1. Coral is a living creature. Avoid touching or stepping on coral. Instead, find a sandy spot if you must stand.
2. Choose non-chemically enhanced pesticides and fertilizers. Even if you don’t live near a coral reef ecosystem, these products end up in the watershed.
3. Invasive species of algae and fish can introduce disease and out-compete native species for food and space. Rinse all snorkel and dive gear with fresh water.
4. Refrain from feeding fish in the wild; it is unhealthy for reef ecosystems.
5. What’s on land today will be in our oceans tomorrow. Help keep oceans and beaches free of litter.
6. Coral bleaching due to rising water temperatures caused by global warming can be prevented. Do your part; conserve energy, reuse and recycle, buy organic and teach others.
7. Fish keep the reef healthy. Refrain from collecting coral, fish, and shells from the ocean. If you are considering a home aquarium, purchase fish that are not taken from the reef.
8. Choose sustainable seafood and take only what you need whether fishing, diving or purchasing for consumption. For tips on which fish are sustainable and safe to eat in your area visit: www.seafoodwatch.com
9. Use reusable bags, refillable water bottles, and lunch boxes and say no to one-time use items.
10. Sediment and pollution can cover and choke coral. Choose eco-friendly products such as biodegradable detergents and fertilizers. Remember, ALL drains lead to the ocean.
11. Support reef-friendly businesses. Buy reef-safe sunscreen and ask what your dive shop, boating store, hotel and other coastal businesses are doing to save coral reefs.
12. Respect marine life; never touch, harass, or take animals from the ocean, including coral and shells. Report violations to the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources or local authorities.
Working to care for what we all love brings our communities together and provides hope for the environment. By making small changes now, we can have a big impact on the future of our planet.
“Ka Mo‘olelo Moana,” or “The Ocean Story,” is a monthly column written by Maui Ocean Center.