Cenderawasih Bay divers were arrested

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Ranelle Ivens


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Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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Welcome to post one of Mermaid Musings! Where you get to hear my personal thoughts and opinions on random dive/ocean stuff and happenings. To kick things off we’re going to start with a video that went viral this month and I’m gonna give you all the juicy deets. Let’s dive in and find out why these divers were arrested.

Earlier this month a video started circulating of several divers fin riding a whale shark a young whale shark. In the video it is very clear that the animal is stressed and struggling under the added weight. People everywhere were very upset seeing this endangered species being so abused, and rightly so. Luckily the authorities were on our side and several of the Cenderawasih divers were arrested.

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When I saw this video It made my heart hurt. Part of me wanted to cry for that young whale shark seeing him desperately trying to free itself from the clutches of those people. While the other half of me was absolutely livid with the divers riding him. Each of them smiling and posing for the camera like animal abuse is so cool.

It’s just so wrong

Truly, there are so many things wrong with this video! I wish I could say that these people had no idea what  was going on but as far as we’ve been told these guys were fully aware of their heinous crime. This makes it all so much worse, and I’m going to go through all the reasons why.

My List of Wrongs

  1. Look at that Whale Shark! The animal is so distressed! its struggling to swim, its trying to get them  off of him and nothing is working!
  2. There are so many riders! Way to many people are hitching a ride on that animal it’s obviously pushing him down deeper into the water.
  3. It is an Endangered Species! The whale shark is an endangered species world wide, and is protected by the United Nations through their CITES program, the ICUN redlist and many others.
  4. This animal is just a baby. Despite the size of the shark this guy quite young. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean reaching up to 12m (40ft) in length. This whale shark isn’t all that much bigger than those divers making it an adolescent. In fact, it hasn’t even reached sexual maturity yet.
  5. What the hell is the divemaster doing? This dive was guided by a dive professional, and generally, divers are told not to harass marine animals. it is the guides jobto enforce these rules. I know that if any of my divers were behaving in this matter I would be actively removing them from the shark. I would also be ending the dive right then and there.
  6. Fin riding is dangerous. I don’t care how fun it is, fin riding is very dangerous and can easily result  in death or severe injury. Especially if you don’t know what you are doing.
  7. The animal could get hurt. Not only is this whale shark stressed to the nines, it could be seriously injured. Most sharks, including the whale shark, need to continuously move forward to breath. This is because they take oxygen from the water that passes over their gills. Moving backwards through the water can actually cause the animal to drown. In the video we can observe the whale shark attempting to swim  upwards,but is pushed back down by the weight of the divers. In these moments the water is moving backwards over the gills, potentially harming the poor thing.

To be honest with you I could keep going on all day but let’s leave it there for now. These are the 7 most important faults. How this was allowed to happen is beyond me. At the very least it helps to know the divers were arrested.

Apparently they were told no touchy

Sometime after the video was released the dive company Sea Safari Cruises was found to be the dive operator. A local environmentalist group, Bird’s Head Seascape, confronted the cruise line about the incident. Read their reply yourself below.

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As a a dive professional I can certainly affirm there are divers who don’t listen to the rules about animal interaction. However, I can also say that it is our job to intervene when such behavior is exhibited. In addition to this, after reading some of the tripadvisor reviews for this company I am left questioning the honesty of their statement. I was dismayed to find several reviews indicating that divemasters were mishandling marine animals and plants, including blatant damage of coral reefs.

Cenderawasih Divers Were Arrested

We have to thank Rocker Kaka Slank and his twitter post regarding the incident for getting the ball rolling. After he tagged minister of marine affairs and fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti and Minister of Indonesia’s environment and forestry Siti Nurbaya investigations began. Immediately after, The Dive Professional also began assisting with finding the divers in question and filing reports to the appropriate dive institutions. Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved four of the divers in the video have been arrested.

