As part of my series on the environmental impacts of sports, this month I chose to have a look at a ‘sport’ very close to my hearth. As a marine biologist this is not simply just a sport, but an essential component of my work.
Diving, in my opinion, can have both environmentally-friendly aspects but carry some risks for the environment that needs to be analysed in depth and discussed. As always I will try to provide some solutions and advice as well, to aid you make some informed choices!
Let's look at the positives first:
Firstly, when someone goes diving and immerse him/herself in the wonders of the blue water, he/she becomes aware of the magical hidden world that lives beneath the surface. This, perhaps, makes him/her more prone to taking protective actions towards it, and thus has great conservation potential...
Secondly, recreational diving can be used as a useful tool for 'citizen science' projects, such as temperature data collection or seagrass monitoring! So not only fun but useful...
But now... let's be a bit critical and look at the negative impacts of this sport on the environment:
For example, scuba diving 'mass tourism' brings excessive number of people to dive in delicate ecosystems. More often than not, these divers are not careful and do not follow sensible code of conduct (do not take, do not touch..), perhaps are not even made aware of the actions that they should and shouldn't take whilst in the water.
Another problem with this kind of tourism is that divers are often beginners, just taking their first open water experiences in the tropical destinations - nothing wrong with it per se, but with often limited 'buoyancy control' they risk damaging delicate ecosystems.
Also, boating to the destination can have an impact per se - boat presence, noise, fuel consumption.. can amount to a high carbon footprint if you ask me! Not to talk about equipment, often made out of not so environmentally friendly material...
So here a few simple rules and ideas to follow if you'd like to be a sustainable diver
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