DeFINitely Hot: Jet Skis, Scooters & Co. - A plea for tech-free Wildlife Encounters
Encountering marine wildlife in its natural habitat truly is an exciting experience and people can consider themselves to be very lucky when they are surrounded by a pod of dolphins, when a blue shark is crossing their way or when they are able to witness a green sea turtle munching on jelly fish. Many of these encounters are possible because we are staying calm and do not make much ado about it as animals are quite sensitive when it comes to potential threats. One sudden, rash movement on our part and the magical encounter gets terminated. With marine species it is often not any different than with terrestrial animals - they can be quite wary in direct human presence.
Recently, videos that picture marine life being approached via jet skis or underwater scooters have gone viral on Social Media. While these devices are a fun addition to coastal and marine leisure and recreation in general, they are inappropriate when we want to experience marine wildlife.
What can go wrong?
First of all, these devices make a hell lot of noise which can compromise communication of dolphins. And if they cannot hear each other, chances are good they do not feel comfortable around you. When you are inexperienced in using an underwater scooter or a jet ski, it is possible you are losing control over your device which can harm marine animals. Especially juvenile dolphins are at risk to get harmed since they are not as confident in manoeuvring as their parents. A lot of marine wildlife gets injured or even killed by boat propellers every year because people are too fast and unfortunately, too inconsiderate regarding their surroundings.
What can you do?
If you encounter marine wildlife by chance when you are on a jet ski, reduce your speed or even better, switch off your engine and enjoy the show. Do not chase wildlife and keep a distance of at least 100 meters. This is the guideline for all boats - it doesn’t matter how small your ‘boat’ is ;)
With underwater scooters, you always should keep your distance. Do not throw yourself into a pod of dolphins! It provides super spectacular footage but it is at the expense of the animals that get irritated or even scared by the manoeuvre.
A rule of thumb is: If we cannot keep up with wildlife without using an aid, the animals are minding their own business and are not very keen to spend time with us. Wildlife that is interested and curious about our presence will remain close resulting in a sustained interaction. And in the end, this is what we are looking for, right?
Human-wildlife interactions can only work with mutual respect. Therefore, we should strive for minimal impact when we are visiting the deep blue. Grab your fins and your goggles and go back to basics.
Trust me, it’s worth it!