After reports of arrests had been confirmed many people were celebrating. Yet, there were still a few saying that arresting the divers was a bit much. I even read some comments saying they should only receive a slap on the wrist. In my opinion, a slap on the wrist for the abusing and traumatizing a critically endangered species that is protected worldwide is not a sufficient punishment.

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The Incident Report

Once authorities were made aware it didn’t take long for before the divers were arrested, especially with the help of social media involvement. It turned out that the primary diver in yellow was indeed the dive guide. The others being clients from his group. This means that Sea Safaris outright lied in their release when they stated that their professionals were not involved and tried to stop the divers. I am lead to believe that rather, he was the one that initiated the behavior.

On the 14th of August it was reported that 4 of the divers were arrested. We have yet to hear of their sentencing. Recommendations have been made and speculated by The Dive Professional that seem fair but it is hard to say exactly what will come of this incident. Especially when so many people are requesting that licenses be completely revoked.


What do you think should happen to these people?

Do you have an opinion you would like to share regarding the video?

Let’s hear you thoughts! Leave a comment

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27 thoughts on “Cenderawasih Bay divers were arrested

  1. I wish humans in general had more compassion and respect for every other living being on this planet. It is hard to see how we are only growing from bad to worse every single day. Education is key. Looks like a lot of work has to be done before many get arrested like this…or stopped in their tracks!

  2. What a great blog post! It really breaks my heart too. – A.D Williams saying “When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.” <3

  3. Zero tolerance, no question about it. When the lines of allowance are blurred it becomes a slippery slope. Incidents like this should never happen. People need a higher regard for life of all kinds.

  4. It’s like visiting a monument and scribbling on it’s walls…can’t comprehend the thought behind both. Whether endangered or not, cruelty against animals should be strictly punishable. I feel this video shows bullies taking their work to the marine world and should be dealt with in a similar way. Enablers are no less blameworthy.
    – Nandita

  5. This is so shocking. I wish people would have more respect for our world. What makes people think they are a better species. I am glad they got arrested.

  6. I sure wish people would have more respect for wildlife and would remember to let wildlife be WILD. We have no right to interfere, especially to take videos and photos with an animal for our own amusement. I hate seeing this.

    1. I can state with confidence that if their licences are indeed revoked or suspended that education will be mandatory to reacquire them.

  7. Absolutely terrible. 🙁 Breaks my heart to see people act so selfishly and hurt others in the process. Glad to hear they were arrested, but should have never happened in the first place, especially on an organized dive with a divemaster!

  8. They deserve to be arrested, and yes, their licenses need to be revoked. They need to stay away from the sea, stop harming animals, and stop misleading people.

  9. It makes me feel sad after watching this video. It really shows here that the white shark is so stressed and wanted to be free from those divers. Those divers should be given a punishment because of their wrong doings.

  10. This is both sad and wrong. The fact that it’s been discovered the dive leader was involved is troubling. I’d think twice before ever booking a dive with Sea Safaris.

    1. I agree these people need to pay the consequences. At least reports say that the whale shark survived.

  11. This is terribe, Thank god they were arrested. YEs I agree that they sshould serve a several hours to the community. Shame on them.

  12. This is such a shameful act, the licence of the Sea Safaris must be revoked as soon as possible, this would be a warning for others. We don’t know how many times these people have done such heinous acts, this might be the first time a video came out.

    1. There was a report last year of a similar incident actually, and animal mishandling complaints dating back to 2009

  13. They should have to serve several hours of community service assisting in things such as beach clean- ups and other work to help the ocean. I don’t think revoking their certifications is appropriate it would be better to have them realize why they should be more responsible and respectfully to marine life and the ocean when diving.

    1. I think having them serve community service hours for marine benefit is a great idea! Also in terms if revoking their licences, at least with padi, they would be suspended until re-completing a marine awareness and proper conduct adjustment training. The instructor would need to retrain entirely likely. Also the will probably need to pay fines to the MPAs and local environment protection agencies

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