The news media – environmental and otherwise – often cast a shadow of despair on our oceans and waterways. We are bombarded by negative headlines showcasing topics like coral bleaching and cetacean beaching.
If coral bleaching is an altogether unfamiliar concept, imagine white, bleached-out coral reefs rather than the colorful images made popular by National Geographic photographers and Jacques Cousteau documentaries.
In an article published by The Nature Conservancy, Stephanie Wear, The Nature Conservancy’s director of coral reef conservation, notes:
The first thing to understand is that corals get their brilliant colors from tiny algae that live in their tissues. These tiny organisms live in harmony with coral animals, and they basically share resources,” Wear explains. “For example, the most important thing that the algae do is provide food to the corals through carbohydrates they produce during photosynthesis.”
“The next thing to understand is that corals have a limited temperature range within which they can live,” Wear continues. “When it gets too hot, they get stressed out—and this relationship with the algae goes sour. The tiny algae are ejected from the corals, turning them white, thus the term ‘bleached.’
One company in particular has decided to protect the reefs in their natural state.
SCUBAPRO, a Johnson Outdoors Company, is an industry leader when it comes to dive equipment. They are also a pioneering force in making scuba gear and the entire scuba industry more sustainable.
It is no secret that scuba diving is a recreation that requires a lot of gear to participate and be safe which is why SCUBAPRO is on a mission to make all of that gear healthier for the planet, the oceans, and the divers, themselves. Perhaps the most obvious method of meeting this objective is using recycled paper products in their packaging and marketing. SCUBAPRO has also developed a formula for 100% organic Anti-Fog gel. Most impressive though is that Scubapro has taken on the “dirtiest” of dive gear: the neoprene wetsuit.
Neoprene is commonly used in wetsuits and is a rather harmless material, in and of itself. It traps water between the wetsuit and the wearer’s skin. Body heat then warms the water against the skin, which works to reduce heat loss from the body. This allows the wearer to comfortably stay in colder water for a longer time. Truth is though, it is quite a toxic material that has been linked to joint pain, fibromyalgia, fatigue, and a number of other ailments. And by toxic the reference is to the litany of ull toxic nastiness involved in neoprene, particularly the solvents used to glue it to other materials. It off-gasses Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, lead, chlorine and toluene.
Direct from the SCUBAPRO website: “All SCUBAPRO wetsuits are manufactured from 100 percent pure neoprene made from an exclusive formula called X-Foam, which is made from limestone (not petroleum) neoprene. This means it is completely petroleum-free, which reduces petroleum consumption for future generations. This also makes X-Foam the only neoprene formula that complies with the very strict P.A.H. and REACH test requirements.” Beyond even that, SCUBAPRO has invented a new solvent-free glue — called Aqua glue — that is a water-based adhesive; better for divers, and better for the environment.
It is with innovations like these that SCUBAPRO is ensuring a more sustainable future for oceans as well as ocean explorers. SCUBAPRO also supports a number of organizations whose missions are similar. In no particular order they are Conservation International, Mission Blue, and World Wildlife Fund. You can find a complete list at their website.