Environment

Code for responsible reef diving at Ocean Frontiers dive shop in the Cayman Islands to help protect the environment
 
 
 

Environment

Ocean Frontiers is Environmentally Friendly too
Dive Mooring Installations

Two time recipient of the Project Aware Environmental Achievement Award and a PADI Green Star Certified Dive Center 2012.

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Coral reefs are without doubt one of the most important natural treasures of our planet. They are home to the world’s most diverse marine communities and most beautiful seascapes. They protect islands from being washed away by waves and provide millions of people with food and employment. As scuba divers and snorkellers, we are privileged to be on more intimate terms with the reef and its inhabitants than the average Joe. It is our responsibility to repay this trust by doing our utmost not to damage reef.

Corals don’t do much, spending most of their time performing a believable impersonation of a rock, but we must never be fooled into thinking that they are not living animals. Just look at a picture of one of Cayman’s corals spawning to see how alive they can be. Corals are colonies of tiny delicate polyps that are easily injured or killed by excessive contact. Branching species are easily broken by careless fin kicks or if they are grabbed.

Our environmental respect should extend well beyond the corals. We should not harass or handle any of the marine creatures we encounter. This is one of the reasons why gloves are not permitted when diving in the Cayman Islands. There is an old saying in the diving world that if a creature moves slowly enough for us to touch it - then don’t - there is probably a good reason for its confidence. If you don’t know what something is, then you should be very careful before extending a finger!

Environmental awareness should not finish when we get out of the water. Please try not to waste water or electricity while in the island. Do not leave litter on the beach or in the ocean. We should also think carefully about what seafood we eat. Some species, such as some groupers, have been fished close to extinction on Grand Cayman and no longer aggregate at their traditional spawning grounds to reproduce and start the next generation of their species. We should also consider our carbon footprint – as coral reefs are one of the ecosystems most critically threatened by global warming.

Most of Grand Cayman’s dive sites are unsurprisingly found in zones of Cayman’s Marine Parks, and are thus protected under the Marine Conservation Legislation. In brief these laws prohibit us from damaging the coral, taking any marine life alive or dead and disturbing turtles in any way. It is our privilege to visit their home and we must always put the marine environment first in our diving.  More details on the marine park rules can be found in our downloads section.


Ocean Frontiers Code for Responsible Reef Diving

Check you are correctly weighted. Remember that you will not need as much lead as you would if diving in a heavy wet suit or dry suit. Calculate on using 5% of your body weight if you are just diving in a skin or bathing suit. Practice neutral buoyancy control, correct trim/streamlining and always do a buoyancy check at the beginning of each dive trip.

Avoid any contact with corals. Large hard corals look very robust, but the living Polyps on the surface layer can be damaged by the slightest touch, exposing the coral to bacterial infection. Soft corals are often assumed to be fast growing plant life… but they are even more fragile than hard corals. All corals take a very long time to grow.

Fin carefully and clip up your “Danglies”. Finning close to the bottom can stir up sand, which can settle on top of corals and choke the polyps. Inconsiderate finning can slice sea fans in two and destroy fragile sponge formations. Always remember to secure your ‘octopus’ and other accessories – re-check that they are still clipped up after you have entered the water, as they often come lose. Stray hoses/accessories and fins are large contributors to diver damage on coral reefs.

Do not feed the fish. It causes an unnatural imbalance in the food chain. If the grazing fish are not eating their natural diet, algae, then the chance of algae blooms are increased. Increases algea growth normally extends over hard coral areas and blocks out the sunlight necessary for survival.

Do not remove any shells. “Empty” shells are often homes for small fish and hermit crabs.

Remember bubbles can cause damage too. Dive cautiously under “gravity defying”, fragile sponge formations. Also be careful not to create “bubble traps” for critters in underwater caverns.

Do not buy marine souvenirs. Encouraging trading in such items can only lead to diminishing populations of the most beautiful sea life.
Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse and complex ecosystems. Corals are an extraordinary group of animals that provide the framework, both living and dead, of the reef. They are responsible for much of the reefs scenic beauty and provide shelter and food for its mobile occupants. They are however, very fragile, slow growing and easily destroyed. Please do your part to protect the aquatic realm.

Only take memories and photos , leave everything the way you found it ☺