When SCUBA diving or snorkeling, it may be tempting to feed the marine wildlife you see. However, feeding marine mammals poses a number of problems for both animals and humans. In order to dive responsibly, and keep yourself and others safe, it is essential to avoid feeding marine wildlife.
A vital reason to avoid feeding marine wildlife is for your own health and safety. Many marine mammals can be forceful or aggressive when obtaining food, which could easily result in injury to the person feeding it. The person may get bitten or assaulted by the wildlife they are feeding, which could result in serious injury or death.
The continued feeding of wild marine mammals will encourage them to become too comfortable around humans. The mammals will eventually begin to associate humans with food and harass all the divers they come in contact with. As stated previously, marine mammals often become aggressive over food. Thus, not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you are endangering future divers as well.
The food you feed the marine mammal may not be biologically appropriate. Feeding a mammal a foreign or contaminated food item poses a serious health risk for the mammal. Without knowing precisely what the animal eats on a regular basis, feeding it human food could put its health in jeopardy.
Feeding marine wildlife encourages the animals to become dependent on humans for food. It weakens the natural hunting and scavenging drive of the animal making them less inclined to search for food themselves. This will make them more susceptible to predators, as it dulls their natural survival instinct.
It’s illegal, and for good reason. Given the previously stated reasons, it is clear that feeding marine wildlife has a profoundly negative impact on animals and humans alike. Thereby, the Marine Mammal Protection Act forbids the feeding of marine wildlife under any circumstance, resulting in penalties of up to one year in prison and $11,000 in civil penalties. Rather than put yourself at risk of legal trouble, simply avoid feeding marine wildlife altogether.