One of the reasons that several years ago I stopped taking groups of people out in the wilderness to experience what I have the chance to live all year round is the risk involved.
When I talk about risk I don’t mean the direct risks that might be the consequences of diving with wildlife like being bitten, bumped, kicked, crushed or whatever might happen. I mean risk of bringing the wrong message to the general public withy events that inevitably occurs during nature based activities.
That can happen easily when you realize that a large percentage of people participating to wildlife encounter tours go to « thick » a box: hammerhead shark: checked, orca: checked, humpback: checked…the list goes on and on….
The people don’t really care about the wildlife but care more about the experience and what they can tell about it afterwards. Having a « close call » is then the trigger to an uncontrollable ego trip.
We ear a lot about the fact ecotourism helps to raise awareness and help conservation, it’s a way to look at it and most of the time it might be the case. But it only take a bad story to ruin a the all the effort that has been put into to support a cause.
Since a few days we see in all mainstream media the story of a snorkeler who’s been swallowed and spat out by a whale.
Well how stupid must you be if you are a genuine wildlife and nature lover to disclose and brag about such an event!
Everyone who has been in bait balls or other feeding events have had close calls, bumps and stressful moments.
The key is to learn for yourself and if you are a story teller show the beauty of what you’ve witnessed but not making cheap thrill entertainment out of it.
Although they claim the outcome because it shows that the whale didn’t wanted to harm him, I believe it’s totally out of line to use the story because it’ll get quickly out of hand in the media sphere.
This bring us into this over-mediatized world where news agencies will do anything to get clicks or likes and squeeze money out of stories.
Everyday tories are being brought by people who have no idea how the media world is manipulating them and that eventually their stories are being used against them.
That’s the reason I don’t have my pictures in media agency, it’s so easy to have pictures of humans and wildlife taken out of context: a picture of a freediver swimming peacefully along a large shark will be turned into a story saying « death defying diver escaped from being shredded in pieces by a mindless killing machine”
It is our responsibility to fight against that by keeping full control on the content we produce.
As a tour leader, organizer, it’s your duty to make sure things like that are not happening.
As a customer you must check who is taking you out there, what is their true code of conduct, not what they write on the brochure.
It’s of course too late for those inconsequent people, they did it, they’ve created a money making bullshit content. Let’s move on, let’s all learn from it to avoid more of it to happen and let’s question ourselves why we are going in the wilderness and why we want tell stories.