Beautiful is the best word one can really use to describe our oceans. There is beauty in the intricate but fragile balance of these diverse ecosystems. There is beauty in its secrets and its undiscovered depths. And there is, of course, beauty in being an explorer of these sophisticated environments.
When I first started diving, it was this incredible marine diversity and vivacity that fascinated me the most. Where else on earth could you find a similar environment?
As a diver, it is hard to imagine a future without a healthy underwater environment. A dying coral reef simply lacks the vibrancy of a healthy reef.
Let me give you tips on how to care for the ocean as a diver. It’s easy to remember as it’s broken down into a simple acronym: C.A.R.E (Careful, Attentive, Respectful, Eco-conscious).
Careful: The best divers are careful divers
Consciously or not, we often make mistakes that are detrimental to the delicate environment underwater. Many aquatic organisms are easily harmed by the knock of a camera, the swipe of a fin or the dragging of scuba equipment.
Though we may not think much of it, our carelessness has ripple effects that are not immediately identifiable. Certain aquatic organisms such corals grow at a very slow rate. So by breaking even a small piece, we will easily destroy precious decades of growth.
By being careful, we can prevent long and short-term damage to magnificent dive sites. A pristine environment can only live for so long if we leave behind a messy trail of destruction in our wake. Never walk on the sea floor while your alternate air source flops around and your tank strap is unsecured as this will damage the surroundings.
Attentive: The best divers are attentive divers
Be attentive. Look around at your fellow divers, at the teeming array of life down under, at tourists and fishermen above the surface.
As divers, we have a tacit responsibility to look out not just for ourselves, but to identify if anything is amiss around us.
Is another diver causing environmental damage? Are there unfortunate marine creatures entangled in abandoned fishing lines or nets? Before we can help, we need to first be attentive about what’s going on around us.
Respectful: The best divers are respectful divers
Many divers have witnessed irresponsible behaviour, including touching, handling and feeding and even riding on aquatic life. These actions may stress the organism, interrupt natural feeding and mating behaviour or provoke aggressiveness in normally non-aggressive species.
It may not seem imminently crucial to be respectful to marine life underwater, but its importance is extremely understated. Moving corals, starfish and other relatively slow-moving creatures from their original locations can disrupt their food source and cause distress.
In addition, through touch you could easily transmit humanoid diseases and remove protective coatings on fish, mammals, invertebrates and other species. The best divers know that it is not our jurisdiction or right to provoke and bully marine life, so keep your eyes peeled, but your hands sealed.
Eco: The best divers are eco-advocates
As divers, we have the potential to increase public knowledge and awareness of the plight of the underwater environment.
Tell someone and spread the word. Those who have never dived may not worry about the destruction of coral reefs, but I would be hard pressed to find a diver who would not take action to protect the underwater world.
Also, if you ever notice fishing lines snagged in corals, don’t dive idly by. If you ever notice foreign objects on the seabed, don’t dive idly by. If you ever notice irresponsible divers, don’t dive idly by.
We all have the power and choice to take action—after all, we know best that every step counts towards protecting the place we love the most.
It’s simple, really. Carefulness, Attentiveness, Respect and Eco-advocate is the way to go to be a good diver.