FOR SAFE SNORKELLING ON CORAL REEFS
EcoTours we are proud of our 100% accident-free record. Snorkelling
on coral reefs should be a safe, interesting, and relaxing experience, provided
a few basic rules are followed. These points below are the things we discuss
in all our pre-snorkel safety briefings, and we offer them here in the interest
of safe snorkelling on Magnetic Island for everybody.
- Adjust all mask and
snorkel settings for comfort and fit on the beach first - it is difficult
to do once you are already in the water.
- Remember to spit saliva
onto the glass of the mask and then rinse before starting the snorkel,
otherwise the mask will fog up.
- If you have to make an adjustment
while snorkelling, look for an area of sand or bare reef and
gently put your fins down and then fix your gear. Don't stand on live
corals (they will break), and don't tread water over the
sand as this will stir up sediment which smothers the coral.
- You can gently touch most corals,
other invertebrates, and seaweeds on the reef with safety just follow
the rule "if it looks sharp or spiky DONT TOUCH!".
- Dont pick up any shells
while snorkelling there are cone shells on the reefs at Magnetic Island,
and these can give a poison sting.
- Dont put your hand into
any caves or holes on the reef. They could be the home of a Moray eel, which
may bite your hand in fright.
- If snorkelling in shallow
water, be aware of the position of your knees in relation
to the coral, or else you may get a coral cut.
- Wash all coral cuts thoroughly as soon as you are out of the water, and treat them several times
per day with antiseptic cream or solution until healed, to
- Look out for stingrays when walking in shallow water - keep your feet shuffling close to the bottom
rather than lifting and stomping. If a stingray is startled and swims nearby,
keep still with your feet firmly on the ground - dont jump around or try to run away!
- Rinse your ears out with freshwater
after every snorkel, and rinse with "aqua-ear" (or other
alcohol-based ear drops) after the last snorkel of the day, to minimise the
risk of outer ear infections.
- Remember to equalise the
pressure in your ears if diving down while snorkelling - do it early and
often (as a guide - once for every meter you descend). If it hurts - stop!
Failure to do so will result in barotrauma (burst blood capillaries) in your
middle ear, which then usually leads to infection.
- Stay with the group during
the snorkelling sessions - dont drift off on your own. If you get caught
in a current you cant swim against, swim across it towards shore
or shallower water. Dont go snorkelling by yourself or at night.
- If swimming or snorkelling,
always beware of boats coming past. Wave to make sure the boat driver
can see you. Boat propellers and human limbs do not mix!!!
- If you see a shark while
snorkelling, just keep quiet and observe it, dont panic. The sharks
around Magnetic Island are never aggressive towards a large group of people
in the water.
- If you have some problem
in the water (cold, cramp, asthma, etc) let the group leader know ASAP.
If you cant get their attention, wave with one arm above your head to
the shore-based lookout.