A stainless steel pointer stick, clipped to a buoyancy compensator in the Blacktip Haven resort drying shed, is the only underwater noisemaker left on Blacktip Island following a spate of vandalism and thefts of noisemaking devices on the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Leah Shore)
Blacktip Island scuba resorts were on alert Friday following a rash of vandalism to underwater noise-making devices. The incidents have been blamed on divers angered at excessive noise on the Caribbean island’s reefs.
“It started with tank bangers – the rubber straps with the plastic balls people put around their tanks,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “We went out to the boats one morning and every rubber strap had been cut, and the bangers left on the deck. The ones on BCs in the drying shed, too. And unattended dive bags.
“Over the next few days other noisemakers started disappearing,” Latner said. “Rattlers, quackers, caribeeners, metal pokey sticks, everything. Guests are scared to tap on their tanks with a dive light for fear someone’ll steal the light.”
Dive professionals are divided over who the culprit might be and his or her motivation.
“It’s gotta be some drunk doing it on a dare,” Blacktip Haven divemaster Leah Shore said. “It is kind of funny, all these annoying things going away and no one having a clue why. My guess is a cranky divemaster who’s fed up with the noise.”
Others suspect more sinister motives.
“We got a note claiming responsibility from an organization calling itself the Silent World Alliance,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “They say they’re striking back against underwater noise pollution, and that people with noise makers are stressing the fish.
“That’s an aggressive act,” Pilchard said. “And leaving cut bangers on the deck? What’s that if not a threat? Someone’s targeting our dive guests with violence. If the police won’t step in, well, we have web cams and lionfish spears that’ll solve the problem.”
Island authorities downplayed the incidents.
“It’s minor vandalism to items with little or no value. Or usefulness,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s nothing to investigate. Or any action to take aside from telling people to safeguard their noisemakers.”
“There’s also zero credible evidence the perpetrator is a terrorist organization,” Marquette said. “And even if there was, there’s no statute outlawing silliness. If there was, I’d have to arrest most of the island.”
Island guests took the matter more seriously.
“My tank banger was a wedding gift. Now it’s ruined,” Kenny Chromis said. “If this is the sort of thing one can expect on this island, and the sort of lack of response from the police, we won’t be back.”
Many dive professionals remained unconcerned.
“Banging on tanks was way out of hand,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “People go diving to ditch uncool loud noises, not to hear a bunch of banging and clattering and rattling every time someone sees a barracuda.
“Damaging equipment’s not OK, but diving’s been a lot more chill this week,” Kiick said. “Whether a joke or aggro, whoever’s doing it deserves a medal. You bang a tank, it better be for something major.”