What Tourists Can Do to Protect Coral Reefs

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2009 3:02 PM CDT
Healthy reef on the Achenese Mainland, Indonesia.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Snorkelers and scuba divers aren’t the worst threat to the embattled coral reefs of the world—climate change, commercial fishing, and pollution take top honors—but the casual tourist can lessen, and even mitigate, the damage he or she causes, Slate reports. Of course, snorkelers shouldn’t purposefully snap off pieces of the majestic underwater life forms. But carelessly dragging equipment across coral, or walking on it, while looking for a better view is equally destructive.

Perhaps the most effective way for vacationers to protect coral is to stay at a responsible resorts. Reef tourists can stay at hotels that don’t dump sewage into the water, for instance. And as for sunscreen, which may be linked to reef damage? Snorkelers can keep themselves burn-free and coral safe by wearing long sleeves and leggings.