Like The Man Said
Like Cousteau eloquently coined…”You Protect What You Love!”. Hearing diving stories at surface time tables around the world, one can’t help think how united scuba divers are across the globe on the issue of marine ecology and activism. Scuba diving and marine ecology go hand in hand. It is with unmistakable passion that most divers talk about the sea and the creatures that inhabit it. As a diver, I can’t help feel anger at the things not done to protect the beautiful habitats of many of the dive sites that I have been to so far. Thankfully this is the minority of cases!
The Few Can Make A Difference!
Divers are in the unique position to see changes in the marine environment that other people will by definition be oblivious to. No one really sees what goes on under the waves until someone dives and snaps a few photos for others to see! You might think there are few things one diver can do to make a difference…but you will be surprised by a few of the very special powers you might possess! Simply put, you are both the ambassador of the reef to the land lovers…and the ambassador of humanity to the reef! Either way…here are a few points to keep in mind while diving or traveling to dive:
1. Shop around! Look into outfits you join for diving trips and make sure they follow rudimentary environmental guidelines while diving and through their daily operations. Look for dive outfits that won’t allow you to touch, feed the marine life or remove even the smallest shell off a reef. You need to realise that the reef is a living breathing complex organism and all parts are integral in the daily goings on to the point where small changes can have a huge impact! Things as simply as choosing dive operations who moor their boats on buoy lines instead of dropping anchor can have a huge difference to reef integrity!
2. Look beyond the obvious! Case in point, Iceland. Some of the world greatest whale watching destinations…started whale hunting in 2003! That definitely dropped Iceland waaaaaay down on my bucket list…or at least the whale watching part!
3. Try not to buy reef specific souvenirs. Although some are fake, others are not. Devastation is brought on reefs the world over in the pursuit money in this case for making souvenirs for tourists! Resist the temptation and use your eyes for souvenirs…and when you cant resist any longer, remember…a fridge magnet of a conch…saves the conch!
4. Seems obvious, but try not to chase marine life around. While pointless (as fish are known to swim a lot faster than your average diver, ahem, me…) raising the stress level of marine animal is not considered eco-friendly. Don’t touch marine life, some can even be poisonous and of course…do not ride the turtles! They hate it!
5. Buoyancy is king or queen (huge argument)! This is probably the most important eco-friendly aspect you can influence. Learn perfect buoyancy! This will allow you to contour through reef mazes and formations without grazing, touching or destroying any structure or coral formation while coming as close or as far as you wish from anything you might want to take a look at!
6. Dive Small! Dive in small groups! This is better for in group communication between divers and offers a better more rounded experience for all including the reef! It goes without saying that small groups remain more coherent and group mentality is more relaxed and coordinated. Avoid placing your group in dive areas where maneuvering can cause issues to either divers or the reef. As always prefer shallow crosses over uninteresting areas instead of bottom brushing your way through the reef!
7. Photos are the only thing you should take with you to the surface! Do not pick up any souvenir or keepsake! If every diver picked up a shell…the oceans would be barren! Having said that, it is not an accepted practice to wreck a coral trying to take the perfect face in shot facebook ready perfect snap! If you take it…fine. But if the situation does not allow, keep in mind your surroundings and protect any and all life around you!
What More Can I Do?
What we have seen other do is probably what we should do! Beach cleanup is important. Even though its treating the symptom and not the problem. Connect with local authorities or organisations and try and participate in beach cleanup operations. Worst case? Carry a net bag with you to your favourite dive site beach entry site and grab any garbage you come upon each time you go…you might go a step further and have a net bag while diving and try and grab any garbage you might find lying around the reef!
Always remember that when you go diving with a dive guide…you have the power to influence their behaviour! Don’t tolerate any irresponsible behaviour, even if your guide lets you know that this is the norm. Ask them to behave properly and tip accordingly!
We Heart Scuba Diving but what we heart the most are the things that are there once we are gone, which will remain. We owe it to our kids and the future generations of scuba divers to make this activity worth while in 50, 100 or 1000 years! Lets make Scuba Diving a sport to last forever!
Always remember that we divers are a necessary evil. We create changes to the environment we dive in simply by going there. As such we are obliged to take steps to protect it. Whether you follow one or all the things mentioned in this post its up to you. All I have to say…is…when you happen to dive with us, you better cross your Ts and dot your Is or else its plain surface time for You! Happy Diving!