Why scuba divers need to preserve and protect the ocean
Scuba divers are invasive visitors to the seas; there is no doubt about it. But, just as responsible people try to minimize our impacts on land, so should divers look at their time visiting the water as an opportunity to observe and protect.
In my time diving, since the mid-1980s, I have seen the changes in the oceans due to pollution and humankind’s wasteful attitudes. I have witnessed barren areas which were once thriving ecosystems of coral reefs, teeming with life. I quickly came to believe that divers were a small part of this destruction, and we have to be a part of the change we want to see.
In previous generations, the seas were considered dumping grounds for waste and other by-products of everyday life on Earth. The results of wars and maritime accidents often ended up in the waters as shipwrecks left to degrade on the ocean floors, with some of them leaking toxic waste. Fishermen and other people who looked to oceans for sustenance took endless amounts of sealife for consumption. But both the land and the waters are finite resources. As we have seen with fossil fuels and land-bound garbage, we have to discover ways not to deplete the oceans’ resources to ensure our planet’s continuity.
Professionals in the marine sciences and others passionate about conserving our planet started studying the impact of people on the seas. They quickly concluded that if we took action, we could reverse the terrible direction that things were headed. And many scientists even started to believe that the fate of the entire Earth itself rested in repairing the destruction of the seas.
This leads me to where my personal belief system became grounded recently. We have started to take action within our business mission to ensure that we do no harm to the oceans and that we are a part of the positive changes. Here are the things we are either already committed to or are working on:
- We are an industry member of Tourism Cares. This non-profit organization focuses on mobilizing the tourism industry on the social, environmental, and economic impacts of worldwide tourism.
- I have joined the board of Tikkun HaYam, a worldwide organization that directly focuses on repairing the sanctity of the sea, using Jewish principles. This organization extrapolates from the Jewish tenet of Tikkun Olam, which means to repair and improve the world, to focus on the water component of our planet. Tikkun HaYam has implemented several programs that are already making a positive impact on our oceans, with more to come.
- We hope to launch a program next year to extract ocean plastic from locations where we scuba dive and put those plastics to good use. Many organizations are already focused on stopping plastic flow into the ocean through legislation and other actions. However, there are only a few that are directly addressing the problem of existing ocean plastic pollution.
Ocean conservation in the Sea of Cortez
Our December 2023 scuba trip to the Sea of Cortez is being done jointly with Tikkun HaYam and one of its directors, Shayna Cohen. Shayna is a PADI-certified master scuba diver trainer. Along with the staff at Mexico LiveAboards, we are planning citizen-science activities to create a positive experience for all divers on this trip and participate in ocean conservation. We’ll share more information about the specifics over the next few months. You will want to join us if you are a certified diver!