Become a volunteer! Participate in a beach or reef cleanup.

Become a volunteer! Participate in a beach or reef cleanup.

Photo: Florida Sea Grant

Do your part to keep our waterways and ocean clean by taking unwanted household chemicals to a household chemical collection center. Never dump anything down storm drains.

Do your part to keep our waterways and ocean clean by taking unwanted household chemicals to a household chemical collection center. Never dump anything down storm drains.

Photo: Christopher Boykin

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Reef Conservation Tips for Everyone

Educate yourself, stay informed and spread the word.

Participate in training or educational programs that focus on reef ecology. Find out about existing and proposed laws, programs, and projects that could affect our coral reefs. When you further your own education, you can help others understand the fragility and value of the world's coral reefs. Share your knowledge with others.

Be an informed consumer.

Only buy marine fish and other seafood when you know they have been collected in an ecologically sound manner. Ask store managers where their seafood comes from and how it was collected. Find out if the exporting country has a management plan to insure the harvest was legal and will be sustainable over time. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website for more information.

PADI Project AWARE has also implemented a "Sustainable Fisheries" initiative that includes information on "10 Things You Can Do To Help", which can be viewed at: www.projectaware.org.

Be a smart consumer.

Shells, corals, and sponges found in stores were once part of living animals on a reef. These animals are usually destroyed to create the products made with shells and coral. Avoid purchasing products made with shells, corals and other marine organisms.

If you purchase live fish or corals for your aquarium, make sure they are native to your area and aquaculture-raised and harvested. Non-native, invasive marine animals and plants can be accidentally introduced into local waters, disrupting the natural balance of the reef ecosystem. Look for the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) stamp of approval and visit www.aquariumcouncil.org to learn more. Learn and observe fishing regulations, visit www.floridaconservation.org for more information.

Hire local guides when visiting coral reef ecosystems.

This will help you learn about local resources, and protect the future of the reef by supporting the local economy.

Act responsibly when diving on coral reef ecosystems.

Aquatic life is fragile and can be severely damaged by an unintentional bump of a tank, a careless swipe of a fin or even a delicate touch of a hand. By being constantly aware of your surroundings and by practicing good buoyancy control you can help preserve our precious coral reefs. For more information and tips on how to responsibly interact with the marine environment visit the PADI Project AWARE website.

Be a wastewater crusader!

Make sure that sewage from your boat and home is correctly treated. It is illegal to discharge untreated waste, oil, or trash into any federally controlled or state waters, these excess pollutants and nutrients  harm coral reef ecosystems.

Don't use chemically enhanced pesticides and fertilizers.

Although you may live thousands of miles from a coral reef ecosystem, these products end up in the watershed -- the area that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, and ultimately, the ocean.

Recycle

This helps keep trash out of the oceans and also out of landfills where it can have an adverse impact on the water quality of our rivers and oceans.

Conserve water

Use less water to decrease the amount of runoff and wastewater polluting the ocean and harming coral reefs.

Learn about building a rain barrel for your home.  Rain barrels are a great way to capture water during rainstorms for later use in watering plants around your home.

Become a volunteer!

Participate in community coral reef protection and monitoring programs. Volunteer for a reef, beach or shoreline cleanup. If you do not live near a coast, get involved in protecting your watershed.

Support conservation initiatives and organizations that protect coral reefs. Many groups have coral reef programs, and your support will make a big difference. See the program partner page for a list of organizations.

Help be the eyes and ears of the reef! Your involvement can make a big difference. Report dumping, other illegal activities, or petroleum spills by contacting. the Florida Statewide Warning Point by calling 1-800-320-0519 to make a report.  You can report any other signs of troubled marine resources in southeast Florida to the Marine Incident Reporting Network hotline at 1-866-770-SEFL, or fill out an online data entry form at www.cleanSEFLreefs.com.  Anyone can contribute by reporting any unusual sightings, including marine debris, vessel groundings and anchor damage to coral, fish disease, fish kills, invasive species, algal blooms poor water quality, coral bleaching, and coral disease.