Protect The Ocean When You Dive & Have Fun Doing It
Take only pictures, leave only bubbles — that’s the number one guide to being a sustainable scuba diver. When you dive, you become closer to nature, experiencing the ocean in a way that most people only ever imagine.
As with all activities, some scuba diving practices are more eco-friendly than others. Keep reading to learn how to be kind to the planet while experiencing the ocean’s wonders.
Tips For An Eco-Friendly Diving Trip
Being eco-conscious while diving is easy, you just need to make a few adjustments.
Dive In Marine Protected Areas
Some countries and areas care deeply about protecting the ocean and have taken active steps to mitigate the damage humans have caused.
You can choose to dive in marine protected areas because your money will support ocean conservation. Areas with the most marine protected areas include the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, and Mexico.
Another option is to dive close to home rather than take a trip overseas. This isn’t to say that you should never take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s okay to travel.
But, by diving locally more often, you’ll reduce the number of flights you take and reduce your carbon footprint. Diving locally is also a good way to support your local dive shops and protect local waterways.
Choose A Responsible Dive Shop
Some dive shops and instructors take sustainability more seriously than others. Research every dive shop you’re considering before booking a tour.
Look for accreditations that mark a dive shop as responsible. Responsible PADI centers will have a “PADI Green Star Award” or a “100% Aware” accreditation. “Green Fins” is another wonderful accreditation that dive shops can get.
You can also question the dive shop and instructors yourself.
Ask them how they drop their anchors, as careless practices damage fragile ecosystems like coral reefs. Ask them how they educate the divers touring with them and if they support marine environmental organizations.
The answers to these questions can easily tell you what kind of dive shop you’ll potentially be working with, and if you want to continue working with them at all.
Take All Your Trash With You
If you create waste of any kind, take it with you. Plastic lasts nearly forever and is extremely harmful. Marine life often mistakes plastic for food and suffocates from ingestion. Even when plastic breaks down, it’s never truly gone. Large plastic breaks down into microplastic, which causes trouble with coral reproduction.
To be extra cautious, avoid taking single-use items, like plastic and styrofoam, with you at all. Accidents happen, so leaving single-use items at home prevents them from ending up in the water.
If you want to go the extra mile, bring a mesh bag to store trash during your dive. You’ll rarely go on a diving trip and not see trash. By picking up trash during your dive, you’ll leave the ocean a better place than you found it.
A lot of the trash you come across will be fishing gear, which may wrap around vegetation or other objects. So, bring a dive knife you can use to cut the trash free.
Use Reef-Safe Sunscreens
Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate are incredibly toxic to coral reefs. To protect these fragile animals, only use reef-safe sunscreens on your dives.
You shouldn’t touch anything during your dives. Be conscious of your surroundings and be in control of your buoyancy and equipment. Even touching something accidentally can seriously damage the ecosystem.
Most of all, don’t touch or feed the animals. Human interaction can have a negative impact on marine life. Many shark-feeding dives are marketed as eco-friendly, but there’s no evidence that these dives are beneficial, not harmful, to the sharks.
Get More Experience
As a newly certified diver, it’s all too tempting and exciting to head to the ocean right away. But, one of the biggest sources of diver-caused damage is inexperience. No one denies that, as a diver, you have good intentions. But if you still struggle with diving, you may cause unintentional damage.
Inexperienced divers often have trouble controlling their buoyancy. They may accidentally hit something with their fins or grab onto things that shouldn’t be touched.
The best way to avoid causing accidental damage is to simply get more practice at local dive sites, quarries, and pools before heading out to bigger water.