Coral reefs are among the world’s most spectacular habitats and snorkeling is an excellent way to explore them. As coral reefs face an increasingly uncertain future, snorkelers and other coral reef visitors can play an important role in helping to protect these fragile habitats. Follow these simple guidelines to help protect the coral reefs you visit.
- For your vacation, choose an environment-friendly resort or hotel; one that recycles and treats sewage and solid waste in responsible ways.
- Look for and support coral parks and other marine conservation areas.
- Get the best possible instruction you can.
- Practice snorkeling skills away from the reef.
- Make sure your equipment fits properly before you snorkel near corals—it can be very difficult to adjust in the water.
- If you feel uncertain, wear a snorkel vest.
- Learn all you can about coral reefs—they are fascinating and fragile environments.
- Select points of entry and exit to avoid walking on corals.
- Maintain a comfortable distance from the reef, so that you’re certain you can avoid contact.
- Know where your fins are at all times and don’t kick up sand.
- Stay horizontal in the water while you’re near or above the reef.
- Learn to swim without using yours arms.
- Move slowly and deliberately in the water—relax and take your time.
- Remember, look but don't touch.
Snorkeling pros know the real way to enjoy the beauty of the reef is to slow down, relax and watch as reef creatures go about their daily lives undisturbed.
- Take nothing living or dead out of the water except recent garbage.
- Never chase or try to ride marine life.
- Never touch, handle or feed marine life except under expert guidance and following locally-established guidelines.
- Avoid using gloves in coral environments.
- Choose operations whose boats make use of moorings when available—anchors destroy fragile corals.
- Make sure garbage is well-stowed, especially light plastic items.
- Remove everything that was brought on board and dispose of trash responsibly.
- Support Coral Parks and other conservation projects.
- Visit established Coral Parks and pay applicable user fees that support marine conservation.
- Encourage and support the use of boat moorings.
- Participate in local initiatives to monitor the marine environment.
- Participate in cleanups.
- Make a donation or volunteer your skills to support a Coral Park. For example, you can participate in a reef survey, conduct outreach, or help educate others about reef conservation.
- Donate used equipment such as cameras, dive gear or reef ID books.
- Take your garbage home with you, especially things that require special disposal, such as batteries.
- Avoid purchasing souvenirs made from coral, turtles or other marine life—often this is illegal, and it’s never environmentally wise.
- Speak up. Make sure your snorkeling buddies understand these simple conservation practices.
Being a coral friendly snorkeler not only helps to protect coral reefs directly, it also helps to raise awareness for coral reefs.
Be sure to find out local laws and regulations as they may differ from these general guidelines.
These guidelines were developed by the Coral Reef Alliance and are co-endorsed by the Project AWARE Foundation. (C) CORAL. These guidelines may be reproduced and distributed freely so long as they are reproduced in their entirety and the CORAL copyright is included. Suggestions for improving these guidelines should be sent to email@example.com.