What is the way many Scientists believe they can protect the Ocean? People building a connection to the Ocean, that’s how! SCUBA diving is a great way to build this type of connection, which often transforms the diver’s life to develop a passion for the Ocean and a mission to conserve it. Here are some reasons why I think SCUBA Diving is great for Ocean Conservation:
1) SCUBA Divers become part of the Ocean – When you plunge into the Ocean, or any underwater habitat for that matter, you begin to breath through your regulator with ease, grab your bearings, look down to the habitat you are about to explore, and become an individual in an environment where you are the guest of more than millions of species in the surrounding area. You begin to descend down the water column while observing curious fish and other Ocean creatures as you proceed down to the Ocean floor. You have an idea about what you are going to see, but the specifics are a mystery in which you are about to discover. As you arrive at your destination depth (40 feet, 60 feet, 100 feet, or more), you take a quick look around and determine which way you would like to go. The creatures and seascape that you are witnessing impresses you more than you dreamed. The life and processes that you witness are not a product of role play…it is just the daily life of an Ocean habitat. You have become part of this environment as fish and other creatures spot you and escape or swim up to you to sea what you are all about. Becoming one with the Ocean gives you a feeling of peace, tranquility and a step in bringing you closer to a mysterious environment about which you know little.
2) SCUBA Divers realize how fragile life can be under the Ocean – Have you ever gone diving and witnessed some broken pieces of coral, an injured fish, or a shopping cart under water. Most divers have seen something similar. When you see this, especially trash like a shopping cart or a tire, you get very frustrated because the site of the trash not only ruins your dive as it tears the beauty of the seascape to shreds, but you witness first hand the destruction that is occurring in the Oceans instead of hearing it from someone on TV or reading about it in the paper where you can dismiss it. But when you see it up close and personal in a dive, you have to face the reality that many Ocean habitats are not in good shape. Broken pieces of coral and/or injured fish give you the perspective of how unforgiving the Ocean environment can be. Large corals can be broken during a storm cutting it down from a giant magnificent individual to a small insignificant piece. More than one hundred years of growing and surviving is gone during one storm. As a diver, it makes you think how fragile life under the sea actually is and makes you think about the extra impact that are originating from humans and how it affects life under the Ocean. You realize that things need to change…
3) SCUBA Divers learn about the Ocean – Any certified SCUBA diver has taken courses covering the mechanics of diving and the physical characteristics of the Oceans. As you learn how the pressure changes as you descend the water column or how a divers buoyancy (the ability to float) is different in salt water than it is in fresh water, then you develop a respect for the the Ocean and other water bodies. The more certifications you seek such as Advanced Open Water and specialized certifications like underwater photography and videography, all the way up to dive instructor, you learn more characteristics about the Ocean and how it affects human physiology as well as the Ocean Environment itself. You learn about fish and why they look so different. You learn about how sunlight can affect your photographs at various depths, and more. The more you learn about the Ocean, the deeper the respect you develop for it AND the more you would like to protect it as you understand how it works and why it needs to work properly without any human interference.
So as an Ocean Scientist, I would like to encourage you to get certified as a SCUBA diver and learn about the Ocean so that you will grow a need to conserve it. There are many more reasons why SCUBA DIving leads to conserving the Ocean. Share why you think SCUBA diving helps save the Ocean!