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12+1 Tips to Protect Coral Reefs Whether You Are a Scuba Diver or Not

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How to protect coral reefs? This is the question we want to answer today.

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that protecting coral reefs requires conservation policies, protective laws, and involvement of the tourism industry… And they’re right. All of that helps protect coral reefs in an institutionalized way, but we also want to contribute.

Some believe that our personal impact is so small that we won’t be able to help to protect coral reefs, but let me take the liberty to summarize a story by Eloy Moreno.

On a cold winter morning, a man walking along the beach found a large number of starfish scattered along the shore. It made him sad because he knew that starfish cannot survive outside the water. With resignation, he continued walking carefully to avoid stepping on them.

But soon he saw a girl running from one side to another, picking up starfish and returning them to the sea. The man approached her and said, -Do you realize that there are thousands of starfish on the sand, and you won’t be able to save them all? Your effort isn’t worth it.

The girl bent down, took a starfish at her feet, and threw it back into the sea. -For this one, it was worth it.

So yes, we conscientious divers can also protect coral reefs. Although we may not be able to save them all, we will be contributing to alleviate the environmental pressure on them.

Nowadays, becoming aware of coral reef protection is more important than ever before. Our seas and reefs are confronting severe environmental threats and claiming help. Luckily, we are still in time to react and protect coral reefs, taking part in the solution.

Take a look at the table of contents.

Why Is It Important to Protect Coral Reefs

Threats to and the protection of coral reefs

·       Coral Bleaching

·       Protecting Coral Reefs from Climate Change

·       Pollution, Overfishing, and Physical damages

How to Protect Coral Reefs

·       Protecting Coral Reefs at Home… Even Though You Live Far Away from Them

1.     Less Plastic, More Coral Reef Protection

2.     Reuse, Saying Bye to Throwaway Culture is Another way to Protect Corals

3.     Protecting Coral by Recycling

4.     Save Water and Energy for Coral Reefs Protection

5.     For Coral Protection We Should Reduce Chemicals

6.     Walk to protect Coral Reefs.

·       Ways To Protect Coral Reefs When Visiting as A Tourist 

7.     Sunscreen To Protect Coral Reefs

8.     Practice responsible snorkeling

9.     Choose Operators Committed to Protecting Coral Reefs

·       How Scuba Divers Can Protect Coral Reefs?

10.  Coral Reefs Conservation Implies Don’t Harvest Them

11.  Coral Reef Protection Leaving Only Bubbles

12.  The More You Know the More You Protect Corals

13.  Volunteering To Conserve Coral Reefs

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Why Is It Important to Protect Coral Reefs

 Coral reefs are the superheroes of the ocean, protecting our coastlines from storms and erosion while providing a happening habitat for countless marine species. They are much more than a pretty view while scuba diving, – coral reefs play a vital role in fishing, jobs, and tourism too!

They are the perfect villages of the ecosystem, hosting a party of marine animals. They create homes for all sorts of underwater critters, keeping the ocean’s biodiversity in balance. The reefs serve as vital habitats for the breeding, protection, sustenance, and procreation of various invertebrate and vertebrate species, particularly those of economic value that support a substantial portion of the population. It is approximated that around one billion individuals rely on coral reefs for sustenance and income derived from fishing.

Protecting coral reefs is a need for life as we know it now. Without them, nothing wouldn’t be the same. They’re essential for the health and survival of marine life and provide some serious benefits to us humans too.

Threats to and The Protection of Coral Reefs

Grab your SCUBA and mask, because we’re diving deep into the mission to protect coral reefs!

Coral Bleaching

Corals have a symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The latter produce the food they need and they are also responsible for the corals’ vibrant colors because they live inside their tissue. Due to different causes, which we will see below, coral polyps become stressed and expel these algae. Without them, they lose their color and turn whitish.

They can continue to live, but the algae provide them with 90% of their energy. So, corals are weak and sick. If they turn black, they are unable to recover.


Protecting Coral Reefs from Climate Change

Rising ocean temperatures are the principal cause of coral bleaching. In other words, global warming affects the photosynthesis of the zooxanthellae, which, unable to feed, leave.

Solar radiation, low tides, and drops in sea level that expose corals to the atmosphere are other coral bleaching causes. In the same way, any phenomena that affect the photosynthesis of coral algae: chemical contaminants such as copper, herbicides, and oils, in addition to natural diseases: will harm these formations, therefore we should find a way to protect coral reefs from them.


Pollution, Overfishing, and Physical damages

The absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) produces an increase in the acidity of the waters. That is, the oceans have a lower PH. This fact reduces the number of dissolved carbonate ions in the water. In other words, the building materials that corals use to form their structures disappear. With weaker skeletons, corals are more susceptible to damage from waves or attacks from organisms.

Overfishing can alter the structure of the food web, causing consequences for the entire ecosystem.

Corals also suffer physical damage caused by coast exploitation, boats, anchors, and the collection of corals for sale or jewelry design, etc.

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How to Protect Coral Reefs

Protecting Coral Reefs at Home… Even Though You Live Far Away from Them

1. Less Plastic, More Coral Reef Protection

Coral reefs are under multiple threats and plastic debris is one of the most important ones. Their presence on coral reefs results in infections. Therefore, there is an easy way to protect coral reefs. It is reducing our dependence on plastic. We can start with simple things such as avoiding excessive food packaging and saying no to disposable cutlery and straws. 

