Ten Ways a Diver Can
the Underwater Environment
Be aware of your body and equipment
placement when diving.
- Dive carefully in fragile aquatic ecosystems, such as coral
Although at first, they may look like rocks or plants, many aquatic organisms are fragile
creatures that can be killed by the bump of a tank, knee or camera, a swipe of a fin or
even the touch of a hand. It is also important to know that some aquatic organisms, such
as corals, are extremely slow-growing. By breaking off even a small piece, you may be
destroying decades of growth. By being careful, you can prevent devastating and
long-lasting damage to magnificent dive sites.
Much damage to the environment is done unknowingly. Keep your gauges and alternate air
sources secured so that they don't drag over the reef or bottom. By controlling your
buoyancy and taking care not to touch coral or other fragile environments with your body,
diving equipment or camera, you will have done your part in preventing injury to aquatic
Keep your diving skills sharp with continuing education.
If you haven't dived in a while, your skills (particularly buoyancy control) may need
sharpening. Before heading to the reefs, seek bottom time with a divemaster or instructor
in a pool or other envrionment that won't be damaged by a few bumps and scrapes. Better
yet, take a diving continuing education course.
Consider your impact on aquatic life through your
As every diver soon learns, very few forms of aquatic life pose a threat to us. In fact,
some creatures even seem friendly and curious about our presence. As we become bolder and
more curious ourselves, we may even feel compelled to touch, handle, feed and even hitch
rides on certain aquatic life. However, our actions may cause stress to the animal,
interrupt feeding and mating behavior, introduce food items that are not healthy for the
species or even provoke aggressive behavior in normally nonaggressive species.
Understand and respect underwater life.
Through adaptation to an aquatic environment, underwater life often differs greatly in
appearance from life we are used to seeing on land. Many creatures only appear to look
like plants or inanimate objects. Using them as "toys" or food for other animals
can leave a trail of destruction that can disrupt a local ecosystem and rob other divers
of the pleasure of observing or photographing these creatures.
Resist the urge to collect souvenirs.
Dive sites that are heavily visited can be depleted of their resources in a short time.
Collecting specimens, coral and shells in these areas can strip their fascination and
beauty. If you want to return from your dives with trophies to show friends and family,
you may want to consider underwater photography.
If you hunt and/or gather game, obey all fish and game
You may be among the group of divers who get pleasure from taking food from the
aquatic realm. If you engage in this activity, it is vital that you obtain proper
licensing and become familiar with all local fish and game rules. Local laws are designed
to ensure the reproduction and survival of these animals. Only take creatures that you
will consume. Never kill anything for the sake of killing. Respect the rights of other
divers who are not hunting. Avoid spearfishing in areas that other divers are using for
sight-seeing and underwater photography. As an underwater hunter, understand your effect
on the environment.
Report environmental disturbances or destruction of your
As a diver, you are in a unique position to monitor the health of local
waterways, lakes and coastal areas. If you observe an unusual depletion of aquatic life, a
rash of injuries to aquatic animals, or notice strange substances or objects in the water,
report them to local authorities, such as the local office of the Environmental Protection
Agency or similar organization in your country.
Be a role model for other divers in diving and non-diving
interaction with the environment.
As a diver, you realize that when someone tosses a plastic wrapper or other
debris overboard, it is not out of sight out of mind. You see the results of such neglect.
Set a good example in your own interactions with the environment, and other divers and
nondivers will follow suit.
Get involved in local environmental
activities and issues.
You may feel you can't save the world, but you can have a great impact on the
corner of the planet in which you live and dive. There are plenty of opportunities to show
your support of a clean aquatic environment, including local beach clean-ups and attending
public hearings on matters that impact local coastal areas and water resources. Know all
sides of the aquatic environmental legislative issues and make opinions known at the