How to be an Eco-friendly Diver in the Maldives!
Climate change and growing global development continue to threaten the future of our oceans. So we actively encourage everyone to be an eco-friendly diver when visiting the Maldives. Our coral reefs are so precious and vulnerable. Here’s what you can do to protect them when you are in the Maldives.
1. Dive neutrally buoyant and streamlined at all times.
Maintaining good buoyancy control will ensure that divers do not accidentally damage fragile corals or disturb the marine life. If you are a new diver, ask your dive guide to demonstrate some good skills to practice to hone your buoyancy – such as hovering in mid water. Ensuring that your gauge and octopus are safely tucked away minimises drag and any potential harm to your surroundings.
2. Stay above 30 metres.
In the Maldives it is forbidden by law to dive deeper than 30 metres on a recreational dive and decompression diving is completely prohibited. One of the many reasons behind this law is to ensure that deeper dwelling marine species are not disturbed.
3. Leave your spear gun at home!
Possessing or fishing with a spear gun is illegal in the Maldives. Anyone attempting to smuggle one into the country will be faced with the possibility of being arrested, fined or even jailed. Selective fishing with a spear gun can lead to the eradication of sexually mature species that are vital to the reef’s ecosystem. What’s more, it can leave fish injured, which leads them to die a slow, painful death.
4. Avoid all shark and coral products in the souvenir shops
Buying dried coral supports the global destruction of endangered coral reefs, and purchasing shark jaws contributes to the annual slaughter of over one hundred million sharks. In addition, the export of any coral and shark product is strictly prohibited under Maldivian law. This means that if you are caught at customs when leaving the country with your souvenir, you could face severe penalties. Don’t get caught out!
5. Offset your carbon footprint
Wherever you are arriving from, you might want to think about offsetting the carbon emissions it took you to get here. There are several websites that are dedicated to helping you calculate your carbon footprint. You can then make a donation to a conservation charity of your choice to ‘balance’ the impact those emissions made to the environment.
6. Take your recycling home
At present, there is no sustainable recycling infrastructure in the Maldives. During your holiday you might finish a bottle of shampoo or sunscreen. In addition, many divers use non-rechargeable batteries in their dive torches. Instead of disposing of these items while you’re here, take them with you and recycle them at home, along with any other plastic you accumulate.
7. Uphold our “No Gloves” policy
Fulidhoo Dive & Water Sports advocates a “No Gloves” policy when scuba diving. By diving without gloves, you are less likely to be tempted to touch the coral or marine life. Consequently, there is a lower risk of damage to the reef and a lower chance of getting hurt.
8. Be a sensitive photographer
If you are going to take photos underwater, make sure you don’t use the reef to stabilise yourself whilst doing so. Never rearrange or move anything on the reef, as tempting as it might be to get that ‘perfect’ shot! And if you’re using a flash or strobe, make sure it doesn’t startle any of the timid marine life.
9. Leave the wildlife alone
Never chase, tease or attempt to ‘ride’ any of the marine wildlife, as this might stress or provoke the animal and ultimately instil a fear of divers in these species. If we see this behaviour from any divers during a dive, we reserve the right to refuse to take you on further dives.
10. Enrol in continuing education
PADI offers speciality courses that can help you to become an eco-friendly diver. For example, the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty will ensure that you’re much less likely to accidently damage the reef. Likewise, PADI’s Project Aware Coral Reef Conservation speciality will teach you about what you can do to help preserve the aquatic environment.