Managing the impacts of SCUBA divers on Thailand's coral reefs

Worachananant, S., Carter, R. W., Hockings, M. T. and Reopanichkul, P. (2008) Managing the impacts of SCUBA divers on Thailand's coral reefs. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 16 6: 645-663. doi:10.2167/jost771.0

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Author Worachananant, S.
Carter, R. W.
Hockings, M. T.
Reopanichkul, P.
Title Managing the impacts of SCUBA divers on Thailand's coral reefs
Journal name Journal of Sustainable Tourism   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0966-9582
1747-7646
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2167/jost771.0
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 16
Issue 6
Start page 645
End page 663
Total pages 19
Editor Bill Bramwell
Bernard Lane
Place of publication Clevedon, England
Publisher Channel View Books/Portland Press
Language eng
Subject C1
961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments
050205 Environmental Management
150601 Impacts of Tourism
Abstract 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 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.
Formatted abstract
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 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. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Keyword Coral reefs
Education
Environmental impact
Management response
Surin Marine National Park
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Thu, 02 Apr 2009, 01:02:58 EST by Leesa Young on behalf of School of Integrative Systems