[Coral-List] Comparing diving destinations

Bastiaan Vermonden bastiaan.vermonden at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 04:20:26 EDT 2012

Dear coral listers,

I am still working on my project to compare diving destinations around the
world in order to create competition in the tourism industry based on
wildlife attributes such as the presence of sharks rather than advertising
budgets and beautiful pictures. So I would like to share some information
about my progress, my findings and questions I have.

*First I Updated the site*
As I have told before I used the initial information to start the website
diveselector.com where you can compare diving destinations. I have been
continuously updating the website and I have added an interactive map that
shows ratings which indicate how likely you are to see the different types
of animals. This map is on the home page (http://diveselector.com). I have
also added a page where you can compare 2 destinations side by side at

*I require more surveys*
At this moment I collected more than 270 surveys about diving trips made by
divers around the world. The number of surveys has not increased much since
I began which means I need ways to improve the response rate in case people
have suggestions.

*Some findings*
Looking at the initial results we can see that the animals from the
categories of large fish, turtles and rays seem to be regularly seen at all
divesites that I have rated at this moment. Sharks are seen less frequently
and therefore the ratings are lower. Locations where the rating is below 1
star are not shown on the interactive map. (A 3 star rating means that at
least half of all divers will have seen this type of animal after 5 dives,
2 stars after 10 dives and 1 star after 20 dives.)( I know that at the
moment the ratings are based on very little data and this is not
statistically or scientifically sound but I have to balance proof of
concept with accuracy.)

Finally seahorses are definitely the least sighted animal from all the
categories. To make a very rough comparison if I take a look at the first
270 surveys then 73% of of the divers during a dive trip will have seen a
bigfish, 71% a ray, 46% a shark and only 24% a seahorse. Of course this
data is not very interesting without looking at all the variables but it
could suggest that seahorses are quite rare. Interestingly no surveys for
Australia (13) and Florida (14) included seahorse sightings. Of course it
can just be that divers are less likely to spot a seahorse because they are
small and generally well camouflaged.

*Future Improvements for the site if money and time allows*
In the future I hope to make it possible to distinguish between size
classes of animals. I also wat to incorporate seasonal knowledge so that
the website will indicate which months you can for example expect to see
whalesharks and other animals that are more bound to specific times of the
year.(This is interesting for divers but also for scientists because if we
can track this data over time it could be interesting for research on
climate change assuming that large amounts of divers fill out these
surveys. Right now I think that especially changes in the behaviour of
filter feeders could be interesting for research on climate change which
also has the added benefit that filter feeders such as whale sharks and
mantas are popular with divers and easy to identify.)

Make the data more specific for local areas rather than entire areas such
as the florida region. Obviously the destinations are not homogenous and I
would like to better capture the local differences. At this moment I don't
have the data to do so.

*Coral information*
So obviously this is the coral list and I haven't talked about corals yet
so I want to do so now. I really would like to compare the quality of
corals at various diving destinations on my website but what I want to
stress is that it has to be possible to compare coral health
quantitatively, easily and fairly. To do this requires a methodology and at
this moment I am not certain how this could be achieved by using
information provided by recreational divers.  I definitely don't think that
asking recreational divers to estimate for example the % live coral cover
would provide any good results (plus now there is a discussion whether
coral cover is a good measurment at all). I have previously looked at using
photographs and video material but I am not certain how to do that yet
either. I also thought about looking at indicators which would suggest
problems such as bleaching, crowns of thorns starfish, etc but if this
would be used to compare diving destinations the best places would be those
where there is no more coral because they would never have any damage

Another option could be to couple with an organization like reef check
however I have one concern regarding this and that is that all locations
that don't have a reef check organization will then automatically be
excluded which doesn't seem fair. So I would be really happy to hear
suggestions especially if people have concrete tips on how to tackle these

*So I am collecting data using these surveys. What do people think of these
findings could any of this information be useful for local coral reef
management decisions, science and research, conservation efforts etc?

* *

So which arguments would you all have to say that this information is
useful or is not useful and what improvements would you strongly recommend?

*Thank you*

I also want to give a big thank you to Christine Beggs from
projectbluehope.com and the Emirates Diving Association for sharing
diveselector.com with their readers.

the Emirates Diving association


So I would like to invite you all to take a look at the improved website
and let me know what you think. Also if you know any divers share it with
them and ask them to help by filling out a survey.


Bastiaan Vermonden

More information about the Coral-List mailing list