Project aware is an organization that is dedicated to protecting and conserving our underwater resources and environments by partnering with divers and others that love the water. Through educational programs, advocacy (see shark fining ban) and other programs Project Aware is working to protect the underwater world on a global basis.
A very lofty goal and as divers we are the natural ambassadors and eyes to help protect our aquatic world. There are many ways a diver can help protect the marine life and environment such as taking a Project Aware course, participating in conservation activities such as clean ups of your favorite dive site, data collection and coral reef monitoring. We can also help by making sure that the dive shops that we spend our travel dollars with use mooring buoys or practice “drift diving” or “live boating” and not anchors. For example in St. Lucia they practice “live boating”, that is they do not anchor and the boat captain follows the diver’s bubbles or float and picks them up at the end of the dive. This ensures that their anchors do not land on and destroy the fragile reef below. Most dive operators are using mooring buoys, but not all and not at all dive sites. One time on a liveaboard on our last dive of the week, they tossed an anchor into what they assumed was a sandy bottom only to come within a foot of a small coral head that was home to a cleaning station with a dozen or so Arrow crabs and other little creatures.
As divers we can also help by educating ourselves with the Project Aware Peak Performance Buoyancy course. By streamlining our equipment so our gauges are not dangling and banging into the reef. Practice responsible behavior while diving on wrecks and taking underwater pictures by not touching the reef either with our hands or fins.
Project Aware has a nice handout that list 10 ways a diver can protect the underwater environment
- Dive carefully to protect the fragile aquatic ecosystem
- Be aware of your body and equipment placement when diving
- Keep your skills sharp through continuing education programs
- Consider how your interactions affect aquatic life
- Understand and respect underwater life
- Be an ecotourist
- Respect underwater cultural heritage
- Report environmental disturbances
- Be a role model for other divers and non divers when interacting with the environment
- Get involved in local environmental activities and issues
To learn more about Project Aware visit their web site and here is another 10 ways divers can protect the ocean