A review of ecological impacts from recreational SCUBA diving: Current evidence and future practice

Publication Name

Tourism and Hospitality Research


Global demand for SCUBA diving activities in coastal areas continues to grow. Academic research has acknowledged that SCUBA diving can have ecological impacts. To understand the current state of knowledge this study applied the systematic quantitative literature review method (SQLR) to determine what evidence is available on ecological impacts from recreational SCUBA diving. In total 69 research articles about ecological impacts of SCUBA diving were analysed. This paper explored research trends, geographical distribution of research articles, nature of impact and management recommendations for future practice. The research found that SCUBA diving impacted through diver contact with coral reefs caused breakage, fragmentation and led to disease. 10 coral varieties were identified as impacted including some listed as (critically) endangered or vulnerable by the IUCN. Impacts can be minimized using non-regulatory and regulatory management strategies. We present a novel framework that connects diver characteristics with coral reef impacts and discuss how to apply this framework and guide future studies in this area of SCUBA diving research.

Open Access Status

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Link to publisher version (DOI)