We just read a disturbing story of two dugongs, mother and child, that were kept on a chain in a little cage in shallow waters in Indonesia to be presented to eager tourists who could enter the cage for taking pictures with these endangered animals (selfie mania: stick to yourself!). Luckily two tourists not only refused to fall for this “attraction” and explained the status of these protected animals to the fisherman who caught and kept them, but also alerted wildlife authorities who freed them in the end (read full story on The Dodo).
It’s easy to blame the fisherman for imprisoning these gentle creatures, but truth is as long as there is a demand there will be a market. (That’s why the US war on drugs can’t be won by oppressing the producers in other countries, but that’s another story.) Therefore everybody: Please, be aware of the so-called tourist attractions that involve animals. Not always is the abuse as obvious as with a dugong on a chain in a cage.
In Bali we were constantly offered an island tour that included a stop for a very special coffee: kopi luwak. Ripe coffee cherries are eaten by the civet cat. While the pulp is digested the bean stays intact. Collected from the poo – actually here I wasn’t interested anymore – the beans are further processed. With so many tourists on Bali and all the tours offering this particular stop you can imagine how much poo has to be collected – every day. Instead of crawling through the bushes it’s much easier to catch a civet and forth fed coffee sherries to produce high quantities. Apparently all over South East Asia and for an international market… Tony Wild presented in The Guardian not only the development of this market, but also discussed a sustainable way of producing kopi luwak: Stay wild!
“Wild kopi luwak could provide smallholders with a premium product that also helps conserve the animal’s natural forest habitat. Maybe not so repulsive after all…”
Same goes for other animal attractions worldwide. There are very destructive and harmful ways and alternatives that can support local livelihoods and protect animal and their habitats in a truly sustainable way. We will put together some additional posting regarding tarsiers and whale sharks in the Philippines (to be linked soon).
But sometimes the only solution is: Stay away (like Boycott Seaworld)! For all divers and snorkelers it should be clear already: Don’t touch, don’t hold, don’t harass or chase (also not with that camera on a stick!).
If you want to see a dugong, find out where there are high chances of spotting them in the wild – without disturbing them. Apparently they can be seen in Komodo National Park. We keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open. But even without a dugong we have had fantastic diving, fascinating nature observations and unforgettable wildlife encounters on all our trips from Labuan Bajo. See for yourself in Yoeri’s clip for Uber Scuba Komodo:
We liked Bali from the moment we arrived: Already on the way from the airport to Radha Homestay we noticed happily how traditional styles are beautifully combined with natural, symbolic and day-to-day elements in a unique way not only within the many temples but basically everywhere: from houses to hotels, supermarkets and car parks. Sanur itself, even though highly touristic and definitely not the place we’d like to spend an entire holiday, has all these little statues, house temples, small offerings everywhere, including the narrow sidewalks, and an abundance of flowers, colours and smells.
Finally back in Asia! Before we had an exploration period in the West we worked in Blue Planet Andamans on Long Island in India. Bali feels like a little bit of India in Indonesia. It’s loud, smelly, dirty and crowded on the one hand, but people are happy, proud, kind, and spiritual on the other. And additionally there is nature in its tropical beauty and abundance. Bali touches the heart, soul and all senses, just as Long Island and India did too.
We are getting itchy feed. Last projects in Europe have to be finished this month, but all we can think about is diving! Thanks to Yoeri we have new clips to fuel our wish.
“The reefs of the Visayas I and II” are perfectly complementing “Critters” and give a very good overall impression of the best diving the Visayas have to offer. It made us think to go back there. After all we met in Alona Beach. In the end we opted for a fresh start, explore in a place new to the both to us. We wouldn’t mind to visit the Philippines again. See it for yourself:
The Philippines. Tropical paradise consisting of more than 7000 islands. More importantly, as part of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines offers some great diving. In this video we’ll introduce you to some of the lesser known creatures of the sea. The weird and wacky critters that make the oceans such an interesting and fantastic place to be!
We protect what we love. Therefore we’d like to share our love for the ocean: Videos, photos, diving courses and whatever else we do and support to save our seas.
You can read more about us and our approach to teaching divinghere.
Yoeri is has also been working as an underwater film maker for the last 14 years. Check his latest clips in our video section.
Nicki loves writing (our Blog and more) and taking pictures. As she just started with underwater photography you can find a lot of pictures on land in our photo section.