Coral reefs are tagged as “the rainforests of the seas” because they are significant ecosystems. Coral reefs are vital and diverse habitats for marine life which make them invaluable. According to marine biologists, around 25 percent of all marine creatures live in and around coral reefs. These reefs also act as nurseries for juvenile fish, where they have better chances to grow. Sadly, coral reefs in different parts of the world face various threats including natural and human-related factors. Is scuba diving one of these threats?
What impact does scuba diving have on coral reefs?
Scuba diving is a fun and exciting underwater activity but it requires responsibility to protect our vast oceans. Without proper awareness, scuba diving activity may harm corals. One of the roles of the scuba dive operator is to raise awareness among divers and promote sustainable diving practices to help conserve coral reefs. At Nemo Diving Center, we teach our divers to take an active part in ocean conservation. Want to be part of it? Join our scuba diving Oman, Dubai, and Fujairah clean-up dives.
How to be a responsible diver?
Improve your buoyancy control
You can help protect the coral reefs by improving your buoyancy control. This important skill will help you have better control of your fins and legs when diving. When you have good buoyancy control, you can maneuver better underwater and conserve the marine environment. Mastering this skill takes time and practice so if you’re a beginner, don’t be stressed about it. The more you dive, the more opportunities you have to work on your buoyancy control.
Keep your hands off the corals
It’s natural to be curious about your surroundings and sometimes the desire to know more makes you want to investigate closer. Although touching is one way of feeding your inquisitiveness, keep in mind that you should keep your hands off the corals and marine life. Corals are very fragile animals and a slight touch can harm them or even kill them. The same thing goes for other creatures.
Coral polyps have a mucus layer that protects them from infection. If you touch a coral, either intentionally or accidentally, there’s a chance of damaging its protective layer. The damage can make the coral prone to pathogens. It might also trigger a stress response which causes the coral to eject the tiny plant cells that live within them called zooxanthellae which provide them with food.
This may result in “bleaching” because the absence of zooxanthellae leads to the loss of coral color that eventually turns it white. There’s a possibility for recovery if the disturbance is only temporary but if the damage is too severe, the polyps will die. You can prevent this by being mindful of your actions when diving.
Be mindful of your equipment
Make sure that you secure all your gears before making your descent. Do not let any of your equipment dangle to prevent your gear from bumping into corals. For example, attach mesh bags, dive lights, noisemakers, etc. using clips or retractable lanyards. Even though your dive light is strapped to your wrist with a lanyard, it’s best to carry it with one hand to prevent it from dangling free. Any loose equipment may not only harm fragile marine life but can also lead to accidents.
Keep the ocean clean
Do your part to help keep our ocean clean whether you’re on land or in the water. Embrace sustainable actions such as avoiding single-use plastics and choosing reusable products. When you’re at the beach, you can help by collecting trash and when you’re diving, you can also bring a mesh bag and collect debris that you find along the way. Joining our scuba diving UAE clean-up activities is also a great way to become an ocean ambassador.