6 Ways we can All Protect the Coral Reefs

In 2018, on May 1, Hawaii banned the use of certain sunscreens that are harmful to coral. In November, Palau followed suit. With 14,000 tons of sunscreen washing into the ocean every year, there is a real danger to the coral reefs we love and enjoy.

At the same time, tourism is one of the strongest protectors of coral reefs and dive sites around the world. Globally, coral reef tourism is worth $36 billion every year. Quite an incentive for governments to care for and protect their coral reefs. It can get confusing for divers–are we caring for or hurting our coral reefs?

Here are some ways you, a responsible diver, can help us protect and preserve our coral reefs for years to come.

Increase Your Skill

Our coral reefs and marine life are more delicate than they look. Sometimes, just by kicking up too much sediment, we can make it hard for corals to clean themselves. One way we as divers help protect the reefs is to make sure we hone our dive skills until we can enjoy them without touch or damage. For example;

A Scuba Skills Update

provides you with the opportunity to review and practice necessary scuba skills that you learned in your original Open Water Diver program under the guidance of an SSI Dive Professional. The Scuba Skills Update is often a required for continuing your diving training after a long period of time away from the sport.

SSI Perfect Buoyancy

Do you want to increase your buoyancy control, minimize your breathing gas consumption, or move effortlessly above the ocean floor? The SSI Perfect Buoyancy program teaches you the skills and techniques needed to maximize your dive experience, increase your comfort in the water, and get the most from your equipment. You will earn the SSI Perfect Buoyancy Specialty certification.

Use Gear that is Sustainable

One of the biggest pollution creators in the ocean is plastic. More importantly, in looking at how plastic impact the reef, it isn’t just about the trash, but the significant increase in disease based on contact. The likelihood of disease increases from 4 percent to 89 percent when corals are in contact with plastic.

When looking at gear options, look at using gear that is sustainable. Research gear that is eco-friendly, gear that uses solvent-free glue and works to be the “bluest” gear on the market.

It’s not just gear but support companies that actively use sustainable practices throughout the whole manufacturing process

Post Instructive Photos or Videos

Social media is a great way to encourage eco-conservation. When you post photos or videos, you could also share a little more trivia about the reef, fish, or other marine life. You can also add a reminder or tip about how to get close to your subject matter without harming any life forms.

Share Your Experiences

As an environment-aware diver, let your voice be heard by sharing your experiences. Sometimes, different divers and bloggers post and share what they did without encouraging responsible diving. New or first-time divers read these experiences and don’t find out that there’s more to diving than just good pictures and surreal views. Add your voice to the newsfeed and share how conservation efforts allow you and others to enjoy different dive sites. 

Help Through Clean-Up Dives

You can ask your scuba dive guide if it’s okay to pull out trash you see floating around or embedded in the sea floor. With the number of tourists and divers in one spot, it’s not always easy for caretakers to keep the beaches clean. When you have the chance, even on the beaches, you can help pick up and properly dispose of man-made trash.

SSI even has specific courses to equip divers to better understand the marine ecology and our impact upon it. Plus there are many ways you can participate actively in cleaning up coral reefs and other dive areas. You could even become an instructor and help other divers turn their dives into advocacies that protect our reefs.

Or join Trash Hero on one of their weekly clean ups around Bali.

TRASH HERO is an energetic, volunteer-led movement that drives change within communities around the world, motivating and supporting them to clean and prevent plastic waste.”

The Green Fins Initiative

The United Nations Environment and The Reef-World Foundation internationally coordinate this initiative. It holds dive centres, guides, and partners to a 15-point code of conduct that preserves the environment.

You can take part by diving with Green Fins dive centers (we proudly are one of them), becoming a Green Fins dive guide if you are an instructor, or even donating to Green Fins if you would like to take part in that way.

Diving is a wonderful experience that shows us the very real natural beauty of the underwater world. Join us in our adventure to protect, preserve, and enjoy our coral reefs!

James Donaldson, Contributor

James is an avid diver that loves to write almost as much as he loves to dive. James fell into diving backwards. His first job out of high school was fish tank maintenance for a local fish store, and he fell in love with coral, fish, and invertebrates.

