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.
According to the Reef-World Foundation's report, 70% of divers make contact with the reef while diving at an average of 5.79 times per dive. Of those who touch the reef, 36% were unaware they did so. These are alarming statistics.
Since 1967, PADI has issued over 27 million diver certifications globally and continues to issue around one million of various certifications annually. The estimates are that there are around 6 million active divers worldwide. That is an awful lot of divers with substantial destructive capabilities.
There is no doubt in my mind that poor scuba diving practices can have significant impact on sensitive marine ecosystems. This should be ringing alarm bells among all of us concerned about protection of the watery world.
Undoubtedly, damage to coral reefs caused by divers can be minimized. Achieving perfect buoyancy is one step in the right direction, and there are many others. Thankfully, in addition to the excellent instructors out there who insist on high standards, there are also individuals and organizations that are striving to change our behaviour under water for the better. Here, I need to single out and applaud the World-Reef Foundation and its joint initiative with UNEP, Green Fins, that works with the marine tourism industry to protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry.
I believe that this is the only internationally recognised code of conduct used to reduce the environmental impact of the diving and snorkelling 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 people scuba diving might be an occasional sport, for others myself included, it is a way of life. And I really, really don’t want to change the way I live.