At this time of the year it is easy to make resolutions for the coming year which may be hard to stick to.

But here are four easy and practical ways from Reef Check Indonesia to help you be a responsible diver or snorkeler and do your bit to help protect Indonesia’s coral reefs.

 

1. Look don’t touch

Coral reefs are vast ecosystems living around thousands of pieces of coral. Coral are not rocks, they are thousands of living coral polyps who build hard shells to live in. These structures are more fragile than they look, and every time you touch a piece of living coral you are killing it. Be very careful if you are taking photography or videos underwater, because when you are focusing on the perfect shot, it is very easy to accidentally touch coral or stir up sediment with your fins. Also plan your entry and exit routes from the beach to the reef so you avoid walking on coral.

By all means, enjoy looking at coral, but don’t touch it!

2. Don’t steal from the sea

There are many beautiful things living underwater. Starfish, crustaceans with patterned shells, cute fish and colourful corals are all very interesting to see, but should never ever be taken home with you, dead or alive. The only thing you should ever take from the water is recent garbage. Removing garbage that has been in the water a long time and has coral growing on it or similar might create more harm than good. The same rules apply when you are holidays somewhere. If you buy souvenirs stolen from the sea, then you are helping to ruin our precious coral reefs.

Don’t ever buy jewelry or souvenirs made from coral, shells or other marine creatures.

3. Buoy oh buoy

Anchors and chains dropped into coral can do terrible damage to coral. Whole areas of coral can be destroyed in a short period of time if boats are anchoring in the area. Without their coral reef homes, most fish will also leave the area making it harder for fishermen to catch fish for people to eat. Marine buoys can be installed easily and cheaply, so there is no excuse for using anchors on coral reefs. If you are going diving with a dive company, make sure you ask in advance if they use anchors and if they say yes, choose another dive company.

Using anchors in coral reef is not ok.

4. Cherish me don’t choke me

Litter is one of the greatest threats to our coastal ecosystem in Indonesia. Rubbish dumped inland is swept out to sea down rivers when it rains. Plastics choke wildlife like turtles and strangle corals. Always dispose of your rubbish as responsibly as possible, but better still reduce the rubbish you are creating. Buying a reusable drink bottle and filling it up from the gallon bottles will save you money and will reduce rubbish. Buying a reusable bag or basket to do your shopping will reduce the number of plastic bags choking our animals and reefs. Wherever possible try and compost your organic rubbish and recycle bottle, cans and cardboard.

Don’t buy things that are wrapped in lots of plastic.

 

If you care about protecting our coral reefs, ask yourself if you always do all the things above. If not, why not make a new year’s resolution you can keep?

There are many other ways to be clean and green so you can help save Indonesia’s coral reefs. Try searching “live sustainably” for hundreds more tips and hints.