Are Scuba Divers More Curious About The Fish Or Are The Fish More Curious About Scuba Divers?

Are Scuba Divers More Curious About The Fish Or Are The Fish More Curious About Scuba Divers?

I experienced a first (at least for me) on a recent scuba dive. As I finned along a little bluegill swam up to my mask to check me out. Apparently he was awful curious about me because he hovered right up against my mask long enough that we ended up in a staring contest. I wondered how long he’d stay so close so I stopped to watch him. As I focused my eyes I realized that fish was close enough to my mask that my eyes crossed.

We hovered, staring at each other, for what seemed like four or five minutes, though I’m sure it wasn’t more than one. Probably more like 30 or 40 seconds. Then the little fish swam away on its way to satisfy some other curiosity. I continued my dive, and a few feet further on another bluegill swam up to me. He didn’t get as close as my stare down opponent, but he was close enough for me to touch him. In fact he hung in place and permitted me to touch his tail for a moment before he moved away. Scuba divers know fish are curious. On many blue water dives I marveled at how close barracuda came to me, looking me over. They never get within touching distance, but they often hover near, and I sometimes wonder if they’re considering me for their next meal.

Sharks are curious enough to bump you. I had one friend who learned that on a dive in the Bahamas. As he was snapping photos on the reef he felt a bump. At first he thought it was his dive buddy, and ignored it. A couple bumps later he spotted his buddy some way off. Looking around he noticed a hammerhead shark coming in for another bump. This time he pushed it off with his camera housing. After he pushed a few more times the shark finally gave up, and swam away. The hammerhead was curious alright, but most likely because he wanted to know if that diver was edible. The sting rays at Sting Ray City of Grand Cayman Island swarm all over any snorkeler or diver that gets in their water.

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They’re only looking for handouts because years of visitors feeding them squid taught them they don’t need to hunt for food anymore. That’s hunger, not curiosity. If you hover over a reef though you’ll find that many of the different fish come out to at least have a quick see, wondering about that strange object that’s moving around in their territory. And wary of being eaten themselves. In the stone quarries of the Midwest the fish always swim up to you for a look. I rarely see one get close enough that I can reach out and touch it. When one does it quickly backs away when I put out my hand to try.

Every cold-water dive brings the bass, bluegill, and crappie around for a visit. I never noticed this with the catfish. They never seem curious. It’s like they just want us to stay away, and leave them alone. I’ve never seen any fish come close enough, and stay there long enough, to touch before though. Those two little bluegill, on that one dive, gave me a unique thrill that I’ll never forget.