This article, “Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs,” written by N. H. L. Baker and C. M. Roberts is interesting because they are researching how scuba divers damage reefs. I never thought the divers are deadly to the reefs, only a nuisance because their fins are always kicking up sand. I have been scuba diving since I was certified at 10 years old, and at a young age I was taught to never touch the reef, and to never kick up sand. Until researching coral, I never knew sand harmed the coral, but I digress. This article is about the results the researchers obtain when observing 353 divers in St. Lucia during the height of tourist season and the low. What they discovered is that if the divers were only briefed about not touching the coral, there was no decline in damage from kicking or touching the coral. It was only if the divers were briefed and a divermaster swiftly intervened when a diver was damaging the coral somehow. Another result, which was unsurprising was the more inexperienced the diver was, the more damage they caused to the coral. They discovered that kicking was the most deadly way to damage coral was because the fins kick up sediments, which land on the coral and then the coral has to focus on removing the sediment from themselves than growing and reproducing. It was interesting to learn how much damage divers cause to reefs, because it is smaller than other factors like climate change but left unchecked can cause major damage to specific reefs. Poor scuba diving etiquette is a localized driver to coral reef damage that is being fueled by tourism and poor education on how delicate these beautiful reefs are.
Baker, N. H. L., and Roberts, C. M. (2004). Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs Biological Conservation: 1-9