Reef Etiquette Is Essential To Protecting The Florida Keys Reefs
Florida coral reefs are a fragile natural resource which can be permanently damaged or destroyed through thoughtless actions when diving and snorkeling. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a steward for these reefs and offers the following advise on proper reef etiquette.
If you are in the Florida Keys to dive or snorkel, you are not alone. Every year more than 700,000 divers and snorkelers take to the water to discover the wonder and beauty that the area’s coral reefs have to offer. But did you know that all of these visitors can take a toll on the reef and the critters that call the reef home?
The good news is that, when in the water diving or snorkeling, there are things you can do to minimize your impact on the reef while continuing to enjoy its beauty. Check out the tips highlighted below and keep them in mind when you are in the water.
Avoid Contact With The Reef
Avoid contact with the reef. Even a minor brush with hands or fins can damage delicate coral animals and can even hurt you, as some corals can sting or cut. Stray fins can also stir up sand that can smother coral animals.
Never Stand Or Rest On The Coral
Never stand or rest on corals. If you need to rest or adjust equipment, lie on your back or float in a seated position. If you need to stand to adjust equipment, return to the boat.
Maintain Proper Buoyancy
Maintain proper buoyancy through practice and proper weight. Use proper dive posture, with feet remaining slightly elevated above the head. Novice snorkelers can use a snorkel vest to stay afloat.
Make Sure That All Equipment Is Secure
Make sure that all equipment is secure and does not come into contact with the reef. Avoid using gloves or kneepads in coral environments.
Maintain A Comfortable Distance From The Reef
Maintain a comfortable distance from the reef and avoid shallow areas. Carefully select entry and exit points to avoid reef areas.
Do Not Touch, Handle, Feed, Or Ride Marine Life
Do not touch, handle, feed, or ride marine life. Interaction with animals can stress them, disrupting feeding and mating or provoking aggressive behavior. Remember that you are visiting the animals’ home – treat them and their home with respect.
Don’t Collect Souvenirs From The Reef
Don’t collect “souvenirs” from the reef. Everything has its place—from plants and animals to even dead coral and rocks. Removing items could disrupt the balance of the reef.
Also read about Florida Keys Diving and Snorkeling Sites with GPS coordinates on this site,.
Find out more about the Keys coral reefs and this important marine sanctuary at http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/welcome.html. Diving, snorkeling, Florida Keys fishing, Keys marinas and anchorages are all also featured in the Florida cruising guide – Florida Keys Ports Of Call. The book is also available in a digital edition – Cruising The Florida Keys. Both are available at amazon.com.