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

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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.

2018 was declared the Third International Year of the Reef (IYOR) by the UN. Thanks to this action, thousands of millions of people increased awareness and did their bit to get a change. However, it was not enough, far from saving the reefs, corals are, more than ever, under serious threat.

From Go Green, Dressel Divers’ legacy for future generations, we want to contribute to this movement. For this reason, in this article:

  • we consider the main coral reef threats.
  • we review 12+1 easy ways to protect coral reefs whether you are scuba diving or during your surface intervals.

Take a look at the table of contents.

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Knowing the Threats to Protect Coral Reefs

  • What Is 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.

  • What Causes Coral Bleaching?

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 the coral reefs.

  • 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 Save The Coral Reefs?

  • What You Can Do to Help Protect Coral Reefs at Home… Even Though You Live Far Away from Them

  1. Reduce, Break Up with Plastic

Coral reefs are under multiple threats and plastic debris is one of the most important ones. Simply their presence on coral reefs results in infections. Therefore, there is a simple way to save coral reefs by 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.

  1. Reuse, Say Bye to Throwaway Culture to Help Coral Reefs

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 helping the coral reefs and the whole of nature with a little effort

  1. Saving 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.

  1. Save Water and Energy to Conserve Coral Reefs

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.

  1. For Coral Protection We Should Reduce Chemicals

The truth is that this is something that the authorities should do, but you can demand it. Nutrient runoff on land (sewage, fertilizers) increases the proportion of nitrogen. This is known to cause metabolic stress and also starvation in corals.

To save corals, we should improve wastewater treatment, reduce fertilizer inputs, and increase stormwater storage.

  1. Use environmentally-friendly modes of transportation.

Walking, biking, or using public transportation (such as buses and trains) for daily commutes is a great idea. 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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  • Conserve Coral Reefs When Visiting as a Tourist

  1. Conserving Coral Reefs Using Environmental-friendly Sun Protection

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.

  1. 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.

  • Protecting Coral Reefs as A Scuba Diver

  1. Save The Reefs, Don’t Touch Them

One of the biggest impacts that scuba divers cause on coral reefs is to touch them. Despite being a mistake without malicious intent, this can be a serious error to make, especially if it is reiterated. Remember, it is our responsibility to avoid this.

  1. Coral Reefs Conservation Implies Don’t Harvest Them

It’s obvious. If we must not touch the coral reefs, then much less take them. Be aware, that corals take decades to form a reef and they cannot do it if we take them out from the ocean. Moreover, the collection of corals, animals, or plants is totally prohibited by the law of many countries.

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  1. Coral Reef Protection Leaving Only Bubbles

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, take it out with you.

  1. 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.

  1. Volunteering To Conserve Coral Reefs

Sea bed cleanings, coral reef transplantations, coral nursery maintenance…, 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.

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