Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Whether you want to book your next dive adventure, or you will be experiencing your first time underwater, we must dive responsibly so we do not negatively impact the beautiful environment.
In our everyday lives, we leave a human footprint on Earth, and what happens on land affects the ocean. As a scuba diver we can reduce the impacts we have on our blue paradise, so here are the top 10 ways you can be a better and more responsible diver.
1. Be aware of your surroundings
When we enter the underwater realm, we all get extremely excited seeing beautiful corals and a diversity of fish that sometimes we forget where we place our body. Be sure to check you are not kicking anything, this includes your dive buddy!
2. Wear equipment that fits properly
Buying equipment is an extremely exciting time! I remember buying my first BCD and was overwhelmed by the colours and styles in the dive shop, it was like a child walking into a sweet shop. There are so many styles and colours depending on your body shape and getting one that fits correctly will make your diving experience more enjoyable. If you are not ready or able to purchase your own equipment yet, it is still important to wear rented equipment that fits properly.
3. Control your buoyancy
This goes hand in hand with purchasing equipment that fits properly. The ocean can be unpredictable and sometimes we encounter strong currents and we do not want to be crashing into any coral or kicking up the sediment. Make sure you are comfortable with your buoyancy, your weights are positioned correctly and breathe accordingly. If you are ever unsure about your buoyancy, ask a professional diver at the centre to check in the pool before heading out into the ocean.
4. Do not touch ANYTHING
Everything in the ocean belongs there, corals are not souvenirs to take home, you can take photos and videos to show your friends and family. Corals are coated in a layer of beneficial bacteria, touching the corals with your bare hands will remove this and damage or even kill the coral. Also, some corals can be poisonous to us, to it is for our safety too.
5. Use eco-friendly products & shop in a sustainable way
Usually, dive destinations are in hot climates, so it is important to lather up in sunscreen to protect your precious skin. Most contain harmful chemicals for coral reefs, one of the most common chemicals to look out for is Oxybenzone. These harmful chemicals encourage bleaching of hard corals and can disrupt the coral’s reproduction and growth cycles. Sunscreens free of chemical ingredients should always be on your packing list.
Here are my top 5 favourite reef-friendly sunscreens:
6. Do not pollute the water and land
We do not leave litter around our home and in our bed, so why should fish have litter lying in their home? Never throw litter into the ocean, dive boats should have a bin on the deck that if you have any litter you cannot take home with you, you can dispose of there. If you find any litter floating in the ocean, on the beach, or during your dive, if it is safe to do so, pick it up and dispose of it correctly. If you are visiting a PADI dive centre, ask if they have a Dive Against Debris dive planned that you can join.
7. Choose an eco-friendly dive centre
Every dive centre is different and the factor that separates them all is the dive organisation they are affiliated with. Most dive centres will advertise they are an eco-friendly dive centre, making it easier to differentiate them from others. These dive centres have certain rules to follow to protect the marine environment. Some centres encourage reusable water bottles and have refill areas around the shop and use environmentally friendly liquid to rinse your mask between dives.
8. Follow the rules from the dive centre and dive site
Certain dive sites will have specific rules when diving and include code of conducts that you must follow. For example, the Manta Team in the Maldives has developed a Best Practice Code of Conduct for Manta Ray Tourism which outlines the rules and behaviour when encountering these magnificent creatures.
9. Educate others
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to educate people on how to respect the ocean and marine environment. Even educating non-divers helps make people aware of their actions on land and how that can affect what goes on under the water. Becoming an eco-friendly diver/traveller is great to raise awareness to fellow divers and non-diving friends.
10. Responsible scuba travel
When travelling you should consider how to have a great vacation but also how it will impact the environment. If possible, choose a destination close to home to cut down on those air miles. If you do decide to venture further, choose the most environmentally friendly form of transport. Nowadays many travel companies offer eco-tourism options. These companies support sustainable development, support the local economy, and reduce the impact travellers have on the environment. Next is to choose an environmentally friendly accommodation. Look at places that offer effective waste treatment systems, are energy efficient and have a good recycling system for waste.
Finally, be a respectable traveller:
· Respect the environment
· Conserve water
· Limit energy use
· Recycle & reduce waste
· Travel as environmentally friendly as possible
· Enjoy nature & have a great time
Have a great diving vacation, thanks for reading. Remember take only pictures and leave only bubbles!
Written by Darby Bonner