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28 Mar 2014

Maui Scuba Divers: Protecting The Reef

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As a SCUBA diver who is passionate about the ocean I find myself in a unique position, as I inform and educate myself and my student divers about the fragile ecosystems that surround us when we dive. Somedays here in Maui I struggle between my role as a dive master and a reef protector; conservation and minimal impact on our reefs is the best way to protect and nurture them for future generations. The first step is always respect, education and awareness.

We recently had a wonderful dive here in Maui with a first time scuba diver who tried the introductory dive course. The diver was having buoyancy issues. This created a situation where the reef was compromised. As a dive master it is my job to protect the diver and the living reef. This incident reminded me of how important it is to educate my student divers so we can all be aware of how our actions impact our environment and take steps to be proactive in conservation of our ocean resources.

If you are passionate about ocean conservation and wish to further engage in ocean exploration and education, please call me! You are 70% water, the planet is 70% ocean, its time you get acquainted with the ocean! If you are visiting Maui, please take advantage of this oporutnity to submerge in the ocean of the Aloha State. My number is 808-250-5494!
Reef_Sign

25 Steps You Can Take To Preserve Coral Reefs

1. Support reef-friendly businesses. Ask what your dive shop, boating store, tour operators, SCUBA instructors, hotel and other coastal businesses are doing to save the coral reefs. This is especially important in coastal areas with reefs. Let them know you are an informed consumer and care about reefs.

2. Don’t use chemically enhanced pesticides and fertilizers. Although you may live thousands of miles from a coral reef ecosystem, these products end up in the watershed and may ultimately impact the waters that support coral.

3. Volunteer for a reef cleanup. You don’t live near a coral reef? Then do what many people do with their vacation: visit a coral reef. Spend an afternoon enjoying the beauty of one of the world’s treasures while helping to preserve it for future generations.

4. Learn more about coral reefs. How many different species live in reefs? What new medicines have been discovered in reef organisms. Participate in training or educational programs that focus on reef ecology. When you further your own education, you can help others understand the fragility and value of the world’s coral reefs.

5. Become a member of your local aquarium or zoo. Ask what they are doing and what your donation can do toward saving the world’s coral reefs. The answer may pleasantly surprise you.

6. When you visit a coral reef, help keep it healthy by respecting all local guidelines, recommendations, regulations, and customs. Ask local authorities or your dive shop how to protect the reef.

7. Support conservation organizations. Many of them have coral reef programs, and your much-needed monetary support will make a big difference.

8. Spread the word. Remember your own excitement at learning how important the planet’s coral reefs are to us and the intricate global ecosystem. Sharing this excitement gets everyone you speak with involved.

9. Be an informed consumer. Consider carefully the coral objects that you buy for your coffee table. Ask the store owner or manager from what country the coral is taken and whether or not that country has a management plan to insure that the harvest was legal and sustainable over time.

10. Don’t pollute. Never put garbage or human waste in the water. Don’t leave trash on the beach.

11. Recycle. This is the first step each of us can take to make a change. Recycle anything and everything. If your community doesn’t have a program, do it anyway, and get one started.

12. Conserve water. The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually finds its way back into our oceans.

13. Report dumping or other illegal activities. Environmental enforcement cannot be everywhere, and your involvement can make a big difference.

14. Keep it clean. You may be in the habit of picking up your own trash. You may even participate in an organized cleanup. But have you considered carrying away the trash that others have left behind?

15. Only buy marine aquarium fish if you know they have been collected in an ecologically sound manner. In some areas, marine fish harvested for the pet trade, are stunned with sodium cyanide so that capturing them is easier.

16. Surf the net! Many different addresses exist to link you to information about coral reefs and what you can do to become involved. A good starting point is at http://www.noaa.gov/public-affairs/coral-reef.html

17. Don’t start a liverock aquarium. Although this living rock is still harvested legally in some places, its collection is devastating to the reef organisms habitat.

18. Hire local guides when visiting coral reef ecosystems. Not only do you learn about the local resources, but you will be protecting the future of the reef by supporting a non-consumptive economy around that reef.

19. Don’t anchor on the reef. If you go boating near a coral reef, use mooring buoy systems when they are available.

20. If you dive, don’t touch! Take only pictures and leave only bubbles! Keep your fins’ gear, and hands away from the coral, as this contact can hurt you and will damage the delicate coral animals. Stay off the bottom because stirred-up sediment can settle on coral and smother it.

21. Participate in the Great American Fish Count. What better way to enjoy your vacation time than snorkeling or diving in America’s coral reefs and helping scientists better understand reef fish populations?

22. Volunteer. Volunteer and community coral reef monitoring programs are very important. If you do not live near a coast, get involved in your local save the river (bay, lake, or other estuarine environment) program. Remember, all watersheds affect the oceans and eventually the coral reefs.

23. Support the creation and maintenance of marine parks and reserves. Encourage your friends to get involved with projects to protect special areas.

24. Be a wastewater crusader! Make sure that sewage from your boat, from others’ boats, and from land is correctly treated. The nutrients from sewage feed growing algae that can smother and kill corals.

25. Inform yourself. Find out about existing and proposed laws, programs, and projects that could affect the world’s coral reefs.
Thanks to NOAA who orginally posted this list of 25 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SAVE CORAL REEFS http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/25list.html

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About the Author


I have been living and diving on the beautiful island of Maui for over 25 years! I love Maui and the opportunity it gives me to not only scuba dive daily but to share the experience with Maui visitors from around the world. I am a Master Scuba Dive Instructor, Surfer, Kayaker, accomplished waterman and outdoors man.