Coral Reef Protection Tips for Responsible Divers

One of the most amazing things to see while diving is a coral reef. The Florida Keys island chain is home to the only living coral reef in the continental United States. The reef is a teeming backbone of marine life that can create memories that last a lifetime for visiting divers and snorkelers.

The U.S. government has established the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to protect the unique ecosystem. There are a few things divers and snorkelers can do to help protect the reef while enjoying their visit.

First, verify the weather conditions before going out on the water. Poor visibility, strong winds, and wave action can create dangerous conditions at the reef. Remember that even the lightest touch can damage sensitive coral polyps.

Second, avoid contact with the ocean bottom. Sandy areas that appear barren may support new growth if left undisturbed. Snorkelers should wear buoyancy control or snorkel vests to allow gear adjustments without standing on the coral.

Third, please don't feed the fish. It destroys their natural feeding habits. Lastly, remember that it is illegal to harvest coral in Florida. If you dive or snorkel from your own boat, use the reef mooring buoys instead of anchoring.

By following these tips, you can help protect the coral reef and enjoy your visit to the Florida Keys.