Let’s be eco-friendly
The advantage of snorkeling is that it’s an activity you can do without any supervision, in complete independence. Which is a good reason to take note of the good practices you should respect if you don’t want to disturb the environments you visit.
Don’t damage the coral
Coral is a highly fragile living organism with a very slow rate of growth (from a few millimeters to a few centimeters per year). Without it, the reefs would not exist. By breaking a single piece of coral, you are destroying years or even decades of growth. So always respect the following recommendations when you are exploring a coral reef:
– Don’t take a coral sample
– Don’t walk on the coral and don’t hold on to it (this can also be dangerous, with a risk of stinging or burning)
– Be careful not to touch the coral with your swimfins in shallow zones
Almost all the countries concerned impose large fines when coral reefs are damaged or if you attempt to export coral (even when you pick up dead coral on the beach).
Don’t feed the fish
By feeding the fish, you change their natural behavior, distorting their feeding habits, their reproduction cycles and causing aggressive behavior toward swimmers. You are putting yourself and the fish in danger. Some regulated practices are tolerated in certain regions (stingray or shark feeding), but are usually forbidden, particularly in protected areas.
Don’t collect samples
It can be tempting to take home a shell, a starfish or a piece of coral. But if every snorkeler took home a piece of the reef, there would soon be little of it left! What’s more, it is generally illegal and your shells will probably be confiscated at the airport (you will also have to pay a heavy fine, particularly for coral or clams). So just take your photos away with you!
Limit the use of sunscreen
Most sunscreens contain substances that are extremely harmful to the marine ecosystem, and to coral in particular. It is estimated that the world’s coral reefs absorb 4,000 tons of sunscreen each year. There are, however, solutions to limit their impact: using rash guards (which limit the surface area of the skin needing protection) and sunscreens respecting the marine environment. A range of specialized brands have been developed over the past few years.
Don’t disturb the animal life
Snorkeling leads to wonderful encounters with underwater sea life, as long as everyone stays in the right place. Some people are tempted to catch a fish that has taken refuge beneath a rock, to capture an octopus or to latch on to a turtle’s shell. By disturbing the animals, the risk is that they will not return to that particular spot, and that they will be endangered by the disruption to their own natural rhythms (feeding, reproduction, etc.).