5 Tips for Snorkeling Menjangan Island

snorkeler at menjangan island

#1: Safety First

Of the 5 Tips for Snorkeling Menjangan Island I feel this is the most important. Go with the professionals.

We all understand what a budget is, but as the old adage goes

You pay for what you get.

Don’t let price be the deciding factor where your life and safety is concerned. Ask the questions.

  1. Are they legal?
  2. Do they follow the safety guidelines?
  3. Are the guides qualified, properly trained?
  4. Do they adhere to an environmentally friendly philosophy?

Just because there is a logo in the window of one of the well know organisations, it does not mean they are register dive centres. It just means that they have stickers.

Check organisation websites for a base near your hotel:

Being listed on these websites means that these dive bases have to adhere to and maintain certain standards. But also visit the base itself, email them, ask questions, check some reviews. Stay Safe.

who to dive with the logos

#2: Diveboat or Rent’A’Wreck

Standards may vary.

For example, purpose built speedboats, with safety equipment, communication equipment, a first aid kit, maybe even a certified Captain. Or alternatively rotting chunks of assorted wood nailed together in the shape of a boat with a putput attached to its aft. I know which I prefer, which is why I like our boats.

Whichever you end up on simple rules apply.

  • Remember boats have limited space, so stow your gear properly between use. Try an stow equipment so as you need it, you can take it out. As you finish with it, you put it away.
  • Boats are unstable platforms. So avoid walking around in a swell, especially if someone didn’t observe the first point and left their equipment lying around.
  • Do not walk around in fins. On boats or on land for that matter. Three reasons; They’re not designed to be walked in. You can break them and yourself if you do. Most importantly, you look stupid and no one likes to look stupid.
  • Always careful getting in and out of boats. Again, not stable platforms. One at a time, stay out from underneath the entry point or ladder when someone is climbing in or out. Just incase they slip and fall.
  • Pay attention to the crew and briefings
  • Stay away from the blunt bit at the back where the engines are attached. Especially if the engines are running.

Following the rules of the boat and a bit of commonsense is the key to staying safe on a boat.

#3: Take Precautions

If like me, you grew up in a place a bit further North, where the sun is a legend told around camp fires on grey wet summer days whilst out hunting woolly mammoths. You’re probably well aware of what that warm round orb of legends can do to your skin if you don’t use a bit of protection. Sunscreen boys and girls, very important. Equally important is to use something that is coral friendly.

It has been proven that a lot of your standard, go to sunscreen options are not good for our delicate eco systems. The chemicals in the sunscreen can be toxic to the coral reefs. So if you’re planning some snorkeling or diving, be aware of this and buy something coral friendly. Also try to apply sunscreen at least half an hour before entering the water so it has time to soak into the skin. Be particularly careful with back and back of legs. Remember if you’re snorkeling, you’ll be face down for a while and the water is cool and deceptive. Same on boats. Being wet and because there is a breeze, tends to make people forget the sun.

Rashvests, are a good option in the water when snorkeling Menjangan Island. They add a layer of protection from the sun and also jellyfish if they are around. Not usually a problem, but it is the ocean, there are things in it. Which is why we keep vinegar on the boat.

Hats and sunglasses also recommended.

Stay hydrated! It’s good for you, good for your skin, keeps you healthy and this is the tropics. We are after all only 8 degrees South of the equator, its hot, you’ll sweat and speaking from personal experience, even mild heat stroke isn’t nice. You don’t need to drink gallons at a time, just remember to drink regularly and you’ll be fine.

#4: Protect it for the Future

Lets face it, as a species we are pretty naft at looking after the planet. But we could do better.

Which is why Sea Rovers has become a member of the Green Fins initiative. This is a voluntary oganisation that is helping to establish rules and guidelines for dive centre operators. Supplying materials and rules to help make them a better business environmentally. More about this in a different post.

DO NOT STEP ON, OR KICK CORAL

Watch your feet and fins at all times. Most damaging contacts to the reef come from your fins. Corals are very fragile and take a long time to grow.

DO NOT STIR THE SEDIMENT

If you are not careful, your fins can stir up the sediment and debris, upsetting sandy habitats and covering nearby corals.

