Being a responsible diver is important as diving has become one of the most popular underwater activities today. However, this sport has raised some environmental concerns due to the impact on the marine world, especially if it’s not done in a sustainable and responsible manner. There are many ways people can enjoy underwater activities sustainably if they follow the proper guidelines. So, if you are thinking of embarking on any new water adventure then this will help you understand how to dive responsibly and safely.
Admire them, don’t touch them
Most of the underwater creatures and organisms are very delicate and fragile, so they develop a layer of mucus that acts as an antibacterial to fight infections and kill parasites. That’s why it’s important not to touch them, even if you are wearing gloves. In the long run, petting marine animals cause health issues that endangered their survival.
Even if you have the opportunity to “ride” one of the sea creatures, DON’T! The action can have a bad impact on them as they can get hurt, weakened or tainted, which will affect their life underwater.
For most of the underwater creatures, the corals represent their homes and feeding grounds. As a diver, you should be careful with your actions and movements so that you will not damage the corals (intentionally or unintentionally). With that in mind, you should restrain yourself from touching the corals or collecting them (not the case for scientific research).
Offer the respect you want to receive
First, you need to be aware that you are a guest in someone else’s home, therefore, you must behave appropriately and respectfully. In order to be a decent guest in the big blue, there are a few steps you can take in order to ensure that:
Buoyancy control: The first step is to control your buoyancy. Having a neutral buoyancy basically means that you will not sink nor float, you will just “be” at a specific level.
No contact: If you have problems maintaining your balance, don’t rest on the rift or corals! Use your equipment for that. You have the BC vest and the weights which should be more than enough to help you get a good balance.
Don’t leave anything behind: As a freediver, there are not so many things to worry about. When diving, you do not have so much equipment that you might lose. But the rest of the divers, have a lot of equipment with them. As a technical diver, scuba diver, wreck diver or commercial diver you must be aware of all the equipment. Make sure that everything is tightened well and secured. Any foreign material is damaging to the reefs and the maritime life.
Collect trash: Every year, over 8 billion kilograms of plastic end up in the oceans from the major continents. That is a staggering amount of trash that ends up polluting the oceans of our big blue planet. Many large enterprises and organizations are making changes to combat this problem. But also small companies are taking a stand, such as PARALENZ that switched to a recycled card box and has close to 0 plastic in the packaging. What can you do about it? Be a responsible diver and collect all the plastic you can find from the start of your diving trip until the end. Not only that will make you feel good, it will also set an example for everybody that sees you and who knows, maybe they will join you!
How can you be a responsible diver?
You can choose to be a responsible diver from the moment you chose the diving location. There are a few steps that you can follow to ensure you pick a right location to dive, but also the right diving center. Knowing how much the global warming and top side carbon footprint affects the oceans, traveling method should also be taken into consideration.
Select an ethically responsible dive center. So prior to booking, make sure that your dive operators follow eco-guidelines that aim to take a responsible approach toward education, conservation, and sustainable diving. Besides that, check if they regularly use bait to attract maritime life. Yes, it is nice when you go diving to see everything that you can in that location. But using bait to attract them can disturb their natural order and change their behavior.
The best advice in the case of traveling is to dive in the area you live in. That will reduce the amount of carbon pollution. Although in a lot of cases that is not possible, as the only options to reach remote locations and destinations is by small jets. Most of the times there are better options if you are willing to go the extra mile.
A shell or a piece of coral can be a nice souvenir, but you must consider what effect is gonna have on the environment if you remove it. Instead of taking souvenirs like that, take pictures and videos. Those are the best long lasting memories that you can have from a dive trip.
True power lies in knowledge.
Diving is a two-way relationship. We study and learn as much from magical encounters with marine animals as they do with us, and we must refrain from activities that disrupt the animals’ natural cycle of life and respective behavioral patterns.
Our suggestion here would be to familiarize yourself with the sea life in the area you are diving. Having the right knowledge of the native species of an area will bring you few benefits, such as:
Knowledge on which creatures are diver friendly. It’s better to swim together with a manta ray or a turtle for 10-15 minutes instead of trying to catch one for a picture.
Knowledge on which creatures are not diver friendly. As there are some species underwater that get threatened by aggressive actions or sudden movements. These creatures might even get aggressive or defensive and one or both of you can get hurt or traumatized.
Don’t be the problem, become the solution
As blue ambassadors, everybody has to be a responsible diver to lead by example and spread the word about protecting marine life and the way they communicate with the underwater world in order to safeguard this amazing biodiversity.
As mentioned previously, there are a lot of steps that you can take to become a responsible diver. You can be one of those responsible divers that do not litter the ocean but instead cleans it; the one to chose a conservation-oriented dive center; the diver who never touches anything underwater; the one to convince the others to do it also.
Want to meet more responsible divers and share your experiences with them? Join the Paralenz World Facebook group!