The world of scuba diving is a global one. We travel to exotic places in search of unique marine life, colorful reefs, and once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.
Planning and embarking on a dive trip is the perfect opportunity to integrate sustainability into our decision-making and even our dive lifestyle. At Johnson Outdoors, we believe this is more important than ever and that it’s our duty to help build a more sustainable future. A few simple choices can help protect our ocean, build local communities, save you some money, and help you return from your trip knowing you’ve supported your beliefs.
Your choices begin as soon as you start planning the dive trip.
1) Choose a Responsible Resort or Hotel
The dive tourism industry is taking conservation seriously, and that helps make information more readily available. Measuring conservation efforts will be different at each location, but might involve renewable energy like solar panels, responsible septic and sewer management, reduction in single use materials like plastic water bottles, and use of local building materials like bamboo.
2) Ensure Your Dive Operator is Community-Oriented
Go beyond Tip #1 by ensuring the live-a-board, resort and/or dive operators are active in their local community. Learn whether they hire local staff, support local marine reserves, participate in local committees, and organize beach and dive site cleanup events. Many operators do a great job with this and go far beyond in terms of helping employees. Some resorts and live-a-boards even offer special dives and events to help with programs like coral reef restoration.
Each of these efforts leads to a more sustainable dive travel business model. Your patronage rewards these operators and ensures they’ll continue down this path. In addition, you’ll likely have a richer dive experience with employees passionate about showing you their corner of our blue planet.
3) Travel with a Group
Dive travel can be done as a single person or as part of a larger group. While there are benefits to each type of trip, it’s always better to arrange ground transfers with your buddies or other guests.
Not only do you create efficiency in transportation, but you’ll save money compared to transferring solo or with just two people.
4) Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
You’ve probably heard this before, but be sure to bring a reusable water bottle on your trip. It will come in handy as soon as you clear security at the airport, where you can fill it up to help fight the dehydration common with long international flights. Every time you fill up, you’re using one less plastic bottle, which is especially important in dive locations where recycling programs are limited or non-existent.
5) Rely on Hats, Rash Guards and Reef Safe Sunscreen
Protecting ourselves from the sun is crucial during dive trips. The best way to do this is to rely on shade at the resort, beach or dive boat, as well as hats, sunglasses and UPF clothing like rash guards. Sunscreen is next in our line of defenses. Reef safe sunscreens are now readily available from dive shops and other retailers. Several dive destinations are even banning non-reef safe sunscreens with very expensive violation penalties.
6) Use Rechargeable Batteries
Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible. These are a great solution for traveling divers, since you only need to pack one set plus a charger. They’re also much cheaper over time. If your equipment requires disposable batteries and you need to replace them during your trip, be sure to bring the batteries home with you so that you can recycle them properly.
7) Don’t Touch the Reef
Each touch of the reef has the potential to harm coral and other marine life. You also expose yourself to potential harm, like brushing small stinging hydroids or fire coral. Touching the reef goes beyond your hands. Be sure you don’t have an SPG, console dive computer or octopus regulator hanging down and dragging across the reef. Your fins can also damage the reef, so be sure not to kick coral or create clouds of sand while kicking.
Photographers are especially guilty of these offenses, so pay particular attention any time you’re diving with a camera.
8) Speak Up
Oftentimes we see other divers touching the reef or harassing marine life. We understand that accidents happen, but if you notice a diver is continually engaging in a behavior that harms the reef or marine life, it’s alright to politely point this out. If the issue is something like fins kicking up clouds of sand, they may not be aware they’re doing it and will likely appreciate the feedback.
9) Every Dive is a Cleanup Dive
One simple effort we all can make is to pick up at least one piece of trash per dive. If you’re even more motivated, you can carry a bag on your dives specifically for collecting trash. Many divers use the mesh bag our SCUBAPRO fins are sold with as an underwater bag. In fact, our designers had this in mind when designing the bag.
10) Share the Underwater World
Photography is the most common way to share dive experiences with friends and family while raising general awareness of the beauty of our ocean. Citizen science is also becoming a popular consideration in dive travel. Divers can participate in ocean science and conservation in several different ways, including coral reef restoration, fish counts and data collection, cleanups, joining research expeditions, and local volunteer opportunities. Adding this element to your plans will enrich not just your dive trip, but your entire experience as a traveling scuba diver.
Many of these principals carry over into our daily life. Johnson Outdoors employees help clean up local recreation areas every year, use reusable water bottles in the office, and are continually integrating sustainable practices into new products. We’re all in this together. To learn more about how SCUBAPRO and the rest of Johnson Outdoors’ family of brands participate in sustainable activities, visit our new Outdoor Adventure Blog.