All of us like to scuba dive or snorkel in warm, clear waters on a vibrant coral reef, but unfortunately most of us know little to nothing about the importance of reef ecosystems and even worse, our actions while diving can actually cause great damage to these fragile Eco-systems
Coral reefs form the baseline of the underwater ecosystem and even though they account for less than 1% of the earth’s total ocean surface, they provide shelter, nutrition and a fertile hunting ground for a vast variety of marine species.
There is a rising concern for conservation of the coral reefs. Twenty-seven percent of the world’s coral reefs are already damaged or lost, according to The World Resources Institute. If the current rate of destruction continues, that number will reach 60% by the year 2030. That’s over half the world’s reefs lost forever.
Water sports we indulge in, including Scuba Diving pose a threat to the coral health. The direct contact of the divers with the coral reefs and unprofessional behavior underwater creates a negative effect on the coral reefs. The damage inflicted by the divers include breaking fragile, branched corals or causing lesions to massive corals. It also consists of excessive agitation of the water and kicking up the sediments. The damage is also caused by the anchorage of boats.
Dos and don’ts
Here are some dos and don’ts a responsible diver must follow –
- Never touch corals. Even the slightest contact can lead to infection and harm them.
- Avoid contact of your photography equipment with the reef.
- Make sure you have a good control over your fins as any sudden movement might hurt them.
- Use appropriate buoyancy control. This helps in regulating your movement in underwater diving.
- Do not stand or rest on corals.
- Move slowly through water in order to avoid kicking up the sediments.
- Pick up the garbage if present in the water.
- Do not chase or harm the sea creatures during the dive.
- If you are a beginner, it is better you stay off a region having rich coral reef, since the slightest damage done is irreversible.
There are some more points you can keep in mind, while your stay in coastal areas.
- Make sure you are staying in an environment friendly resort, which does not dispose garbage and sewage wastes directly into the sea; conserves energy and carries out certain recycling operations.
- While choosing dive operations, make sure they are coral-friendly and do not make use of anchors; conduct briefing sessions on coral reef conservation, etc.
- Talk to the locals about coral conservation. If they are already involved in it, make sure you appreciate them well, so they feel encouraged to carry it out with greater enthusiasm.
- Talk to your co-divers about the same. It is very important to make conversation for an effective conservation.
- The norms such as allowing 50,000 divers per year, per diving spot must be followed strictly. Do not encourage such diving operations if they don’t.
If responsible diving is promoted, scuba diving can indeed be a boon than a bane to coral reef conservation. The concept of implementing artificial reefs has also been developing in the recent years. It brought about some restoration and has increased the divers and tourist attraction towards such places. However, all that matters is responsible diving and the sense of conservation.