Monday, February 16, 2009

Scuba Divers: be part of the solution, or you're part of the problem

As a scuba diver for some 25 years or so, I have had the opportunity to dive in a variety of locales and have, over the years, seen some significant changes in various aspects of marine ecosystems - from reef degradation to reduced fishlife to encroaching pollution and man-made debris. So, I have tried to be a thoughtful diver while also trying to enlighten as many people as possible to the many issues challenging our world's oceans, often through my volunteer diving at aquariums and through public speaking.

Scuba divers can serve as ambassadors for marine conservation as they have a unique perspective having been active participants, shall we say. They have seen the ocean's beauty firsthand; they have witnessed its complexities - these are not alien experiences, gleamed from a book or dreamt about. And because we divers take benefit from what the ocean has to offer us then we have a responsibility to do what we can to preserve it. We must not choose to cede it all to the activists or the decision-makers, assuming that they can carry the ball without our help.

When I am speaking to groups about marine conservation, often in regards to shark conservation, I occasionally run across a diver or two who are a bit worn out from all the eco-preaching. They just want to dive and leave the "save the seas" stuff to someone else. Sorry, but that ship has sailed. We all must chip in and do our part: know what's going on, get involved in some capacity if only just to let your voice be known; otherwise you risk being as selfish a consumer of the seas as those who have been labeled as the worst of abusers.

After all, what are you there for? To see vibrant sealife, healthy reefs, lush kelp forests? Or do you just want to experience the cool features on the latest dive computer or fashionable wet suit? To those divers who are committed to preserving the earth's oceans - many, many thanks. To the uncommitted - be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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