a broken coral

Figure 5: Broken Coral on The Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Tourism has been increasing in recent years as more people are exploring and finding new places and things to do. As result of this scuba diving and snorkelling has increased dramatically (Hawkins & Roberts 1993, Hodgson 1999). This industry provides around $3000 per hectare per year ha-1yr-1 (Costanza et al. 1987).

However, diving causes breakages to coral through poor buoyancy control and trampling the corals accidently or on purpose by touching. A study by Barker and Roberts (2004) showed that divers with cameras had an increased amount of contact with the reef itself as they held onto things to steady themselves in stronger currents. Breakages occur to taller more branching species of corals (Rouphael & Inglis 1995) as these are usually more fragile such as Acropera sp. When creating these disturbances to the habitat, there is a capacity at dive sites which needs to be further regulated in order to allow reef system to flourish (Rouphael & Inglis 1995). With diving intensifies at a particular site diver satisfaction decreases (Schleyer & Tomalin 2000) and so decreasing the amount of income for that site due to obvious diving damage and lack of aesthetic interest. There is a trade-off between maximising the dives at that site and limiting the amount of disturbance caused (Schleyer & Tomalin 2000). To dive, specific training is undertaken therefore breakages could be prevented with more time spent on the importance of reefs and buoyancy control.

The anchorage of boats shows significant damage to, Acropora cervicornis, in Florida USA (Davis 2003). The repeated anchorage over dive sites decreases the corals ability to recover due to constant disturbance. For this reason there may be a diversity decrease on reefs which are heavily dived.

There are many ways to reduce tourism damage such as; a floating buoy instead of anchorage over a site, limits to dives per year at heavily dived sites and also have areas which are only allocated to specific dive companies in the area. The limiting of diving can keep the site at an optimum and stay appealing to divers which bring income to the economy.

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