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