As scuba divers our favorite place to be is beneath the sea. We need to be active and aware of our impact on the oceans so that we can keep our beautiful museum alive. So, what can we do as divers to protect our blue planet?
- Prepare for your Dive
While preparing your gear for your dive, keep in mind the items that you will need out of the water too. Be sure to get reef-safe sunscreen without Oxybenzones. If you wear any lotions or skin care before diving, be sure that these items do not have Oxybenzones in them either. Pack your snacks and drinks in reusable containers, and avoid single-use plastics as much as possible. Any ocean advocate should be aware of their consumption of single-use plastics and their effect on the environment, specifically waterways. If you need to change o-rings, make sure that your properly dispose of these.
2. Streamline your Gear
It is easy for our SPGs, Octopi, and other accessories to hit corals or animals when it is dangling off our BCDs. When setting up your gear, be sure to streamline your gear. To streamline means to keep your gear strapped as close to your body as possible while also it being accessible.
3. Look don’t Touch
The marine environment is not a diver’s playground, but a diver’s museum. There is so much beauty around us, but it is not ours to touch or manipulate. In case you didn’t know, corals are not rocks, they are animals. Wild animals are not our pets, and can be delicate. In order to make sure that the animal and yourself do not get harmed, keep your hands to yourself.
4. Practice your Buoyancy
Buoyancy is tricky to figure out at first, but once you have practiced enough and figured it out, having great buoyancy will help you with so many diving aspects. First make sure that you do a proper weight check before diving. Not only will you be in better control of your body to avoid hitting sensitive bottoms or coral formations, you will also improve your air consumption, be able to focus better on other tasks, and dive more efficiently.
5. Be Aware of your Surroundings
This follows right along with streamlining your gear. It is important to do our best to leave our dive sites healthy for the next person, but more importantly for the animals that live there. When diving, make sure that your know where your fins, arms, and tank are. Do your best not to be kicking what you already saw, or backing into a beautiful coral structure. Being aware of your surroundings will not only keep the site safe, but also yourself.
6. Make Every Dive a Project Aware Dive
Project Aware’s mission is to “connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation”. If you see fishing line, plastic bottles, or other trash during a dive pick it up, secure in your BCD or bag, and take it back with you. You can also report your findings on the Project Aware website, so that they can keep track on where divers are finding pollution. Also, be sure to help others understand this mission and to develop a deeper love for the ocean and protecting it.
7. Leave the Dive Site Better than you Found it
Protecting the ocean is not only important to do while underwater. You are able to protect our waters by making sure you leave your above the surface dive site better than you found it. Be sure to pick up any trash, broken o-rings, snack packaging, or anything that is not natural. It is easy to forget the small things, but these happen to be the worst things for the ocean – becoming microplastics that make their way up the food chain and add chemicals to the water.