Scuba related threats
It may come as a surprise to you if you are a diver, but we are actually pretty harmful to the marine environment. From actions dive centres take to our own personal behaviour, we have negative impacts on the oceans around us.
We have conducted extensive research of our own as well as utilised knowledge collected from others in our attempts to identify some of the major problems diving can have on our marine environment, and it turns out there are quite a few! But it isn't something to get downhearted about, there are things we, as individuals, dive centres and dive organisations, can do to make a huge difference. Let's take a look at some of the problems facing the diving industry:
Our ongoing research has shown that over 50% of divers make contact with the sea floor (coral, rock, sediment) when diving, this is lower than other studie which found over 70% of divers are culpable of making contact. However, we have gone one step further and have started analysing diver behaviour so we can determine the main causes and reasons for contacts.
We have found that diver positioning was the main behaviour that resulted in contacts (38%), followed by poor buoyancy control (inability to hover when not moving) (11%). Diver finning technique and seeing species of particular interest resulted in 21% of contacts (combined) whilst photography and equipment caused contacts only resulted in 8% together. Likewise, our data has concurred with previous studies which found the main point of contact was fins (69%).
Along with our behaviour in the water, we can also cause harm through our actions on land. Purchasing shell or coral based souvenirs creates demand and results in harvesting and removal of items from their natural home, whilst lathering up in sun cream before going for a dive might feel like a good idea, but a short time between application and going in the water means we create mini oil slicks as the cream washes off our bodies, releasing harmful chemicals into the oceans.
The Dive Centre
Dive centres create the next link in the chain for diver impacts. They provide a means for us all to go diving in some of the most remote (and beautiful!) locations in the world and without them we'd all be a lot more miserable, but they are also a key player when it comes to ocean health.
As a new (and often experienced) diver, you rarely think about actions dive centers take. You don't question where they put their anchor or how they dispose of their engine oil, whether they use eco-friendly products to wash their gear or even if they have recycle bins. Why would you? you are there to dive and enjoy yourself, and quite right.
However, as divers, we have a responsibility to look after the marine environment, for ourselves and for future generations. Poor anchoring can result in huge physical damage to a coral reef, whilst engine oil, shampoos and Dettol can all create chemical changes in the water than can result in increased stresses on coral and marine flora and fauna.