Some Important Information to Help you Stay Fish Friendly:
At Scubafish, part of our daily boat briefing informs you how to be “Fish Friendly”, that as an environmentally-aware dive operator we request that you do not throw any of your leftover food into the sea. Being fish friendly means that instead, you make use of binbags on the boat for items you intend to discard.
Feeding the fish is a bad idea for tourists, snorkellers, divers, the fish and the ecosystem.
Feeding the fish can result in any or all of the following…it can:
1.Disrupt the ecology
Over time this activity can change the behviour of fish, as they learn to connect snorkellers, divers and boats with feeding time. Marine life maintains balanced ecological relationships by competing for habitat and food. In many cases, different species share space and alternate the use of that space by feeding at different times of day. Some species do not interact at all. This balance of behavior can be interrupted by the introduction of a free meal. Unnatural feeding overrides normal competitive relationships among species and hand-fed fish are especially vulnerable to predators. Sensations associated with feeding can override other associations, including predator avoidance and protection. Competition for the handout interferes with natural instincts and behaviors, which are essential for survival and cohabitation with other species.
2. Have Dangerous health impacts to fish
Many of the foods (hot dogs, rice, bread, pretzels, potato chips, etc ) commonly fed to fishes will result in health problems for these animals, which do not naturally encounter such substances. Fish cannot handle hard fats. Fish generally consume a wide variety of prey in order to stay healthy and survive. To obtain the necessary nutrients, fish have complex feeding cycles. Over time a fish conditioned to a free meal may actually stop or interrupt natural feeding patterns and become malnourished, stressed and can even die.
3.Be a Danger to Humans
There are increasing numbers of attacks and bites reported by fish feeders and others in the vicinity because marine life mistake the actions of divers and snorkellers for feeding, or have lost their natural wariness of humans. At popular tourist destinations where fish are commonly fed, there are often incidents of accidental biting. In 2005 there was a highly publicized incident of a moray eel in the Similans used to eating sausages from visiting divers one day mistaking a divers thumb for a sausage and biting the whole thing off!!! It is only where fish feeding is common that such unnatural behaviors occur.
4.Damages the Environment
Many fed species are predators whose feeding habits play a key role in the balance of life on coral reefs. By supplementing the diet of these fish we interrupt this natural balance. When grazers like surgeonfish—which normally feed on algae—are fed by tourists, the surgeonfish eat less algae. With a reduction of grazing activity by these fish, the algae is left to flourish and potentially smother the reefs. There is much evidence in Thailand that fish feeding is increasing the number, severity and rate of Crown of Thorns (COT) Starfish outbreaks. COTs are a coral reef predator which climb onto the reef and eat live hard coral, each destroying 6m square each a year. Normally there may be 1 COT in a 100m square, but outbreaks of 30+ in this space have been reported. Sergeant Major’s naturally feed on COT eggs, triggerfish naturally feed on young and adult COT, and even parrotfish accidentally eat young COT when grazing. So by feeding these fish we increase the number of COTs that survive to destroy the reef.
It is illegal to feed fish in National Parks around Thailand-please do not feed fish.