I am so in love with the ocean. I am a scuba diver and snorkeler, though I can’t claim to be a freediver (I can’t even hold my breath underwater for 1 minute)! I remember the very first time I dived in 2009 (without a license. I wouldn’t advise you to do it!) in Karimun Jawa. It was totally a brutal dive with a shitty dive operator (I guess they don’t even know what they were doing). I remember that I didn’t enjoy my first dive. The visibility was really bad and I was also not sure about what I should do. This bring me back to the fact that getting a license before you dive is important. You can learn about and get familiar with all the dive equipments and how to treat the ocean as well. In an effort to do my part to protect our oceans, I am writing down some points on how divers and snorkelers can help to protect the underwater world:
1. Respect the ocean and underwater creatures
I admit that sometimes when I see a colorful fish, I feel like I want to touch it (I didn’t though!). After reading some articles, I think it is better to avoid touching the fish (it is also for your own safety!), feeding or even riding (I have seen quite a lot people trying to ride a turtle or dolphins) underwater creatures. These actions are not natural for them and may stress the animal. It may also provoke aggressive behavior in normally non-aggressive species.
If you are a snorkelers or free divers, please don’t hold onto corals just to keep your self underwater. Use a weight belt and practice controlling your breathing. For a scuba diver, please master your buoyancy (it is recommended to take a refreshment class if you haven’t dive for a while and think that your dive skill are creaky). Please keep your diving equipment safely stowed away. For example: sometimes with dive gauges if you dont attach them to your belt they will drag around and may harm the coral. Whatever you do, just try to minimize the impact on the ocean.
2. Report any problems
As a diver or snorkeler, you can actually see the result of destruction or mistreatment of underwater world. For example, if you dived in the same place today and two years ago, you can tell if there are less fishes, less colorful corals or no more Mr. turtle who was always great to us.
If you can’t do anything when you see the damage, you can at least report it. Make a report to responsible authorities or NGO that work for environmental issues. I interviewed some savers from #savesharks Indonesia and you can check here to know further what you can do to help their campaign – to SaveSharks.
3. Make responsible seafood choices
Anyone can do this one! You can check here for easy guidelines about eating seafood. Choosing ocean-friendly seafood is an easy and effective way to ensure that we protect the ocean. Pick those that have a short-term life cycle and never eat the top predators. Besides the high mercury content in their body (because they are top predators), it will also slowly destroy the ecosystems. So please eat sustainable seafood only.
4. Show some love and share it
Enjoy the beauty of the underwater world and get fascinated by it. I often think that the underwater world is like another different world; there is the sensation of ‘flying’ underwater and the silence! There are no words to describe my feelings on my first comfortable dive (definitely not the one in Karimun Jawa).
I really like to take lots of photographs underwater and share it. By seeing the pictures that I’ve captured, some friends became interested in diving and snorkeling. The underwater beauty inspired them to take action that benefitted the ocean, such as more careful about the waste, never collecting souvenirs like corals or shells and keeping the habitat as natural as possible. Besides inspiring people to fall in love with the ocean, you can use the pictures for reporting environmental destruction using your photographs as evidence.
If you think you have any other idea on how divers and snorkelers can protect the underwater environment, please let me know! I would love to add it here. Oh, anyways, do you often hear a part of an old song “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. We shouldn’t wait until this is gone! Remember to always protect our underwater environment. Dive and snorkel responsibly. Take only pictures, leave only bubbles.