Do you have what it takes to be an Eco-Friendly Diver? The task may sound daunting and that it requires immense time and resources, only attainable if you are the best of the best, but in reality, being a Eco-Friendly Diver, or Eco-Diver, is quite simple and anyone can do it! You don’t even have to be a diver to embody what it means to be one!
Simply put, if you make conscientious decisions, both above and below the water, that help protect and conserve our marine environment, you are living an Eco-Diver Lifestyle.
The fact that you are reading this gives me hope that there are a growing number of people who want to learn how to change their lives to create an impact.
As many of us know, diving and snorkeling are some of the best ways to truly appreciate the diversity and fragility of our oceans. However, in the thrill of incredible encounters and goofy underwater photoshoots, we don’t always stop to think of how our decisions affect the coral reefs and ecosystems we’ve fallen in love with.
That’s why I’m here to share my tips on what you can do to help protect our coral reefs, marine wildlife and oceans. Together, we can work towards a future where environmentally friendly practices are the norm in the tourism industry!
If you think of any other great tips while reading, be sure to leave them in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you!
The Eco-Friendly Diver Lifestyle Starts at Home
Choosing a Destination
Your life as a responsible tourist begins even before your holiday does. Before you book, it’s important to choose resorts and operators in the area you are visiting that are dedicated to social and sustainable practices and are active in encouraging their guests to follow wetsuit.
Pack Like an Eco-Diver
What you pack is also a large consideration before leaving for your destination, especially if it is in a remote location. A lot of the times you won’t be able to find items that will reduce your impact such as reusable bags, water bottles, cutlery and straws, which are all used to cut down on plastic.
Reef-safe sunscreens, shampoo and conditioners bars may also be difficult to find upon arrival. These are particularly important in less developed tropical locations as waste management systems may lack the ability to treat the non-biodegradable products before pumping them directly into the sea (at a distance from the main tourist resorts).
Avoiding the use of toxic sunscreens is incredibly important. Sunscreen is widely used when swimming, diving and snorkeling and can wash off into the water. Studies have shown that chemicals they contain, like oxybenzone, even in small doses, can interfere with coral reproduction and growth, which ultimately causes bleaching. To minimize the risk of these chemicals entering the ocean, it’s important we use reef-safe sunscreens and other alternatives such as covering up or staying in the shade when in strong sunshine.
For more inspiration on how to pack like an Eco-Diver…
The Eco-Friendly Diver Lifestyle Under the Sea
Great! You’ve packed your bags like an Eco-Diver champion and have now arrived at your destination! Behaving responsibly in the water is another aspect of the Eco-Diver Lifestyle and can make you a better diver overall.
Buoyancy and Streamlining
There are many good habits and skills you can develop that will reduce your impact while scuba diving. Becoming a buoyancy expert is one of them.
Marine life is more fragile than they appear. A flick of your fin, a bump from your camera or a light touch of your hand can unfortunately destroy decades of coral growth, harm an animal or damage a plant. By talking to more experienced divers for tips and tricks, practicing buoyancy in controlled environments, like a pool, or taking additional buoyancy courses, you can help improve your technique and limit your effects on your surroundings while diving. The important thing to remember is that buoyancy takes practice to fine-tune. Streamlining is also key, as you can be neutrally buoyant, but if your gauges or octopus are in contact with the coral reef, you may unknowingly be causing more damage.
Take Only Photos – Leave Only Bubbles – The Eco-Friendly Diver Way
I’m sure you’ve heard that moto before, but it’s popular in scuba diving for a reason. Everything that naturally exists underwater dead or alive serves a role in the ecosystem. By removing any piece from the ocean, whether that be a shell or piece of coral, you create an imbalance that can lead to the depletion of the dive site for future generations and depending on where you are, taking marine life might even be illegal. So yes, take only photos – leave only bubbles.
Don’t Feed the Fish
Sometimes this is unavoidable… if you suffer from seasickness… but living an Eco-Diver Lifestyle means not intentionally feeding the fish.
You may think it’s harmless when tourists throw bread or other food scraps into the water, but this can disrupt normal feeding patterns and cause major imbalances to the ecosystem. With this new food source, fish leave their territories and nests unguarded and therefore vulnerable to predators. Also, no longer eating their normal diet of algae, the algae can grow unchecked, smothering the coral. Be sure to bring any leftovers back to shore with you for proper disposal. Some tourism companies have some unique ways to dispose of them!
Handling, chasing and riding any of the creatures you encounter underwater is also not an acceptable Eco-Diver practice. These actions can cause stress to the animals and provoke aggressive behaviour. Keep yourself and your fishy friends safe by being an observer and following all local laws and regulations.
The Eco-Friendly Diver Lifestyle on Land – The Extended Surface Interval
You’ve booked your diving trip as an Eco-Diver, you’ve been diving as an Eco-Diver! Amazing! But there are still more aspects of the Eco-Diver Lifestyle to explore.
Being a Role Model
Now more than ever, the marine environment and nature as a whole needs you. Whether you are an experienced Eco-Diver or new, being a role model both above and below the water is important. You can start by setting good examples for others by using the tips you have learned here already.
There are many activities you can do to speak out for conservation to make an impact on the environment. Try sharing your underwater experiences through storytelling or photography on social media to help educate and reach others. Join a conservation organization through volunteering. Report environmental violations. By doing so, you bring awareness to situations, which, in turn, can lead to solutions.
Don’t Support Destructive Industries
Seeing sharks in the wild is an experience people travel thousands of kilometers for and can support entire tourism industries. If a restaurant serves shark fin soup or holds sharks in tanks while you eat, choose to have your meal elsewhere. Sharks are worth more alive than dead and when found in their natural environments.
You can also make responsible meal selections. Overfishing and harmful fishing practices lead to species declines, human slavery, pollution and damages to our stunning underwater world. As a consumer, you have a critical role to play. The sad reality is that to best conserve our oceans, we should eliminate or reduce seafood in our diets. Fortunately, for seafood lovers, more and more plant based alternatives can be found.
Get Involved in the Eco-Friendly Diver Community
There is one exception to the Take Only Photos – Leave Only Bubbles saying we scuba divers love so much and that’s if you are removing trash. Sadly, when trash enters the ocean, it kills marine life, can poison seafood and cause injury.
As an Eco-Diver, you can collect litter you see on the beach, while swimming, snorkeling or diving and dispose of it in a proper way. Be sure to inspect anything for critters before touching it and wear gloves for additional protection! Take part in a beach or ocean clean-up event! Or heck! Organize one yourself!
Many other citizen conservation opportunities exist. For example, find your inner marine biologist and help with reef monitoring by taking photo ID surveys of the animals you see underwater and reporting them to scientific communities such as Reef Check.
There are many marine conservation non-profit organizations around the world working hard to protect our oceans. Funding can often be challenging and they are always grateful for donations.
At Divine Depth, we’re fortunate to live the Eco-Diver Lifestyle and have the freedom to support causes we believe in that impact the world in a positive way. With each purchase you make through a link on our website and links in this article, we receive a commission at no extra cost to you and proudly give a portion of it to Our Giving Partners.
Why not start your Eco-Diver Lifestyle here?
Now, I know you’re probably sitting there thinking “Hey! I thought you said it’s simple to be an Eco-Diver!”
It is. The most important thing to remember when adopting an Eco-Diver Lifestyle is that you don’t have to do it all. Just do what you can, big or small, with passion and enthusiasm!
Thank you for doing your part!!
What do you do to be an Eco-Diver? Leave a comment below!!
And lastly, as always, dive safe and have fun!
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
– Mother Teresa