Scuba Diving opens up a world of possibilities and allows you the chance to get to participate in some really amazing opportunities. I was able to take advantage of one of these occasions this last week by acting as a safety diver during the filming of a documentary about the Billfish Research Project. The Billfish Research Project aims to enhance the research knowledge base on Billfish in hopes of improving fisheries management policies and gaining valuable knowledge on the migration patterns of Billfish off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
As the safety diver it was my job to look after the film crew whilst in the water and keep an eye on the boats, control our depths, and make sure that all other diving procedures were followed properly. During the tag and release process I was in the water and only a few feet away from the Billfish. It was magnificent and breathtaking to be that up close to a sailfish in its natural environment.
As the dive shops marine conservation officer I was very interested to see how they were handling the fish. As with any research project, without doubt there is going to be some added stress to the fish however, I was incredibly surprised to see how conscientious and careful they were with the handling of the Billfish. They handled the fish in a minimally invasive manner, they were quick to reel them in, they did not haul the fish up onto the boat for additional photos, they were swift and efficient with attaching the tagging device, and prompt with releasing it. They would even free dive down following the fish for awhile ensuring that it safely swam off.
This is an excellent study that has my full support. It is still in its beginning stages and the project needs the help and support of other fishery conservationists and environmentally savvy people in order to continue their research and hopefully make a difference in overall Billfish knowledge and management. I therefore highly suggest that you all check them out on their facebook page, you can simply search Billfish Research Project or check out their website, http://www.billfishresearch.com.