Updated: Jun 12, 2022
Most people concerned about the environment are aware of the damage that is being inflicted on coral reefs by changing climatic conditions and pollution. However, over the years, diving at various places around the globe, I am witnessing more and more damage to corals done by fellow scuba divers.
Now while some corals let you know if you have come into contact through their own defences – such as fire corals, which can leave a nasty burn – most do not. Of those who touch the reef, 36 per cent were unaware they did so. In other words, that is way too many incidents of damage to the reef!
Since 1967, PADI has issued over 27 million diver certifications globally and issues around one million of various certifications annually. The estimates are that there are around 6 million active divers worldwide. That is a lot of divers with substantial destructive capabilities.
Poor scuba diving practices undoubtedly have significant impact on sensitive marine ecosystems. This should be ringing alarm bells among all of us concerned about the protection of the watery world.
I am convinced that the damage to coral reefs caused by divers can be minimized only by changing the behavior of divers. There are individuals and organizations that are striving to change our behavior under water for better. Here, I need to applaud the World-Reef Foundation and its joint initiative with the United Nations Environment Program, Green Fins, that works with the marine tourism industry to protect and conserve coral reefs. They do this by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling tourism industry.
From my research, this seems to be one of the only internationally recognized codes of conduct used to reduce the environmental impact of the diving and snorkeling industry. We divers, experienced and novices, can only benefit by becoming more aware about the potential damage we can cause while doing what we love and by becoming better at what we do.
For some, scuba diving might be the occasional hobby. For others – myself included – it is a way of life. Just like other healthy habits, they are needed for a long and happy life. Let’s make sure we develop the best dive habits for a long and happy dive life. For our sake, as well as the corals’.