The Great Barrier Reef is an incredible World Heritage site and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions recognises that we play an important role in caring for this national treasure to help protect it for generations to come. To this end we are dedicated to reducing our own impact on the environment, plus we support numerous initiatives to assist research, and to increase awareness in the community of environmental issues.
Since 2007 Mike Ball Dive Expeditions have been members of Eco Tourism Australia, earning the status of ‘Green Travel Leader’. The ECO Certification program assures travellers that a certified operator promotes sustainable travel that benefits local communities, culture, and heritage and minimises impacts on the environment.
For more information visit www.ecotourism.org.au
Environmental Management Policy
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions has an Environmental Management Policy in place that identifies our potential environmental impacts in order to develop strategies that will help us avoid, minimise and ultimately manage those potential impacts.
The policy outlines our commitment to:
- Monitor our environmental impacts
- Ensure there are no long term environmental or cultural impacts from our operations.
- Comply with relevant environmental legislation and regulations
- Review our operations annually to ensure we meet our environmental targets
Supporting Scientific Research
For decades we have supported scientific research on marine issues, by assisting with accommodation on board our vessels for researchers, and by helping to collect the data that they use.
Current research projects include:
- Minke whale research – Dr Alastair Birtles, James Cook University, QLD
- Nautilus research – Jamie Seymour
- Shark research – Richard Fitzpatrick & Adam Barnett, James Cook University, QLD
- Deep reef exploration – Dr Tom Bridge, James Cook University, QLD
- Catlin Seaview Survey – Dr Pim Bongarts, University of Queensland
Eye on the Reef:
Eye on the Reef is a reef monitoring and assessment program run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Our crew members have been trained to collect and record information on reef health indicators, protected and iconic species and emerging issues on selected dive sites. As we visit the same sites on a regular basis, the total data collection over months and years allows researchers to gain valuable insight into the impact of visitations, the health of the reef and fish numbers.
Encouraging Guest Involvement in Research
Apart from the company’s support of research initiatives we also encourage our guests to get involved during expeditions too if they choose. Our Environmental Compendium on board outlines various projects that guests can get involved with.
- Ongoing minke whale research – provide photos of minke whales and assist with identification of individuals seen during minke season.
- Coral Watch is an international program that collates data on coral reefs worldwide using a standard reporting system. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions regularly visits certain sites and information collected by guests and crew will assist scientists to answer questions such as how long it takes for reefs to recover from bleaching and if the health of the reef is in decline.
- Gather information for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) on any coral bleaching occurrences and Crown-of-Thorns starfish sightings as part of their Eye on the Reef program (eyeonthereef.com.au).
Climate Change and Coral Bleaching
Warmer air and ocean surface temperatures resulting from climate change impact corals and alter coral reef communities by prompting bleaching events and altering ocean chemistry. These impacts affect corals and the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat.
When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the algae living in their tissues that they feed on, causing them to turn completely white. If the bleaching is not severe, coral can recover. If the algae loss is prolonged and the stress continues, the coral eventually starves and dies.
While some areas of the Great Barrier Reef have been affected by coral bleaching, or other natural events such as cyclones, others have not. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions regularly search for new dive sites to replace other sites that may be affected. As such, our divers can be assured of enjoying great diving with us.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions is concerned about the impact of climate change on our precious reef into the future however, and we recognise that we need to do everything possible to preserve it. We have implemented strategies to reduce our carbon emissions that contribute to the problem and we would like to encourage our guests to consider ways in which they too can also reduce their own impact.
Peace on the Reef - Encouraging minimal impact on the reef by divers
Mike pioneered the ‘Peace on the Reef’ program, aimed at helping divers to be mindful of how they interact with the reef. It involves the use of a simple hand signal that can be used to remind fellow divers to be aware of wayward fins, hands and equipment that may damage the reef. Since its conception in 1994 our Peace on the Reef program has educated thousands of divers to the ongoing issue of reef and marine life protection and conservation.
Global Shark Diving - Supporting responsible shark diving and shark conservation
Mike Ball was one of the founding members of this international alliance of dive operators that provides divers with unique close encounters with sharks in a responsible manner. Operators also support shark conservation by supporting research projects and diver education initiatives.
See www.globalsharkdiving.com for more information.
Supporting Local Community and Charities
We support a number of local and international charities with assistance having been given to health organisations (eg Movember, Make-a-Wish), dive industry (eg Divers Alert Network, L.A. Underwater Photographic Society), environmental causes (eg Coast care, Reef Check Australia), community aid (World Vision, Red Cross, St Vincent’s) and local schools & businesses.
We also use local businesses as much as possible for our supplies and equipment.