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.

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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.

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.

Killer Robot Reef Rangers

Robotic technology is being developed to help rid the reefs of invasive species–the crown of thorns starfish on our side of the world and the lionfish in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

Robot designed to kill the invasive crown of thorns

From Scientific American:

The Great Barrier Reef will have a robotic protector beginning this winter. The underwater autonomous vehicle is programmed to patrol the massive living structure in search of destructive crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), which it then kills by lethal injection. These starfish prey on coral polyps, and although they are native to the reef, their population has exploded in the past few years, possibly because of overfishing of their natural predators. Click here to read the full story.

Our friends in the Atlantic and Caribbean also have a serious problem with the invasive lionfish. Another robot has been proposed to help with this predator.

Prototype of the lionfish killer robot

From Live Science:

The robotics company iRobot, known for creating the autonomous and endearing Roomba vacuums, is taking steps to make a clean sweep of lionfish in the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean, with a robot designed to target and dispatch the invasive fish. Click here to read the full article

 

 

The Last Straw–just say no to plastic straws

Putu bamboo straws

An industrious Balinese high schooler started a business selling bamboo straws

I ran across a couple of articles today about straws that I thought I would share. First, from National Geographic: “Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic.”

The second one, from our own backyard here in Bali,  made me smile and gives me hope: “Putu’s Bamboo Straws.”

Do your part–say ‘No Thanks’ to plastic straws.

Sea Rovers Message in e-bottle The pirates who dive
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