A new study published this year has found that divers cause significant damage to corals on Hong Kong reefs. At most of the locations studied, the percentage of broken corals exceeded the recommended no-action threshold of 4%, which means management intervention is justified.
Scientists from Hong Kong’s Baptist University surveyed coral breakage from diving activities in Hong Kong using transects at seven different sites. The results show a total of 81 broken corals with 3–19 broken colonies per site. The team found a significant link between the number of broken coral colonies and the number of divers visiting the site.
The branching Acropora and the plate-like Montipora suffered more frequent damage than expected from their numbers. This means that some corals species are more vulnerable to damage from divers. The implication is that high numbers of divers may alter the species composition and ecology of the coral reefs as a whole.
The study concludes that popular dive sites should be classed as “no-go’ areas for training divers.
5 thoughts on “Hong Kong Divers Damage Corals”
I totally agree with no-go zones for trainee divers. Diving in Indonesia, no gloves allowed, if you found yourself floating toward the reef you wafted it with your hand to frighten anything sat there then pushed off with just one finger. This was on atolls where there was also plenty of open ocean to thrash around in, but on a flat reef buoyancy control is paramount.
I also agree. I have seen divers break corals with their fins in the Philippines. You are meant to float over the corals suspended and weightless, just enjoying the show, but many novice divers fun around like mad trying to find the biggest fish etc to tell the story rather than wait for the sights to come to them. You will never catch up with a sea turtle but if you hang motionless it might get curious and check you out. The mad dash to “see stuff” just breaks coral.
Too right! While intently staring at an instructor during a diving course in Madeira a 2 meter long seal suck up behind the three of us. We could work out what the instructor was doing as there’s not an official hand signal for “quick turn around there’s a massive seal behind you!”. When we did eventually turn around it was only 3 meters away looking straight at us, and then just glided away. Big round animal, totally graceful in the water. Captivating.
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