[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Pauliina Ahti pauliina.ahti at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 3 09:31:36 EDT 2015


I certainly endorse Steve's idea to incoporate conservation issues into diver training. The dive industry has a huge potential in being part of marine conservation but a lot of this potential is going to waste, often simply due to lack of knowledge (or financial initiative?). To get the potential out, I think relying on individual dive centres or instructors is not enough, the change must be brought in through the training agency. The agency must train environmentally aware instructors to train environmentally aware divers.

How? That'll need some brain storming but perhaps an entertaining video format suggested by Steve is a good start. Videos are easy to ignore though if you're not interested, so to really sink the message in, perhaps some hands-on activites could be useful. In water: more buoyancy training, picking up rubbish, identifying stuff (a couple of weeks ago I was asked 'what is a reef fish?'), knowing dead from alive, knowing invasive from native, not collect organisms (sea cucumber is not a toy...), not feeding toast to fish? Out of water: Discuss how climate change/ plastic/ microplastic/ fishing/ feeding/ breaking corals by kicking, anchoring, etc./ something else affects coral reefs and why this matters even if you're not a diver? This stuff would be good to get into the final exam too so it would not be just something go through if time allows. Project Aware is a beautiful idea but it does little to the average open water diver getting their training. These issues should be incorporated into diver training starting from open water course all the way through to instructor and beyond, and not separately only as part of Project Aware.

A couple of things for the dive centres to consider, too: In busy areas it would be good to understand that it is not 
necessary to park 25 boats on the same dive site. This also brings about the issue with buoy lines, the lines cannot take an infinite amount of boats, they will either snap or if attached to a loose block on the bottom, drag it around. And when the line snaps, 
instead of throwing anchors around the buoy line should be fixed. There are dive centres that are responsible about all of the above, but also ones that really are not.

This is not going to save all the reefs but it's a step in the right direction. Awareness never hurt anyone. 

Just my two cents. (I'm relatively new here, please be gentle...)

Pauliina Ahti
(Marine bio MSci student & dive instructor)

> Date: Wed, 1 Apr 2015 09:42:57 -0400
> From: sealab at earthlink.net
> To: alevizonws at cofc.edu; gulmonb at seattleu.edu
> CC: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs
>    Good idea William. I like the coalition approach.
>    Lots of lists of environmentally-friendly diving practices abound, but how
>    about everybody throwing out one suggestion. Identify yourself as scientist
>    or diver or both (Alex) as you see fit.
>    Propose one simple suggestion for regulating local and global impacts of the
>    scuba diving industry.
>    Challenge or endorse if you prefer.
>    Here is mine: Diver.
>    Require marine environmental issues information be part of all open water
>    diver certification courses. It could even be presented in an entertaining
>    video format.
>    As Ben mentioned, it is our responsibility to inform new divers as to how
>    baselines have changed. I am working with others within the diving industry
>    to develop just such a list. We would be willing to start from scratch so
>    that we might benefit from the insights of the scientific community. We
>    understand  that  even  if  every diver adopted and adhered to certain
>    eco-standards this in and of itself would not solve the problem. But it
>    would certainly signal a move in the right direction. One that is long
>    overdue.
>    Regards,
>    Steve
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