Love the sea? Be a responsible ocean traveller
Summertime is here again in Europe. For many of us, this means sunshine and the sea. Tell me, who doesn't love the see? Its vastness, peace, and refreshment... Last week, I pampered myself by taking a diving holiday in the Red Sea.
I love diving. It's not just a getaway to a different place, but to a whole different world. The sea life displaying beauty all around you while you float in the water. The visibility I experienced in the Red Sea was great -20 meters. However, the locals told me that the visibility has significantly reduced over the course of the last ten years. While the blooming tourism has presented the locals with lots of opportunities, our behavior is costing us the environment.
This reminds me of the trip I took to Indonesia last year, I saw the once crystal clear sea turned into a belt of floating rubbish. This really broke my heart. Underwater, there was debris, clearly visible to the eye, floating all around. All of these were not there when I had first visited the place five years ago.
We love our homes and with the sea being the mother of all life, it also serves as our home. Treating it with love and care should be on our priority list. Traveling the ocean in a responsible manner is one thing that's very easy to do, the only thing is, most of us are not aware of how to go about it. Therefore, I have compiled some tips below to ensure that we travel the ocean responsibly.
SEE BUT DO NOT TOUCH
This rule applies to all see life -the ones in the water and those on the beach. Even if you put them back, picking them up or touching them in the first place have already disturbed their way of life, or worse, destroyed it. Be aware of your surroundings whenever you are in the water – swimming, diving or snorkelling, for the sea life and also for our own safety.
DO NOT LITTER
There are thousands of sea lives dying as a result of the rubbish that we produce and dump into the sea. In order to minimize this, ensure that you clean up after yourself. Do not leave even the tiniest bit of rubbish behind as even these can be very dangerous to sea creatures. And as a contribution to having a clean ocean, whenever you see rubbish lying around, do your best by picking it up and disposing it properly.
DO NOT FEED THE FISHES
I have to admit that I have done this a few times in the past years. I enjoyed having the fishes around me and thought giving them food was a positive action. It was recently that I learned how harmful this can be; it can cause behavioural change of the fishes that they get use to human feeding, thus change their natural diet. This eventually will lead to lack of necessary nutrients. In addition, not all types of fish eat human food, constant feeding in one area means certain types of fish would over-populate, and over time, the ecosystem will be changed forever.
DO NOT STEP ON CORALS
Corals are not stones, they are living things! A touch can kill the reef, thereby destroying the whole ecosystem dependent on it. And there’s safety concerns: the sharp edges can also hurt you.
DO NOT SEE ANY ANIMAL PERFORMANCE
Sharks and dolphins do not belong in swimming pools, but in the sea. If you know you want to see them, look for a natural way of viewing these beautiful and lovely animals. Avoid any and every performance that subjects them to the entertainment of other people. Also avoid tours where they "chum" the water or use different feeding methods to lure them in.
OCEAN FRIENDLY SUN CREAM
This is one thing that's often over-looked. The chemical products from most commercial brands will destroy the lives of reefs and other sea creatures. Think about the amount of sun screen thousands of people on the beach are pouring into the sea each and every day.
How do you buy a sunscreen that's ocean friendly then? What you need to do is ensure that the sunscreen you are buying doesn't contain these reef-damaging substances, including Oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate, and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor. Look for a product that uses sunblock such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of chemical one.
This one is quite difficult to do and I've sometimes felt self conscious as a solo female traveller. When you see that someone is doing something harmful to sea creatures, do speak up. Not to start an argument with them or go into fits of criticism, but to politely correct them with a gentle tone. Do not become offended or angry. When you see people throw different things around, pick those things up in their presence. It's not like most of us do not care, we simply are not aware of the harm we are causing. And since we were once in that ignorant position, we should be understanding, accommodating, and be able to properly guide others.
If you want to take it a step further by taking actions when you get back home, you can go through this article from National Geographic; it will definitely help a lot.
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