Some basic tips and common sense to help preserve paradise….
Leave Only Footprints
There is nothing more saddening when you walk along one of tranquil beaches on Koh Tao than walking passed pieces of trash that often litter the white sand! It’s a fair point that much of the rubbish is washed up overnight, almost all coming from elsewhere, but we all need to take some responsibility to ensure we remove our trash once we leave the beach.
Too often we wake to piles of beer bottles and cigarette butts littering the beach from a late-night party. These will undoubtedly end up in the ocean, with cigarette butts estimated to take between 2-25 years to decompose. Apart from being unsightly they kill marine life. A turtle for instance cannot tell the difference between a healthy snack and a cigarette butt.
Say ‘No’ To Straws
Very often when you order a drink you will be given a plastic straw. These are generally un-necessary, especially when you can easily drink straight from a can of coke.
Another huge marine animal hazard are plastic straws.
When they blow away, they almost always end up in the ocean and find their way inside the stomachs of our favourite fish!
Use and Re-Use
Drinking water in hot climates is essential to healthy living, especially for the diving community. So instead of repeatedly buying new plastic bottles and spending a fortune, buy one and keep topping up from the various water stations located around Koh Tao.
Here at Crystal Dive the office water is half the price of bottled water bought from the convenience store, so you save money and all monies raised is donated directly into local conservation projects.
You also heavily reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of plastic you buy. These three reasons alone will have a massive impact on doing your bit to make this island more eco-friendly.
Don’t Walk Past
Whether you are walking along the sand, or up a hill miles away from the beach, any trash that you walk past and ignore will find its way into the ocean.
Rain will always make its way back to the ocean over time, and nature itself causes the debris, and especially plastics to find its way to the sea.
Please do your bit and collect any rubbish you see and place it in to one of the many rubbish bins around the island. It only takes a few seconds and is very rewarding.
Plastic, cigarettes, fishing line, plastic bags, glass, food wrappers; whatever you can fit in to your hands please pick up. This also goes for when you witness others throwing cigarette butts in to the sand. It doesn’t need to cause an argument.
Just politely explaining the devastating effects to someone can help raise awareness. Many people from other cultures may never have set foot on a beach and are unaware of the ‘rubbish rules’.
Take Memories, Leave Bubbles
Koh Tao diving is awesome and here at Crystal Dive we insist on responsible behaviour underwater. We respectfully request all our customers follow our basic rules about our underwater adventures. Remembering that we are guests whilst diving in the ocean, we fully support the initiative of taking only photographs and leaving only bubbles.
It is vitally important that we never touch anything under the water, remove anything or leave anything. Secure all your equipment, zip up your pockets and don’t drop anything whilst diving to make sure you don’t leave anything harmful to our fishy friends!
Environmental Diving Considerations & Memorandum of Understanding
Recreational Divers & Students
As a recreational diver, I will adhere to the following rules…
- Listen to my instructor or dive leader and adhere to the safe diving principles with regarding to local marine flora and fauna before, during and after dives.
- DO NOT touch or remove ANY marine organisms, shells, rocks etc. as souvenirs for any reason whatsoever.
- Be aware of my buoyancy and maintain a reasonable (1 metre) distance whilst swimming over reef environments.
- Many organisms underwater are very fragile and easily damaged. If you must use the reef / sand for support be sure to do it gently and KNOW what you can and can’t use for support.
- Be aware of what my fins are doing and where they are at ALL times.
- Larger pelagics that are easy to get close to (eg: Whale Sharks, Turtles) DO NOT chase, touch or approached. If there is a crowd, please give them some space and if they approach please try to avoid making contact.
- THINK about your body position and stay well off the bottom to protect benthic (Bottom dwelling) organisms. Try to maintain a slightly head down, feet up position. Remember you see with your eyes so your feet should be well out of the way.
- Agree not to wear gloves which are unnecessary in the warm waters of Koh Tao.
Failure to adhere to these guidelines will result in an initial warning followed by suspension of diving with Crystal Dive for subsequent breaches of understanding. If you are suspended from diving under these guidelines, NO refunds will be provided under any circumstances.
Thank you for your understanding and consideration.
Crystal Dive / Eco Koh Tao Management
Suncream and the Ocean
We all agree that taking care of our skin is important and that is why it is encouraged to apply sunscreen when we are in this tropical paradise.
On-going scientific research has proved that the nano-particles that make up sunscreen can have a devastating effect on the underwater world. Sunscreen has many tiny particles of metal. These can in turn react to UV light and form compounds of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can destroy phytoplankton which is the bottom of the food chain.
The result of this is that the whole food chain can be affected, from your cute little butterfly fish to your sharks. It also been documented through studies that it can harm or kill coral! An important fact that isn’t very well known.
Please put your sunscreen on at least an hour before you enter the ocean.
The Plastic Bag Conundrum
It seems common practice in Koh Tao to provide a plastic bag in your local shop to carry even the smallest of items home. By declining a plastic bag when you don’t need one, we will be helping to educate the locals, reduce our carbon footprint and prevent these pretend jellyfish from being swallowed by our ocean critters. Win win situation.
With everyone doing a very small bit, we can help to preserve paradise. Thank you for helping our planet.
Crystal Dive, in conjunction with Eco Koh Tao organises twice weekly beach and dove site clean ups. For more information on how you can help and become involved with our marine conservation efforts here at Crystal and on Koh Tao please contact [email protected].
What You Can Do…
Koh Tao is a small island under increasing pressure as more & more people visit. There are a few things that you can do to help preserve this fragile environment.
In Your Room
- Turn off fans, lights, air-con when you go out.
- Use water sparingly as we are experiencing shortages.
- Recycle plastic bottles & cans.
- Use water sparingly as we are experiencing shortages.
- Say ‘NO’ to shops when they offer you a plastic bag, try and use your own bag.
- Rubbish – use a bin or it’ll eventually end up in the sea.
- Reduce your plastic bottle use. Buy a ECO water bottle and get FREE refills OR refill your large plastic bottle in reception for only 10 Baht.
- Eat-in rather than take-away.
- Engage in responsible diving.
- Use your buoyancy skills.
- Take an ECO dive course – Buoyancy Specialty, Reef Check Eco diver.
- Join our Beach & Dive Site Clean-Ups.
- Pick up litter.
Author: Matt Benham (PADI MSDT #360284)