Manta Divers February, '09 Diving Green
Team Manta just returned to a laugh filled trip to Little Cayman to dive the Bloody Bay marine park’s pristine reefs. (For the whole story, check the trip reports page.) I was happy to share the trip with Mike’s and my son, Boomer, who is away at college and is now away from (our) home even in summer, doing research. He is majoring in Geology and is an environmentalist. His zeal for protecting the environment from a negative human impact got me thinking about what we, as divers, can do to lessen our impact on the reefs and oceans we love so much?
The first thing that I thought of was the same thing we all ought to be doing anyway, but absolutely when we are on a small island: Decrease the amount of garbage you make. One way you can do this, is to bring a refillable bottle with you on vacation and fill it from some safe source. On dive boats, they usually have a jug of fresh water and paper cups to ensure that the divers stay hydrated. By bringing your own container, you can save many cups. In hotels, assuming the water is okay to drink, use a glass container, or fill the one you’ve brought, rather than use Styrofoam.
Speaking of water, another way we can spare the planet and be sensitive to the challenges small islands face with regard to their water, is to not use water unnecessarily. For example, whenever possible, reuse your towels. You probably don’t launder your towels daily at home, so why would you need that while on vacation? Keep showers as quick as possible. I’m sure I don’t know what all is involved in making fresh water for inhabitants on an island, but I am sure that it is not as easy as we have it here next to the giant freshwater pond! Water is a very precious commodity when you have to depend on rainwater collection and desalinization for freshwater. In addition, the runoff from laundries, lavatories and showers is very harmful to the environment so the less we use the less is disposed of as runoff.
There has recently been a lot of buzz about sunscreen washing off of divers, snorkelers and swimmers and leading to the death of algae helpful to coral. From what I’ve read, I think there is more and better research to be done, but it is easy to err on the side of caution. There are several brands of chemical free sunscreens. I recently used Burt’s Bees chemical free sunscreen and found it to be even more effective than the brand I usually used in terms of sun protection and moisturization.
Finally, the most obvious thing a diver can do to protect the underwater environment is to continually work on his buoyancy control. Carefully monitor each descent. The goal is to achieve neutral buoyancy at your planned depth without hitting the bottom. That means doing what you were taught in your open water class: Adjust your buoyancy to facilitate a slow descent by adding small puffs of air as needed, and look below as you descend to prevent unwanted contact with other divers, the reef, or the bottom. Good buoyancy also involves being aware of the amount of space you occupy. Carefully size up any opening you wish to navigate then line yourself up to slip through. Several quarries catering to divers have buoyancy courses. Practice, practice, practice. Another thing to remember is that just because you have a camera in your hand does not give you permission to steady yourself by grabbing whatever piece of coral is handy. Touching the coral KILLS it! Excellent photographers have enough control of their buoyancy to hover in any position to get the shot their after. If it is necessary to push yourself away from vegetation, use the one finger method. If you are neutral a light push will be all the adjustment you’ll need. The best way to get on the fast track to great buoyancy is to take the Peak Performance Buoyancy Class. It is challenging even for experienced divers. It is a wise prerequisite to the Wreck and Underwater Photography specialty classes.
In short, we are divers because we love the ocean and all the wonders under the water, but it is our responsibility to take care of it so it will be there in all its glory for generations to come. With a few changes in our habits and some work on our skills, we can decrease our impact on this important resource.
In Other News………
Aqualung has authorized some pretty great price reductions on several of their better masks and BC’s. Now is a good time to buy your gear or upgrade your old gear.
Speaking of Deals….
- Sign up for a PADI class, buy an Aqualung/Sea Quest BC, Aqualung/Apeks regulator and a Suunto dive computer and get a FREE Airsource upgrade. ($150 value)
- Get a $100 rebate on a the purchase of an Aqualung regulator priced $500 or more, or $50 rebate on purchase of Aqualung regulator priced less than $500
Congratulations to Mike Bain on earning the Master Scuba Diver Trainer rating from PADI. Talk to Mike about Drift Diver, Night Diver, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver or Equipment Specialist classes.
Looking for a dive buddy for your summer diving trips? Click on the Dive Buddy tab on our home page to get an info form. Information will be posted so prospective buddies can contact you.