Green Fins has put together guidelines for best dive practices that are essential reading for any diver.
By following these simple instructions you can help to preserve the marine environment for future generations.
1. Don't step on coral
Coral animals are very fragile and take a long time to grow. By stepping on the coral it will break, or you could damage the surface of the coral as well as cut your feet. Coral is very sensitive to being touched and the smallest contact can kill or infection the animal. Watch your feet and fins at all times.
2. Don't stir the sediment
As you swim, your fins create a wash that can cause sediment and small debris to upset habitats and cover corals. This will reduce the photosynthetic efficiency of the coral and can cause it to die. It can also lead to small animals being washed away or increase their chance of predation.
3. No chasing or touching marine wildlife
This can cause great stress to any animal and through touch you may transmit diseases or remove protective coatings on fish, mammals, invertebrates and other species. Look but never touch and try not to get too close.
4. Don't feed fish
This has become a wide-scale problem the world over. Feeding fish or any other species can lead to them becoming reliant upon that food source. It makes fish more aggressive towards divers and can lead to species interacting with others which they wouldn't naturally come into contact with. It can also lead to corals getting smothered in algae as fish no longer eat the algae but eat the food instead. It also increases the amount of nutrients in the water leading to an imbalance within the ecosystem.
5. No littering
There are many problems with marine litter ranging from turtles eating plastic bags and fish eating cigarette butts to chemicals in rubbish contaminating the water and entering the food chain. As we are top of the food chain, this can result in us eating fish that have been poisoned. Bin it, don’t throw it.
6. No gloves
By simply wearing the gloves you are given a false sense of security which may lead you to holding on underwater. This can cause corals to break, or allow you to get too close to marine life by holding onto rocks and can lead to you harming yourself as gloved will not actually provide reliable protection against dangerous marine life.
7. Do not collect dead or alive marine life
It is very important that all divers respect the marine environment and only observe the sensitive and fragile species that live within it. All divers should refrain from intrusive and damaging interactions such as handling marine life or manipulating it. Using your hand, dive or muck sticks, knives or anything else to move or to come into contact with corals and other marine fauna can cause damage, kill it or may even be illegal. Green Fins also recommends improving your buoyancy skills over relying on tools to maintain your position underwater. In addition, removing species that would normally break down and be recycled by the ecosystem leaves other animals without nutrients and elements that they need for growth. Even empty shells on the beach play their part. Take nothing.
8. Don't buy souvenirs of coral and marine life
Don’t buy souvenirs of corals or marine life – this encourages people to remove tons of alive or dead marine life from marine ecosystems each year for selling to tourists. If we didn’t buy it then people wouldn’t collect it. Leave it where it belongs. Removing species that would normally break down and be recycled by the ecosystem leaves other animals without nutrients and elements that they need for growth. Even empty shells on the beach play their part. Take nothing.
9. Join in conservation projects
By donating to any project helping to conserve the environment, your money will go a long way towards reducing the negative impacts from manmade sources. Give what you can and help reverse trends today. By participating in marine conservation volunteering projects, you can lend a helping hand for the environment and help educate others. A little help from everybody goes a long way. Do as much as you can to help organisations and projects who aim to help the natural environment.
10. Do not support shark finning
Green Fins is against the shark fin trade which single-handedly results in tens of millions of sharks being killed each year globally. Some shark species have dropped by 90% over the last 50 years. The sharks are killed for their highly prized fins which are used in soups and other meals. Removing these top predators is highly damaging to the ecology of our seas. Don’t eat in restaurants that sell shark products.