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Don't be a Dick

Divers are dicks.

I mean, not all divers. Most divers are pretty hip and with it.

But divers are people and a strong enough subsection of people (and therefore divers) are dicks that things can all go pear-shaped quickly.

Because it only takes one dick to ruin the efforts of a community of many.

Let me tell you a story. It's one that many people know but it's generally spoken about in smirks, asides, and inside jokes. I'm going to tell the short version.

There's a challenging and remarkable cave that plenty of people have had the opportunity to enjoy. It's on private property owned by a large, very conservative, monumentally and famously risk-averse organization. When this organization was originally willed the property by the previous owner there was a line in the will that said that the cave would remain open to divers.

The dive community had generated that level of goodwill with this non-diving guy that he had written this into his will. The dive community managed to maintain that level of goodwill with the new ownership for decades through a carefully maintained guide program. We managed ourselves politely and conducted ourselves accordingly.

Then one person got it into their head that they were being unfairly treated. They started making a shit-ton of noise. They started writing angry letters to the national headquarters of the large, very conservative, monumentally and famously risk-averse organization.

Headquarters' response was, "We're allowing what? Where? Shut it down."

The entire cave diving community completely lost access to one of the most stupendous caves in Florida... no... in the world because of the selfish actions of one horrendously shortsighted asshat.

And that's the short version.

The reason I bring this story up is something I saw yesterday.

The family that owns Tux Kupaxa, the property with several cenotes into one of my favorite systems in the area, has been doing a LOT of work on their land over the last few months. And yesterday I saw the conclusion of that work.

They've turned it into an ATV park.

They mudpumped all the guano out of two of the primary cenotes (and laid fishing-line nets across the entrances so that bats will have a hard time getting back in) and installed generators to power a ton of undergound lights to make them snorkeling areas. They build a little rappelling structure to lower people down a well into one of them. They've got dozens of ATVs that will now be motoring around the place scaring the crap out of the wildlife so it's unlikely we'll see the monkeys there anymore.

Yeah... I'm bummed about all this. But I can't really fault the landowners. It's a beautiful place and people will pay to come see it and enjoy it in their (in my opinion somewhat warped) way.

And here's where I'm reminded of the story above. We, as the dive community, need to maintain the goodwill of the landowners. And part of what that means is that we will need to maintain the goodwill of their new customers as well.

I have been in mortal dread since I first saw the work start that one day some dick diver is going to say some dick thing to a snorkeler who will complain to the landowners. Or there will be a couple of yelp reviews about condom catheters laying around or divers being rude or in the way. And the landowners, seeing that ATV rentals and snorkel tours are way more lucrative that the idiot divers with their loads of gear, and their big trucks parked for hours, and their unfortunate habit of getting themselves hurt occasionally. The landowners will not like the complaints and say, "Fuck it; no more diving." And with that we will lose much of the access to some of the prettiest cave in Mexico... no... in the world.

Landowner and community relations. It's cave diving 101; discussed in the first hour of Intro class. Honestly, it's just common sense.

Yes, this is a bit of a heads up to divers about this one particular cave. But it holds true pretty universally:

Don't be a dick. Pick up after yourself. Stay out of the way. Politely answer the questions that "normies" might have about your dive gear or whether it's dark in the cave. Don't make a bunch of noise and complain to landowners about their decisions on how to manage their property. Hire a goddamn guide when you're going off the beaten track to someplace where you probably don't know the local manners.

And I don't think it takes too much of a stretch of the imagination for these rules to apply to wreck diving or reef diving either.

Be a responsible representative of your community.

As a fellow once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” When you see dick behaviour, speak up. As non-confrontationally and constructively as possible, obviously; in my experience just calling someone a dick doesn't help. Unless they are beyond help and refuse to correct themselves -- in that case you should DEFINITELY mock them mercilessly on the internet.

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