:27
Well said MSilvia.

cheers

MSilvia
01-06-2009, 13:12
If they are taking stuff though, that is not cool. I would be a little more rough about that. Like you said, its like being at a museum and taking something because you like it.
Sometimes it's like stealing from a museum. Other times, it's like taking the cool shift knob off a junkyard car that's next in line for the crusher.

Roughwater
01-06-2009, 17:16
Personally, I think that you need to go about it calm and gently regardless of the situation. Some people are very passionate about their views and values in these situations on both sides of the fence. Being in someone's face about an issue isn't going to be received well.

If they simply weren't aware of the damage they were doing a gentle approach will go along way!

If someone has a different view to you as to what's acceptable there's no easy way of saying who's right and wrong (such as taking things from wrecks, etc - unless of course there is a law regarding it) .

Just because someone's more passionate about an issue doesn't make them more right. Instead - the best approach (IMO) is to be politely and discuss with them the reasons for why you believe their actions are not appropariate - and be willing to discuss with them.

I've found that debates can be great too - as long as they remain as debates. You always have a chance of learning from someone, and teaching someone in a debate. Once attitude comes into it, and it changes to an argument then all is lost. In arguments both sides have already decided they're right and aren't interested in listeneing - only telling - having no respect for anyone else's opinion.

Personally I don't believe in harassing another diver either below or above the surface. If you want someone to respect and listen to you, then you also need to be respective and willing to listen to them.

In saying that, personally I think MSilvia has hit the nail on the head. These are just my thoughts though - doesn't mean I'm right! ;)

firstdive2005
01-06-2009, 19:11
[quote=ektess1;259691]What do you do? How do you feel?
If someone is accidentally kicking or damaging the reef, I'll try to bring it to their attention underwater. If that isn't possible, or they don't get what I'm trying to signal, I'll mention it to them back on the boat in a non-confrontational way, and offer to give them some pointers if they're interested. If they don't have any interest in correcting the problem, I don't have any interest in diving with them.

As for removing things from wrecks, I believe it depends entirely on the circumstances. On a war grave, artificial reef/diver attraction, well-preserved, or archaeologically/historically significant wreck, I think removing things is wrong, and I'd discourage it strongly. On other wrecks, I have no problem with it. There are dives where I'd be pissed off if someone took a dinner plate, and other wrecks where I'd be happy to help someone remove a brass porthole.

If the wreck isn't of any particular significance, isn't in protected waters, and is in danger of being pulverized by the ocean (as wrecks in these parts often are), I say go for it. In my home waters, the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources mantains a list of "exempt" wrecks that divers can pretty much have their way with so long as no major structural damage is done.[/quote


I strongly second this as the approach to helping a diver change their dive attitude. Embarassment never works, nor violence. I did however remove a womans hand off of a turtle at Coz last year. Topside I did what Msilva suggests. It went well. I know I was told to get off the reef a couple times when I was a new diver. kev

Splitlip
01-06-2009, 19:17
[quote=ektess1;259691]What do you do? How do you feel?
I strongly second this as the approach to helping a diver change their dive attitude. Embarassment never works, nor violence. I did however remove a womans hand off of a turtle at Coz last year. Topside I did what Msilva suggests. It went well. kev

Good for you! :smiley20:

ektess1
01-06-2009, 20:09
As for removing things from wrecks, I believe it depends entirely on the circumstances.

If the wreck isn't of any particular significance, isn't in protected waters, and is in danger of being pulverized by the ocean (as wrecks in these parts often are), I say go for it. In my home waters, the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources mantains a list of "exempt" wrecks that divers can pretty much have their way with so long as no major structural damage is done.

I have never dove in your area so please excuss my ignorance. Do the wrecks in your area get trashed from the waves and currents more than in other areas? We have damage happen from hurricanes, and of course time does its own damage.

What is an insignificant wreck? If you spent the time and money to see it, if you enjoyed the experience of diving it, and if other divers fell the same way about it; then it is an important asset that should be protected not destroyed.

I don't know the wrecks in your area. Maybe you have stuff that nobody cares about. In that case, I can see your point.

I like to have something to dive on. Even if it is scrap, it is still better than looking at sand. These days, thanks to modern navigational aids and ship contruction, we are not creating enough new wrecks. As such, I feel that what we have should be made to last as long as possible.

ReefHound
01-06-2009, 20:37
The wreck diving community, especially the East Coast, has a long history of taking artifacts from natural wrecks. Unless prohibited by salvage laws or protected site status, it is considered perfectly acceptable. The "goodie bag" is a regular part of the diving kit.

Splitlip
01-06-2009, 20:40
The wreck diving community, especially the East Coast, has a long history of taking artifacts from natural wrecks. Unless prohibited by salvage laws or protected site status, it is considered perfectly acceptable. The "goodie bag" is a regular part of the diving kit.

