8 Ways to be a Sustainable Diver and Protect the Ocean

I am in love with the ocean and exploring it’s depths. I love finding new an weird fish that I’ve never seen, and interesting ones I see all the time. Its a whole other world down there. So if there is one thing that really pisses me off, its when I see really irresponsible divers who are ruining it for everyone.

I’ve even approached stupid divers, in and out of the water, because they were either endangering their selves, or coral and marine life. So here are some of the basics that every diver should know once they start diving, to help keep our oceans healthy and diving great.

Practice and Maintain Good Buoyancy Skills

sustainable scuba diver

This might sound funny to a non-diver, but its the most important thing in my eyes. The reason for that is even the most fish-loving and eco-conscious diver that would never want to harm a reef, will accidentally crash into formations and delicate coral if they are unable to maintain a neutral buoyancy. So before you head to a big reef to take photos, practice getting good at your buoyancy in some sandy areas.

Police Your Gear

sustainable scuba diver

This is probably the most common mistake, I even do it myself. If I see another diver unconsciously dragging their pressure gauge or octopus over a reef, I will signal for them to let them know.

If I come out of a tight space I always check to make sure my octopus or whatever hasn’t come loose and is swinging free. And when I need to get really close to a reef, I automatically look down to make sure again. There’s no reason to damage the pretty sites.

Watch Your Fin Kicks

This sort of goes with having good buoyancy skills. Ultimately  it comes down to the need to just be very conscious of the fact that you are next to some very delicate, slow growing corral, and you need to try not to disturb it in any way. I’ve seen new divers get excited about a fish and to get to it, end up kicking reef behind them. Or maybe they are just too low over some reef, and their fin kicks either directly hit or send a wave into it. My advice it to start practicing the frog kick instead of the swimmer style you learn in Open Water courses. You will always see the divemaster and instructors use it, and its the best one. Not only do you use less energy, which means better air consumption, but you can also go into tighter spaces without kicking up sand or hurting corals.

Don’t Touch ANY Fish

Unless you are being attacked I can not think if a single reason to ever touch marine life. And if you are being attacked, you were probably bothering it in the first place. There is nothing more infuriating than seeing ignorant and incompetent guides catching turtles and puffers and whatever else, to impress their clients. Stressing these animals many times kills them, and if they are all dead, those same guides will have no work left. If you are the guy that thinks its cool to try to catch a ride on that whale sharks fin, then I sincerely hope there are some actual good divers around to kick the S#$% out of you. They are not there for your entertainment, and they need not give their lives for your stupid selfie. Don’t be that guy. I WILL find you.

Don’t Touch ANYTHING

sustainable scuba diver

This is another thing that really angers real divers: Vacation divers that want souvenirs. I did my divemaster in Egypt, and seen some horrible things. For instance I was diving the HMS Thislegorm wreck that Jac Cousteau discovered, and is famous because it is still full of ammunition, bombs, army truck and motorcycles. When we were doing a surface interval between dives, one of the instructors found some of that WW2 ammo in one of the Russian tourist dive crate.

The wreck is basically an underwater museum thats been there since the ’40s, yet this guy thought he was so special, that he deserved to have some all to himself, to put on a shelf back home and brag to his buddies. Don’t be this douche. Everyone will hate you. This instructor almost beat the hell out of the Russian, and they banned him from the next dives. Don’t be this guy, let the dive sites stay in tact and enjoyed by everyone.

Bring A Knife or Wire Cutter On Dives

sustainable scuba diver

Another time diving in Egypt, near Dahab, my dive buddy and I ran into a big fishing net that was caught on a lot of reef. Nets shouldn’t have been in that protected area in the first place, but it was. In the net were many beautiful fish, still alive, that weren’t even edible fish. For the next 20 minutes we carefully picked the net off the reef, cut out the fish, and destroyed the net before taking it ashore. If we hadn’t had a knife, it would have  been really hard to free the fish, and if you are a frequent diver, it is part of your responsibility to help keep the dive sites pristine and abundant with life.

Take Back More Than You Bring In

After each dive, while taking off our gear, you will see me and my dive buddy emptying our BCD pockets of trash we ran into on the dive. I doubt there was a time that we would see a plastic bag or some trash and not bring it our wit us. This is your backyard. Keep it clean. This also means not losing anything that you have with you on the dive in the first place.

But most importantly, make yourself the designated trash picker-uper on every dive. Keep your ocean clean. Not just clean but healthy, you don’t want dolphins swallowing a plastic bag, thinking it a jelly or something. It won’t ruin your dive to just pocket trash, but I’m sure this could have gone unsaid.

Report Assholes

sustainable scuba diver

Always report people, especially local guides, that seriously break diver laws. In Dahab there’s a Facebook community and they always post photos of people doing seriously bad things, asking if anyone knows this person. The police have caught a lot of violators this way. So if you see some captain or DM pulling turtles in to his boat to impress his customers, or riding a whale shark or harassing fish or collecting coral, let someone know.

These people are the REAL invasive species. These are just the basics of being a good, sustainable diver, that won’t destroy the last remaining pristine places on Earth. We have to maintain a healthy reef and marine life, or there will be nothing for future generation to enjoy. Humans really are the most invasive species on Earth, but we are also the smartest, so we should be able to figure out how to sustain our oceans and great diving forever. Have any more suggestions that could be  on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Want more tips to save the ocean? Check out 5 Easy Steps to Help Clean the Ocean

Justin Carmack on FacebookJustin Carmack on Instagram
Justin Carmack
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!

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