Sustainable Diving: How To Become An Environmentally Friendly Diver

Sustainable Diving: How To Become An Environmentally Friendly Diver

An environmentally friendly  diver and lionfish

- Rich Carey

When you begin diving one of the most important aspects is an understanding of the environment and respect for it.

With just a bit of knowledge of respecting the environment, becoming an environmentally friendly diver can leave a positive impact. Each year scuba diving is becoming more and more popular all around the world.

Due to lack of environmental education, many divers have a negative impact on the natural underwater environment. There are, however, many things which can reduce the problems caused when diving.

Do you know A Scuba Diver's Impact On The Coral Reef?


If you touch the physical environment you will upset the ecosystem which can cause long-term damage. As a new diver it is important that you maintain buoyancy control so that you can avoid crashing into coral and marine life.

Standing on coral or reefs might seem safe when you are adjusting or orienting yourself but it should be avoided at all times because of the damage it causes. A life jacket or proper buoyant BCD can help you avoid this.

Be cautious of fin kick as it can do a lot of damage to marine life. If you hit the corals with your fins stop fining and look at your fins. It might help taking a stroke with your hands to get away.

Here's more about Finning Techniques.

An environmentally friendly diver has  good  buoyancy

A diver with good buoyancy can avoid crashing into corals and marine life - Credit: JonMilnes

No Touching

Many divers are now using gloves as a means of protecting their hands.

However, with this, divers are also encouraged to touch the reef. This should still be avoided even with gloves as the physical impact can lead to ecological damage.

Learn Where To Place Your Arms While Scuba Diving.

Many tourists also find it interesting to collect souvenirs from their trip such as marine life. Even taking dead marine life is often illegal and should be avoided because it can leave grave ecological problems.

Anchors also leave massive damage among reefs. You can encourage your dive operator to use mooring buoys instead. By avoiding contact with marine species you can prevent pain or injury from toxic or poisonous wildlife and you can prevent damage to the eco systems.

An environmentally friendly diver shuns touching marine life

A diver touching a marine life leaves grave ecological problems - Credit: Rostislav Ageev

Interactions and Etiquette

The manner in which you dive can have the same impact on the marine species as deliberate or accidental touching.

Chasing marine species such as dolphins, whale sharks, jelly fish, and turtles can cause a great deal of stress and lead to the transmission of diseases or death. Feeding the fish might seem like a fun way to lure them toward you but it also interrupts their natural nutrient balance which then disrupts healthy marine habitats.

Littering should be avoided at all times, especially plastic items. These are often consumed by marine life and are lethal.

Here's more on Making A Positive Difference For The Environment.

Underwater photography seems like a fun idea but be cautious of the proximity to the species if you are using a flash underwater. This can often cause blindness or chase the marine life away from their nesting spots.

Proper whale interaction practiced by environmentally  friendly divers

Human interaction may have a negative impact on marine species be it intentional or accidental - Credit: Krzysztof Odziomek

Dry Time

Before you dive, be sure to research the type of environment. Fresh water is a rare resource so you should make sure to clean your kit when diving and keep cleaning products, shampoo, and soap from your boat so that they do not harm the environment.

Lastly, always be sure to clean up any trash, plastic bottles, or bags and throw them away in their proper containers once back on land.

What do you do for the Environment? Help other divers practice sustainable diving and become better “environmental” divers. Tell us your story! Leave a comment!

About The Author

Torben Lonne

Torben is a top skilled PADI MSDT instructor. He has worked several years with scuba diving in Indonesia and Thailand – and dived most of his life in most of the world.

He is also the co-founder and chief-editor of you can always catch him here [email protected]


  1. David Paxton

    Great article. In 30+ years of diving around the world I have seen far to often the effects the “overdiving” and ‘diverpolution” can have on some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
    It would be great if the scuba certifying bodies had more stringent guidlines to operators about the gains and benifits that eco-awareness can have for the industry and the world as a whole.
    Joint efforts from local agencies to governing bodies should monitor and pay attention to how often and how many divers use dive spots. It is great ot have marine parks, but to have 30 or 40 divers in the water 2 or 3 times a day is not saving anything, It could be argued that ove rdiving a reef does more damage than over fishing.
    It would be great to hear yoru points echoed at every dive briefing.

    • Torben Lonne

      Hi David,
      Thank you for sharing you opinion. A can’t but agree with you if there where more government regulations and dive operators would raise there part and advise environment safe diving we could go a long way.
      I have seen it so many times, even in marine parks (that some times are made more because of the money then to solve the problem) when 10-20 dive boats drop 30-40 divers a day.
      But i ave also seen the problem with overfishing, dynamite- and cyanide fishing. This is far worse than divers do. Stop this and have divers show proper care for the environment and maybe we one day could see marine life recover :)

  2. Håkan Björklund

    Great article.
    I Think more damage is caused by dynamite/cyanide-fishing and boat-traffic, but divers are often so occupied by their own experiense and photo-session that they grab on corals, kick on them etc. On some divingtrips I´ve talked about this to make my fellow divers aware of the problem, but there has been very little respons. I dont Think that 20 divers from the same boat has to take the same Picture, most of them holding on to the same spot to get a perfect picture.
    Divers realy should be aware of the problem and act like a good example every dive. If we cant ´be careful with the reefs, how can we ask local fishermen to do? For them it´s often a matter of survival, for us it´s plesure….

  3. mary tolentino

    Hi Torben. This is a great article and I would just like to give you a heads up that the Philippines, particularly Apo Island (Negros Oriental) and Danjugan Island (Negros Occidental) is a wonderful playground for divers, The joint effort of the private and public sector has successfully restored a water ecosystem that has reefs teeming with diverse marine life.


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