[Coral-List] Diver damage thread

Lad Akins Lad at reef.org
Wed Jul 31 12:40:57 EDT 2013

HI All,


I've been reading the diver impact thread over the last few days - it seems
to flare up every year or two and I'd like to throw in another slightly
different point of view to consider.  In most parts of the world, especially
the Caribbean, diver damage is an undetectable signal compared to natural
disturbances and other human induced impacts (storms, bleaching, ocean
acidification, overfishing, etc).  Yes, it's easy to point a finger at a
diver touching the bottom or a wayward gauge, but look at what happens in
one winter blow, not even a hurricane, or from turtles grazing on sponges
and you'll see more damage than divers cause in a year.  I'm not saying we
shouldn't encourage good behavior, proper buoyancy control and a better
understanding of the marine ecosystem, but realistically, putting
significant time and effort into diver regulation is not going to solve any


Thinking more broadly about conservation of coral reefs, divers and
snorkelers are the true supporters of conservation efforts.  If it were not
for them (us - if you venture into the sea to conduct your research, for you
too are a diver), who would provide public support for protection of this
resource unseen to most?  How many of us reach out to the public to help
them better understand the issue?  A few on the list preach communication of
scientific research to the public, but most on the list are content to
conduct research (often diving to do so), and publish the results in a
journal read only by peers.  Protection of coral reef ecosystems is only
going to come with broad public support.  And public support is not going to
come from those who don't have the opportunity to learn about the sea
first-hand. Restricting divers to distant viewing of marine life is only
going to reduce the intimate connections with the reef system that are
necessary to build support for difficult decisions that do matter.


I caution the easy finger pointing towards an industry who brings the vast
majority of stakeholders into the conservation family.  I would encourage
the discussion of regulation on water quality issues, protection from
overharvest and clean energy.  Tough issues, but ones that will make a real





Lad Akins

Director of Special Projects


P O Box 370246

98300 Overseas Hwy

Key Largo FL 33037

(305) 852-0030 w

(305) 942-7333 c


Lad at REEF.org



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