When she confronted me later with the said footage, I pointed out to her that although I completely agreed with her that divers should respect the underwater environment and not touch fragile coral, in fact I was clinging onto substrate.
There is virtually no coral growing around Cocos Island. It’s mainly algae-covered boulders, and clinging onto them is what you need to do to have a chance of getting a good still picture, such are the ocean currents encountered there.
She argued that coral couldn’t grow because of divers clinging to the rocks. I’m not a coralologist so I can’t disagree, but I can say that pictures of two well-known icthyologists that went viral on the Internet last year showed them doing much worse than grabbing a rock by the fingertips.
The rocks in Cocos are mainly smothered in delicate hydroids but these are not as delicate as your fingertips, which would certainly lose the fight with a hydroid, such is the power of its sting. I chose to wear gloves for this exercise.

Different Purposes
Beaver, that well-known purveyor of all things diving based in Huddersfield, sent me three different pairs to try. I elected to take a pair of Pro-Flex Kevlar gloves to Cocos, because they have tough Kevlar-covered palms and fingers, and I remember the sorry state that the last pair of neoprene gloves I took to Cocos came back in. It’s a tough place.
These Pro-Flex gloves have an elastic strap at the wrist to stop water flushing through them. They survived and still looked almost like new when I returned.
A couple of weeks later I was on my way to the Bahamas to photograph a unique great hammerhead shark-feeding experiment.
I didn’t want to leave my hands visibly white and looking like tasty morsels while these big sharks were looking for food, so I took some black gloves to wear with my black wetsuit.
I didn’t need to keep warm in the Bahamian water, and I knew that no glove save for one made from stainless-steel chainmail would save me from a shark-bite, so all I wanted was the black disguise for my hands.
I chose the skinny 3mm Beaver Ocean-Flex gloves to get me home with my hands intact. They have grippy reinforced palms – though not as grippy as the suede-style Amara 3mm Super-Flex gloves.
These are reinforced like sailing gloves and share the same flexible elastic wrist strap of the Pro-Flex gloves, but are made from a weight of neoprene similar to the Ocean-Flex gloves I was using.

In the event I made a mistake and took one Amara Ocean-Flex and one Super-Flex glove with me to the Bahamas. Luckily, they were a pair! So I did two tests in one, and can report that either type was exactly what was needed.
It was only a shame that I left them to dry hanging on the front rail of the boat at the
end of my trip and came back to Blighty without them.
Still, I had an identical pair at home!

PRICE Pro-Flex Kevlar 5mm, £30; 3mm £28
Ocean-Flex 5mm £15; 3mm £13
Amara Superflex 3mm £15
CONTACT www.beaversports.co.uk
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