Contacts between recreational scuba divers and coral reefs in Bonaire
The number and type of diver contacts with coral reefs on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire’s fringing reefs were studied in fall 2006. The goal of this study was to observe the number of contacts recreational SCUBA divers are making with the local reefs. Twenty four divers were chosen haphazardly and followed for 30 minute observation periods on three shore dives and seven boat dives. Forty-one percent of observed divers came in contact with the reef substrate at least once during the observation period for a total of 84 contacts. Contacts were categorized as fin taps, body bumps, skin contacts, sediment upsets and equipment dragging. The majority of observed contacts were fin taps, followed by skin contacts, sediment upsets, equipment dragging and body bumps. The following diver attribute categorizes were analyzed to determine the relationship between contact rate and diver attributes: dive access type (shore vs. boat), gender of the diver, skill level of the diver (beginner vs. advanced), and presence or absence of camera equipment. Shore dives, female divers, beginner divers and underwater photographers all demonstrated higher numbers of contacts than their counterparts with female divers contacting the reef nearly twice as often as males. A one-way ANOVA was used to analyze the number of contacts between the divers in each of the above categories. There were no statistically significant differences in number of contacts within any of the categories. The lack of statistically significant differences may be a result of the relatively small sample size, short study period, or a combination of the two.