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.