Our oceans are warming up, leading to coral extinction. Today humans are one of the greatest threats to the ocean and its life, with overfishing and pollution disturbing the natural ecosystem! Tourism can be great in terms of educating the wider public but often tourism leads to the degeneration of coral and marine life. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to ensure when you enter the ocean you are doing so responsibly. Follow the steps below from Reef Mask's to decrease your reef and aquatic life impact
Don't touch the coral!
To be a responsible snorkeler the first rule, you must follow is never touch the coral! This is the pillar of all rules as looking and not touching is vital to minimize marine damage. Coral is an extremely fragile life form, slight pressure can cause damage to the structure as well as kill tiny polyps that other species rely on for food source. Oils from human skin can also cause disease to occur in entire colonies of coral, making them sick, destroying their bright colours and overall leading to death.
Not touching coral is also a safety concern for humans. Many species such as fire coral have toxic stings that are very painful. These can lead to skin irritation, rashes or burning sensation, it always advised that you keep a safe distance from all corals and reefs.
Don't stand on coral or reef!
There are several dangers aspect to standing on a reef, to both the coral and yourself. First, the coral is home to many poison sea creatures such as urchin and stonefish, one wrong step and you will be in a lot of pain! The second is the coral is sharp and often cuts our feet. Third is reef is built upon hundreds of pieces of coral to form a colony, this is very fragile and can easily be broken or damaged by humans walking across the reef.
Coral also takes a long time to grow, even more reason not to walk all over it, but if you are out in the water try and float or keep buoyancy across the reef. If you do need to stand find a sand patch where you can rest your feet, here you should find no coral to damage. If you wear fins in the water ensure to use proper technique to avoid any breaking of coral while snorkelling. Fins should give you power and support but avoid large, long fins that can harm animals and reef.
Wear a rashie and leave the sunscreen home!
The sun is very strong in Australia, that's why sun protection is a must when snorkelling the water. Many Aussie turn to sunscreen however these contain chemicals like oxybenzone which is deadly to marine life. Sunscreen can kill both coral and marine animals and is often why a good fisherman will never let any sunscreen onto his bait (the fish hate it).
It's better to leave the sunscreen at home and wear UV protection clothes that will cover and protect your skin. Long sleeve t-shirt, rashies, leggings, all can be used to cover your skin. For a section of the body that cant be covered, we recommend natural zinc for a section such as a face.