Simple Ways to Promote Environmental Awareness While Snorkeling

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Expert: Cameron – I have been snorkeling for over two decades and have a certification with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. During my time in the water I have been throughout the world and have participated in many different environmental programs including cleanups and awareness.


Snorkeling is an exhilarating water activity that allows you to explore the stunning underwater world and witness the marvels of marine life up close.

As snorkelers, it is our responsibility to promote environmental awareness and protect the fragile ecosystems we encounter.

I have gone through countless marine environments that have been consumed with pollution and others that were so pristine you can only imagine the paradise the world would be in if it were duplicated everywhere.

In this guide, we will discuss simple yet effective ways to promote environmental consciousness while snorkeling, ensuring the preservation of these underwater wonders for generations to come.

How to Promote Environmental Awareness While Snorkeling

Snorkeling with Sardines

1: Educating Yourself about Marine Life

As you continue with snorkeling as a hobby or activity, it is imperative to understand the wildlife around you and the impact that you have on their literal existence.

Importance of Understanding the Ecosystem

Before diving into the crystal-clear waters, it’s essential to understand the intricate ecosystem that exists beneath the surface.

The underwater world is a delicate balance of interconnected organisms, and being aware of their roles and dependencies helps us appreciate the significance of conservation efforts.

Learn about the symbiotic relationships between corals, fish, and other marine species, as well as the crucial role they play in maintaining the health of the ecosystem.

A big factor to note here is the coral envrionement that many see as just a home for marine life.

While that is true, we must understand that this home is living and breathing, and when it is polluted or harmed not only does the coral itself suffer and die but also every creature that requires it for survival.

These have massive impacts on all levels of the oceanic ecosystem.

Learning about Local Marine Species

Each snorkeling destination is home to a unique array of marine species.

Take the time to research and familiarize yourself with the local marine life before your snorkeling adventure.

By understanding the behavior, habitat, and conservation status of these species, you can better appreciate their presence and actively contribute to their protection.

Guidebooks, online resources, and local marine organizations are valuable sources of information for learning about the marine species you may encounter.

One key example of this is the awareness and action taken throughout the world of sea turtles; the moves pushed forward to ensure their survivability all started with simple conservation efforts.

Now we are still able to enjoy their wonderment throughout the world in wild waters and protected habitats.

Sea Turtle Philippines

2: Choosing Eco-Friendly Snorkeling Gear

Sustainable Materials for Snorkel Gear

When selecting your snorkeling gear, opt for products made from sustainable materials.

Look for snorkels, masks, and fins that are produced using eco-friendly materials such as recycled plastic or natural rubber.

These choices reduce the environmental impact associated with the production and disposal of gear, ensuring that your snorkeling equipment aligns with your commitment to environmental awareness.

Do your best to stay clear of mass produced gear like that from major brandings.

If you are looking for newer gear, head to your local dive shop and inquire what brands are out there that specifically promote eco-friendly production (there are tons).

Harmful Substances to Avoid

Some snorkeling gear may contain harmful substances that can leach into the water and harm marine life.

Avoid snorkel gear made from PVC, which releases toxic chemicals during manufacturing and disposal.

Similarly, be cautious of snorkeling masks and fins that contain neoprene, as it is a petroleum-based material.

By making informed choices and selecting gear free from harmful substances, you can minimize your ecological footprint while enjoying your snorkeling adventures.

It is understandable that you may not be able to avoid every substance that has harmful production; your best bet is that if you cannot avoid it, be sure to save and take care of your purchase.

This will ensure the most use out of the product and when you cannot reuse it, properly recycle.

3: Practicing Responsible Snorkeling Techniques

Minimizing Coral Reef Impact

Coral reefs are breathtaking and diverse ecosystems that are vulnerable to damage.

When snorkeling, be mindful of your movements and avoid touching or kicking the coral reefs.

Even a slight brush can cause irreversible harm to the delicate structures.

Maintain a proper distance and observe these magnificent underwater formations without disturbing their natural state.

Especially when snorkeling, I personally understand this can be difficult; you are close to the surface, the coral literally starts at the beach, and your fins are much longer than you are use to when considering your foot length.

The key takeaway here is to remain mindful of your environment, and when you do feel that you are disturbing the coral then make a conscience effort to move to deeper waters carefully.

Respecting Marine Life’s Personal Space

While snorkeling, it’s essential to respect the personal space of marine life.

Avoid chasing or touching fish, turtles, or other creatures you encounter.

Remember, they are wild animals and need their freedom to thrive.

Observe their natural behavior from a distance, allowing them to swim and interact without feeling threatened.

By respecting their personal space, you ensure a safe and stress-free environment for marine life.

Some places take this a step further and make it against the law to disturb marine life like sea turtles.

With regards to endangered species, “Many of them are protected under the Endangered Species Act and are also sacred to their community’s cultural heritage; It’s illegal to touch, feed, or harass them, and there will be consequences” according to the NOAA.

4: Participating in Underwater Cleanups

Organized Cleanup Initiatives

Underwater cleanups are fantastic opportunities to actively contribute to the preservation of marine environments.

Join local diving and snorkeling communities, conservation organizations, or dive centers that organize underwater cleanup events.

These initiatives involve collecting debris and litter from the ocean floor, preventing them from causing harm to marine life.

