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Simple Guidelines for Responsible Diving

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever (Jacques Yves Cousteau)

When I dived, I made sure to inform myself on what responsible diving actually entailed. It is really very simple to stick to those simple guidelines which can make a tremendous difference to preserving the underwater world.

Please consider these when you book your next diving adventure:

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>> Don’t touch – just look. You know these annoying people that tap on the aquarium walls while saying ‘fishy fishy’? Well, you get these sort of people under water – only that they actually attempt to touch, ride (yes, there are some people who think it’s ‘fun’ to pose for a ‘riding the turtle’ photo) or feed the animals. No. Don’t do it. Diving is for looking. Take pictures or film from a distance – but do not touch! Why? Because you frighten the fish, spoil the encounters for everyone around you and the fish might actually attack you.

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>> Do not feed. Why? Because you are disrupting their natural behaviour. Your feed makes them dependant which in turn makes them aggressive. It also means they do not graze the reefs. The result? Algae overgrowth. The reason you came to dive, however, was to actually observe them in their natural habitat being their happy selves, right? Ok. So, please don’t think you are doing any good by feeding them.

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>> Do not litter. Make sure to take home any rubbish. In particular plastic can be very dangerous for the marine wildlife. Carry a bag with you on the boat, collect your rubbish and dispose of it – take it back home. Make a bonfire with it in your living room, if you wish. Whatever it is – as long as you do not throw it into the water.

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>> Maintain buoyancy. Descending too quickly is not only dangerous for yourself, but you can seriously damage the sensitive reef below you. It is actually just sufficient to accidentally kick a reef with your fin. Watch where you are going. Needless to say: if you are allowed to dive, it means you kind of know by now that everything appears closer and larger than it actually is – meaning you have plenty of time to react and gauge your way around fragile reef areas.

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>> Not a souvenir shop. No. Do not get tempted to break this beautiful polka dotted piece of coral off (because it would look so beautiful on your bedside table). Go to a shop and buy a fake one. Here a page for some inspiration – there is really no need for that ‘real’ coral, is there? By the way, WWF reckons that “roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat”.  I’m sure Etsy will do just fine, don’t you think? 

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Heart IconHave I missed anything? Do you consider these steps before diving? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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Guidelines for Responsible Diving - Follow these simple guidelines when you go Scuba Diving.

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Under the Sea

4 Comments

  • thea

    29.03.2015 at 15:45 Reply

    Great list. It’s very important not to damage the reef while diving. I would also add avoiding sunscreens with co-polymers since they can bind to the coral and kill them. Using natural sunscreen can stop that.

    • Serendipity Tess

      29.03.2015 at 17:48 Reply

      Thank you! Yes that is a great one! I actually use a natural sunscreen which I bought in India! It’s fantastic! 🙂

  • John Williams

    31.03.2015 at 07:27 Reply

    A well thought out post Tess. I’m not a diver, but agree wholeheartedly with your advice.

    If I was to take a diving trip what would do I need to do to ensure that the boat that takes me to a diving spot does not harm the wildlife?

    • Serendipity Tess

      02.04.2015 at 15:18 Reply

      Hi John, thanks for popping by. Of course, this is a sensitive subject. Throwing anchors, fuel spewing boats etc. are hardly contributing to the preservation of the underwater world. However, many companies work together (such as on Koh Tao where I went diving) to minimise the impact by reducing the amounts of boats going out each day – they dock on together and throw their anchors far away from the actual dive spots (and coral reef sensitive areas). As for anchor damage: ask whether divers are sent down in advance to clip an anchor line to the boat (usually also used for divers to descend / ascend – especially when the sea is a bit unsettled). Ask about the way they anchor is used and whether they have ‘permanent moorings’ installed.
      Scuba Diving can also be a great way to help underwater conservation. There are many fantastic projects going on, where divers can pick up debris and so much more (Green Fins is such a company). So if you were to consider doing a Dive Certification (SSI or PADI) you could always take it to the next level and become an eco diver.
      Also, when you choose a company, find out what the regulations are in the country re numbers of divers per year per dive spot. A good rule of thumb is that a dive site should not have more than 5000 – 6000 divers per year. According to UNEP this number should not be exceeded. Ask what the company does to minimise the impact of environmental damage in general and whether they are part of any associations – ‘eco’ is sadly used way too many times as it looks good on a fancy logo – but the reality is that many companies don’t practise what they preach.

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