Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching near whale watching boat, Southeast Alaska.
© Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures
Though they may seem to glide on the water surface without leaving a trace, when used improperly boats can cause irreparable damage to marine and coastal ecosystems. Both recreational boaters as well as boat and tour providers should educate themselves about potentially destructive practices and learn these easy changes to make sure that ecosystems under the waves remain healthy.
The use of anchors for mooring commercial and recreational boats can cause extensive damage to near-shore marine ecosystems, including coral reefs and sea-bottom habitats, such as sandy, gravel bottoms and rocky reefs.
Each year, poorly conducted or irresponsible boat operation and accidents damage shore and reef environments in popular marine coastal destinations around the world. If a boat collides with a coral reef, it can crush and kill large areas of corals and other reef-dwelling organisms.
Proper boat maintenance can reduce owner complaints, repair costs, and environmental impacts. Environmental damage can be caused by leaks oil or fuel, the release of heavy metals from bottom paints, or releases of untreated bilge residues.
Tour operators and marine recreation providers have an important role to play in controlling the introduction of non-native species to the islands.
Garbage disposed into the marine environment is both unsightly and dangerous. Plastic objects, fishing lines, cigarette butts and Styrofoam debris are often consumed by turtles, seabirds, fish and marine mammals and cause the death of millions of these animals every year.