How wonderful life truly is, how precious is every moment, every breath we take, and every thought we think? What is a life worth, and what roll do we play in the cycle that unravels each and every day?
The enjoyment I get from spending time under water is something that knowing the feeling, I would regret it if I never did. Today I did my second dive for the weekend after spending time under Flinders Pier yesterday without my camera, experiencing what I will call my Walter Mitty moment, just swimming around with 3 large Smooth Rays that were feeding, and the multitude of weedy sea dragons that are currently living there as my wife Julie swam around with her camera capturing images that I was not able to. As well as these creatures we watched as all sorts of fish life swam cautiously around us, and from time to time we would come across those that that were so inquisitive and seemed to hold either little fear, or they know who we are and how much life is valued by us, in return offering us their trust.
Sadly, there are those people out there that do not share the same feelings as I, and whilst I will always accept that not everyone gets emotionally attached and that fishermen do catch the unwary creatures, I still harbour a feeling of sadness for my fish friends. I have and will continue to talk about respect for life and educating people to understand the importance of life.
So back to today, dive two for the weekend which found me at Flinders once more with my long time dive buddy PT, where the tide had just changed from low to incoming, where the winds had eased, and the water clarity was very good indeed. Initially PT suffered from camera issues, and ushered me onwards whilst she took care of that. I made my way with video camera in hand and captured valuable minutes of footage of the weedy sea dragons, and the fish life under the pier. The juvenile fish that swim around the old engine block towards the end of the pier always hold my interest, and today as I swam, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the large rays that had appeared yesterday. As I passed the engine block, I looked into the distance and a familiar form was spotted. After last week coming across the remains of a swell shark that had previously swam around us searching for food, I was excited to see another lying quietly on the sandy floor. It swayed in the gentle current as I watched and I manoeuvred to face it.
Something wasn’t right as I stared into blank eyes, and my heart sank. I reached forward and as my finger touched its lifeless body, I shuddered. As I looked at its intact body I asked myself, why? This graceful creature that would cause no harm to any human, I searched for answers yet they could not be found. As I rolled its limp body over, the absolute horror of its death became evident. Its lower jaw was torn, hanging from its body, and it was obvious that it had been caught by some fisherman who was hoping for something more and had probably become infuriated by this shark that had taken his bait, wasting his time. I could only imagine what was felt as the fingers of the fisherman’s hands were prised into its mouth, as it more than likely fought without understanding, then as its flesh was torn, it would have been thrown back where the last of its life faded away. Why could it not have been unhooked then thrown back in, released to live on its life? Surely it was not so much of a nuisance that it needed to be dealt with as it was. At least the last one I had come across was taken for food, even though the previous meeting had made that distressing, but this was just a waste of a life. Such is the ignorance and disregard that some fishermen have. I know it is wrong to judge them all by the actions of a few, but then for me, such is life.
By now anger had overcome me and I felt like I have not felt before, I had no answer for why it was done and could not understand why I could not have been there to save it from this terrible fate. Mine is now to make people aware, make people think, make people respect life as if it were their family member. This has been one of the saddest days of my diving life, because today I witnessed stupidity, I witnessed the worst of humanity. Now, I will say this and be very clear. I do believe in karma and the person that did this will one day pay the ultimate price for what they did.
So how do I change the world, how do you help, if you so choose to? The only way is to respectfully speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves, those that are seen as lesser in life to human kind. The next time you walk a pier, don’t be afraid to speak up, don’t be afraid to tell people if they are doing something wrong. The more people that have the courage to do this, the more awareness we will create.