Deep sea diving has become increasingly popular in recent years as it allows an up close and personal way to explore strange and previously distant ecosystems. As such, the environmental impact of the activity depends greatly on the individual. For instance, many divers are inclined to return with starfish, pieces of coral or conch shells as souvenirs. The removal of these native species can have a negative effect on the ecosystem.
Some advocates, like Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) believe that marine ecosystems can be preserved by the proper enabling and education of divers, thus creating passionate and responsible marine stewards.
There are a few aspects of diving which can be harmful to the environment, but responsible divers can avoid these pitfalls. For example, oils in human skin are harmful to coral, or divers may accidentally break coral and damage the reef. And certain sunscreens can be toxic to aquatic life, so divers have to be careful to make sure they are using nontoxic sunscreen.
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