Avid diver Annet Libeau discusses how divers can help protect the underwater ecosystems they enjoy visiting.
The sport of diving is a privilege. It offers divers the opportunity to explore underwater flora and fauna that simply can’t be seen on a typical swim or snorkel adventure. However, avid divers like Annet Libeau continue to emphasize the importance of protecting these underwater ecosystems for generations of underwater creatures and divers to come.
“As divers, we’re so fortunate to be able to explore underwater ecosystems,” Annet Libeau said. “It’s our duty to do what we can to protect them.”
Annet Libau explained that protecting underwater ecosystems for future generations is something that’s easy and necessary for all divers to do. The first step is to dive carefully and always be aware of your surroundings. Annet Libeau described that the simple act of a camera breaking a piece of coral can destroy decades of growth. This can be avoided by being aware of your body placement and equipment at all times, so your limbs, gauges, and alternative air sources never touch underwater organisms.
“It is also our duty as divers to keep our dive skills sharp,” Annet Libeau said. “Refreshing our knowledge and skills reminds us how to stay safe and protect our surrounding environments.”
Annet Libeau explained that advanced diving courses, like the Project AWARE specialty courses or PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, offer a number of valuable skills and knowledge that remind us how to protect underwater ecosystems. Practicing bottom time in a pool can also help you become more aware of your equipment and surroundings, helping you steer clear of fragile organisms when you enter a real dive site.
“The same basic concepts of ecotourism apply to diving,” Annet Libeau said. “We’re essentially tourists in these underwater destinations, and we should never leave any disruption behind.”
Annet Libeau added that knowing your effect on the environment is an important part of keeping it safe. Always understand the local laws before entering the water, and never collect items on underwater adventures. Divers are always encouraged to take photos of corals and shells rather than collect them to bring home. Annet Libeau explained the importance of not handling, touching, or feeding aquatic life. These actions can cause stress and interrupt normal behaviors, which can have negative effects on entire ecosystems.
“As divers, we need to be proactive at all times,” Annet Libeau said. “This means reporting any strange observations you see underwater. Injured sea creatures, odd substances in the water, and depletion of underwater life should be reported to nearby authorities immediately.”
Annet Libeau finished by reminding divers that protecting underwater ecosystems means educating yourself, being aware of your surroundings, reporting disturbances, and encouraging others to do the same.