Water activities like diving and snorkeling introduce you to the wonders of the sea that remain hidden from above the surface. From exploring rare species of fish to corals and historical shipwrecks, observing marine life attracts almost 700,000 to 800,000 divers to Key West
, Florida, every year. Hence, it is safe to say that if you have planned a trip to Key West this summer, you are certainly not alone.
However, despite these high numbers of visitors showing the attraction of Key West all over the country, these visitors can cause serious harm to the ocean life. So, while you plan to soak in the Florida sun and enjoy the fresh Key West beaches, there are some general rules and coral reef etiquettes that everyone should follow.
Fortunately, these rules can lessen the impact on the reef while you continue to enjoy the wonder and beauty of Key West coral reefs.
School of fish. Photo credit: Don Kincaid
1. Use Environment-Friendly Sunscreen
We all know the amazing benefits sunscreen has apart from the usual safety it provides for our skin. However, besides observing the benefits it has for you, it is equally important to check if it is harmful to the ocean as using environment-friendly products is our ethical duty towards marine life.
Especially products like sunscreen mix with the water as you come in contact with the ocean while participating in water activities. This leads to the chemicals of the product washing off and adhering to the corals, ultimately poisoning them. Therefore, use sunscreen with ingredients like oxybenzone that are both sun and environment-friendly.
2. Avoid Coming In Contact With the Reef
Diver by coral reef. Photo credit: Don Kincaid
It is in the best interest of both you and the marine life if you adopt a strict no-contact policy before diving in the ocean. The reason is that touching the coral reef is damaging. Even a minor brush through while swimming or hovering around the reef can damage the delicate coral plants and animals.
In addition to the harm you may cause to the corals, they can be equally harmful to you, if not more. Some corals can sting, cut, and even cause infections and allergies. Therefore, it is better if you just keep your curiosity at bay and take in the beauty of underwater life through your eyes.
3. Train with Weights
Many people believe that if they know how to swim, they dont require any training before indulging in water activities like deep-sea diving. However, contrary to this belief, it is better if novice snorkelers are trained with weight to maintain proper buoyancy.
You have to learn and train properly to avoid kicking the corals or having to rest on them. This rule is important because if you dont know the correct diving posture, how to float, and which position to use for hovering, you may damage the corals and harm the animals.
4. Secure Your Equipment
It is important to ensure that all your gear and equipment are secure before diving into the sea. It will not only keep you comfortable and safe but save the corals from coming into contact with it as well.
Also, always avoid wearing gloves or kneepads in coral environments unless recommended by your instructor. If you really have to stop and adjust your equipment, signal to return to the boat while staying afloat and trying not to stand over the corals.
5. Do Not Touch, Feed, Or Ride the Marine Animals
Coral reef marine life. Photo credit: Don Kincaid
Although it goes without saying but it is still an important rule to observe. Exploring marine life is not like your usual jungle safari or neighborhood zoo. It is the territory of the unknown. After all, almost 91% of the ocean species are unclassified and more than 80% undiscovered.
Therefore, it is better that you maintain a safe distance if you interact with any creatures underwater. As much as it may excite you, it can stress them and disrupt their normal behavior. The coral reefs at Key West are home to these creatures, so treat them and their home with respect.
6. Do Not Go On A Collection Drive
Things you'll find in a coral reef. Photo credit: Don Kincaid
The ocean bed may be home to amazing creatures, beautiful corals, plants, and animals alike. These creatures not only add to the beauty of the ocean but maintain the balance of marine life.
Thus, the coral reef is not a souvenir museum for divers and enthusiasts who go on a collection drive underwater. Everything has its place, even if it is just a dead rock, and displacing it disrupts the balance of the reef.
Hopefully, these coral reef etiquettes will now stay afloat in your head whenever you visit Key West for amazing water activities. Vacation Homes of Key West offers you a chance to enjoy a vacation in Key West, island style. From private beach villas to ocean view condos, Vacation Homes of Key West are the perfect place to enjoy water activities while observing these etiquettes.
Book a Key West vacation rental now with Vacation Homes of Key West. We have a unique selection for Key West cottages, villas, condos, estates, and compounds - from one bedroom to twelve bedrooms.
Call us. We are in Key West: (305)294-7358 ext. 1