SSI Instructor Sanctioned With License Cancellation

SSI Instructor Sanctioned With License Cancellation

SSI instructor grabs this marine life

- Joe Belanger

YouTube video of an SSI instructor manhandling octopus got his instructor’s license suspended

A Vietnam based instructor, Mark Scott of Diving Vietnam and Aloha Vietnam Scuba Divers has had his instructor’s license revoked by his issuing organization, Scuba Schools International, SSI.

The reason for the case was a two minute long video posted on YouTube, and showing Mr. Scott during a dive pulling an octopus from its cave and holding it for the duration of the video, in spite of the animal both spewing ink (a stress and defensive response) and trying to escape several times.

Here's a very interesting article about The Smart Octopus: Diving With Octopus

Mr. Scott also pulls at the animal on more than one occasion to remove it from sticking to his arm with its suckers, something that poses a great risk to the animal, as it is an invertebrate, with no bone structure, and it is very possible for a human being to pull an arm straight off of the animal, which is very likely to kill it.

At the end of the video, the octopus accidentally pulls Mr. Scott’s regulator from his mouth.

He makes an attempt at recovering it, which he isn’t able to, tries to locate his secondary regulator, but fails to find it, and then seemingly bolts for the surface just as the video ends.

You can see the video here:

 

The original poster of the video was Adam Hanlon, the editor of Wetpixel, and he also shared it to social media, where he called it in breach of all environmental, professional or legal regulations', and asked his followers to put pressure on SSI to take action.

This action came not long after, where SSI issued a statement on the matter, saying:

Please note that Mark Scott, Mark Scott Diving Vietnam, and Aloha Vietnam Scuba Divers are no longer SSI Dive Professionals or SSI Dive Centres. Now and hereafter, the named parties may not represent themselves as such in any way, shape or form. This concludes SSI’s Grievance Resolution Procedure.

The problem of dive guides behaving in unethical ways towards marine animals is not unheard of. While most dive guides and instructors worldwide seek to interact with marine life in the most ethical and sustainable of ways, and to teach this to their students and clients as well, there is the occasional dive professional who, often in an attempt to impress or please their clients, oversteps the limits of what can be considered professional conduct of a dive guide and/or instructor.

Here's another video of the terminated SSI instructor:

 

Manhandling animals is bad enough in and of itself, but is all the more problematic if dive professionals, for better or worse the ones that many inexperienced divers look up to, do it. This can lead other divers to believe that this sort of behavior is acceptable.

Here's How To Become An Environmentally Friendly Diver.

Some animals do seek out human interaction in various forms, out of playfulness or curiosity. These include dolphins, turtles, penguins, seals, rays, and octopi. But even if these animals instigate the contact, it is important that we as humans let the interaction be entirely on the animal’s terms, and not grab, hold, or block the animal, limiting is maneuverability, blocking its paths of escape, or doing physical harm to it.

Learn about The Bad Diver And Aquatic Awareness.

Marine animal encounters and interaction is one of the things that we as drives us divers, one of the things that makes people dive in the first place. As such, it is critical that experienced divers of all kinds, not just instructors and guides, showcase good judgement and strong ethics, so we can all keep enjoying these encounters without hurting or stressing the animals.

About The Author

Thomas Grønfeldt Senger

Thomas is a Naui Instructor and has been diving in Australia, France, Egypt, Sweden, Indonesia, Iceland, and numerous other locations around the world.

13 Comments

  1. Grant Graves

    i saw and posted it when it first surfaced.

    It is very aggressive behavior on the part of the instructor for sure. All dive professionals have a duty to first be stewards to the environment they are turning their clients on to. Like you say, anyone with this instructor is going to believe this is okay to do in the future. I am sure the instructor felt he needed to do show and tell and was not going to let that damn octo to get away. A sad attitude for sure.

    Best practice is to leave bubbles and take pictures. Anything beyond that needs to be very carefully thought through and the person needs to ask themselves how that interaction is going to benefit the animal. if at all. Plus, the person should have the training and understanding of that animal to have the least impact. It is best to just not do it. If the animal initiates the contact, it is still best to not engage. In many parts of the world it is illegal to. Again, what is the message to the client as well. Do as we say, not as we do?

