Written by : Cory Beach
Going snorkeling with your kids is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do on a family vacation. The world underneath the ocean is fascinating, magical, and mysterious, and even a little glimpse of it will have you craving more.
From bright corals and vibrant electric-colored tropical fish to sharks, rays, and turtles, a snorkeling adventure is bursting with excitement. But there’s another, equally important side to snorkeling, beyond just having fun and discovering new creatures and submarine landscapes.
Coral reefs are one of the most spectacular living organisms on the planet and are vital to the survival of every species on it. Snorkeling, therefore, is a great way to teach your kids about protecting and preserving the environment. Getting them invested in good practices when you go snorkeling is an important part of the experience.
So whether you are heading off on a short weekend cruise or packing your bags for two weeks of luxury on a tropical paradise island, here are a few of the ways that you and your family can do your bit for the planet while you are a tourist in the world underneath the ocean waves.
The most important part of protecting our coral reefs is education. Learning about the remarkable biodiversity of life at the bottom of the sea is a huge step in protecting it. Once you find out how many different species call coral reefs home, or what incredible scientific discoveries have come about from reef research, you and your family will be invested like never before. And once you know your stuff, you’ll be better prepared to educate others about the importance of protecting the planet’s coral reefs.
When snorkeling, diving, or even just swimming in the sea, it is really important to ensure that you are using reef-safe products. Chemicals in sunscreen, deodorant, perfume, and make-up can cause huge damage to coral and the creatures that live on the reef. Swap out your standard products for organic, reef-safe options, or better yet avoid sunscreen altogether and use a hat and a long-sleeved rash vest to protect your skin.
It might sound obvious, but touching the coral or any of the living things under the sea can be harmful, and even moving or removing stones and shells can upset the delicate balance of the underwater ecosystem. The famous quote: “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” might be fine for the great outdoors, but when snorkeling or diving even leaving footprints is a bad idea! Best practice underwater really boils down to ‘look, don’t touch’.
Of course, protecting and preserving the underwater world doesn’t end when you get back onto dry land. Plastic and other forms of waste can have enormous negative impacts on reefs (and the oceans in general), as well as harming and even killing fish and other marine life. Reducing the amount of waste your family produces in everyday life, by reusing and recycling more, can have a huge knock-on effect on the safety and health of reefs and oceans thousands of miles away!
If you are seriously keen to take practical action, why not consider volunteering for a Dive Against Debris on your next vacation? You’ll get the chance to experience the beauty of the underwater world while also doing your bit to clean and preserve a coral reef. It is a wonderful way to give back to the natural world, in appreciation of all its beauty.