Leading By Example

When it comes to teaching people to dive and interact with aquatic animals, actions definately speak louder than words. As dive leaders, we are expected to set the example of responsible interaction, not only when conducting certification dives, but also when diving for pleasure. From the moment we put on our equipment and move through the water, the eyes of our fellow divers are upon us— we must lead by example.

Picture this– a dive boat makes its way to a dive site known for its incredible corals, the divemaster briefs both divers and snorkelers to not touch the corals and to watch were they place their fins. Upon arriving at the site, a crew member heaves the anchor overboard right onto the coral. The captain then reverses the boat to make sure the anchor is held fast. Once in the water, the divers see the damage to the reef caused by the anchor. In addition, they are treated to the damage left behind by the 200 or so dive trips that preceded theirs!

What message does this convey to the divers? Is this behavior consistent with the divemaster’s briefing? Can we reasonably expect these divers to comply with the briefing when staff members do not?

This all could have been avoided if the boat had tied off to a mooring buoy. No buoy at the site? — why not put one in? In certain areas of the world, dive operators have formed groups to monitor their impact on the marine environment. They are installing permanent mooring buoys for charter and private vessels to help minimize the type of damage described above.

Though many of the businesses in these groups compete with each other daily, they realize that if the dive sites in their areas deteriorate, so will the incentive to dive them. Thus, they will lose their primary source of income– divers and snorkelers.

To start one of these groups, the first step is getting together with fellow dive centers and resorts in your area to talk about improving local conditions. Forming these groups shows the dive industry continues to be proactive in caring for the aquatic environment. When we commit to such activities, we are truly leading by example.