Diving and Snorkeling
Divers and snorkelers have experienced the underwater world up close. What makes this underwater world so beautiful are the variety of corals and fish in all shapes and sizes. If you’ve ever snorkeled, you know this. What you may not know yet, is that the coral reefs are extremely vulnerable organisms. They are built by coral animals with a limestone skeleton. On the remains of dead generations, new coral colonies grow again and again, if the conditions are favorable: water temperature between 20 and 25 degrees and clean, nutriline, salt water. The coral cannot handle touch. Tourists pose a serious threat to coral reefs by vandalism of divers and snorkelers, by anchoring boats on coral reefs, by buying souvenirs made of coral and by pollution of the seawater. The discharge of sewage is disastrous, which happens very often. The spraying of sandy beaches means a slow death of the coral reef. It will come as no surprise that the 6000 garbage bags that end up in the sea every day in the Maldives for lack of waste disposal, are not contributing to the conservation of coral reefs.
Fortunately, all kinds of initiatives are being taken to save the coral. The World Wildlife Fund indicates the importance of coral conservation with the ‘Give the coral colour again’. Due to climate change, pollution, damage and fishing, 30% of coral reefs have already been lost. It is therefore important to raise awareness about the coral reefs, so that action can be taken to protect the remaining coral reefs.
The dive organization PADI has set up a program, Project AWARE, to protect marine life (such as corals and animals). In addition to campaigns, such as cleaning operations and the installation of docking buoys, Project AWARE has a network of donors and volunteers and provides training to divers and other interested parties to raise awareness of the vulnerability of marine life. Click here for the project aware website of dive organization PADI.
Measures and good initiatives for responsible diving tourism on Bonaire can be found here.
If you are planning to go snorkeling and/or diving on holiday, please take into consideration the following:
- Admire the beautiful underwater world, but don’t touch anything. Some fish and corals are poisonous, and coral already dies by one touch. And as a diver, you still want to keep enjoying the coral and its fish
- Never bring coral (even if it is already dead on the beach). Customs will give you a hefty fine
- Never throw cigarette butts overboard: this causes the coral and fish to die
- Ask the dive instructor what is being done in the area to protect marine life