2. Reuse, Saying Bye to Throwaway Culture is Another way to Protect Corals

The use and throw-away culture is not a coral reef’s friend, quite the contrary. We can conserve coral reefs by opting for reusable alternatives. Carry your own shopping bag, use metal or glass bottles, change your lighters for matches, or carry your own reusable coffee mug, you will be protecting the coral reefs and the whole of nature with a little effort

3. Protecting Coral by Recycling

The third of the three R’s rule is recycling. After reducing and reusing, and only then, it is time to recycle. There are many reasons why recycling is such an important contributor to coral reef protection. Probably, the most obvious one is that when you recycle, the residues have a second life to help us, instead of polluting our rivers and seas.

4. Save Water and Energy for Coral Reefs Protection

Global warming is another great threat to coral reefs. The less energy we use, the less CO2 ends up in our atmosphere, in this way breaking the greenhouse effect consequences. On the other hand, by saving water we also save the energy we need for its extraction, transport, and treatment, avoiding new wastewater runoff into the ocean as well.

5. For Coral Protection We Should Reduce Chemicals

The truth is that this is a responsibility that falls on the authorities, but you can also demand it. The leaching of nutrients from the land to the sea, such as those from wastewater and fertilizers, increases the nitrogen concentration in the water. Nitrogen causes metabolic stress and malnutrition in corals.

By improving wastewater treatment, reducing fertilizer inputs, and increasing stormwater storage we will be protecting corals.

6. Walk to protect Coral Reefs

Walking, biking, or using public transportation (such as buses and trains) for daily commutes is a great idea. On the other hand, electric cars are becoming more efficient.

The fewer emissions the less water warming and ocean acidification. That’s a very good way to protect coral reefs.

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Ways To Protect Coral Reefs When Visiting as A Tourist


7. Sunscreen To Protect Coral Reefs

Did you know sunscreens are harmful to coral reefs? They contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are two hazardous chemical substances to our coral reef because they increase its bleaching and damage other marine organisms. In order to protect coral reefs, you can use biodegradable sunscreens.

8. Practice responsible snorkeling

Don’t feed, touch, or chase the sea life! You may think your behavior is harmless, but human-initiated interactions create stress and anxiety for the animals. When marine animals learn to expect food from tourists, this can have a massive impact on local food networks and animal behaviors. That can impact indirectly in coral reefs.

9. Choose Operators Committed to Protecting Coral Reefs

Currently, numerous travel agencies are opting to emphasize sustainability. Opting for a travel company that commits to endorsing environmentally conscious endeavors inspires other businesses to follow suit. The Go Green initiative by Dressel Divers and that by Iberostar  Hotels called Wave of Change are good examples of commitment to the protection of corals and sustainability in tourism. They promote free initiatives such as coral nurseries, and sea-bed cleanings, showcasing how tourism and conservation can collaborate effectively to preserve the reef.

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Protecting Coral Reefs as A Scuba Diver


10. Coral Reef Conservation Implies Don’t Harvest Them

One of the most prevalent ways in which divers have a negative impact on coral reefs is through physical contact. Although it may be an unintentional error, the consequences can be severe, particularly if it occurs repeatedly. It is essential to bear in mind that it is our responsibility to refrain from touching the coral reefs.

Additionally, it is crucial to recognize that the formation of a coral reef is a lengthy process that takes several decades. By touching the corals, we impede this natural progression. Moreover, if someone were to remove a fragment of coral, the ramifications would be even more detrimental.

Furthermore, it is vital to understand that the collection of corals, animals, or plants is strictly forbidden by law in numerous countries. Violations of these regulations often carry substantial penalties.

11. If you leave only bubbles, you protect the coral.

As divers, we are nature lovers, so when we scuba dive, we must also take care not to leave any kind of residue. Notice that we are not talking about our own debris only. If you see a plastic bottle, bag, or any other type of garbage, pick it up and correctly dispose of it.

12. The More You Know the More You Protect Corals

Learning scuba diving correctly is as important to your own security, as to protecting the coral reefs. For example, having absolute control of your buoyancy helps you keep the correct distance from the corals and avoid harming them. But that is not all.

All of us adore scuba diving in warm and clear waters where coral reefs live. The more life we find during a dive, the more we enjoy it. However, usually, we do not know what we are really watching. For that reason, it is important to learn about the complexity of these habitats and their importance, not only for the ocean’s health but for the entire planet its survival.

Volunteering is the most efficient way to learn.

13. Volunteering To Conserve Coral Reefs

Sea bed cleanings, coral reef transplantations, coral nursery maintenance, just support conservation organizations …, none of these activities can be done without volunteer divers.

Periodically, Go Green hosts volunteer activities focused on coral reef conservation near Dressel Divers bases. On other occasions, we collaborate with different NGOs. In all cases, those divers who want to help us save coral reefs can sign up for our green events.

You can also join the Go Green community, offer advice and tips, and share your experience with us. Help us protect coral reefs.

To sum up, protecting coral reefs is a crucial mission that requires collective effort. While institutionalized measures and conservation policies play a significant role, individual actions can also make a substantial difference.

As conscientious divers, we have the power to contribute to the protection and preservation of coral reefs, alleviating the environmental pressures they face. The importance of coral reef protection cannot be forgotten, especially in the face of severe threats and challenges. By becoming ambassadors for coral reef protection, scuba divers can lead the way in promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness.

Whether you are a scuba diver or not, there are 12+1 practical tips that you can implement to protect coral reefs, even if you live far away from them. From reducing plastic usage and embracing reusable alternatives to practicing responsible snorkeling and diving, every action counts.

Together, we can ensure the long-term health and survival of coral reefs and the diverse marine life they support. Join us in the mission to protect coral reefs and make a positive impact on our oceans.