You may have snuck a seashell or a couple of T-shirts into your carry-on bag after your last diving trip, but did you know there’s a way to leave a permanent mark on a dive site that will last years after your vacation is over?
It’s probably the coolest ecofriendly dive trip souvenir from a vacation ever, and it’s available in the Maldives — a diving Mecca that’s at the top of many scuba divers’ bucket lists.
The area is becoming renowned for an emphasis on ecotourism, and for good reason. With stunning atolls and beautiful beaches, the Maldives is an incredible slice of natural paradise.
Both of the resorts have made a public commitment to sustainable tourism.
In the past decade, the resorts have been getting their diving and water-loving guests involved through Reefscapers, a program that has been established since 2005, and which essentially allows vacationers to plant and grow their own reef!
Heading underwater to start a reef from scratch sounds like a massive undertaking, but the process is surprisingly simple.
Essentially, program participants take pieces of broken coral that has been removed from an established reef via a coastal storm, or human accident and affix them to a “frame.” This action is similar to planting seeds in the ground, and once the frame has been set with coral pieces, it’s placed in a barren rocky or sandy area along the sea floor where the coral can grow.
Because of the Maldives’ warm and unpolluted waters, the growth rate is amazingly fast. Coral develops in this corner of the world an average of 5”-6” annually, so it’s possible for visitors to return a year, five years, or ten years down the road and see amazing progress of their initial coral-affixed-to-frame “seeds.”
Of course, the question arises that once you have your seeds planted on the sea floor — next to potentially dozens of other coral gardens — how do you know which reef is yours?
Reefscapers has a solution for this too. Every coral frame that’s placed under the water is registered with the guest’s name, as well as the GPS coordinates of where exactly it was submerged. Progress photographs can be available by email, and with the GPS directions in hand, visitors can return to their personal reef again and again in the years to come.
It’s a fascinating idea and one that’s gaining a ton of traction. To date, there are more than 2,000 newly planted reefs off the coast of the Maldives, and there’s no sign that this cool new trend of creating an eco-souvenir will be slowing down in the immediate future.
What greater experience and “souvenir” to bring home? On your next Maldives vacation, in between the incredible dive trips and the Happy Hour cocktails, reserve a little time to leave you mark. By creating and planting your own coral reef, you’re essentially allowing generations of divers to benefit from your trip, and telling the world that you were there.
Scuba Toys supports any efforts to promote education and environmental awareness for divers and non-divers alike. Let’s go diving!
Would you like to see similar “reef garden” programs in other regions and if so, where? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/skyrim/