[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 28 14:04:39 EDT 2015

Great points Sarah. I never really thought about it that way, but you present an interesting concept.
At the very least dive operators in areas with coral reefs could offer the option of diving with a safari-like professional underwater guide as you described. Problem is that the current standards for Dive Master certification put little or no emphasis on conservation. That is left to the individual DM or resort and that can vary greatly from location to location. Don't get me wrong, there are great ones out there, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Which leads me right back to the leadership of the diving industry including certification agencies. I have spoken to the head of one certification agency about how putting emphasis on conservation would be a great way to differentiate themselves hoping he would be interested in setting his agency apart from the rest only to be told that they were not interested. Numbers, its all about increasing the number of certifications. A Dive Master candidate just needs to have 40 logged dives to qualify for training. That's hardly what I would call an experienced diver to begin with. You are also right about clean up campaigns and I think the same applies to lionfish hunts. Many do not put enough emphasis on how to carry out these campaigns without doing harm to the reefs. So it seems we have our work cut out for us. With enough support from divers like you we can change things for the better. Lets get on with it.   Steve         

-----Original Message-----
>From: Sarah Whaley <whaleysarah at yahoo.co.uk>
>Sent: Apr 27, 2015 5:11 PM
>To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Subject: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs
>> 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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