Why Marine Conservation Should be an Important Part of All Dive Training Courses

by David Miner

Diving is a multi-million dollar business with money being spent on dive training, dive equipment, and dive travel by people wanting to dive on reefs around the world. Reefs are prolific habitats for thousands of species of marine life and have called these reefs home for millions of years. People travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to be able to dive on a reef and experience the richness and beauty a reef dive provides. In a poll conducted by Divingindepth.com last month on where people dive the most, the “ocean” was checked the most, meaning that most people dive in the ocean and mostly on some type of reef structure, whether artificial or natural.

Notice some of the tips of the coral are white – This is a result of the coral
bleaching (dying) from sea temperatures being too high

Help Protect our Reefs

Divers get certified and go diving for many reasons, but typically at the top of the list is their desire to dive on a reef and see all of the amazing life that abounds. For this reason, divers should and must be at the forefront for protecting the environment they love to dive in. With diving on reefs being a huge attraction for divers and people wanting to get into diving, with dive travel businesses making millions off taking divers to great reefs, and with equipment manufacturers selling millions of dollars of equipment so that people can dive on the reefs, it is in the “diving industry’s” best interest to be involved in educating divers on how to protect and help save the reefs they love to dive. If the reefs around the world collapse, the diving industry collapses and divers have few places to dive.

A great place to start is in a diver’s first open water training course. Knowing how to clear a mask, share air, and have good buoyancy control is extremely important, but it’s also important that a diver understands and respects the environment they’re getting trained to dive in. To avoid touching and kicking a reef, good buoyancy control is essential. By educating a dive student about the delicacy of a reef and the impact a diver can have on a reef, the student will better understand why practicing and mastering their buoyancy control is so essential.

Certifying divers is about training them to dive in a marine environment that is fragile, sensitive, and dynamic. Divers engage in the underwater environment for observation, exploration, fun, and for taking things, such as when spearfishing or lobstering. Through this engagement, divers come in contact with reefs and marine life of all kinds and should be aware of and understand the impact they have on the life they are there to observe.

Divers should be taught that when they dive on a reef that they become part of the reef for that period of time, not just there as an observer. The realization of this important factor instills in the diver a sense of empathy and compassion for what they are apart of. This in turn brings out a diver’s awareness towards sensitivity, which leads to preservation, protection, and conservation. If someone truly cares about something (the environment they’re in), they will avoid and protect against harming it or damaging it and will fight to protect it even when they’re not diving. Think about it…when you go to visit your friends and family at their home, you thoroughly wipe your shoes so as to avoid tracking in dirt, you are careful not to knock over and break any of their possessions, and you avoid dropping crumbs on the floor or anything else. Why, because you have compassion and respect towards their home and environment. The same should be true when you enter an underwater environment that is home to thousands of species of marine life. And after all, the marine life is the reason for being there.

If marine conservation training could be included in training courses being offered today, this would force divers to understand the environment they’re getting trained to dive in. By understanding and being conservation minded when they finish their training, they can take with them a sense of concern and pride in the fact that they can individually make a difference. This awareness and pride can then be used when they go diving, when they are talking to their diving buddies, and when they see what’s happening to reefs around the world and decide to get involved in helping to preserve the environment they enjoy so much.

Help protect coral reefs from pollution and global warming by getting
involved today. Tell your instructors that you want to know more about
coral reef conservation.

There are some predictions that 60 percent of the coral reefs around the world will be lost by 2030 due to warming waters, pollution, and over fishing (see http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15412865/?GT1=8618). Divers and the diving industry can help to make a difference by getting involved. By educating students in their first (second, third…) dive training class on how important preservation and conservation is if they want to dive and continue to dive on reefs, then all of the reefs will have more and more people advocating for their protection.

People are in training courses to learn, gather skills, and further educate themselves. The education does not just have to be about “diving,” it can also be about the diving environment with respect to conservation. The beginning of someone’s training is a very important and influential time period. Trust, listening, and following are elements of someone being trained in something new. Many times students adopt the principles and practices of the instructor. Meaning that if the dive training instructors (and training agencies) can educate students about the underwater environment, the students will listen and take this knowledge with them.

Learning how to perform the necessary skills to dive and understand the concepts of diving should be just as important as educating dive students about the underwater environment they want to dive in. The two go hand in hand, as without being able to perform the necessary diving skills means divers can’t dive and not understanding the diving environment means that divers don’t understand what they’re looking at and coming in contact with. Understanding the environment a diver is diving in is essential for having the desire to protect it. By incorporating marine conservation, awareness, and education into dive training classes, divers will have knowledge, compassion, and desire to protect the diving environment every time they go diving. Knowledge is power and with this power divers can then be advocates on the surface for the diving environments and areas and work together to protect it.

Basically, if someone understands and has more knowledge about something, the more they respect it. The more they respect it, the more they care about it. The more they care about it, the more compassion and empathy they have for it. The more compassion and empathy they have for it, the more they work at protecting and saving it.