Diver safety in the fiords
IntroductionLearn the diving care code and review information on diving safely in the fiords.
Consider using charter operators who are familiar with diving conditions in the fiords.
- Plan any deep dives carefully and always do your deepest dives first.
- Always fly a dive flag.
- Use tables and computers for all diving.
- Be properly weighted and use your BCD to descend and ascend.
- As water clarity in the fiords can extend visibility to great distances it is important to monitor depth gauges frequently to avoid exceeding planned depth.
- Always save enough air to allow for safety stops on ascent. Consider having an emergency tank and regulator at the safety stop depth, lowered from the side of your boat.
- The fiords are a long way from hospitals and decompression chambers, so before your dive give some thought to communications and a dive evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.
- Carry oxygen and first-aid equipment and know how to use it.
- Allow a rest day before journeying across mountains by road or flying out of the fiords, to reduce the risk of decompression after multi-day repetitive dives.
- The weather in Fiordland changes very rapidly, so ensure that you have adequate warm and waterproof gear and appropriate safety equipment on your boat.
Diving Care Code
Dive from a drifting boat; avoid anchoring
Anchors landing on, or dragging through reef and rock wall habitats can destroy fragile marine life-forms. Where possible dive from a free motoring boat with a skipper experienced with the local environment, or use moorings in the marine reserve.
Don’t let your gear dangle
Dangling gear damages fragile marine life. Octopus regulators, dive gauge consoles, catch bags, camera flash cables and straps should be kept out of harms way.
Be neutrally buoyant
Black and red corals are very fragile and prone to damage at the slightest touch. Buoyancy control is the key to considerate diving to ensure that contact with the rock wall and sea floor life is avoided.
Know by instinct where your fins are
Many of divers are unaware of the trail of destruction that fins leave behind in their wake. It may only take a second to destroy marine life that has been growing for decades or even centuries.
Minimise touching things
Wearing gloves reduces your sense of touch and allows you to touch hard enough to cause harm to many marine creatures. For close encounters touch only bare rock using finger tips to steady yourself.
Maintain sea creature comforts
Let marine animals stay in their comfort zones and avoid grabbing animals. Interaction with marine animals should be at their initiation, so be patient and let them approach you.
Put them back
It should not be necessary to remove animals, but if you do always replace them back in their original position. Removing animals from their home can make them vulnerable to predation. Carrying a dive torch will help you to appreciate the natural colourings of fiord animals without having to handle them.
Take out your rubbish
As well as being unsightly rubbish discarded overboard is a potential killer of seabirds and marine mammals. Always carry a rubbish bin on board and take your rubbish out to a proper disposal site. Biodegradable vegetable scraps should not be thrown overboard as they can spread weed seeds along the coast.
... but not at the expense of the marine environment. Play your part in minimising damage to the spectacular and unusual marine species found in the fiord environment.
Share your knowledge with less experienced divers so that they can enjoy Fiordland’s underwater world in the future.