Saturday, August 30, 2008

If you are a diver, what you can do to protect the marine environment?

Photographer: Linda Wade

by Charles Roring

The above question does not need spoken answer. It needs actions.  Keep that question in mind while you dive. Coral reef is a beautiful underwater marine environment. It is the place where the fish feed, hide from predators and grow. Coral reef consists of soft and hard corals. They are the home to most of marine creatures.

When diving, you can take as many pictures or video shots as you want but don't collect sea shells or any part of the corals as souvenirs. Respect the coral reef as a whole marine ecosystem which supports human life. Healthy corals support sustainable fishing and eco tourism industries which are worth billions of dollars to our economy. We, as scuba divers, must support the preservation of coral reefs and marine life for future generations.  

Coral reef grows slowly. Many need tens of years to grow and form even a small part of them. When you dive near the corals, make sure that your camera or other diving equipment does not hit them. Although soft corals such as Christmas tree and sea broccoli look beautiful, gentle touching can be harmful to them.

Sometimes fragile marine organisms experience harassment from recreational divers through touching, turning and caress. Don't do that. Control your buoyancy so that you will not cause injury to aquatic creatures every time you dive.

Beautiful fishes or corals are tempting. You might want to touch, feed and even riding on them. Avoid such acts as they will stress the animal. When they are disturbed, they can be aggressive to human. Some jellyfish can release deadly venom. Playing with ray-fish can be dangerous too.  It might look gentle and harmless like butterfly but the "horn" at the back is a deadly weapon.

Scuba divers are first hand eyewitness to any disturbance or destruction of marine environment. We can prevent it by taking real actions. First, we have to be good examples through our own interactions with the coral reefs and marine creatures living in them. Second, we can participate in the monitoring, reporting and cleaning up activities. Third, we can also give financial contribution to such activities in our communities. And the last, we can encourage others to do the same.

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