Once you do your first ocean dive something inside of you changes. You form a connection to the ocean. You start to care about the sea and begin thinking about what you can do to protect it.
We all know some basic things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, for example, stop using single-use plastic and recycle as much as possible. But have you ever thought about sustainable shopping while travelling?
As ocean-loving scuba divers, we should not buy souvenirs from anyone exploiting ocean wildlife.
Of course buying from ecologically responsible local artisans and craftspeople in developing countries can help their community. With many travelers wanting to take home unique souvenirs that remind them of their journey, how do you know what NOT to buy?
Here are just 3 examples of marine creatures that are becoming or are already endangered.
- Coral. Red coral makes beautiful jewelry, but by wearing it you create a demand for it. If you’ve ever taken the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty Course then you know our reefs are inserious trouble. In addition to making sure we continue to have scenic dives, coral preservation helps the Earth’s ecosystem.
- Marine Turtle Shells. Overharvesting and illegal trade have caused turtles to decline in population. The threat to their survival is recognized by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- Nautilus Shells. This “living fossil” once filled the Earth’s ancient oceans. Now because of climate change and over-fishing, these elusive animals have declined in population. Marine biologist are lobbying CITES for protection, but it hasn’t happened yet.
As scuba divers, we share a special affinity with the marine environment and enjoy seeing marine creatures in their natural state. You can join thousands of divers across the globe by becoming an AWARE diver; avoid buying products that exploit unsustainable marine creatures. The choices we make to lessen our negative impact on the ocean are small, but when the scuba diving community acts together, we can make a huge difference to help protect the marine environment.
Parade your environmental awareness for all to see by following Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers to Protect Our Ocean Planet.