How to Help Saving the Reef - 10 Easy Ways

Coral reefs are amazing and they can be incredibly beautiful with countless colors. Unfortunately more and more reefs are being destroyed over the years and it goes fast! 10 easy ways to help saving the reef without changing your whole lifestyle.

How to Help Saving the Reef - 10 Easy Ways
Coral reefs are part of an ecosystem with many plants and animals living in and around the reef, each playing a vital role. Reefs are important for you as they provide an important food source, ingredients for medicines and they form natural barriers for tsunamis and storms.

Unfortunately the reefs are in danger, with us humans causing most of the problems. More and more coral reefs are being destroyed over the years and it goes fast! Millions of metric tons of plastic waste is floating around in our seas while corals bleach all around the planet due to the changing environment.

Now here is the good news: You can take action to help saving the reef and it does not need to cost you a lot! There are countless things you can do and all little things help! It is all about less polluting, sustainable tourism/diving and sustainable fishing. The reefs need your help! Start acting now! Here are 10 easy ways you can help saving the reef without changing your whole lifestyle.

1. Bring your own bag!

The easiest and one of the most effective ones is to use less plastic. Bring your own bag, crate or cardboard box to the supermarket or grocery store. Leave a bag in your car and take it whenever you go and buy something, even clothes and beauty products. Refuse single use plastic bags from all shops, as well as reducing other plastic like straws, coffee-cup lids and double wrappings. Say no to the plastic you do not really need and reuse what is already in your household.

2. Leave nothing on the beach or in the ocean!

Put your trash in a garbage box or take it home. Do not trow anything in the sea. Even cigarette butts that seem like one of the last socially accepted form of litter are toxic to marine life and they are not biodegradable because they are made of plastic. Just put the cigarette butts in the plastic foil around the cigarette package and trow it in the bin later.

3. Use coral reef safe sunscreen!

Chemical ingredients in sunscreen can kill or bleach corals when it washes off scuba divers, snorkelers and swimmers. The ingredients you should avoid are Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Cover your skin so you need to use less sunscreen and buy coral reef safe sunscreen without these harmful ingredients. If you have to use others, use only waterproof sunscreen and apply it at least 15 minutes before you enter the water to wash off as little as possible. Buy Reef Safe Sunscreen by Reef Repair.

4. Do NOT touch marine life!

A lot of species have an anti-bacterial layer (mucus) to protect themselves from parasites. If you touch them you can damage that layer and they can get seriously infected. Do not touch manta rays or whale sharks for example!

It is also very important to keep your fins and dive equipment off the reef to prevent disturbing or destroying the fragile life. Maintain your buoyancy or take more distance from the reef when you are less experienced or if there is current. Most corals grows only a few centimeters/inches per year.

Do not be that diver/snorkeler that needs to touch it, it is an act of stupidity! If your dive guide is grabbing anything (squid, sea cucumber or puffer fish for example) for you to have a look and take pictures - tell him/her this is a bad example and report it to the diving center management as a negative experience! Read more here: The Risks of Touching Marine Life!

5. Choose sustainable seafood!

Try to avoid seafood that has been caught by destructive fishing. If you buy seafood in the supermarket, check for sustainable caught seafood logos and purchase only what is farmed or caught in ocean healthy ways. Do not eat endangered species like turtles, sharks (shark fin soup), blue or yellow fin tuna, swordfish and rays. When you eat sushi ask if it is sustainable! Find a seafood guide online so you know exactly what to avoid.
Visit Seafood Watch (external link) for more information.

6. Use lunch boxes and reusable containers for take-a-way!

Do not take a new plastic bag for your sandwiches every day, use a reusable container/lunch box. Avoid aluminum foil and polystyrene (Styrofoam) as well as they are heavily polluting due to the resources of petroleum and aluminum. Bring your own container for take-a-way food and just rinse it afterwards or put them in the dishwasher. Check if your diving center is using reusable lunch boxes and drinking cups, remember all little things help.

7. Drink tap water whenever possible!

There is no need to buy water if you are in a place where you can drink tap water. Buy less plastic water bottles and refill reusable bottles wherever possible. In restaurants you can ask for service, boiled or tap water instead of mineral water (depending on the country). If you must buy water, buy bigger size bottles instead of a few smaller ones. Buying bulk in general is a great way to reduce waste!

8. Become a trash hero!

Mesh Drawstring Bag - Clean-Up some trash when diving

If you see debris on the beach or floating in the sea, put it in a bin or in your BCD-pocket to throw it out later. By taking just one piece of debris out of the ocean on every single dive you are helping! Others may be careless but you know better! Take the plastic bags, candy wraps or beer cans out of the ocean (check if there are no creatures living inside).

Many diving centers, especially the ones located along the beach, organize beach and reef clean-ups. Often you can dive for FREE if you help cleaning up the mess underwater. You can find clean-up activities online, check the Facebook events in your area or visit Trash Hero (external link).

9. Do NOT buy (exotic) wildlife souvenirs!

As tempting as it might look in the souvenir shop, with buying coral jewelery, shells and wildlife you are likely to support an unsustainable business. The trade is often highly unregulated and the harvest unsustainable. Often living animals (corals!) and shells are just taken from the oceans. Exporting and importing endangered animals is also forbidden by international laws in many countries. In some countries, like the Maldives, it is even forbidden to take corals or shells from the beach. Besides that, most of them are more beautiful alive than dead anyway - just take pictures.

10. Share your knowledge!

As easy as that! Share your knowledge and spread the word! Now that you are aware you might have to change some habits - this is the hardest part. Just do it! Some 'new ways' might be a little less convenient but soon they will become your standard - and it is well worth sharing!

You do not need to be a saint; just reduce, refuse and reuse in any way you can!
If you would to know more about one of these ways to help saving the reefs, just send me a message. Do you know other easy ways to help saving the reef? Please share it in the comment box below!
If you like this post, hit that like button on our Facebook page and stay tuned for more!
Marlies Wolters
Founder of Dive O'Clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
Become a Dive Professional

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