[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Sarah Whaley whaleysarah at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Apr 27 17:11:10 EDT 2015

> On 27 Apr 2015, at 18:00, coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov wrote:
> Reassessing Coral Reefs

The whole divers and coral reef protection debate reminds me of many an african who has weighed up safari versus wildlife protection and conservation. One of the benefits of coral reefs is that they are under water and therefore immune to long term ‘campers’ and other residents of all sorts… whether tourists, conservationists, photographers etc. Whilst I think it is imperative to educate all divers I think that there is a lack of industry standard and accreditation. Obviously all forms of legislation and regulation are a pain for dive schools, but in certain countries in Africa they have certain standards that must be adhered to. Whether you want to go on a game drive or a game walk - three to four hours in the sweltering tstetse fly ridden heat - to see your animals, it all depends on your game guide or professional guide whether your experience is good or bad. Some are better than others, but the experience of the guide makes all the difference.  I can say the same for diving, in that who you dive with makes all the difference. Some dive instructors will never tell their clients about keeping fins away from coral, maintaining bouyancy or not touching the animals. Others will. And some will ensure you do no harm, whilst showing you the most incredible sights you will ever see under water. I don’t think there is enough credit given to what should be ‘professional under water guides’… there are too many foreigners who turn up at a place and can afford to pay for a dive master and become dive instructors, whilst some local dive masters have worked their way up and have enormous local knowledge. The industry seems to be leaning towards gaining money from dive masters and dive courses - how many are doing under water safari’s? As a qualified diver (only advanced Padi I acknowledge) but with over 100 dives, I have no yearning to be a dive master… I simply want to dive with someone who knows what they are doing and seeing. Many a diver I’ve spoken to feels the same. There is a huge focus on getting people into diving, but not enough on conservation or on providing existing divers with a professional ‘safari’ type experience. I have done my homework on certain dive schools and therefore been very lucky, but there should be more focus on the experienced divers who want to protect and conserve, they are happy to spend money on this. 

Another bug bear are companies that offer free reef clean up dives - this is a worthy cause, but if you don’t give each diver a knife and equipment then it just ends up being a ripping fest - I’ve watched divers pull a 50 year old coral up for a small piece of plastic. More explicit instruction required on these or it can do more harm than good!



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