It was in Hawaii off the coast of Big Island. We took underwater propulsion scooters and jetted out about 150ft offshore to a cleaning station where Manta Rays gather to get their skin, gills and mouths cleaned by small fish and shrimps. It was a truly magical experience. I can still vividly remember watching the Manta Rays emerge from the darkness and soar through the ocean so effortlessly.
When we travel, we get the chance to form these amazing emotional connections to the places we visit. I always opt for vacations by the coast because I can’t seem to pull myself away from the ocean.
Here are some quick and easy things to consider when travelling, to help minimize your impact on the ocean.
Go zero-waste whenever possible
Bring your own reusable straws, water bottles, thermos, shopping bags and pack your own shampoo and soaps. Say no to plastic whenever possible. Live by the mantra “Take only photos, leave only bubbles”
Fully immerse yourself in the local culture and explore the new foods and drinks around you. Get to know what is in season and eat that! Try and go vegetarian once in a while, but when you do eat meat and seafood ask where it is from (local is best), how it was caught or raised and if it is sustainable.
Choose activities wisely
Most outdoorsy activities produce very little emissions. Go for a hike, walk the beach, rent a kayak or go camping! Just make sure you pack in and pack out - don’t leave any garbage behind.
Rethink your animal encounters
Getting up close and personal with marine life can be a really profound experience, but make sure you don’t get too close because you will be putting yourself and the wildlife at risk. Don’t touch, ride, feed or break off any of the wildlife you encounter and don’t participate or invest in activities that are harmful and exploit them.
Participate in beach cleanups and citizen science
Participate in a local beach cleanup or hold your own. Make it a point to pick up a least 3 pieces of trash every time you visit the beach. Check out what citizen science initiatives are available where you visit. Download the iNaturalist app to identify what you see and record your observations.
Use Reef Safe sunscreen
Sunscreen has harmful chemicals in it that damage coral reefs. Use reef safe sunscreen to help preserve the colourful lively reefs.
Be souvenir savvy
Don’t buy what you don’t need and don’t buy souvenirs made out of cheap plastics, endangered species or items that exploit marine life. Traders and poachers will kill, break and collect endangered sea life to make into jewelry, artwork and other souvenirs for tourists. Buy goods that support the local community and ask questions about what materials the things you buy are made from.
Choose your mode of transportation wisely
Air travel is a wonderful benefit of modern life, but we all know it creates harmful emissions. In fact, the total carbon impact of a one-way long-distance flight can be equivalent to going car-free (gasoline powered) for an entire year! Opt for land-based travel whenever possible. Trains, buses and carpools are a great way to make new friends and reduce your carbon emissions.
Purchase carbon offsets to neutralize your travels
Carbon offsets are when you buy credit from a company who is reducing their emissions, to compensate for your own. One of the most highly rated carbon offset companies is Gold Standard.
Stay Ocean Literate and share your knowledge and love of the ocean with others!
It is important to stay educated and share your knowledge and passion with others. The more we know and learn to love the ocean, the more likely we are to work together to restore and preserve it.
Since that first dive in Hawaii, I yearned to know more and dive deeper below the surface. Seeing, firsthand, the beauty of the underwater world sparked my curiosity and desire to live for a better ocean.
The ocean reminds us to be present and that we are small in the grand scheme of things. It helps to wash away our everyday stressors and to reconnect with our natural selves. You have the ability to choose what you consume, where you go and what you do and you can choose to live for a better ocean.
This post was submitted by a traveller as part of our Trade Your Time for Travel program. Click here to learn how you can earn travel credits towards a future trip with us, just by sharing a memorable travel experience. #tradeyourtimefortravel
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