Participating in such cleanups not only helps keep the oceans clean but also raises awareness about the impact of pollution on marine ecosystems.

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is a big component and advocate for organized cleanups like these.

Underwater Plastic
#1

Impact of Pollution on Marine Life

Pollution poses a significant threat to marine life, and snorkelers can play a crucial role in combating it.

Plastic waste, chemicals, and other pollutants find their way into the oceans, causing harm to marine animals and ecosystems.

By actively participating in underwater cleanups, you contribute to the reduction of pollution and help create a healthier and safer environment for marine life to thrive.

You many not believe that cleaning up yourself makes a big impact compared to the waste that we are combating, but consider the following statement.

Snorkelers are cleaning up trash found near the shoreline where nearly all oceanic and marine ecosystems start.

Cleaning here makes an impact on the very beginning levels of this ecosystem and multiplies the the impact further down the line.

5: Supporting Local Conservation Efforts

The most impact you can have is where you live and understanding the damage that has been done as well as what can be done.

Researching and Identifying Local Organizations

Many snorkeling destinations have local organizations and initiatives dedicated to marine conservation.

Take the time to research and identify these organizations before your trip.

Learn about their conservation projects, research efforts, and educational programs.

By supporting these local organizations, you contribute directly to the conservation of marine ecosystems and help fund important initiatives.

Getting yourself and your children started in such a space can further them to make bigger impacts around the globe like that which PADI mentions in this article.

Donating and Volunteering for Marine Conservation

Consider donating to local conservation organizations or volunteering your time and skills to assist in their efforts.

Your contributions can support research projects, conservation campaigns, and educational programs aimed at raising environmental awareness.

Additionally, volunteering provides an opportunity to actively engage in marine conservation activities, such as reef monitoring, beach cleanups, or coral restoration projects.

Many do not understand the impact they can have by donating their time; some consider it as a small contribution however time is the only resource you have that you cannot buy.

6: Leaving Only Bubbles: Capturing Memories Responsibly

A quirky title for a section but one that you can really bring to heart and remember easily, ‘leave only bubbles.’

Preserving the Marine Environment

While it’s tempting to take home souvenirs from your snorkeling adventures, it’s essential to leave the marine environment undisturbed.

Avoid collecting shells, coral, or other marine life as mementos.

These items are essential components of the ecosystem and removing them can disrupt the delicate balance.

Instead, focus on capturing memories through responsible photography, respecting the marine life’s habitat and ensuring their continued well-being.

If you are really keen on bringing something physical back home with you, consider stopping by a local shop that sells conservatively to tourists and gives back to their community.

Photography as an Alternative Souvenir

Diver with Underwater Camera
#2

Photography allows you to capture the beauty and wonder of the underwater world without causing harm to the environment.

Invest in an underwater camera or use a waterproof case for your existing camera or smartphone.

Take captivating photos of marine life, coral reefs, and the vibrant underwater scenery.

By sharing these images with others, you raise awareness about the importance of marine conservation and inspire others to become responsible snorkelers.

Check out this article to learn how to capture the best snorkeling photos.

7: Spreading the Word: Advocating for Environmental Awareness

Having others in your community or family understand that they can contribute to environmental cleanups can provoke them to join the cause as well.

Utilizing Social Media and Blogs

In today’s digital age, social media and blogs provide powerful platforms to advocate for environmental awareness.

Share your snorkeling experiences, highlight the beauty of marine life, and educate others about the importance of protecting our oceans.

Utilize hashtags and engage with relevant communities to reach a broader audience.

By leveraging these platforms, you can inspire others to take action and make a positive impact on the environment.

Engaging with Local Community Groups

Connect with local community groups, environmental organizations, and educational institutions to collaborate on initiatives promoting environmental awareness.

Offer to conduct presentations or workshops on snorkeling and marine conservation, sharing your knowledge and experiences.

By engaging with these groups, you create a network of like-minded individuals and amplify the message of environmental stewardship.

Many colleges advertise community cleanup events to bring their students an opportunity for volunteer work, consider joining them!

Seeking way to promote environmental awareness is just one plus of the aspects of snorkeling, for more check out our snorkeling benefits guide.

Summary:

As snorkelers, we have the power to make a difference in the preservation of marine ecosystems.

By educating ourselves, choosing eco-friendly gear, practicing responsible snorkeling techniques, participating in underwater cleanups, supporting local conservation efforts, leaving only bubbles, and spreading the word, we can promote environmental awareness while enjoying the beauty of the underwater world.

Through collective efforts, we can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience the wonders of snorkeling and appreciate the rich biodiversity of our oceans.

Let’s strive to be responsible snorkelers, inspiring others to join us in protecting and preserving these fragile ecosystems.


[Sources and References]

“Hands to Yourself Keep Wildlife Safe and Healthy.” Hands to Yourself | Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/hands-to-yourself.html#:~:text=It’s%20Illegal&text=Attempting%20to%20touch%20wildlife%20doesn,to%20their%20community’s%20cultural%20heritage. Accessed 30 May 2023.

Allison, Ocean. “Ongoing Underwater Cleanups around the Globe.” PADI Blog – Scuba Diving and Freediving Tips, Dive Travel Insights & More, 10 Apr. 2019, blog.padi.com/ongoing-underwater-cleanups-around-the-globe/.

[Image Attribution and Licensing]

#1 Image by RosZie
#2 Image by David Mark