May 12th – The NSW state government has announced a new set of rules and regulations for diving activities by marine mammals. Whales, dolphins and seals will be required to be scuba certified for dives deeper than 6 metres or longer than 8 minutes starting in the third quarter of 2014. “We are concerned about the welfare of the marine mammal population in NSW waters and see no alternative to introducing a legal framework to regulate the diving these ocean users are doing” Trevor Snurp, the NSW government’s under-secretary for animal welfare said. “Far from being a symptom of a supposed nanny-state, these measures will ensure the safety of all dolphins and whales – those which the Japanese have not eaten so far. As you will remember, we had a couple of dead whales strand last year – definitely nothing we want children to see again. Proper training and regulation will ensure that we don’t have such unfortunate incidents in the future – don’t forget that some of these marine mammals dive many hundred metres deep and for more than half an hour.”
The national park service declined to comment on the new regulations in the absence of more detailed information on the planned measures. In contrast, several scuba industry spokespeople issued positive statements about the upcoming need for every whale, dolphin and seal to become a certified diver. “This opens up a tremendous new customer base for use, especially since all of these new divers will have to purchase equipment if they want to continue to dive” Greg Apnoekin from Dive Centre Seven Hills said. “We are currently working on the procedures to teach such rather, ahm, plus-sized clients.” he added.
While dives by marine mammals are currently still, for a few more months, un-regulated, you (as a human) actually need a scuba certification to go scuba diving safely – and you should get one, since diving is one of the best things in the world! I just became certified as a scuba instructor, so if you’d like to learn to dive, please get in touch with Abyss Scuba Diving and tell them you’d like to take a course with me.