As divers, we are ambassadors for the underwater environment with a shared responsibility to help protect the ocean and its inhabitants. Whether you’re a regular diver or someone who dives once or twice a year on holiday, there are easy ways that you can help protect the ocean 365 days a year.
Here are some helpful tips to enable you to care for what you love all year round!
1. Be careful with what products you use at home
Some items that you may think are irrelevant to our oceans can have a huge effect. Below are some examples of items that can have a negative impact on our oceans’ health.
• Personal Hygiene and Cosmetic Products
• Lawn chemicals
2. Be careful what you buy
There are many “luxury” products made from endangered marine species. Say “No” to buying items that are made from red coral, turtle or nautilus shells – these beautiful marine species need our help! If you want to buy a souvenir from your holiday why not look at other options such as wood carvings, handicrafts, textiles or artwork?
3. Pick up trash as you dive
On your next dive, take a mesh bag with you and take a giant stride for Dive Against Debris! You can use the Project Aware website to help you plan a clean-up dive with your dive buddies. If you don’t have time to organise an event don’t feel defeated, you can still help by cleaning up as you go. If you see any trash, pick it up. However, whilst we want to do a clean sweep of the ocean be careful of items such as fishing lines wrapped around coral. If you can’t remove items without damaging the coral it’s better just to trim off what you can with your dive knife and leave what you can’t remove without causing damage.
4. Minimise plastic usage and have ‘No plastic’ days
Think about it – how many of your dives have involved seeing plastic bags? These are often ingested by marine species such as turtles that mistake them for jellyfish. Invest in an eco-bag and keep it handy when you make a trip to the store.
5. If seafood is in your diet, only choose sustainable sources
For obvious reasons, many divers and ocean lovers choose not to eat fish. While this is a personal preference, if fish is a part of your diet be sure to choose fish which is from sustainable resources.
6. A picture says a thousand words
You don’t need to be an amazing underwater photographer, you don’t need strobes, you don’t need anything more than a point and shoot camera. Before you pick up that candy wrapper from the reef, take a picture of it to post on social media later. The more awareness of where trash ends up, the better.
7. Be an investigator and a recycler
Find out where your daily household trash is going and if it’s not being processed in an environmentally friendly way, look into other alternatives. You can also be smart about recycling. Can you use it again? Can it be used for another purpose? If you have to use plastic, try to recycle it. It’s better for the environment and can save you money!
8. Consider local waste disposal and infrastructure
As divers we are sometimes lucky enough to visit some far flung and remote destinations. Take into account that developing countries often don’t have the same infrastructure for waste disposal that we enjoy at home. Bring back your empty toiletry bottles to dispose of at home and if you must use non-rechargeable batteries bring them back for proper disposal to prevent mercury and toxins finding their way into our oceans.
9. Take only photos, leave only bubbles
When we dive we are privileged enough to see some amazing creatures that most “other” people only get to see in magazines or on the television. Make sure you enjoy them as much as you can – watch them, observe and appreciate them in their natural environment but don’t get too close. If our aim is to protect the ocean and its inhabitants, don’t touch, remove things or interfere in their natural habitat. Learn more.
10. Spread the word and lead by example
No matter where you are diving or who you are diving with, if you see a someone picking up trash, give them positive feedback whether verbally, via their company’s web site, social media or TripAdvisor – it will encourage the person to do it again! Remember that even the smallest things count and the power of word of mouth can never be underestimated. Do what you can from the above, share it with your buddies, post your accomplishments on social media and get more people to help protect the ocean!
Inspired? Get involved now. Download handy tips, resources and tools from Project AWARE.
Be the change YOU want to see in OUR Oceans. We all have a part to play and Project AWARE is a great way to get started.