Use of paddle-style scuba fins may become mandatory on Blacktip Island dive sites if a local religious leader’s anti-split fin campaign is successful. (photo courtesy of Steve Dingledein)
The Blacktip Island scuba diving community was polarized this week by an island religious leader’s demand that split scuba fins be banned in favor of paddle-style fins.
“These cloven-hooved fins are the devil’s work, plain and simple,” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt, head of the Blacktip Island Temperance League. “They may seem innocent, but that’s how Satan fools the unwary.”
“They’re symptomatic of the evils overwhelming our island,” Grunt said. “It’s no coincidence the reefs started dying the same time these fins showed up. To save our reefs, we have to return to the paddle fins of our forefathers.”
Grunt’s claim struck a chord among some local divers.
“I never realized how bad these fins were until Rev. Grunt opened my eyes to what’s really going on,” said island resident Edwin Chub. “That was a jaw dropper, all right. I went straight out and threw my split fins away. Lots of us did. I’m not gonna be a part of something like that.”
Local scuba operators denounced the grassroots campaign.
“Pierre scares away any resort guests with this crap, I’ll split more than his fins,” Eagle Ray Cove Resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “That goes for his rants about no diving on Sundays, too. Why would the preacher care about scuba fins? Or even notice them?”
Some Blacktip residents questioned Grunt’s motives.
“The only non-coincidence is Pierre’s part-owner in Bamboo You, and sales have tanked on their bamboo paddle-style fins,” local Clete Horn said. “Last month his schtick was an alcohol ban, and that fell flat on its face.
“He’s just switched to fins, telling a bigger whopper and hoping more folks’ll buy in,” Horn said. “Big picture, Pierre wants to fill his church. And his offering plates.”
Some in the island’s religious community worry the campaign will be detrimental long term.
“We’re being demonized over these fins,” High Druid Joey Pompano said. “People are blaming us for bringing them to the island. For encouraging people to use them.
“We don’t care what fins people use, or if they don’t use fins at all,” Pompano said. “Rev. Grunt and his BITS can go to hell. Why don’t they pick on the Unitarians once in a while?”
The Rev. Grunt remains unapologetic.
“Deuteronomy 23:13 is quite clear,” he said. “ It reads, ‘Thou shalt have a paddle upon thy person . . .’ You can’t get more straightforward than that.”
Grunt declined to comment on his ties to Bamboo You. Company officials did not return several Times phone calls.