Are you a Responsible Scuba Diver?

Here are 10 Tips on how to improve yourself.

We, as scuba divers enjoy the underwater world in all its glory and fascination. Although the underwater world is an alien medium to us, we invade its privacy in our thousands. Are we responsible scuba divers when we undertake such activities? I wonder what the inhabitants think of us, swimming around in their space and poking around in their homes? Using cameras and flash lights in their faces may be very uncomfortable for them too. If we are honest, and its the truth: we often leave a footprint that is negative on the underwater environment. So, lets think how we can ‘do our bit’ and improve ourselves to become responsible divers in their underwater home.

Scuba Diving Certification and Level of Experience:

Needless to say, a scuba diving certification does not make us an excellent diver. Descending and landing on reefs and coral have a devastating impact on the underwater world.

Buoyancy Skills should always be at the heart of every Instructor, making sure students learn these skills correctly and give them time to practice them. Bad instruction, is bad for the underwater world and it reflects in poorly trained divers who struggle to keep off the reefs, coral and wrecks. Scuba diving factories, who churn out lots of certified divers per week, often do not give their students the training and practice time they require…choose your training centre wisely!

Souvenirs from Reefs and Wrecks:

We scuba dive to enjoy what is down in the depths of the ocean, so enjoy that magical moment and do not touch! Take videos and photos, but removing artefacts from wrecks, or parts of reefs and coral is not in the interest of sustainable scuba diving. Taking souvenirs from underwater is against the law, touching coral and reefs with your hands not only damages it, but can cause disease and contamination to the reef and corals. Rule one: do not touch anything – ever, Rule two: never remove anything from the reef, wreck or coral reefs.

Movement, Dangling Equipment and Self-Control:

Self control is something that each scuba diver should have and practice. This leads to good buoyancy and controlled body movements, which help protect the reefs and coral from any impact. Dangling equipment causes damage to corals and reefs, also damage to the equipment as well. Body control and movement brings us back to the huge importance of having excellent buoyancy skills!

Importance of Buoyancy Control:

Buoyancy control comes from practice, so make sure you learn your buoyancy skills correctly, from the word go. If you still struggle after your Open Water course, why not enroll in the Peak Performance Buoyancy course to improve yourself further.

NOT engaging in activities not suited to your ability:

Do not engage in diving activities that do not reflect your training level. Check your weighting and consider how much weight you really need for the activity that you plan to do. Holding onto the reef or wall to take photos is not acceptable, or being unfit and out of breath. It is your responsibility to be fit, correctly weighted and participate only in dives that you are qualified and comfortable with.

Equipment must be appropriate for your activity:

All equipment used should be correctly fitted and in good working order. It makes no difference if it is rented or your own, you are in possession of it, and should take good care of it. Equipment that does not fit becomes a problem and is uncomfortable to wear. Buoyancy becomes a problem too when equipment is not fitting correctly. The best way to combat ill fitting equipment, is to buy your own, in stages if necessary, as you can afford it.

Continuing Education:

We never cease to learn, and by learning and listening we all become better. Continue your diver education and broaden your skills and abilities, this helps to improve yourself. Things change at a rapid pace, the do’s and don’ts of scuba diving change too. Keep up-to date with new ways and methods, up-date yourself about what is taking place in the diving industry. Join a continuing education course and explore something new and exciting.

Pollution and Sunscreen:

We, as scuba divers should take all precautions not to pollute or contaminate the ocean, that includes not wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen is killing marine life, corals and fish. Do not throw litter or any debris into the water, this includes CIGARETTE BUTTS! While diving take responsibility and pick up any trash that is in the ocean. You can even record your trash and litter collection on Project AWARE.

Education about marine life and reefs:

Become aware of what is happening to our oceans. Educate yourself about the marine life and the massive problems that the oceans face. If we all become aware of what is happening, and change our behavioural habits, we can make a great impact to help save the oceans.

If you have seen the magnificent coral reefs of the Maldives, Great Barrier Reef and Egypt, and now see, how they have been destroyed to bleached, uninhabited areas, which will never be the same again for decades to come. These areas around the world are living structures which cannot withstand what we are doing to them. It is irreplaceable once it has gone!

Our Footprint on the marine environment and the Earth:

Scientist become more sceptical about the sustainability of the human race, but it is not just about us. Knowledge and education play a large roll in becoming aware of what impact we are having on the planet. Marine life is only one small part of the earth, it is estimated that ¼ of the world’s coral have already vanished, the remaining 88% is left in grave danger. Ocean going species are being removed from our waters at an alarming rate, species are being wiped out or on the brink of extinction. Avoid eating marine life that is unsustainable, discuss how to improve ourselves and take care of what we have left.

Remember: We all want an underwater playground, but if we don’t act, it will disappear before our very eyes.

Photo taken by Janet Bulmer at DiveSMART Gozo

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