[Coral-List] An Open Letter to the Scuba Diving Industry

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 15 16:05:58 EST 2013

   Dear Industry Leaders,
   I'm not sure if you are aware, but it appears that we've got some serious
   developing with our marine ecosystems. I'm particularly concerned about the
   future of
   coral reefs which just might be a personal bias although it does seem that
   your entire
   industry's economic future is inextricably linked to our ability to preserve
   healthy coral
   reefs world-wide. Have you ever considered the role that coral reefs play by
   the dramatic backdrop that actually gets so many people captivated and
   enamored with
   scuba diving in the first place?  I think that without coral reefs many
   people who dive would
   likely  seek out other diversions. I know you are aware of some of our
   oceans' problems like
   plastics and other forms of debris. Clean up campaigns are widely promoted
   and that's a
   good thing. You are also on top of the lionfish invasion. Speaking of fish,
   you might want to
   put more emphasis on sustainable seafood because many species seem to be
   Have you noticed that?   It won't be nearly as much fun to scuba dive if the
   fish disappear,
   especially the bigger ones!     Getting back to corals, have you heard that
   climate change
   and ocean acidification are bad news for coral reefs?    I haven't heard you
   talk about
   it  much.  I realize that climate change is a controversial issue, but
   ignoring it won't make it
   go away. Politicians and media personalities seem to know a lot about it,
   but maybe you
   should listen more to all those marine scientists who actually study coral
   reefs. They may
   be an odd bunch, but they know a thing or two about coral reef ecology. They
   really do and
   they are pretty adamant about the fact that man-made climate change and
   ocean acidification
   are going to be very detrimental to coral reefs around the world. The ones I
   know  are actually
   worried about it. Problem is that they are generally a well-behaved group
   and consider self-restraint
   an integral part of maintaining their scientific objectivity . . . although
   I think some of them
   would secretly like to scream out from time to time in frustration because
   you and some
   others don't seem to be paying much attention. I can't speak for them, but I
   believe they would like
   to see the diving industry become more responsible and pro-active. They
   would probably
   recommend that you begin appealing directly to the community of divers to
   help change attitudes,
   end the debate and affect change. There are actually some simple steps that
   your industry
   could take that might help alter the current downward trajectory if you
   would just exert a little
   more leadership.  Contrary to what the naysayers predict, prudent action
   would not result in
   economic ruin; it might even stimulate growth!  To be clear, the science is
   telling us that the
   threats are real and time is running out if we are to have any hope of
   mitigating the impacts.
   I sincerely hope that it is not too late because your industry's fate as
   well as that of our coral
   reefs is in the balance. We may be able to develop synthetic 3-D coral reef
   structures, but
   don't be fooled into thinking it will be the same. Despite technological
   advances like virtual reality,
   the diving industry can't hope to maintain it's financial stability built on
   some fabricated substitute
   for what was once a wild, live and dynamic underwater wonderland.  So for
   the benefit of divers
   and  non-divers alike, please take the first step and forthrightly and
   publicly address this issue.
   I know you can do it and it might make a difference. It's certainly worth a
   Thank you and warm regards,
   A Concerned Diver

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