LONGITUDE 181'S INTERNATIONAL CHARTER FOR RESPONSIBLE SNORKELING
As snorkelers, you are off to discover underwater life. So, think about being environmentally-friendly to take care of this environment that we love so much.
This article was originally published here.
Today, our environment is increasingly threatened... Particularly sea life. As snorkelers, it is our duty to behave responsibly to offer future generations the wonder of this world intact. To do this, Longitude 181, one of our partners, has drawn up an international charter for responsible snorkeling.
This charter is a guide and not a list of constraints. Its proposals should be envisaged case by case concerning different snorkeling sites and underwater pathways, as situations differ from one place to another. It aims to make each person question themselves and set up optimum snorkeling conditions to look after and share the wealth of the sea equally.
1. PREPARE YOUR TRIP
Travel agents and accommodation providers don't all offer the same services.
Some make an effort to protect the environment that you're going to discover, and share natural resources more equally with the inhabitants of the host country. It's expensive for them, and for you, but together you will contribute to our planet's sustainable development.
Don't make the price of your trip or absolute comfort your only selection criteria.
- Choose a travel agency that follows an ethical charter.
- Find out about the marine eco-systems that you are going to discover.
- Find out about the inhabitants of your host country: traditions, economy, resources...
- Find out about any possible protected marine areas: follow the access and visiting instructions, forbidden zones, permitted activities...
2. BEFORE SNORKELING
- Find out about the site you are going to discover, it'll make your snorkeling more enjoyable. You will no longer be a passive spectator in a world where you don't speak the language, you'll be able to read the first words in the big book of marine life. Because you'll be able to identify the animals, you'll know how they behave, you'll know where to find them to discover them. You'll know how to spot incredible hidden fauna.
- Find out about the ecology of the most common species you are going to encounter.
- Know how to recognise endangered species and protected species.
- Never throw anything into the sea, not even cigarette filters.
3. ACCESSING THE ENTRY POINT
- Respect paths leading to the sea.
- Avoid trampling all over the entry point and the sea-bed if it is covered in grass, coral or seaweed.
- Enter, if possible, from a sandy or stony beach, less "sensitive" than areas covered in grass, coral or seaweed.
4. WHEN SNORKELING
- Swim as early as possible, so your fins do not make contact with the bottom.
- Adjust your buoyancy to neutral.
- Be careful not to kick your fins into stems.
- Avoid grabbing the sea bed, animals or plants (e.g. posidonia).
- Watch but do not bother the animals that you come across.
- Do not feed the animals.
- Do not break anything and do not collect any living organisms.
- Do not lift or move the stones or rocks, they shelter many micro-organisms that do not tolerate these movements.
- Do not follow large animals: dolphins, turtles or whale sharks. Take your time, stay calm, they will trust you. Let them come to you and do not touch them.
- Collect any bags, plastic objects, waste that you find whilst diving or around your entry point.
- Use underwater identification boards to recognise marine species.
- Use underwater blackboards to write down and draw what you see.
5. AFTER SNORKELIN
- Ask your guide about what you have seen, using your notes and drawings from your outing.
- Find out more from marine biologists, marine reserve guards, etc.
- Report your observations on BioOBS to share and capitalise your observations.
6. DURING YOUR STAY
- Do not throw anything into the sea, pick up all your rubbish.
- Keep your used batteries and put them in a recycling bin, take them home with you if you can't find one.
- Use reusable plates, glasses and cutlery instead of disposable plastic.
- Use biodegradable soap and maintenance products.
- Put your suit on in the water if it is warm to avoid using soap and water.
- Rinse your equipment quickly if you use it regularly, only rinse thoroughly before you leave.
- If you can avoid it, do not rinse in drinking water.
- Save the shower water (rinse yourself off with your equipment at your feet!)
- Don't buy seaside souvenirs: shark's teeth, shells, coral, turtle shells, etc. Boycott restaurants that serve turtle soup, fins, fish caught with cyanide or dynamite, protected or endangered species...
- Refuse all useless packaging.