Sun, sea, and sand—those three images are on top of everyone’s minds when talking about spending a holiday by the beach. However, the appeal of a seaside holiday is not limited to what can be found above water. Many people head to beach resorts in Batangas not just to sunbathe and swim, but also to get acquainted with the sea creatures that live there. The province has established itself as a prime diving destination over the years due to its biodiversity and thriving marine ecosystem. It has attracted the attention of snorkelers, divers, and even marine scientists from different parts of the world.
Spending a day in a diving or beach resort in Batangas can help foster a growing interest in the marine environment, and snorkeling allows even newcomers to get a glimpse of the natural habitat of fishes and corals. Snorkeling is done using a diving mask and an optional pair of fins. The activity is quite fun and relatively simple, and it involves very few risks such as getting sunburned, jellyfish stings, and incurring scrapes and bruises from bumping into rocks or corals.
As a beginner or first time snorkeler, what rules should you be mindful of? How should you treat the fishes, corals, and other inhabitants of the waters you are snorkeling in? Here’s a short guide on how you should conduct yourself while in the water:
1. Keep your hands to yourself. The first rule of snorkeling is to not touch anything while in the water. Avoid reaching out and touching fishes, corals, or any other creature. Chasing and grasping fishes and other sea creatures can stress or injure them. Keeping your hands to yourself is also for your own good. There are plenty of animals out in the sea that can sting or cause injuries, and not touching them is the best way to keep yourself safe. Even if you know that an animal doesn’t bite, it is still a must to give it enough space to rest or hunt for food.
2. Don’t use corals as a footstool. While they may seem like plants or stones, corals are actually the homes of fragile invertebrates. These colonies can be easily damaged, so touching them or standing on them is a big no. Coming in contact with corals can also cause scrapes, which can take time to heal. Avoid standing on corals even if you’re tired of swimming. Instead, rest on your back and float for a short while until you have the strength to move again.
3. Use biodegradable sunscreen. Any beach bum knows that it’s essential to put on sunscreen. This skincare item is also a must if you’re going snorkeling, as the activity puts you at risk of getting sunburn. However, not all sunscreens are made the same. Most of the sunscreens in the market today contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, compounds that are known to make corals more vulnerable to bleaching. The good news is that there are alternatives. You can either use a swimwear that offers UV protection or use sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which are deemed to be safer for the environment.
4. Don’t feed the fishes. It’s tempting to offer food to the fishes to make them swim closer to you, but don’t give in! Feeding fishes can damage the environment, cause health problems for the fishes, and interfere with their natural feeding habits. Watching fishes from afar is a better choice than seeing them up close and damaging their health and habitat.
5. Take nothing and leave nothing behind. Leave living and non-living things—corals, starfish, sand, etc.—alone and don’t pick them up for pictures or take them home as souvenirs. In the same vein, take your trash with you when you leave. This small gesture helps prevent the spread of pollution, which damages the seas and beaches we love. If you want to go the extra mile, you can collect trash before you leave the beach and take part in the #Trashtag challenge.
Snorkeling is one of the many ways we can appreciate the place where fishes and other marine creatures live in. As a guest, it’s only right that we observe good manners while visiting their home. These 5 habits will not only help you enjoy the experience but also help maintain the beauty of these places for years to come.
Thank you for reading!
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