Coral reefs are part of the most beautiful ecosystems on our planet. They attract many tourists worldwide, and, in many developing countries, the local community is highly dependent upon tourism generated by divers and snorkellers visiting the reefs.
Not only are the reefs extremely beautiful but they are also very important as they are home to numerous marine species and protect us from storms and floods.
Sadly the coral reefs are degrading every day because of unsustainable tourism. Diving and snorkelling are extremely popular and are the main cause of reef degradation with fins being the most damaging.
Dive and snorkel operators as well as tourists must act responsibly when visiting our planet’s reefs. Here are some basic tips to remember:
- Do not touch the coral
Coral is to be admired from a distance. Coral is alive and touching it can damage it. It can also be dangerous as some corals sting to protect themselves. Don’t remove a piece of coral to take home with you and never buy coral souvenirs. It can take 15 years to grow one centimetre of coral.
- Swim with care
When diving or snorkelling, make sure that you keep your distance and swim horizontally in order to prevent stepping on the reefs. If you are not a confident diver or snorkeller you should practice first in an area without coral reefs
- Never leave your rubbish on the beach.
Rubbish discarded on beaches can be dragged into the ocean as the tide recedes. This is highly damaging to coral and the fish living amongst the reefs.
- Spread the word
Create awareness and explain to others how we may enjoy the beauty of our reefs without damaging them. For diving and snorkelling centres, make sure the tourists are briefed and know how to dive and snorkel responsibly.
Learn more about responsible diving and snorkelling from our Sustainability Partner, Reef-World.