And I say if the East Coast wreck divers can get on and into those wrecks "te salute" as long as they are not prohibited from salvage.:smiley20:

MSilvia
01-07-2009, 15:20
I have never dove in your area so please excuss my ignorance. Do the wrecks in your area get trashed from the waves and currents more than in other areas?
Compared to areas with famously well preserved wrecks like great lakes, yes, our wrecks get beaten up pretty badly. I don't know if our wrecks have it worse than others in the ocean, but we do get strong currents, big waves, and a rocky coastline. I've seen firsthand the speed with which wrecks deteriorate here.

There was a wreck I used to dive called the Nina T. Long story short, she was a a wooden fishing trawler that was scuttled in 1997. She sat at 105' fully intact and more or less upright, and was regarded as a classic New England wreck. Today, she's been beaten into a debris field and few divers visit her. She went down with some interesting brass fittings and other 'artifacts'. What benefit would there be in having left them to be swallowed by the sand as she broke up?


What is an insignificant wreck? If you spent the time and money to see it, if you enjoyed the experience of diving it, and if other divers fell the same way about it; then it is an important asset that should be protected not destroyed.
It may be a matter of semantics, but I didn't say any wrecks were insignificant. I said that a wreck might not be of particular significance, by which I meant that a wreck might not be one that's noteworthy. Noteworthy can mean different things to different people though.

If a wreck doesn't have anything to teach us about how people lived, built vessels, etc. in another era, it might be of little interest to a marine archaeologist. If it doesn't have any connection to the events that shaped history, it might be of little interest to a historian. If it's a nondescript wreck in a difficult to access location, hazardous conditions, or high traffic area, it may not be of interest to divers either, especially if there are numerous popular wreck dives in the area and many more in the are that are yet to be discovered.

Just to give a few examples of wrecks no one is particularly interested in:

A 40' cabin cruiser that caught fire and sank to 120' a 2 hour boat ride from shore.
A tunicate and sea squirt carpeted 130' fishing trawler that sank 200' from the dock in 30' of heavily sedimented and really yucky water in Boston's inner harbor.
A trash barge in 140' of water... one of dozens in the area that were scuttled.
A wooden schooner that, after being on the bottom for 20 years, is so battered and delapitated that it looks more like a pile of rotten lumber than a boat.
A cargo ship that ran aground in 40' of water, and after the cargo was removed was deemed a navigational hazard and dynamited.
A scuttled fishing boat covered with ghost nets at 240' in a dumping ground full of unexploded ordinance and industrial waste containers.

I don't know the wrecks in your area. Maybe you have stuff that nobody cares about. In that case, I can see your point.

We do... there are many hundreds of wrecks in the area, and there are dozens popular as dive sites. The others are either inconvenient, dangerous, uninteresting, broken debris fields, or not widely known.


I like to have something to dive on. Even if it is scrap, it is still better than looking at sand.
Me too. Structure attracts marine life, and I enjoy a wreck that's teeming with life.

These days, thanks to modern navigational aids and ship contruction, we are not creating enough new wrecks. As such, I feel that what we have should be made to last as long as possible.
Unfortunately, not all wrecks last. I agree that those that can be expected to should be preserved or, if salvaged, recorded properly by an archaeological team.

ReefHound
01-07-2009, 15:50
And then there's the Andrea Doria.

ektess1
01-12-2009, 13:28
Matt, thanks for the education.

I can see your point in some instances.

Most of our wrecks are artifical reef. Sunk on purpose for economic and ecological reasons. Manly tourism. Trashing them would seriously detract from their appeal.

I would love to find a pristine wreck: intact an unspoiled. Maybe after techa and CCR I will find my ideal wreck.

MSilvia
01-12-2009, 14:32
Matt, thanks for the education.

Sure... learning from each other is what these forums are all about.

Most of our wrecks are artifical reef. Sunk on purpose for economic and ecological reasons. Manly tourism. Trashing them would seriously detract from their appeal.

Artificial reefs are a totally different animal. In my area, we have what was widely known as NASTY coastline up until the advent of radar, and real wrecks were unfortunately common for hundreds of years if not longer. In researching just one area off the coast of my hometown, I found records of not less than 130 ships that wrecked in a roughly 3 mile radius between 1650 and 1830.

Given that local maritime history includes visits by Scandinavian and eastern European explorers, some of the first European colonies, hundreds of years of maritime shipping, fishing, and passenger transit, the American Revolutionary war, prohibition bootlegging, numerous conflicts in the world wars, and so forth, it's no wonder we have so many interesting wrecks up here. When all of that is on the menu, it's easy to have a cavalier attitude about "junk" wrecks.



I would love to find a pristine wreck: intact an unspoiled.
Finding new wrecks is awesome, and for me a big part of what wreck diving is all about. A nice artifact is more than just a "been there, done that" souvenier, it can be a vital clue to identifying a previously unknown or "mystery" wreck, and if properly preserved and displayed, it can be a great piece of history that people wouldn't ever get to see otherwise.

One of my favorite local charter boats runs a depth finder pretty much at all times when going to and from dive sites, keeping an eye out for anything that isn't a flat muddy bottom.

LRDWILDER
02-11-2009, 06:35
If they continue kicking the reef after I or several other people have noted it to them....well.....Thats what dive knives are for :-) From destroying the reef to becoming a permanent part of it :-)