Diving: Conservation   (Page 1 of 2)

Information and guidance to help conserve Tobago's fragile reefs

Our conservation section consists of two main articles. The first article, below, gives a general overview of conservation and some general advice. The second article was produced for us by Dr.Owen Day of the Buccoo Reef Trust, the guardian's of Tobago's reefs.

Conservation on Tobago

GoatfishLike all other reef systems, Tobago’s reef ecosystems are fragile. The devastation that has been caused to the reefs over the years is nothing short of tragic.

Sadly, it’s taking time for the message to sink in. Although most glass-bottom boat operators are now acting responsibly, some still offer visitors reef walking shoes and allow them access to areas where there is living coral. If you come across one of these operators, please refuse the shoes and post a warning about them on the myTobago discussion forum. The short-term financial gain of a few unscrupulous individuals does not justify the long-term environmental and economic problems that will occur from this kind of unregulated and destructive tourist industry.

Never touch coral. The coral polyps can be killed or damaged by the lightest touch of your body or equipment. If you must grab hold of something, make sure it is only exposed rock or dead coral. Apart from conservation, think about your own health. Scratches from coral can lead to highly painful infectious wounds that can ruin a holiday.

Diseased Brain CoralOnly use gentle fin strokes when near the reef or close to the bottom. If you feel something with your fins, don’t panic or start kicking all the harder, just swim away gently. The surge from heavy strokes can damage the reef or kick up clouds of sand which can smother delicate organisms.

Don’t collect coral or shells, even if they are dead and discarded. They are all part of the wonderful underwater landscape that you have come to Tobago to enjoy and even what you may consider to be dead has an integral part of this finely balanced ecosystem.

Do not buy coral or sea shells from shops or itinerant beach traders. By doing so, you are encouraging the suppliers to plunder Tobago’s resources. If you are concerned about your own diving skills or your impact on the environment, then you should consider further training, like PADI’s advanced course Peak Performance Buoyancy or Underwater Naturalist.

Finally, make sure you use a biodegradable sun screen like Ultrasun.

There’s more information on underwater conservation issues on PADI’s Project Aware site and the Buccoo Reef Trust website.

Continue to Tobago's Fragile Reefs

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Page Updated: 18 Aug 17