There would be no point in going diving if the area in which you dived was an ecological mess. Why would you want to dive where marine life was decimated, any coral was ripped up, and rubbish was floating around? Brad Robertson, owner of Ondine Escape, gives us his top tips for becoming a green diver.
“With 20 years recreational diving under my belt and ten years working in the industry, I have seen some absolutely devastating actions by both divers and dive operators around the world. Most of my time was spent working along the Great Barrier Reef where factory dive schools pump out tens of thousands of new divers each year. Vessels can take 100, 200 even 300 people to visit the Reef each day and there is a whole fleet of them. I have seen unmaintained moorings uproot coral structures as big as a small truck, live-aboard dive vessels dump their sewage literally on the reef – and they are rated as “eco” tour operators…
Like anyone who works in an industry for a long period of time, you begin to see the dirty side and that dirty side of the dive industry is one of the reasons I think being a green diver is important. If we as divers continue to support the mass tourism-based dive industry, then we are actually the ones who are creating these problems, we are funding them. So the number one piece of advice from an old diver is to do your homework on the dive operator you are thinking about diving with.
Visit their website, check out the testimonials, they will only be good ones for sure, but you can see if there is any mention of ecology, sustainability, conservation or education from previous guests. Don’t believe all you see, many eco certified operators unfortunately don’t have an eco bone in their body. Look for operators that have functioning education programs, current conservation projects or are working with local scientists on research projects. This pro-action is a much better indicator of an eco business than a sticker from an organization that needs members to survive.
Next, dive local. Dive centres that are close to you mean less travel and a smaller carbon footprint. Build up a relationship with them, be involved in local eco projects and, if they don’t have any eco projects, suggest they begin one. Offer to help with the groundwork to start a new monitoring program, get in touch with your local fisheries department and ask them about the general health of your local area. If you don’t think that your local area is worth diving, in most cases I would say think again. This comes from my own experience – speak to the locals – they know.
If you are looking at purchasing equipment, buy some good quality dive gear, it will last you longer, save you money in the end and save manufacturers making you more. No good for them, but better for you and better for the environment. Just make sure you look after it, which brings me onto the next point – fresh water.
Fresh water is a necessity to keep your dive equipment clean and in good working order, it is also a valuable resource we should be trying to limit our use of. Clean your equipment in a rinse tank as opposed to having a garden hose running for the whole time you are cleaning. If you collect rainwater at your place then use this to clean your gear, once used you can water your garden with it.
What about when you are in the water? Well, if you were not one of the thousands of factory-produced divers, you were probably told about the importance of good buoyancy and streamlining your equipment for conserving local dive sites. If you charge through the water, gauges hanging out, buoyancy out of control, then you really need to find a good quality dive shop to help you get back on track. Mastering your buoyancy is not only a human life saving exercise but it is also a marine life saving exercise. “Leave only bubbles” not a path of destruction that you and your fins have created in the middle of a marine reserve.
Last tip, but definitely not the least, is to make people aware. Spread the word of the wonderful eco dive tour you just enjoyed, post it online, tell your friends. Help them continue their amazing work by sending them more divers.”
To find out about Brad’s work and his company Ondine Escape visit – www.ondineescape.com