Managing the Impacts of SCUBA Divers on Thailand's Coral Reefs

Suchai Worachananant, R. W. (Bill) Carter, Marc Hockings, Pasinee Reopanichkul
2008 Journal of Sustainable Tourism  
While dive tourism enjoys continued growth worldwide, concern exists that it is contributing to the degradation of coral communities, biologically and aesthetically. This study examined the effect of SCUBA diver contacts with coral and other substrates. Ninety-three percent of divers made contact with substrata during a 10-minute observation period with an average of 97 contacts per hour of diving. Two-thirds of the divers caused some coral damage by breaking fragments from fragile coral forms
more » ... ragile coral forms with an average of 19 breakages per hour of diving. Fin damage was the major type of damage. Underwater photographers caused less damage per contact than non-photographers; as did male divers, compared with females. Diver-induced damage decreases with increasing number of logged dives and attendance at pre-dive briefings. Park managers can help reduce impact by identifying and directing use to sites that are resistant to damage, matching diver competence and site preferences, and alerting operators to dive conditions. Minimising impact requires dive operators to be proactive in promoting minimal impact diving behaviour. This includes selecting sites that match diver expectations and experience, and providing pre-dive briefings in the context of diver activities and physical capacity, and site susceptibility to impact and current strength.
doi:10.1080/09669580802159677 fatcat:bnrb7duwmfahjen7qxoa6re5yq