You need to be fit! If you have not dived for a long time, prepare yourself to manage your buoyancy: lung-ballast, vest and optimal ballast. If necessary ask a dive centre to improve your buoyancy.
Research the dive site. This will make for a much more enjoyable experience; instead of just spectating, you will be able to identify the marine animals, understand their behaviour and know where to look for them. You will also know where to look for the amazing hidden creatures, of which there is always plenty!
Ask for information about endangered and protected species, as well as anything that might be dangerous for divers.
Choose short, non-aggressive swim fins for dives that do not have strong currents.
On the boat
Do not throw anything overboard.
Ask for a waste container to place cigarette butts, plastic waste, aluminium packaging etc.
Make sure that the gauges and the alternate air source are correctly fastened to your body so that they do not hang during immersion and drag along the seafloor. This could destroy and damage the fauna and flora.
Perform a slow and controlled immersion so that you do not disturb marine life on the seafloor. This will also help avoid possible problems in term of narcosis.
Control your buoyancy; place your body and equipment so as not to touch small and fragile fixed organisms and pay particular attention to the movement of your swim fins. Each time we touch the fragile reef, part of it dies. Warn other divers who do not seem to show this level of respect for the environment.
Consider how your interactions can affect sea life. Avoid touching, using, eating or moving sea creatures. These actions can cause stress, disrupt feeding and mating behaviours, cause damage to ecosystems or provoke aggressive behaviour in normally non-aggressive species.
Do not disturb the animals! If they take refuge in their hideouts then do not try to force them out. Wait patiently without moving until they regain their composure and reappear.
Respect the underwater cultural heritage. It is a privilege for divers to visit the shipwrecks of the Azores, which as well as providing historical significance serve as important habitats for marine life. Help preserve these sites and do not pick up archaeological objects!
Do not take home souvenirs from the seafloor. Take photos, store memories in your mind and only leave bubbles!
Be a role model for other divers. Set a good example in your interaction with the marine environment so that others can learn from you.
Take photos carefully. Many sea creatures are fragile, regardless of their size and inappropriate photographic equipment can damage sensitive marine life if it should touch them. Keep swim fins, cameras, cylinders and even your hands well away from your subject.
Keep a neutral stance. Photo systems can add weight or provide positive buoyancy. Be sure to attach all diving and photo equipment carefully and properly adjust your ballast to avoid contact with the marine substrate. Practice your buoyancy and photography skills before diving in fragile environments.
Resist the temptation. Avoid touching, handling, feeding, stalking or harassing marine life. Avoid changing their position to get the perfect shot. Many beings are shy and easily stressed and these actions can cause changes in their feeding and mating behaviour or provoke aggressive reactions.
Be patient. While diving move slowly and allow sea creatures to display their natural behaviour for a better photo.
Try your best to save fresh water. It is our most valuable asset! Try to use facilities that have a controlled flow to help prevent waste.
The Azores offers many natural and cultural highlights. When not diving we recommend you explore the islands and enjoy the stunning landscapes and rich culture of the Azorean people, known for their friendliness and hospitality.
Do not buy souvenirs that originated in the sea, for example shark teeth, starfish and sea shells.
Do not visit restaurants that serve shark fin soup and meat from cetaceans or other protected or endangered marine animals.
The Consumer’s Guide to Azorean Fish informs the public about the state of sustainability of the populations of different species of fish, providing the information for a conscious choice. This guide can be found at various restaurants in the Azores and the link.
Do not eat shellfish that are in closed season. Their capture is forbidden during the breeding season for the purpose of restocking and limpets, barnacles, slipper lobsters, lobsters, and crabs should all be avoided. Before eating these species of shellfish in restaurants, ask about their closed seasons to ensure you are a responsible consumer and contributing to the sustainability of marine ecosystems.