Your 12-Step Guide to Being a Responsible Diver

By Annabel Thomas

For The Bali Times


In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.

– Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist.


SEMINYAK ~ When planning your holiday, choose resorts and liveaboards that have environmentally conscious policies – look for any awards they may have received. Ask: Do they actively contribute to the sustainability and preservation of the topside and marine environments?

* Encourage your (dive) guide to act responsibly; often they are simply overzealous in their desire to please.

* Be sure to streamline your equipment, make sure you are correctly weighted and watch your buoyancy when diving near a coral reef or other sensitive environments. Be careful not to kick sand onto, stand on or touch coral.

* Educate yourself about seafood, and the source of the seafood you eat. Check Don’t patronize restaurants that serve shark fin soup and Napoleon wrasse. Be aware that any live reef fish have often been caught using sodium cyanide – poisonous to you and to the reefs.

* Buy your dive gear from manufacturers that contribute to the welfare of the ocean – contact the company directly if you are unsure.

* If you see pictures showing animal harassment or articles that are ecologically offensive, write to the publisher. Research and decide for yourself on the issue of captive dolphins and whales.

* Increase your knowledge about the environment, above and below water, by attending (marine) ecology programs. Participate in ecotourism and research diving expeditions.

* Use operators who employ local people, thereby providing them with education and training, as well as bringing indirect benefits to their communities.

* When you have the opportunity to meet local people, talk to them about environmental issues that affect the area, while ensuring you show respect for their traditions and culture. All grassroots efforts start from just one or two people having an idea.

* Never throw anything into the sea and (even if it is legal). Set an example by not removing anything such as shells, corals or fish, alive or dead. If you collect rubbish while diving, be careful it hasn’t already been adopted by local marine life – for example, octopus in a broken bottle.

* Report environmental damage or practices that could be damaging; encourage responsible behaviour, such as use of permanent moorings, even if it means a surface swim.

* Tell others about your experiences, good and bad; never be afraid to lead by example.

* And remember: seven-tenths of the world’s surface is covered by water; we need it for our very survival. All education, for yourself or for children, is an investment for the future.


The writer is director of AquaMarine Diving – Bali.

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