Protecting Coral Reefs and Marine Ecosystems

Published: 07/06/2021

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Coral reefs are one of the most interesting ecosystems that we can explore while freediving, with thousands of colorful fishes and an incredible diversity of marine life. But did you know that they play an important role in protecting shorelines from erosion and stabilizing the climate?

AIDA instructor and marine scientist Giovanni d’Erasmo dedicated over 10 years to studying coral reefs and humans’ negative impact on their survival.

For World Ocean Day, Giovanni shares the best ways that both freedivers and the public can help protect coral reefs.

  1. Avoid Consumerism: The more products we buy, the more industrial processes are involved, the more pollutants and greenhouse emissions are released into the environment.
  2. Avoid Plastic: Plastics in landfills are broken down by UV rays into microplastics that make their way into water sources, where they are mistakenly consumed by fish, mollusks, and corals, harming their health. Microplastics also enter our drinking water and food, which can lead to long-term side effects such as chronic intoxications, chronic inflammation, and cancer.
  3. Go Green, Go Local: Reduce your carbon footprint and choose renewable products in your everyday life. By choosing sustainable products, we further reduce greenhouse gases, improve the quality of our air, and even save on energy bills.
  4. Choose a Healthy Diet for Yourself and the Planet: Our oceans are being overfished and powerful fishing technologies destroy vulnerable marine ecosystems. Additionally, animal agriculture is one of the main sources of greenhouse emissions, causing global warming and ocean acidification. Replacing animal products with plant-based alternatives is an effective solution to these large-scale problems.
  5. Engage Your Civil Rights: Some of the most effective measures to limit climate change can only be taken at a government level, such as a global ban on single-use plastics, a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies, and a tax system that supports environmentally friendly technologies. Therefore, it is important to support candidates whose political programs include environmental conservation and climate mitigation policies.
  6. Consider Family Planning Seriously: The global population is 7.8 billion people, but if it keeps growing at the current rate without major changes to energy production or resource consumption, our planet will no longer be tolerable for human life.
  7. Be a Responsible Freediver - In and Out of the Water: Freediving is one of the most respectful ways to explore the ocean, however, certain practices can harm it as well. The AIDA Code of Conduct summarizes best practices to follow – do not touch, chase, harass, or collect any component of the ecosystem; always keep a safe distance from the bottom; do not abandon anything; collect trash for proper disposal on land; etc.

By setting an example for the freediving community and the public, we can promote positive changes in how humans approach the natural world and support its recovery and conservation. 

Interested in learning more about coral reefs and how they affect the environment? Check out Giovanni’s full article, Corals and Climate: Their Interconnection and What We Can Do to Protect Them.

About Giovanni d’Erasmo:

With a master’s degree in Marine Sciences and a background as a project manager in the international cooperation for development, before becoming a professional freediver Giovanni d’Erasmo coordinated a few projects concerning coral propagation, coral reef conservation, sustainable management of small-scale fisheries and set-up of locally managed marine areas in the Dominican Republic, in the Maldives, and in Mozambique. In February 2020 he joined the AIDA Green team, co-authoring the environmental education material included in the new manuals of the AIDA courses, released in the beginning of this year. His main scientific interest concerns the impact of climate change on tropical marine ecosystems, with special focus on coral reefs. He is currently teaching freediving at Freedive Weh, in Indonesia; for further information, please visit Giovanni’s LinkedIn page.