The coral reefs of the British Virgin Islands are a part of an incredibly dynamic ecosystem. Several factors, both natural and human induced, affect the health and productivity of our reefs. Proudly partnered with Reef Check, Project AWARE, the BVI National Parks Trust and BVI Conservation and Fisheries, Dive BVI’s Eco-Tourism programs are focused on training our guests to be environmentally conscious and providing the most up-to-date information about the health of the reef and ocean ecosystems in the British Virgin Islands.
Looking to take the first steps into Eco-diving or snorkeling? Then take the 1-day Dive BVI Reef Check Fish Identification Course. The Reef Check Species Identification course will help you identify and learn behaviors of some of the most common indicator species on the Caribbean coral reefs. The RC Species Identification course is more than just a standard fish ID course. You will learn about different species of marine life with the RC Underwater Field guide, which includes photos and key facts on over 50 different reef species. In addition to learning to identify reef species, you will learn how to fine-tune your buoyancy underwater to ensure marine life isn’t disturbed when you are monitoring reef health. The course allows you to fully explore and understand life on the Caribbean’s coral reefs. You will also help to identify what you see and contribute valuable data on the health of the worlds coral reefs. Sign up today! Your Caribbean ocean experiences will never be the same!
Did you ever dream of becoming a marine biologist or do you just love snorkeling? The Reef Check EcoDiver program allows anyone with an interest in the ocean — from kids to adults – to learn more about tropical coral reefs. Reef Check combines education with action to give volunteers a unique experience while taking an active role in conserving the world’s reefs.
The EcoDiver program allows participants the rare opportunity to work with teams of scientists throughout the world to combat the crises affecting our reefs today. The world’s reefs are changing fast, and it is up to us to ensure that reefs are around for future generations.
How can you help? Simple. If you are a beginner diver, enroll in the Reef Check Species Identification course. If you have experience diving and want to do more, enroll in a 3-day Eco-Diver certification course that qualifies you to help our teams to monitor reefs worldwide.
Using the globally standardized scientific protocol, the Dive BVI Reef Check EcoDiver program collects valuable data to establish the status of coral reefs world wide. The data are analyzed and used locally by marine park managers, nationally by fisheries and environment managers and internationally by organizations including United Nations agencies to help better track and care for coral reefs.
The Project AWARE- Coral Reef Conservation Specialty Course is a 1 day course, with classroom work in the morning, followed by an afternoon dive or snorkel. The class allows students to learn about the plight of the world’s coral reefs, with a special focus on the British Virgin Islands reefs. The course describes how coral reefs function and why they are so important. It also reviews why many reefs are in serious trouble and what individuals can do to prevent further decline. Most divers, snorkelers and environmental enthusiasts have already visited or plan to visit a coral reef. The AWARE- Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course provides the knowledge base for proper interaction while touring a reef.
- Coral Reefs:
*Occupy only 0.7% of the ocean floor, but provide homes and vital nursery grounds for 25% of all marine species on the planet
*Support 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral, and thousands of plants and animals.
*Are composed of thousands of tiny animals called polyps.
*Are responsible for building the largest biological structure on earth- the Great Barrier Reef.
*Consist of two different types of corals: hard corals like brain, elkhorn and pillar, and soft corals including sea fans, sea whips and sea rods.
*Protect shorelines from erosion and storm and wave damage. Each square meter of reef protects US $47,000 in property value.
*Provide an incredible diversity of beneficial medical pharmaceuticals, and contain compounds found to help fight heart disease, asthma, leukemia, viruses, cancer and HIV.
*Attract millions of visitors each year. Tourism is the largest industry in the world, brings billions of dollars to local economies and sustains 10% of all jobs on earth. In 1992, tourism associated with coral reefs generates US $1.9 trillion, over 27 times that generated by the world’s marine fisheries.
- Ten Things You Can Do to Protect the Coral Reef:
• Do not purchase souvenirs made from coral or any threatened or endangered marine species.
• Support the establishment of coral reef protected areas and encourage better protection and management for those that exist.
• While traveling, choose resorts and tour operators that properly handle all sewage and wastewater and avoid dumping marine heads on or near land.
• While operating a boat, navigate carefully to avoid contact with coral reefs and other valuable ecosystems such as seagrass beds and maintain engine equipment to prevent oil and gas spills.
• As a diver or snorkeler, choose tour operators that use mooring buoys or drift diving techniques whenever possible rather than anchors that can cause reef damage.
• Make wise choices in selecting seafood by avoiding menu items that are caught or farmed using destructive or unsustainable practices including reef-killing poisons, explosives, and illegal equipment. Avoid eating reef fish, as the commercial fishing of these fish is not sustainable and these fish are prone to ciguatera toxin.
• Join Reef Check’s EcoDiver and Reef Monitoring program and report data to researchers.
• As a diver, practice buoyancy control skills in a pool or sandy area before diving near a coral reef. Make sure your gauges and equipment are secured to avoid accidental contact with the reef, and never touch, stand on, or collect coral.
• Report all damage of coral reefs to dive operators and scientific or conservation groups that monitor coral reef health.
• Enroll in an AWARE Specialty course like AWARE Coral Reef Conservation or become a Reef Check EcoDiver.