DIVE SUSTAINABLY WITH THESE 5 TIPS
As adventure travelling is on the rise and the ocean pollution crisis continues to grow, we look into the top 5 ways to keep yourself and marine life safe by diving sustainably
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Altin Ferreira
27 July 2020
Pollution is one of the main human-infused marine issues but there are many other factors that endanger the world’s oceans. Litter takes a long time to break down in the ocean. While paper dissolves between two to four weeks, plastic bags take up to 20 years, while plastic bottles break down in 450 years. Think of the next five years of your life, because that’s how long your cigarette butt would take to break down underwater, while a glass bottle would outlive your grandchildren’s grand kids.
The world’s oceans cover over seventy per cent of the surface of Earth, but only about 5% of the underwater world has been explored. More and more people are keen to dive deep towards the ocean floor in search of pure adrenaline and marine beauty. Whether you are new to diving or you are set to swim at the best diving sites on the planet, it is important to understand the crucial need for a healthy Blue Economy.
Marine preservation is crucial not only for the health of the ocean and its inhabitants, but also for the livelihood of thousands of people in coastal areas and the economy of countries far beyond. Since adventure travel is on the rise, we explore the best ways to dive sustainably.
Know Your Surroundings
It is important to be aware of the area you are swimming in. Whether you are chasing dolphins or exotic fish, you are simply a visitor to their natural habitat. There are many ways to harm the world below the surface. If you swim too close to corals, you can kick and kill it. The reef is fragile and swimming too close could easily harm it. Kicking the ocean floor can stir up sediment and smoother coral, or you could easily hurt marine species that blend in with the sandy bottom.
Gain Marine Knowledge
If you know more about the vast wilderness of the marine world, the instinct to preserve it would come naturally. Don’t rush into diving. Try to gain better understanding of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface first. Nowadays divers gather plenty of data to increase the public awareness and participating is easy. You can try coral-monitoring or fish-counting initiatives to gain more marine knowledge before you dive.
Keep It Clean
As mentioned above, pollution is one of the main threats to marine health and biodiversity. Plastic kills millions of marine species every year, including fish, turtles, marine mammals and seabirds. While the majority of debris pollution comes from in-land activities, it is crucial that divers do not pollute the world beneath the ocean’s surface. If you think scientists exaggerate when speaking of the garbage that floats at the surface, remember that an estimate of 18,000 plastic pieces litters every square km of the world’s oceans.
Be Respectful and Stay Safe
If you dive among coral reefs, it is crucial to remember that corals are living animals that collectively provide habitat for a third of the fish species. If you need to rest, don’t lean or stay on coral. You can naturally float back to the surface without wasting energy by inflating your BCD (buoyancy control device). For your own safety, be aware of the fish at all time. To protect yourself and the surrounding environment, keep your hands streamlined by your side. In locations such as the Maldives, camouflaged fish such as scorpionfish, lionfish and stonefish are venomous.
Say NO To Sunscreen
This may come as a bit of a surprise, and yes – it is important to protect yourself against the harmful UV rays. Yet, most products we put on our skin tent to get absorbed in our bloodstream. Products such as sunscreen often consist of dangerous chemicals, which will leak into the ocean and impose danger to marine life. An alternative is to use eco-friendly or biodegradable sunscreen brands. The best thing you can do – if sunscreen is not essential – is to simply avoid it altogether and wear full-length suits or rash vests and long board-shorts.
PASS THE KNOWLEDGE ALONG: If you know any diving enthusiasts, make sure to let them know about the importance of marine preservation and contributing to a healthy Blue Economy.
By joining this conversation, you are already attempting positive changes with global effects. Follow NOMADSofORIGIN into the mission to help marine ecosystems to prosper and local communities to preserve their cultural scene.
NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.
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