- Alpha Submarine Adventures
Practice Eco-Friendly Snorkeling and Diving
Snorkeling and tropical diving are two of the most popular marine tourism activities all over the world. On most occasions, these activities are directly linked to coral reefs, one of the most sensitive marine environments. Yet most people who snorkel or dive in coral reefs don’t do so regularly and so may not be aware that there is a proper, ecologically friendly way to do both. Before your next tropical diving or reef excursion, make note of the following tips for eco-friendly snorkeling and diving to be a responsible ecotourist.
For when you’re OUTSIDE the water:
Check your sunscreen. Many sunscreens have chemicals that harm coral, such as oxybenzone, an ingredient that can damage coral DNA and disrupt reproduction. Check your sunscreen or seek a coral-friendly alternative before you get in the water.
Dispose of your own trash and pick up trash where you find it. When visiting tropical islands, assume that any trash you see laying around is going to end up in the coral reef, because it probably will. If you see trash on the beach, amid mangrove roots, or anywhere else inland, please put it in the proper receptacle.
For when you’re IN the water:
Be aware of body positioning. Spatial awareness underwater is extremely important, not just for the safety of the coral but for yourself as well. The ocean is a chaotic environment, and water will push you around. Before you get into sightseeing mode, take a few minutes in the water to familiarize yourself with how your body is moving and being moved, especially if you have scuba gear or other equipment that you’re not used to swimming with. Coral can scrape and scratch, sometimes severely, and of course any contact with bodies, equipment, and even sand clouds can harm coral.
Make sure your snorkel or dive mask is clear and well-fitted. Get help if you need it. Vision is also extremely important underwater, so it’s worth taking the time to fix your mask or get a replacement if necessary. Not only will your marine tourism experience be bad with a foggy or ill-fitted mask, but impaired vision might cause you to bump or damage coral.
Don’t touch anything on the reef. The slightest touch can have an outsized determination on whether the thing you touch lives or dies. Coral are extremely sensitive to breakage. In addition, there are some creatures that sting or have other defense mechanisms, so it’s best to take a hands-off approach.
Keep calm. Reefs (and the ocean more broadly) are thrilling, alien environments that can produce occasional excitement and even fear. Steady your breathing and remember that, whatever is going on around you, staying calm is the best move. Even if you’re not in an excited state, keep your breathing steady to keep your body steady, and avoid rapid movements that can result in sand clouds or collisions with reef structures.
Explore the rest of Alpha Submarine Adventures’ website to learn more about reef ecology and ecotourism, and to support our efforts to study, preserve, and protect coral reefs in the Caribbean!