nature guides: don't be a bad guide
is a bad guide?
Generally doesn't care about visitors
- Bores visitors
- Doesn't pay
attention to visitors' preferences
- Makes visitors
have no fun
be the centre of attention
- Insists all
visitors pay attention ONLY to the guide.
- Gets upset
when visitors interrupt or prefer to talk about something else.
- Does all
the talking, talks non-stop throughout the walk.
- Ignores visitors'
questions, dismisses visitors' finds, overrides visitors' preferences
for pace and subject matter.
appear clever and smart and know everything
over scientific names and science details that ordinary people
don't understand (or care about).
- Overuse of
science intimidates and turns off visitors
visitors feel guides are showing off
visitors feel stupid.
feel stupid (this can be unintentional. Be aware of reactions
- Asks questions
which ordinary people are sure to answer wrongly.
visitors' stories and comments. "Are you sure?", "You're wrong!",
"Yah whatever, here is what I really want you to know"
- Cuts off
- Gives depressing
lectures of threats to the shores due to stupidity of people in
- Forces visitors
to remember things. "What is this? I just told you what it was".
appearing stupid and refuses to say "I don't know"
up things, guess things without informing that it's a guess, provides
physically and mentally
- Is late
- Did not eat
or drink beforehand, did not bring water, is ill, did not bring
a hat or raingear.
- Is grumpy
and takes it out on the visitors
Sets a bad
example for impact on the shore
While guides may say "It's OK for a guide to do this but
you shouldn't do it", generally visitors will do as guides
DO and not as guides SAY. Just imagine every visitor doing exactly
what you are doing the next time they are on the shores alone. You
can then have a clear idea of the appropriate behaviour to take
Some things NOT to do during
a guided walk (or any other time we work on the shores).
- Touch everything.
It is bad enough we are trampling the shore during a walk, there
is no need to also grope every single thing along the route.
- "Feed" animals:
"Sea anemones eat big crabs you know! I will show you by putting
this crab on this sea anemone" This sends an awful message. If
every visitor did as we did, the shorelife would be devastated.
Visitors should believe what you say without a demonstration.
- 'Save' animals:
"Oh let's save this poor fish from the sea anemone" Instead, point
out that it is nature's way for some things to end up as food
for others and that we should not interfere.
- Kick rocks
and stones. To overturn a rock or stone, USE YOUR HANDS (with
- Poke animals
with pens/sticks/chopsticks/other implements. Visitors will watch
how it is done and will do exactly the same thing the next time
they visit the shore. They may not be mindful about damage to
soft bodied animals when poked, or that some animals will fall
apart if handled.
- Stomp on
living things: coral rubble, ascidians on stones, seagrasses and
- Climb slippery
rocks and boulders and makes visitors follow. This is especially
dangerous with small children and older people in the group. One
fall is all it takes for a serious injury.
- Hurt animals,
e.g., taking animals out of water, allowing the entire group to
handle delicate animals that will disintegrate or die in the process,
e.g., flatworms; poking sea anemones with a stick to find anemonefishes
(the anemone may be punctured, and fishes will be stressed).
animals as trophies, e.g., encouraging the group to pose for photos
with these animals out of water. This sends the wrong message
and encourages disrespectful treatment of the shores.
- Dig animals
out of their burrows, pokes sticks into burrows.
- Knock shells,
throw animals into water from a height.
- Step off
the boardwalk to show visitors things. There is no need to do
so to point out things to visitors. Learn how to get visitors
to see what you have found:
it: "It is about 10cm long, brown and cylindrical"
its location: "It is to the left to the bright orange
flower on the water" (if there is only one such flower)
- Or take
a photo of it and show it to the visitors. Or show them a
picture of it in your guidebook. Or on your smart phone.
a good guide instead.