#TurksandCaicos, May 08, 2018 – Providenciales – The DECR would like to prompt vendors, visitors and residents to take appropriate safety precautions when enjoying the waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Water sports operators are reminded to uphold and adhere to the regulations of the National Parks Ordinance (Ordinance 11 of 1975, as amended) when operating in a National Park. In order to prevent water sport incidents, or incidents related to marine animals, the DECR also urges the public to be familiar with the following swimming, snorkelling and dive etiquette prior to jumping into the water:
- DO use biodegradable suntan lotion whenever possible and allow time for all lotions to soak into the skin before going into the ocean. Suntan lotion is toxic to the reefs;
- DO NOT touch, stand on or kick the coral; it is a living animal and you will harm it;
- DO employ the ‘buddy system’ (swim/snorkel dive with a friend and make sure someone knows where you are at all times) whenever going into the ocean;
- AVOID kicking sand with your fins when snorkelling so that fine particles do not smother and choke living coral;
- DO NOT remove corals, sand, shells and wildlife, whether dead or alive, from the Protected Areas. It is illegal;
- For your safety, please swim within the “swim zone” (within 300 feet of shore in designated areas);
- DO NOT fish in protected areas such as National Parks and Nature Reserves. It is illegal to do so. This includes ‘catch and release’ fishing or hunting for conch and lobsters;
- For your safety, so as not to attract fish, DO NOT swim, snorkel or dive whilst wearing shiny jewellery, watches or accessories.
- Be cognisant of vessels in the water, even if you are within a demarcated swim zone;
- Water sport operators are to be cognisant of swimmers, snorkelers and divers in the water and maintain a safe distance from the shore and swim zones;
- If you are a first time snorkeler, please adhere to these guidelines:
- Practice with your gear first;
- Stay relaxed and reduce your effort;
- Learn to read ocean conditions;
- Choose your first location carefully;
- Choose a calm spot;
- Be a steward!
The DECR hopes to encourage a safe and fun experience for both visitors to and residents of the islands, through the above guidelines. Should you have any questions on how to become a steward to your local environment, do not hesitate to contact the Department at 338-4170 or email@example.com.