Corals are calling and here are five ways to save them on this World Oceans Day in Goa. By Nandini Shukla

Glistening sand on the west coast of Goa, the Arabic sea provides shelter to three cetaceans (marine mammals) of the eighty-three found globally. The Grande Island archipelago in Goa, comprising two coastal islands (Grande and St. George) and divided by a narrow channel, is one of the few coastal islands where you can witness stretches of vibrant-hued coral reefs. Turning our face to the harsh reality, we have lost more than 50% of the corals in the last 30 years because of heavy water spoliation. To salvage the most wonderful creature on the planet, here are five things you should keep in mind while planning your next trip to this bio-diverse hotspot!

1. Do not disturb while diving

Corals are very sensitive and the least fit underwater creature of all. Did you know, corals are even sensitive to your sunscreen? They have a chemical known as oxybenzone, which can destroy baby corals. Tempted by the artistry of the reefs, don’t try to hold them in your hands as it can also result in severe damage. There are four dive centres currently operational in Goa, some of which have been functional for almost 20 years. So for your upcoming recreational diving experience, avoid touching corals and behold the beautiful sight without causing any disturbance.

2. Shop wisely for your mementos

We understand your urge to take a fragment of this place with you back home, but be a little vigilant on your shopping spree. Endangered species like hawksbill turtles and the fragile corals are used to make a lot of products to sell in the state. Purchasing items like coral jewellery, shark and turtle accessories and other ornaments made from underwater animals affect marine life.

3. Invest in some eco-travel organisations

For an environment-friendly experience, try booking a conscious travel organisation that has strict policies about touching marine life, dislocating animals from their habitat, wearing certain swimsuit and sunscreen, and fixed time-limit on ocean activities. Your travel partners should be committed to protecting wildlife and empowering indigenous communities, too. Don’t forget to be respectful to the rich flora and fauna of the place.

4. Limit the boat traffic

Being one of the biggest hubs for tourist activities and rapid urbanisation, Goa’s ocean life is at stake and is degrading every year. Boat traffic is one of the major threats to coral reefs. Usage of anchors by the boat operators close to the habitats largely affect the aquatic life. According to the observations, the coral had been broken on several occasions by anchors. The fact that not all boat operators are aware of the locations and distribution of corals and sandy patches around the island is a crucial issue to take care of. Eliminate spearfishing from your to-do list in Goa and try to invest time in exploring the former Portuguese colonisation.

5. Enroll yourself in the mission of ocean conservation

Taking some time out of your fun expeditions, make your trip worthwhile by enrolling in the ocean conservation mission. Mingle with the local organisations in Goa and volunteer in cleaning up trash-littered beaches and recycling plastics. You can broaden your knowledge about sea life through various resources like books and documentaries to websites, museums, art exhibits, and more. Do check out WWF’s Wild Classroom, an online library of specially-designed tools that will help you and your travel mates in comprehending more about the oceans.

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