New guidelines for underwater photographers
The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – has launched the newly updated Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Underwater Photographers poster with new guidelines. These guidelines help dive and snorkel operators encourage their guests to follow environmental best practices while taking photos underwater in order to protect the marine ecosystems they are photographing.
Underwater photography is becoming increasingly popular as cameras and underwater housings become more accessible, coupled with the prevalence of sharing these sightings on social media. However, using a camera on a dive can be distracting and can lead to changes in buoyancy and body positioning that may cause damage to the marine environment. Additionally, moving or manipulating marine life and coral in order to get the perfect shot is common – a practice that causes stress to marine life and can erode the ecosystem’s health.
The latest global survey of reef health, The Sixth Status of Corals of the World: 2020 Report, found the critical need to reduce local pressures on coral reefs in order to maintain their resilience while global threats posed by climate change are addressed. This includes the negative impacts from marine tourism. The Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Underwater Photographers’ poster aims to help marine tourism professionals promote environmental best practices to underwater photographers and prevent practices that are harmful to the coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.
The guidance includes a wide range of recommendations, from improving buoyancy skills to not fixating over a particular species. These recommendations are consolidated from dive professionals and professional underwater photographers with years of experience working in the industry.
Samantha Craven, Programmes Manager at Reef-World, said: “Underwater photography is a powerful conservation tool that can bring the delights of the ocean to the surface and foster connection with the marine environment. However, if poorly managed, it can damage the very animals we love to photograph. Our research showed that divers holding a camera (either compact or SLR) accounted for 52.7% of observed diver contacts with the reef*. These guidelines will help everyone – from operators to photographers themselves — reduce their impact and protect future photography subjects!
The Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Underwater Photographers poster is available for free on the Green Fins website. Anyone can download the poster here.