[Coral-List] Saving reefs and the wild places

Brylske at aol.com Brylske at aol.com
Fri Mar 24 12:23:51 EST 2006

In a message dated 3/24/06 11:57:06 AM, mekvinga at yahoo.com writes:

>   Tourists cry, "What are we going to do?"  and, "What are we going to do 
> next?". They cannot seem to relax.  Diving a pleasant coral reef is boring  
> without Sharks! and Dolphins! and Manta Rays!  They seem to require nonstop 
> entertainment. 
>   There was a meeting last week that had a theme of, "Can't we compromise?"  
> Few attended, as the "Disney World" types look at a beautiful mountain and 
> sea vista and believe there is nothing there.  I was amazed to learn this only 
> recently.  Nothing there


You point out an important and growing problem in reef tourism. With the 
broadening demographic of who's becoming a diver has come this issue of "boredom" 
(something I never thought I'd hear). The answer to it lies in the 
interpretive skills of the dive guide. The problem is that many operators—whose 
legitimate first concern is keeping their doors open—just don't understand that they 
have to train their staff to do a better job as both guides and conservation 
ambassadors. Once they see that the more their employees know and can communicate 
the real drama of any coral reef, the happier their customer will be, and 
more likely they'll return next year. It's a snowball effect: The more engaged 
and committed the customer becomes, the more likely they'll want to return, and 
the more likely these "occasional divers" will become coral reef advocates. 
But this doesn't happen without guidance, and guides have to be trained. 
Frankly, speaking as someone with a foot in both worlds of tourism and marine 
conservation, the answer is simple. We have the programming to train them. We just 
have to get tourism professionals to start asking the right questions.

However, what's also interesting is the exact opposite problem: Folks going 
to a barren wasteland of algal covered hard bottom and thinking it was the 
greatest dive in the world. Talk about a shifted baseline; if they only knew.

I'd better shut up before this gets too long. It's a real soapbox issue to 

Alex F. Brylske, Ph.D.
Training Manager
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)

"Working together to keep coral reefs alive."

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