Protecting our Ocean Planet: 10 tips for divers.

Manta feature

PADI’s Project Aware has come up with 10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet to help divers of all skill levels make a difference when they dive and travel. They should probably call them the 10 Commandments of Diving or something so we can all take this ocean ethic to heart.

What a healthy reef should look like: one of the pristine Christmas Island reefs.

What a healthy reef should look like: one of the pristine Christmas Island reefs.

We honed a few of these skills recently when we did our PADI National Geographic specialty certification. They’re good tips – certainly worth remembering and sharing.

1. Be a Buoyancy Expert

Underwater plants and animals are more fragile than they appear. The swipe of a fin, bump of your camera or even a touch can destroy decades of coral growth, damage a plant or harm an animal.

Watching our buoyancy as well as the mantas in Cocos

Watching our buoyancy as well as the mantas in Cocos.

Streamline your scuba and photo gear, keep your dive skills sharp, perfect your underwater photo techniques and continue your dive training to fine-tune your skills. Always be aware of your body, dive gear and photo equipment to avoid contact with the natural environment.

2. Be a Role Model

New scuba divers are being trained and certified every day. Regardless of your experience level, be sure to set a good example for others when interacting with the environment – while underwater and on land.

3. Take Only Photos – Leave Only Bubbles

Nearly everything natural found underwater is alive or will be used by a living creature. If you take a coral, shell or animal, you can disturb the delicate balance and add to the depletion of dive sites for future generations.

Attempting an underwater selfie!

Attempting an underwater selfie! (And leaving only bubbles.)

4. Protect Underwater Life

Choose not to touch, feed, handle, chase or ride anything underwater. Your actions may stress the animal, interrupt feeding and mating behaviour or provoke aggressive behaviour. Understand and respect underwater life and follow all local laws and regulations.

Don't touch, feed or chase the wildlife underwater!

Don’t touch, feed or chase the wildlife underwater!

5. Become a Debris Activist

An astonishing amount of waste makes its way underwater, reaching even the most remote ocean areas. Once there, it kills wildlife, destroys habitats and threatens our health and economy. Don’t let your dives go to waste. Remove and report what doesn’t belong underwater every time you dive. Make a conscious effort to buy green, buy local and, when possible, buy less.

Report any environmental damage you find and search for solutions.

Report any environmental damage you find and search for solutions.

Follow the example set by environmental group The Two Hands Project, and take your two hands, 30 minutes and do what you can to make a difference.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je7iPRD-btc&w=470&h=264]

6. Make Responsible Seafood Choices

Overfishing leads to species declines while harmful fishing practices damage and pollute underwater ecosystems. You play a critical role as a consumer. If seafood is part of your meal selection, ensure you’re choosing sustainably sourced species and encourage others, including restaurants and shop owners, to do the same.

7. Take Action

Scuba divers are some of the strongest ocean advocates on the planet. Now, more than ever, divers like you are taking a stand. Speak out for conservation, share your underwater images, report environmental damage to authorities and campaign for change.

Shark culling is not the answer. Divers take action in Manly.

Shark culling is not the answer. Divers take action in Manly.Culling is not the answer. Divers take action in Manly.

8. Be an Eco-tourist

Make informed decisions when choosing and visiting a destination. Choose facilities dedicated to responsible social and environmental business practices that include water conservation, energy reduction, proper waste disposal, use of mooring buoys and respect for local cultures, laws and regulations.

Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort has won numerous awards for its sustainability initiatives.

Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort has won numerous awards for its sustainability initiatives.

9. Shrink Your Carbon Footprint

Global warming and ocean acidification are putting your favourite animals and the whole ocean planet at risk. Do your part by understanding and reducing your carbon footprint and look for ways to offset what you can’t reduce.

9. Give Back

Ocean protection depends on all of our actions, large and small. Investing in the ocean protects our planet and lets the dive adventure live on. Donate or fundraise for ocean protection to fuel the grassroots action and policy change necessary to ensure a clean, healthy ocean planet.

Thank you for giving the ocean planet the protections it deserves!