NO LITTERING

We have all seen the images and videos by now of the mess of plastic polluting our oceans. Try not to add more, Marine debris can kill turtles, birds and coral. Show respect, dispose of trash properly.

NO FISH FEEDING

Food thrown overboard attracts fish away from their natural food source. This upsets the food web. Fish feeding also encourages unatural habits and can cause aggression in marine animals. Again DO NOT FEED THE FISH.

NO COLLECTING MARINE LIFE

If it is found underwater, it should stay underwater. This activity is often illegal and can leave species homeless.

DO NOT CHASE OR TOUCH MARINE LIFE

This can cause great stress to any animal. You can also transmit diseases or remove protective coatings on fish, invertebrates and other species. Look but never touch; try not to get too close.

These are amongst the important rules when out snorkelling with the Pirates Who Dive. Please follow them.

Menjangan Island snorkelling

#6: Its about the fun and a little bit more

Ultimately its all about you having fun in a safe and responsible way. We do our best to take care of the safety side of things so you don’t have to think about it too much. The safety, snorkelling equipment is maintained and looked after. Our licensed guides are properly trained, know what they are doing and are keen to find you the treasures that lie beneath the Bali Sea.

We provide you with environmentally aware guidelines to help preserve and protect what you’re here to see. So that you can come back, again and again, to see it with others. Who can also enjoy it too because you made an effort to do the right thing? By helping and supporting one of the legitimate businesses of North West Bali, who make an effort to protect the delicate ecosystem that is our lifeblood. You are helping us to maintain.a balance between tourism and the marine environment.

Remember. Be Happy and Snorkel Pirate

HaHarr!

Menjangan Island is now cleaner

Diving, snorkeling and an impromptu beach cleanup

Not so long ago, on an island in the Bali Sea, a motley group of pirate divers and snorkellers stumbled across a beach strewn with plastic and decided to do something about it.

Every little bit helps.

Scuba 101: Dive tables

SSI Open Water Diver dive tables

Learning your dive tables is the absolute basics and part of the foundations of Scuba diving. They should be taught as part of every open water diver course. The “You have a dive computer, don’t need those.” mentality has become way to prevalent these days.

Don’t get me wrong, dive computers are great. But they are not infalible, it pays to know what they’re are based on. Besides, tables don’t need batteries.

So follow the link to learn more about why learning dive tables and carrying them is so Important.

Learn more

Conservation Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting our friends at Reef Seen

During their conservation week.

I have known Chris Brown for 20yrs, worked for him for two prior to Sea Rovers, we’re good friends and I admire him as our resident eco-warrior. Plus us Sea Rovers will support any local effort to look after our environment. It’s not about egos, it’s about taking part and doing your bit in the bigger picture.

You don’t have to think big to do what is good for your local environment. A reusable bag, stop using plastic straws, reuse, recycle, sponsor a turtle release, sponsor a coral. It all makes a difference. And even a small difference is better than no difference.

In this case, we joined in discussions, talked about what can be done, how just explaining to guests about coral, how to appreciate it and the marine life without destroying it. That it is a living breathing thing that should be respected and looked after. Yes, things we at Sea Rovers know and try to do. But it’s still good to reinforce these ideas amongst the various crews. How we can maybe do it better. Plus introduce these concepts to a new generation of potential dive guides.

Take no prisoners

Preparing to wage war on COT

The week culminated in two days of clean up, primarily orientated at taking out reef pests but, also trash collection. Crown of Thorns and drupella shell, both of which have a voracious appetite for hard corals were our main targets. Though the latter is much smaller and more insidious as marches slowly across corals and difficult to get to. Crown of thorns is the worst.

Between 2005 and 2007, 5,000 Crown of Thorns, 54,000 drupella were removed from the local reefs as part of the Reef Gardeners program. You can download the brochure to learn more here. And though the numbers are nowhere near as many as back then, they are once again increasing. This means its time for all the more environmentally conscious dive centres to come together and do something.  Which is what happened.

Here’s hoping that this can become a more regular event and we can keep the ball rolling. Work together for all our benefit.

Sea Rovers Message in e-bottle The pirates who dive
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