    Reply
  2. Torben Lonne

    Hi Grant,

    How are you?

    I agree: leave bubbles and take pictures. That’s the rule to live(or dive) by, it’s quite simple – if everyone where thought right. And in this case, the I hope he at least said do what I say not what I do, but I fear that we was also encouraging this behavior.

    It’s really so sad to see.

    Reply
  3. EMILIO SANTAMARIA

    so.. to answer thee question, was it to hard to take away his license as an instructor?.. no way!!! plenty justified, actually, I think they should remove any diving credentials all together, for any agency, so to bann this person for diving at all, ANYWHERE!!!
    I have had new divers that not only have similar behaviors but worse, they feel like its ok, like they are entitled to it.. they are not happy when told they are not allowed and / or are stopped.. I always suspect, its a reflection on their training …

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      No for many it’s hard to be told the truth! So if you confront them with touching many gets mad and sees you as the harasser. It’s horrible that they were not thought from the beginning instead. That would, if not solve, at least minimise the problem.

  4. Becky

    Wow fair enough he lost his licence. That creature was trying to get away using its best defense so it was scared. He tormented the poor thing!

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Yes, so many attempts to get away, and it’s almost like he’s laughing because it can’t get away. Big bad bully!

  5. Diverkim

    Such behavior on the part of a dive professional violates dive industry standards.
    It is not that rare though. I have seen dive guides “play ball” with a distressed pufferfish; I saw a colleague ride a leopard shark (and I told him it was most inappropriate immediately afterwards); I saw an instructor seat her divers on staghorn coral for a group pic.
    The handling of marine creatures can be as seemingly innocuous as collecting shells or feeding fish by opening up a sea urchin.
    It is important that one not turn a blind eye to such abuses of sealife but speak to the perpetrator in a polite manner as to why such actions should not be done.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Diverkim,
      Where did you work? and who would ever ride a shark or sit students on the corals. Oh well I guess it’s not worse than tormenting an octopus.

      We have an old story of with the perfect example of a dive guide getting the puffer to puff: https://www.divein.com/articles/dive-guide-scares-puffer-fish/ but playing with it waterwards is just as horrible.

  6. Russell

    This is definitely not good. He was literally fighting with the octopus which is so far beyond not disturbing their natural behavior while possibly injuring and endangering its’ life. The response was at least appropriate.
    We have done enough damage to the ocean and its inhabitants, we don’t need to traumatize and damage the wonders we see directly as we smash our way through.
    We should be guardians of the oceans and the life in it and if something needs to be handled it should be done by someone who knows what they are doing, not this idiot.
    Respect and appreciation of the the beauty and wonder we witness when we dive, what else do you need? Not much we can do really but we have to do what we can and taking his instructors license from him is probably about it. Just hope there is an overwhelming majority of people who love the oceans and diving for what they is and want to keep it that way, make it better actually.
    The other video also shows his lack of respect or understanding of marine life.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      I could not agree more Russell!

      We should be guardians and ambassadors of the marine life and the environment. As divers we are the ones that can represent the underwater world and share it’s beauty, not help destroy it.

  7. Nordin Zakaria

    Am talking about myself.If I were in his shoes (fins),the penalty that will be awarded to is the same.Further more as experienced instructor that act should not be done.Fairness is out question. Fairness will not be discussed…Reason? Your’e a f**king INSTRUCTOR……I there say to you NO HEART FEELING…..Bear with it………8((

    Reply
  8. Marion

    I’m surprised to see this question. So I read the article and saw the videos.
    I think it’s completely fair, if not there would have to be even more punishment. This person should not be allowed to dive anymore until taking some appropriate moral lessons. Who knows how many people he has “trained” this way, not respecting at all the environment. The ocean is not a farm where you can carry a little pig or a bunny that are captive. As well, conserving the dive spots as if no one has been there before is what makes them so beautiful. It’s so sad to see, but everywhere we are suffering from unconscious people who jus don’t know better.
    I cave dive a lot and the caves are also getting destroyed… :(

    I greet you,
    Marion

    Reply
  9. Nakisha

    I do not understand how this man is still teaching?

    Reply

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