4 Dive Destinations that you should visit now – Before they disappear 😳
Scuba divers across the planet can all agree that their beloved sport is nothing short of magical. Diving provides a passport to a breathtaking world underwater, where you can find millions of species otherwise unfamiliar to the continental landlubber — ranging from the tiniest of pygmy seahorses, to gargantuan whales. With the onset of climate change and rapid urbanisation, however, some of our favourite dive destinations are at sore risk of being wiped out completely. Some are susceptible to coral bleaching, whilst others — entire islands, in some cases — face the threat of rising water levels.
International leaders and eco-conservation groups are ramping up efforts to prevent this, but the obliteration of these dive destinations is a sad and harrowing possibility. Scientists predict that some of these destinations could disappear in mere decades, so take the opportunity to visit them while you can.
Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of northeastern Australia lies the Great Barrier Reef, 2,300 kilometres long and half a million years old. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest living thing on earth, visible from space, and is a single ecosystem comprised of thousands upon thousands of coral reefs, islands, and innumerable species of marine animals. This ancient natural structure attracts an average of 1.9 million eco-tourists each year, and people visit from all over the world just for a chance to dive here. Unfortunately, in recent years scientists have made shocking reports that the Reef is experiencing a coral bleaching catastrophe. An estimated 93 per cent of the Reef has been devastated by coral bleaching, brought about by rising ocean temperatures and acidity levels. In his 2016 series ‘Great Barrier Reef’, Sir David Attenborough warned that the Great Barrier Reef is “in grave danger”, and that the Reef could vanish within mere decades if they continue to deteriorate at its present rate.
Mention the Maldives, and pictures of clear turquoise waters, palm-fringed shores, and waterfront villas immediately spring to mind. The Maldives has no doubt etched a spot in the hearts of many travellers, as a mecca of beach destinations. Divers also flock here to witness manta rays and whale sharks in action amidst crystal clear waters. This island nation, which consists of around 1,190 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, is also home to some of the world’s most pristine dive sites, and is a favoured destination for diving liveaboards. There seems to be trouble in paradise, however. The United Nations (UN) predicts that sea levels will rise 28 to 58 centimetres by the end of the century; for the Maldives, a nation with an average land height of just 1.5 metres (with its highest point being only 2 metres), this spells disaster. The increased frequency of storms also makes its shores prone to tidal flooding and beach erosion — where entire houses have been swallowed up by the sea. With the threat of climate change and rising sea levels, the entire island chain is at risk of disappearing completely.
A little further west of the Maldives is the Seychelles, which sits in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya. The islands, all 115 of them, hold untold beauty, and are often compared with the biblical Garden of Eden. The islands are also famous for the unique sculptured granite formations found along its beaches, and also underwater. These rocks, nestled with coral systems and schools of colourful fish, create a curious landscape to dive in. Divers can also find plenty of turtles, rays, and sharks across all the dive sites in the Seychelles. It’s a dream destination for eco-tourism, but sadly, scientists predict that the entire Seychelles archipelago could potentially disappear underwater in no more than 50 years. Advancing waves, creeping closer and closer to land, make for shrinking beaches and uprooted trees, as more land steadily fades away under the sea. Climate change has precipitated a coral bleaching event, and the resulting coral death has led to devastating erosion on the islands — so much so that the islands are at risk of being swept away. If that was not enough, rising sea levels also threaten to drown the islands in their entirety.
Off the coast of Ecuador lies a group of remote islands, known collectively as the Galapagos islands. This was one of the pit stops of famed naturalist and biologist, Charles Darwin, as he traversed the oceans on a five year voyage in the 19th century. These untouched islands draws travellers the world over, who come here hoping to catch glimpses of rare wildlife in their natural habitat. And a large number of these unique species can be found underwater, which makes the Galapagos a haven for avid scuba enthusiasts. Divers can expect to find fur seals, penguins, and even marine iguanas. The Galapagos seas also holds the world’s largest concentration of sharks — you can see large schools of hammerhead sharks and even mating whale sharks here. However, the waters here at warming up thanks to climate change, and this points towards a possible widespread coral bleaching event in due course. The death of these coral ecosystems will also inevitably cause a collapse along the food chain, endangering the native wildlife populace on both land and sea. The very thing that the Galapagos isles are famed for — its rich biodiversity — could crumble and wither away.
Climate change is very real. Increasing levels of carbon emissions and increasing temperatures have shown widespread effects across the globe. It goes without saying that we should all travel responsibly, but whenever we are able, we should opt to go green as well — whilst on our travels and at home as well. Let’s do what we can to save our oceans, and our planet, while we still can.