I have to admit that before diving, I never really cared about marine conservation. I never thought about it, never thought about how my actions would impact the marine environment. I did what I wanted, ate what I wanted, used and threw away plastics without any considerations. It was only after I started diving that I realized this was an issue I should, and would, care about.
Diving is a beautiful sport because of the amazing sights that can be seen. I love being underwater, looking at the corals and identifying the marine life around me. I love spotting something colorful, something new, something rare. Every time I go down and observe the underwater world, I feel so grateful for its existence and privileged that I am able to be a part of it. It makes me realize how wonderful and important this world is, and now even though I don’t have the opportunity to visit it often, I still think about it and dream of returning.
And it saddens me, because now I understand that the next time I get to visit these places, travel to the dive sites that I’ve always wanted to see, they might not even be there anymore.
The marine ecosystem is so fragile, and every moment it faces so many threats. Global warming, unsustainable fishing, pollution, tourism… the list goes on. There is so much unnecessary death and destruction because of what we have done, and are continuing to do every single day. It is shocking, but it is real – this stunningly rich biodiversity may one day be depleted and unrecognizable.
One example – the most recent bleaching event started in 2014 and is still ongoing, being the longest lasting bleaching event in history. It has devastated many areas, including Fiji, Hawaii and the Great Barrier Reef. The warm waters are hitting these reefs over and over again, leaving them with no time to recover, placing them at high risk of eventually dying off and disappearing. In some parts of the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, the majority of the corals are dead. In the Northern and Central sections, an average of 35% of coral is dead or dying. Isn’t this concerning?
This is why I like to promote diving. When you are on land, when you have never been in the oceans or appreciated the marine life around you, you probably won’t care about it. It might never even cross your mind that they exist! People will only protect things they care about and love, and the best way for them to learn about these creatures and fall in love with them is through diving. When you dive, you realize how precious these lifeforms are. There is such a great joy that comes from seeing an abundance of coral reefs and fish and turtles and rays and sharks and … so many more.
Take sharks for example. Every year about 100 million sharks are killed for their fins.
Do you care about that? Maybe not much for now. But talk to any divers you know. Once you start diving, do you know how absolutely elated you would be if you got to see a shark? If you got to see 10 sharks? If a school of sharks came up and started swimming around you? That feeling is indescribable. Then you start thinking about how so many of these creatures that you were so overjoyed to see are being killed every day for their fins. And it just doesn’t make sense anymore. Eating sharks fin feels different, it doesn’t feel right anymore.
The same goes for any other marine life. Once you fall in love with the underwater world, you will start to care about it and be concerned for its safety and sustainability. Once you get to know how your actions impact and destroy what you love, you will take note and try to change.
Once everyone starts caring a little and changing a little, maybe we can all play a part to make a real difference in protecting the marine ecosystem that we treasure and cherish.