There are thousands of kinds of corals throughout the world, concentrated mostly in warm, tropical waters. Conveniently, these same warm, tropical waters are some of the most popular places to snorkel! Corals come in every color of the rainbow and in hundreds of shapes and sizes. While corals are breathtaking to see underwater, they are incredibly delicate. Following a few basic rules of coral etiquette will make you a more aware snorkeler and help preserve the coral reefs for years to come.
- Corals are living, breathing animals. Treat them with care. Keep your trash out of the ocean. If possible, use earth-friendly sunscreen.
- Do not step on, stand on, or walk on coral. Do not try to break off a piece of coral as a souvenir. Do not disturb broken coral on the bottom of the reef, as it may be a home for another animal.
- Avoid buying dead coral as a memento of your snorkeling trip. Often, these pieces of coral are not collected properly and damage otherwise healthy reefs.
- While snorkeling, try to keep at least a foot of distance between you and the reef. Some corals sting and many have sharp points or edges. Keeping your distance is the best way to protect yourself and the coral.
- Many snorkeling destinations do not allow snorkelers to wear reef gloves or heavy-soled boots. Thin-soled boots are great for most shore entry situations. Watch where you are putting your hands and feet to avoid injuring yourself and the coral.
- Be careful not to accidentally kick the coral, especially while wearing fins.
Remember, people dedicate their lives to repairing and replacing depleted coral reefs. Reversing the damage to our coral reefs starts with you.